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How Long Do AirPods Last? (Real Users Answer)

Last updated: 5 months ago
10 min read

We asked AirPods users about their experience with the Apple gadget. They told us the average AirPods battery lasts 4.7 hours on a full charge (but different for each model).

And the average AirPods lifespan (for the majority) is around 3 years.

See below how we’ve come to these conclusions.

Apple AirPods 3 buds in the case
CONTENTS (click to show more)

    How Long Does AirPods Battery Last?

    The average battery life of Apple AirPods is 4.7 hours per full charge.

    We excluded the AirPods Max because they have a much longer battery life, 24 hours, which would skew the average data.

    Now, the 4.7 hours is only the power inside the AirPods. If you include all the charges inside the wireless charging case, you get around 30 hours of music and 20 hours of talk time from AirPods 3. But the capacity inside the case also diminishes over time.

    So, how does the average battery life compare to what Apple promises?

    4.7 hours of listening time per charge is close to 5.3 hours, the average battery life Apple promises for the 5 AirPods models.

    It still shows the effect of battery degradation and age.

    The Lithium-ion batteries inside AirPods keep 80% of their max capacity after roughly 500 charging cycles. But the more you charge them, the more capacity you lose over time.

    What’s a charging cycle?

    A charging cycle is every time you use 100% of your battery. From 100% to 0% is 1 cycle. And when you use 25% of the battery (from 100% to 75%), 4 days in a row also counts as 1 cycle (25% + 25% + 25% + 25% = 100%).

    How did we get the average battery life that Apple promises?

    We took Apple’s test results. They promise up to 6 hours for the AirPods 3 and Pro (2nd. Gen), up to 5 hours for AirPods 2 & 1, and up to 4.5h for AirPods Pro (1st. gen).

    The average official battery life across the 5 AirPods models is 5.3 hours of playtime and 3.4 hours of talk time.

    Table of official Apple-tested battery life per AirPods model:

    ModelOfficial battery lifeOfficial talk time
    AirPods 15 hours2 hours
    AirPods 25 hours3 hours
    AirPods 36 hours4 hours
    AirPods Pro 14.5 hours3.5 hours
    AirPods Pro 26 hours4.5 hours
    Average5.3 hours3.4 hours

    But this doesn’t tell us the whole story.

    AirPods battery life differences between models

    There are differences in battery longevity among AirPods models.

    Today, the older AirPods struggle to keep their original capacity.

    Here’s a table showing the average battery life per AirPods model:

    ModelAverage battery lifeOfficial battery lifeDifference
    AirPods 1Under 3.3h5 h-34%
    AirPods 2Under 4.3h5 h-14%
    AirPods 3Under 6h6 hNegligible
    AirPods Pro 1Under 4.5h4.5 hNegligible
    AirPods Pro 2Under 5.6h6 hNegligible
    HeadphonesAddict survey data N=248 AirPods Pro 2 results might be lower due to features.

    As you can see, the older AirPods have a much shorter battery life due to age and use.

    It’s inevitable for the battery capacity in wireless earbuds to diminish over time.

    Every battery has a limited lifespan which is measured in recharging cycles. With every recharge, the finite battery life also gets slightly spent.

    As expected, the AirPods with the longest battery life are AirPods 3. The latest and newest version has better technology and most 3rd. Generation AirPods are pretty new.

    The shortest average battery life of under 3.3 hours belongs to the 1st. Generation AirPods. These can be quite old and have many charging cycles behind them.

    Does battery life in AirPods lower with time?

    On average, the AirPods lose over 60% of their original battery life after 5 years.

    This chart shows how fast AirPods battery life losses capacity over time:

    Here’s a table of how fast AirPods lose battery capacity with age:

    AirPods ageAvg. battery hours
    per charge
    % lost
    Over 6 years old5h-5.7%
    Over 5 years old2h-62.3%
    Over 4 years old2.2h-59.1%
    Over 3 years old3.2h-39%
    Over 2 years old4h-23.6%
    Over 1 year old4.3h-19%
    Under 1 year old5.32h0%
    % lost compared to 5.3h average Data:HeadphonesAddict survey N=248

    Disclaimer: The data for “AirPods over 6 years old” was limited and not statistically relevant. Most AirPods die in 6 years, so these owners had to take extremely good care of them.

