Apple’s AirPods are some of the most popular wireless earbuds around. With their seamless connectivity and easy access to Siri, AirPods deliver portable audio in a tiny package. But how long do AirPods last?
In this guide, I’ll cover everything you need to know about AirPods battery life and overall lifespan. I’ll also provide tips to extend both the battery runtime per charge and the total lifespan of your AirPods.
- What’s the Battery Life of AirPods?
- Expected Lifespan of AirPods
- Make AirPods Last Longer Per Charge
- Extend Overall AirPods Lifespan
- Repair Options for AirPods
- Environmental Impact of AirPods
- More Sustainable Alternatives
- In Summary
What’s the Battery Life of AirPods?
The battery life of AirPods can vary quite a bit depending on which model you have. Apple has released several generations of AirPods, each with improved battery performance.
Here’s a breakdown of the expected battery life for each AirPods model:
AirPods (3rd Generation)
The latest 3rd generation AirPods deliver:
- Up to 6 hours of listening time with Spatial Audio turned off
- Up to 5 hours of listening time with Spatial Audio enabled
- Up to 4 hours of talk time
- A 5 minute charge provides around 60 extra minutes of listening time
AirPods Pro (2nd Generation)
The brand new 2nd generation AirPods Pro provide:
- Up to 6 hours of listening time with Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) turned on
- Up to 5.5 hours of listening time with Spatial Audio and head tracking enabled
- Up to 4.5 hours of talk time with ANC on
- A 5 minute charge gives about 60 additional minutes
AirPods Pro (1st Generation)
The original AirPods Pro offer:
- Up to 5 hours of listening time with ANC disabled
- Up to 4.5 hours of listening with ANC enabled
- Around 3.5 hours of talk time with ANC turned on
AirPods (2nd Generation)
The 2nd generation standard AirPods provide:
- Up to 5 hours of listening time
- Approximately 3.5 hours of talk time
- A 15 minute charge provides an extra 3 hours of listening or 2 hours of talk time
Charging Cases Extend Listening Time
One of the key battery life extenders for all AirPods models is the charging case. The case provides additional charges to dramatically lengthen total listening and talk time before you need an outlet.
- AirPods cases provide up to 24 hours of extra listening time or 18 hours extra talk time
- AirPods Pro cases deliver up to 30 hours added listening or 24 hours added talk time
So in total, AirPods can provide nearly a full day’s worth of power between the buds themselves and the charging case.
Expected Lifespan of AirPods
Now that we’ve covered the battery performance per charge, what about the total lifespan? How long will AirPods last before the batteries degrade too far?
About 2-3 Years or 300-500 Charge Cycles
Like all lithium-ion batteries, the batteries inside AirPods will gradually lose capacity over time and usage. The general lifespan of AirPods is:
- Around 2-3 years of typical daily use
- Or after about 300-500 full charge cycles
Lithium-ion batteries slowly degrade as the number of charge cycles adds up. Capacity begins dropping more rapidly once the battery has lost about 20% of its original capacity. After 500 complete charge cycles, AirPods batteries tend to retain around 80% of original capacity.
User Reports on 1st and 2nd Generation Models
Looking at user reports on 1st and 2nd generation AirPods, most people get:
- Around 2 years of daily use before noticing degraded battery life
- Batteries often decline to under 1 hour of listening time when nearing end of lifespan
Of course, actual lifespan depends heavily on individual usage patterns.
Make AirPods Last Longer Per Charge
To maximize battery life for each charge, there are several habits you can form:
Maximize Each Charge Cycle
- Lower volume to conserve battery power
- Disable unneeded features like Spatial Audio
- Use just one AirPod at a time for phone calls
- Power off AirPods when not in use
- Store AirPods in the case above 40% charge to avoid unnecessary cycles
Avoid Deep Discharges Below 20%
Letting AirPod batteries discharge too low below 20% can damage battery capacity. Be sure to recharge them once you get the low battery notification around 20%.
Don’t Fully Recharge Over 80%
Fully charging to 100% causes extra stress on lithium-ion batteries. Make use of the Optimized Battery Charging feature to avoid full charges.
Store Around 50% Charge When Not Using
Storing AirPods long term at full charge can also degrade lifespan. Best practice is to store them around 50% charge if you won’t be using them for an extended period.
Avoid Wireless Charging
Wireless charging is less efficient than Lightning charging. Relying solely on wireless charging will cause AirPods batteries to degrade faster.
Extend Overall AirPods Lifespan
To maximize the total lifespan of your AirPods in years, follow these battery and hardware care tips:
Treat Batteries with Care
Apply the battery best practices outlined in the previous section:
- Avoid deep discharges below 20%
- Don’t fully recharge over 80%
- Store around 50% charge when not in use
- Minimize wireless charging
Treat AirPods with Care
- Keep AirPods clean and dry
- Avoid drops and other physical damage
- Use proper storage in the charging case when not using
Repair Options for AirPods
If your AirPods batteries are still decent but other components go bad, there are a few repair options:
Apple Repairs Under Warranty and AppleCare+
- Make a Genius Bar appointment at an Apple Store
- Use Apple’s mail-in repair service
- Out-of-warranty battery service for $49
DIY Repairs Not Recommended
AirPods are designed without any clips or screws, making DIY repairs extremely difficult even with proper tools.
Third Party Services Like Podswap
Companies like Podswap offer AirPods battery replacement services, currently only for 1st and 2nd generation models. But this option is limited to the US only.
Environmental Impact of AirPods
Before wrapping up this guide, I think it’s important we also consider the social and environmental impact of AirPods manufacturing and disposal.
- Toxic metals and electronic waste from mining rare earth materials
- Hazardous chemicals leakage when lithium-ion batteries are discarded improperly
Most AirPods End Up in Landfills
Due to tight product integration and lack of repairability, most end-of-life AirPods end up in landfills.
Reduce Impact By Making Them Last
The best way to minimize the footprint of AirPods is simply to extend their functional lifespan as long as possible through responsible battery and hardware care.
More Sustainable Alternatives
If you’re concerned about the environmental impact and want more eco-friendly options, consider:
Wired alternatives tend to last longer and support higher quality lossless audio. Models with replaceable cables are fairly easy to repair.
Wireless Headphones with Audio Jack
Many wireless headphones include an audio jack to keep using them when the battery runs out. Such as the Sony WH-1000XM5.
Repairable Earbuds Like Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro
Some earbuds are designed to make component repairs easier. For example, the Galaxy Buds Pro have an iFixit repairability score of 3/10.
Responsibly Recycling Old AirPods
When your AirPods do eventually die, make sure to recycle them through Apple’s program or services like Podswap.
Hopefully this guide gave you a comprehensive overview about how long AirPods last, along with actionable tips to extend both battery life per charge and total lifespan over years. While AirPods provide an amazing listening experience in a tiny package, it’s important we use technology responsibly and sustainably.