As a proud owner of Apple’s popular AirPods, keeping them powered up is essential for enjoying your music, podcasts, and calls on the go. Like most of us, you’ve probably wondered just how long do AirPods take to charge from dead to full battery.
In this comprehensive guide, I’ll walk through the complete charging times for all models of AirPods, from the 1st generation to the latest AirPods Pro and AirPods Max. You’ll learn the key factors impacting charging speeds, how fast charging works, and tips for keeping your AirPods powered up.
Whether you need a quick burst of power or want to fully recharge your earbuds, read on to find out exactly how long it takes to charge your AirPods case and earbuds.
- How Long Do AirPods Take to Charge Inside the Case
- Why AirPods 3 and AirPods Pro Require Longer Charging Times
- How Long to Charge Case: Wired vs Wireless
- How AirPods’ Fast Charging Feature Works
- How to Know If AirPods Are Charging
How Long Do AirPods Take to Charge Inside the Case
The first charging metric to understand is how long AirPods take to fully charge while sitting inside their case. Apple has released four generations of AirPods to date, each with different battery capacities and charging requirements.
Here’s a breakdown of charging times for each model when placed in their charging case:
AirPods 1st Generation
The original AirPods launched in 2016 can go from empty to fully charged in their case in 20-25 minutes. This quick charging time is thanks to their smaller batteries compared to newer models.
Once fully charged, the AirPods 1 provide up to 5 hours of listening time or talking on the phone.
AirPods 2nd Generation
Apple’s second generation of AirPods released in 2019 bumped up battery performance, but consequently also increased charging times.
Expect the AirPods 2 to take 50-60 minutes for a full charge inside their wireless charging case.
Their larger batteries give the AirPods 2 up to 6 hours of listening time on a single charge.
The high-end AirPods Pro earbuds also take 50-60 minutes to charge from empty to full battery inside their wireless charging case.
Like the AirPods 2, the AirPods Pro deliver up to 6 hours of listening time with Active Noise Cancellation turned on. You can stretch it to 7 hours with ANC turned off.
Apple’s over-ear AirPods Max headphones have the largest internal batteries and longest charge times.
From completely dead, the AirPods Max require around 2 hours to fully charge while sitting in their case with the Lightning cable connected.
In return, you get a hefty 20 hours of listening time per full charge.
As you can see, charge times scale up as battery capacities increase across the different AirPod models. But why exactly do the latest AirPods 3 and AirPods Pro take longer to charge compared to the 1st generation?
Why AirPods 3 and AirPods Pro Require Longer Charging Times
There are two key reasons why Apple’s newer AirPod models need more time to charge than the originals:
Lithium-Ion Batteries Degrade Over Time
All AirPods utilize lithium-ion batteries to store power. One downside of this battery chemistry is that the batteries degrade a bit each time you charge them.
After being charged repeatedly, lithium-ion batteries become less effective at holding a maximum charge. So even if the battery capacity increases in newer AirPods, the usable time per charge remains similar.
To compensate for this battery aging effect, the newer AirPods require more time to charge up.
Apple’s Optimized Battery Charging
Since iOS 13, Apple devices have featured a smart battery preservation system called Optimized Battery Charging.
This system learns your daily charging routine to intelligently charge your AirPods and iPhone. Here’s how it works:
- It pauses charging once your AirPods reach 80% charged.
- Then it finishes charging the remaining 20% right before you normally detach the cable.
- This avoids keeping the batteries at 100% charge for extended periods of time.
Optimized Charging aims to minimize the time your AirPods spend fully charged. This reduces stress on the batteries and improves their lifespan.
However, a side effect is that it increases the time it takes to go from 0% to 100% battery, since your AirPods pause charging at 80% before topping up at the end.
Optimized Battery Charging is enabled by default, but you can disable it in your iPhone’s battery settings if you want faster charge times. Just know it could reduce your total battery life over time.
The combination of battery wear plus Optimized Charging accounts for the 50-60 minute charging times of the latest AirPods models. Although it takes longer, it helps maximize your AirPods’ battery health.
How Long to Charge Case: Wired vs Wireless
In addition to charging the AirPods themselves, you’ll also need to regularly recharge their case to keep it powered up.
AirPods cases can be charged either wired via Lightning cable, or wirelessly via a Qi charging pad or stand. Here’s how long each method takes to fully charge an empty AirPods case:
Using the included Lightning cable, you can expect a dead AirPods case to fully charge in around 1 hour. This is the fastest way to power up the case.
Wireless charging takes approximately 30 minutes longer than wired charging. So expect a full wireless charge of the case to take about 1.5 hours.
The extended time is due to efficiency losses as the charge signal passes through the air. But the benefit is the convenience of just setting the case down on a charging pad.
Once fully charged, the AirPods case provides roughly 4 full recharges of the earbuds before it needs to be charged again itself.
So in summary, wired charging is quicker for the case, while wireless is more convenient. But both will get your case back to 100% in around 1 to 1.5 hours.
How AirPods’ Fast Charging Feature Works
In addition to normal charging, all AirPods models include a fast charging feature that gives you a quick power boost in a pinch.
Fast charging is activated whenever you plug in your AirPods case using a Lightning cable. Wireless charging does not enable fast charging.
Here’s a comparison of how much extra listening time you can gain with fast charging across the different AirPod models:
- AirPods 1st gen – Up to 3 hours of listening time from 15 minutes of charging
- AirPods 2nd gen & AirPods Pro – Up to 1 hour of listening from just 5 minutes of charging
- AirPods Max – Up to 1.5 hours of listening from 5 minutes of charging
As you can see, just 5-15 minutes of fast charging can give you a decent amount of extra listening time if you’re in a hurry.
This is preferable over doing full 0-100% charge cycles whenever possible. Minimizing the frequency of deep discharge/charge cycles helps preserve your AirPods’ battery capacity.
Fast charging provides a quick power boost without taxing the battery as much as a full cycle. Definitely take advantage of this feature when you can!
How to Know If AirPods Are Charging
With different charging times depending on the model, how can you tell if your AirPods are actually charging when you place them in the case?
It’s easy to monitor the charging status thanks to the helpful status light on AirPods cases:
- The status light indicates the charging status, battery level, and pairing mode.
- Here are the light colors and what they signify:
- White light means your AirPods are in pairing mode and ready to connect.
- Amber or orange light indicates the case is charging.
- Green light means your AirPods are fully charged.
- No light at all means the case’s battery is completely dead.
- In addition to the case light, you can check charging status on your connected iPhone in the Batteries widget.
Using the status light colors, you can quickly tell if your AirPods are charging, fully charged, or in need of charging.
If the case light doesn’t come on at all even when connected to power, the battery is likely drained and needs a few minutes to recover enough to start charging.
Knowing the complete charging times for your AirPods ensures you can keep them powered up and ready to go anytime.
- AirPods 1st gen charge fastest at 20-25 minutes, while AirPods Max charge slowest at 2 hours.
- Newer models take 50-60 minutes due to battery wear and Optimized Charging.
- Always recharge case wired for 1 hour fastest; wireless takes 1.5 hours.
- Leverage fast charging for quick boosts between full charges.
- Check case light to monitor charging status.
With this guide’s advice in mind, you can master keeping your AirPods charged and avoid running out of power mid-call or when your favorite tunes are on. Never get caught with dead AirPods again!