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Why Do My AirPods Die So Fast? (+Tips to EXTEND Battery Life!)

Apple AirPods are a great product – they’re the best-selling wireless earbuds globally! But they do come with their fair share of challenges.

One such challenge that seems to affect many users is their AirPods dying fast. 

Your AirPods die so fast because they use tiny lithium ion batteries that are prone to multiple “deep discharge” cycles a day (when a full battery drains to 10% or less). This creates added stress, and shortens the batteries’ overall life span. Keep AirPod battery level between 40-80% to prevent this.

The good news is that there are many things you can start doing today to help preserve and extend your AirPod battery life.

Why do my AirPods die so fast?

Apple AirPods use rechargeable, lithium ion batteries. Since these batteries have to fit into the AirPods themselves, they are incredibly small.

The reality is that all lithium ion batteries eventually wear out and no longer hold a charge. But the batteries inside AirPods are more susceptible to this degradation because of their small size.

AirPod small lithium ion batteries

This leads to more “deep discharge” cycles, which puts more stress on the lithium ion cells, and shortens the batteries’ overall life span.

A cycle is simply when a battery is fully drained and then recharged. A “deep discharge” is when you drain a full battery to 10% or less.

Not all battery cycles are created equal.

For example, if you use 50% battery life of your AirPods and then charge them back up, that would count as one cycle.

But this cycle is far less harmful to the batteries’ overall health since there were no deep discharges.

Unfortunately in the case of AirPods, they are automatically charged to 100% and used for hours at a time, often until we hear the low battery chime at 10% (deep discharge cycle!).

At which point they are placed back in the case and recharged to 100%. Which doesn’t take long, since the batteries are so small.

This means you could easily have 2-3 deep discharge cycles a day on a single pair of Apple AirPods!

This is why AirPods die so fast. They have great battery life at first, but they quickly deplete because of all these deep discharge cycles.

And since the batteries are so small, degradation is more noticeable than on an iPhone or iPad.

After just one year, Apple AirPod users report significantly less battery life than when they first bought them. And after two years, some users are reporting less than 60 minutes of battery life until they need to be recharged!

This is the AirPod’s greatest weakness, and it’s not likely to change until there are major improvements to battery technology overall.

Expected AirPod battery life brand-new

In order to know just how bad your AirPod battery life has gotten, you need to know what the expected battery life was brand-new.

This provides a good benchmark which you can compare against.

AirPods (3rd generation) battery life

  • Multiple charges in your case: more than 30 hours of listening time
  • Single charge: up to 6 hours of listening time
  • Charged for 5 minutes in their case: you get around 1 hour of listening time 

AirPods Pro battery life

  • Multiple charges in your case: more than 24 hours of listening time
  • Single charge: up to 4.5 hours of listening time
  • Charged for 5 minutes in their case: you get around 1 hour of listening time 

AirPods (2nd generation) battery life

  • Multiple charges in your case: more than 24 hours of listening time
  • Single charge: up to 5 hours of listening time
  • Charged for 15 minutes in their case: you get around 3 hour of listening time 

How to extend AirPod battery life immediately

So your AirPods are dying faster than their expected battery life. What exactly can you do right now to help improve your AirPods’ battery life?

Lower the volume

A quick and easy win to improve your AirPods’ battery life is to lower the volume!

If the volume is turned all the way up, you’re using a lot of power, and your battery life will be shortened. Simple as that.

The easiest thing to do is to just turn down the volume to a level that you can still comfortably listen/hear.

Often times we have the volume up to a level that is unnecessarily high. Turning it down will help save battery, and your ear drums!

Turn off Smart features

If your AirPods are dying fast, there are several features that aren’t essential to everyday use. You can easily turn these features off to help preserve your AirPods’ battery life.

One example is Automatic Ear Detection, which switches the audio from your connected device to your AirPods the moment you put them in your ear.

Once disabled, you can just manually press play or pause, saving just a bit more battery life for your AirPods.

To disable Automatic Ear Detection: go to Settings on your phone > Bluetooth > AirPods > toggle OFF Automatic Ear Detection.

Another is Noise Control. There are three noise control options, Noise Cancellation, Transparency Mode and Off.

These settings help to control the noise around you in different ways. To save some battery, I recommend turning Noise Control OFF.

To disable Noise Control: go to Settings on your phone > Bluetooth > tap the info button next to your AirPods > select OFF under Noise Control.

Turn off AirPod Noise Cancellation

Use one AirPod at a time

Another way to essentially double your battery life and listening time is to use one AirPod at a time.