    What does the data tell us:

    • After 2 years, the AirPods battery life losses over 20% of its capacity.
    • After 3 years, almost 40%.
    • After 4 years, the average battery capacity loss is almost 60%. And after the 5th year it drops over 60%.

    This is based on user feedback, and the numbers are approximate. We must assume each user had slightly different criteria.

    And, these are average numbers, and your experience with your AirPods can be different. The data just shows a general trend.

    Does heavy use of AirPods impact battery life?

    Heavy usage lowers battery life of AirPods. We found a small correlation between the frequency of use and battery life, as seen in the chart below.

    The reason daily users get higher than expected battery life is because most of them use newer model AirPods.

    Disclaimer: The data analysis doesn’t consider the model and age, so it isn’t the best representation of the impact of usage on battery life. We can see a slight correlation, but there’s not enough data to come to a good conclusion.

    Frequency of useAvg. battery hours
    per charge
    % lost
    Multiple times per day4.75-10%
    Once per day4.3-18%
    Multiple times per week4.9-8%
    Once per week4.7-12%
    Less than weekly5.25-1%
    % lost compared to 5.3h average Data:HeadphonesAddict survey N=248

    Nonetheless, the general notion stands.

    The more you use and recharge your AirPods, the more it lowers battery life over time.

    Apple AirPods 3 buds in the case

    What affects AirPods’ battery life?

    Age: The older the AirPods, the lower the battery capacity

    Low temperatures: Lithium-ion batteries temporarily lose capacity in cold temperatures. The capacity replenishes in normal temperatures.

    Usage: The more charging cycles AirPods have behind them, the lower the battery life.

    We go into more details below.

    Expected Lifespan of AirPods

    Almost 90% of AirPods belonging to survey users are less than 3 years old, but some are over 6 years old. Though the expected lifespan varies.

    So, it’s reasonable for the majority to expect around 3 years of solid use. And if you take good care of your AirPods, they can last over 6 years.

    Granted, AirPods are not the most durable earbuds, especially compared to wired headphones that can last decades.

    Here are the results of asking AirPods users about the age of their earbuds:

    Age of AirPods% share
    Less than 1 year old55.6%
    Over 1 year old19.4%
    Over 2 years old15.7%
    Over 3 years old5.2%
    Over 4 years old2.4%
    Over 5 years old0.4%
    Over 6 years old1.2%

    From the survey results we can conclude:

    • That the majority of AirPods are relatively new and under 3 years old.
    • The AirPods users who responded to the survey had newer model AirPods.

    Considering the battery life detorioration is a real problem, it’s reasonable to assume most Apple earbuds aren’t in use longer than 3 years before being replaced.

    Factors affecting AirPods longevity

    What affects AirPods’ lifespan?

    The level of battery deterioration: We talked about this before. To repeat: The more often you recharge your AirPods, the sooner the battery capacity decreases. Your earbuds won’t play music as long as when they were brand new.

    Physical damage: Breaking, stepping on, or any other kind of physical damage to your AirPods shortens their lifespan. If you are accident-prone, check the tips on how to prolong their lifespan below.

    Water damage: While AirPods are sweat-resistant, they’re not waterproof. Dropping them in water can permanently damage the electronics and batteries inside. This will finish your earbuds for good.

    Dirt and dust: If you don’t clean your AirPods, dirt, and dust can get inside the casing and cause problems. In some cases, small particles stuck inside can permanently damage the earphones.

    How to Make AirPods and AirPods Pro Last Longer

    Tips for extending AirPods life:

    Don’t throw them around: Plastic AirPods will likely break if you throw them on the floor. Any physical force can damage the electronics, so storing them in the charging case is the safest.

    Keep them away from water: The newer AirPods might be water-resistant but not fully waterproof. AirPods 3 have an IPX4, but you need IPX6 to shower or IPX7 to submerge them in water. Nonetheless, it’s safe to use the earbuds for working out or in bad weather as IPX4 is good protection against sweat and rain.

    Buy AppleCare+: AppleCare+ protects against accidental damage and provides battery service coverage for 2 years. You have to buy it at or 60 days from the purchase date. If you’re clumsy, the $29 cost might be worth it.