Now I know this isn’t ideal, but depending on your situation it just might be worth it. For example, if you’re in a quiet location and you need to be on an hour long Zoom call.

Using one AirPod at a time just might give you enough batter life to stay on the call for its entirety.

This isn’t a great long term solution by any means, but it’s a good back up plan in a pinch.

Clean AirPods and charging ports

If your AirPods aren’t charging fully, or their dying quickly, it could be due to dirt, grime and earwax that have built up on your AirPod and down inside the charging port.

Start by grabbing a Q-tip and gently wiping the bottom metal ring of your AirPods clean. Then open your charging case, and clean out the chargings port. Make sure to get all the way down to the bottom.

Clean charging ports and bottom of AirPods

If you need to, you can add a little isopropyl alcohol to the end of the Q-tip to really get a deep clean. Don’t worry, Apple approves!

While you’re at it, check the speaker of your AirPods! This gunk can get so built up that your AirPods even sound quieter!

If you have AirPods Pro, you may have to remove the tip to check if the speaker is covered in gunk. Again, use a Q-tip to clean up any caked on earwax or dirt.

clean your AirPods and remove earwax

I find it helpful to grab a flashlight, or use the flash on your phone to get a better look. 

If you make sure those charging connection points are nice and clean and the AirPod speaker and sensors are clear, you’ll likely resolve this issue for good.

How to extend AirPod battery life long term

Now that you’ve done everything you can to improve the battery life of your AirPods right away, it’s time to talk about what you should be doing to preserve your AirPods’ battery health over the long run.

Don’t let the battery drain below 40%

We discussed this a bit above, but one of the best ways to prolong the battery life of your Apple AirPods is to never let the battery level drop below 40%.

If you continue using the full battery life until 10%, or less, this is called a “deep discharge”. A deep discharge puts added stress on the lithium ion cells and shortens their overall life span.

Don't let the battery drain below 40%

Just keep the battery level between 40-80% and you will help prevent early wear and demise of your AirPods!

Store AirPods in a controlled environment

Like any electronic device, you should keep your AirPods in a controlled environment. This means avoid leaving them in direct sunlight, or in any extreme temperature conditions!

You will quickly shorten the battery life of your AirPods by exposing them to extreme temperatures.

The acceptable temperature region for lithium ion batteries normally is −20 °C – 60 °C (68 °F – 140 °F).

Both low temperature and high temperatures that are outside of this region can, and will lead to degradation of performance and irreversible damages of your batteries.

Your best bet is to always bring your AirPods inside and store them in a drawer charging whenever they are not in use.

Use Apple certified charging cables

Apple loves their walled-garden of products, and in that garden are chargers, cables, and various other pricey connections.

I completely get the urge to spend half the price on a charging cable or wireless charging dock for your AirPods, just make sure its Apple certified!

If you buy a third party cable (or power brick) from Amazon, or some store at the mall, chances are high that it’s poorly made, or even a counterfeit. You really do get what you pay for.

Apple’s own support page has a dedicated section telling its customers to beware of these counterfeit parts as they pose a safety risk to you, and your Apple products.

use Apple certified charging cables

If you’re using a cheap charging cable to charge your AirPods, it’s very possible that this is what’s causing poor battery life/performance.

Spend the extra 10-15 bucks and get the correct cable.

Replace your AirPods

Now, it’s time to deal with the unfortunate reality that for a percentage of you, your attempts at resolving your AirPods battery problems will result in having to get a replacement.

But, before you go looking for a completely new set of AirPods, you should:

  1. Bring your AirPods to a local Apple store and have them check your warranty!
  2. Know that you don’t have to buy an entire set if the problem is only with one earbud.

If you’ve owned your AirPods for less than a year, your warranty will cover the cost of a repair and/or replacement!

Conclusion

Apple AirPods die so fast because they use tiny lithium ion batteries that are prone to multiple “deep discharge” cycles a day.

A deep cycle is when a full battery drains to 10% or less. This creates added stress, and shortens the batteries’ overall life span.

The best way to prevent this is to keep your AirPod battery level between 40-80%!

Here are several other ways to improve your AirPod battery life:

  • Turn off Automatic Ear Detection and Noise Control
  • Lower the volume
  • Use one AirPod at a time
  • Clean your AirPods and their charging ports
  • Store AirPods in a stable environment
  • Use Apple certified charging products

If none of these work, and your AirPods and dying so fast that they are basically useless, then it might be time to replace them.