    AirPods warranty:

    • USA 1 year by law. 2 years with AppleCare+
    • EU 2 years by law. 3 years with AppleCare+

    Read more on what headphone warranty covers.

    Take good care of the battery: Battery degradation is real; read more below.

    How to extend AirPods battery life?

    There are a couple of things you can do to extend the AirPods battery lifespan:

    Don’t charge them to 100% every time. AirPods have the fast charging ability that quickly fills up to 80% of battery capacity. After, it changes from optimized battery charging to slower, trickle charging.

    Fully charging is more taxing than keeping it under 80%, so it’s perfectly fine to take them out of the charging box even when they’re not fully charged.

    It’s better not to charge your AirPods to 100% every time.

    Avoid extreme temperatures. The Lithium-ion battery inside AirPods temporarily loses capacity in cold temperatures. So, if they get really cold, they’ll last less than usual while it still counts as a charging cycle.

    According to Apple, use AirPods between 32º and 95º F (0º and 35º C). Very hot temperatures can permanently shorten AirPod battery life, so don’t leave them in your car. Summer temperatures inside a vehicle can exceed 113º F (45º C), which is the high limit.

    Turn them off diligently. Since the battery is the weakest link, keeping it healthy is crucial. We’ve said it before.The more times you recharge the AirPod battery, the lower its capacity. But there’s no point in saving charges. Just avoid unnecessarily discharging your AirPods to prolong their life.

    Don’t empty the battery. Completely emptying the battery also deteriorates the capacity over time. It’s best to keep the charge between 25-80% as often as possible. If you plan to store the AirPods for some time, get them charged to 80%.

    Listen at a lower volume. I know this is an unpopular solution. But it works. Keep the volume down if you want your AirPods to last as long as possible on a single charge. Once you get access to power, you can crank it back up.

    Listening to AirPods at lower volume extends battery life.

    Disable microphone listening. Later generations of AirPods have microphones always listening for the “Hey Siri” command. This uses extra power. Disable it by going to:

    1. Settings
    2. Siri & Search
    3. Turn off Listen for “Hey Siri”

    Disable extra features. AirPods 3 support Spatial Audio and AirPods Pro come with active noise cancelling. When enabled, these features lower the battery, according to Apple. Turn them off for extra juice.

    How much battery do you save per feature:

    ModelFeature to turn offBattery life saved
    AirPods 3Spatial audio1 hour
    AirPods ProANC, Transparency mode30 minutes
    AirPods Pro 2Spatial audio, head tracking
    30 minutes

    Turning off spatial audio on AirPods 3 gives you 1 more hour of playtime. That’s a 20% increase.

    How to Check AirPods Battery Health

    You probably already know how to check the battery percentage of your AirPods. To see the battery indicator on iPhone and iPad, follow the steps:

    1. Open the charging case with AirPods inside
    2. Hold the charging case close to the iPhone or iPad
    3. Wait until the battery indicator menu pops up
    Credit: Apple

    On Mac:

    1. Connect your AirPods to your Mac
    2. Open the Bluetooth menu (top right corner)
    3. Hold your mouse pointer over the AirPods under Devices to see the battery percentage
    Credit: Apple

    Check your AirPods battery deterioration

    But how do you know how much your AirPods battery has degraded?

    There’s only 1 way to know. And that’s to test it yourself. Unfortunately, there’s no battery diagnostic software that would tell you the battery health compared to brand new.

    Here’s how to check the battery health of your AirPods in 5 steps:

    1. Fill your AirPods to 100% battery
    2. Set the volume to 50% (this is how Apple tests for battery life)
    3. Write down the time and play music until one of the earbuds dies
    4. When one of the earbuds dies, check the playtime
    5. Compare your AirPods playtime with the promised battery life of new earbuds

    On Android, you can download this app (it’s rated low but it works for this) that will automatically tell you the time when you start playing music and when the first earbud disconnects. So, you don’t have to write time manually.

    Note: You have to decide if you want to test your earbud’s battery life with battery-draining features turned on. Turn spatial audio, ANC, and transparency mode off to compare it to full battery life (middle column in the table below).

    Here’s a reference table of battery life for new AirPods according to Apple:

    ModelOfficial battery lifeOfficial battery life
    features on
    AirPods 15 hours/
    AirPods 25 hours/
    AirPods 36 hours5 hours
    AirPods Pro 15 hours4.5 hours
    AirPods Pro 26 hours5.5 hours

    Compare your AirPod’s max battery liffe to the ones above.

    By comparing your AirPods playtime with the original capacity of the new ones, you’ll get a good idea of battery health. The closer to the max, the better.

    If your AirPods get less than 50% playtime compared to the max, you can expect further battery degradation soon. After the first 500 charging cycles, the battery loses capacity faster.

    More on this below…

    Replacing AirPods Battery

    You can also replace the battery inside your AirPods and charging case. It prolongs their lifetime.

    And it would be best if you gave the job to experts to avoid dead AirPods. In this case, Apple services are the best.

    The battery inside the AirPods charging case can also be replaced.

    How to replace AirPods battery?

    You have 2 options:

    1. When your AirPods or charging case battery capacity degrades to less than 80% of its original capacity (it doesn’t hold a charge like it used to), you can request a battery replacement for free:
      • In the first year under warranty
      • First 2 years after purchase date with AppleCare+

    Apple technicians will replace your old battery with a new one to extend your AirPods longevity.

    Cost of AirPods battery replacement

    Apple charges $49 for one earbud, so if you want to replace both sides, it will cost you $98. Plus, shipping fees.

    By adding a bit more, you can buy a new model. So, if your AirPods are old, it’s probably not worth it.

    • AirPods swap. This is a 3rd option but only for AirPods 1 & 2.

    For $59.99, they take your old earbuds and give you back a pair with replaced battery.

    When to replace AirPods battery?

    To be eligible for battery replacement under warranty or AppleCare+, the battery needs to hold less than 80% of its original capacity.

    Note: AppleCare+ doesn’t cover stolen or lost AirPods or charging case.

    If you have the option to do it for free, then do it.

    But if you have to pay for it, you should ask yourself if it’s worth it?

    If you listen to your AirPods for less than 3 hours straight, you can use them normally with a slightly degraded battery.

    Here’s how long the AirPods 3 battery lasts at different degradation percentages:

    % of batery detoriorationMax playtime
    100%6 hours
    90%5h 24min
    80%4h 48min
    70%4h 12min
    60%3h 36m
    50%3h
    40%2h 24min
    30%1h 48m
    20%1h 12m
    Playtimes for AirPods 3 with spatial audio turned off

    Once you get to under 50% original battery capacity, the playtimes get short and frustrating.

    Especially for talking, as talktime is about a 3rd shorter than playtime.

    FAQs: Questions About AirPods Longevity

    What is the lifespan of AirPods?

    The lifespan of AirPods for most users is around 3 years, while some people still use them after 6 years.

    How long does AirPods battery health last?

    For most users AirPods battery health lowers to 60% original capacity after 3 years. From 6h to 3h 36min per charge. That’s 40% lower playtime. After 4 years it degrades to around 40% original capacity.

    When should I replace my AirPods?

    It would be best to replace your AirPods when they malfunction or when the battery doesn’t last long enough for you to use them without frustration. If under warranty, Apple will replace the battery for free when it holds less than 80% original capacity.

    How do I check the health of my AirPods?

    To check the health of your AirPods, measure how long they play music at 50% volume from fully charged until one earbud dies. Then compare your playtime with the official battery time that Apple promises.

    Read more:

    Conclusion

    AirPods are the best-selling earbuds in the world, but they come with their own problems. Battery deterioration is the main reason for a shorter lifespan.

    And with the introduction of new technologies, like spatial audio in AirPods 3, we can expect more energy-demanding earbuds in the future. So, the battery problem is here to stay for some time.

    If you follow the tips above, you’ll conserve battery life and prolong its lifespan.

    How long did your AirPods last? Please share with us in the comments below.

    2 Comments
    1. My AirPods Pro lasted less than one year when one side had noise canceling issues, causing a loud hum, making them unusable. Replaced under warranty and now about 10 months on the same issue has come back. Unfortunately there is only a 3 month warranty on the replacement. Making these expensive headphones useless. Great when they work but at the price 1 year is terrible. I will take them back to Apple but I am sure it’s a lost cause.

      Reply

      1. Hi Eugene,

        Unfortunately, your experience is an example of a more unfortunate example. It was just a stroke of bad luck.

        Thanks for sharing.

        Reply

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