5 ways to improve AirPods' battery life, and check their charge level

Want to know how to make your AirPods' battery last longer?

An iPhone next to the AirPods Pro 2
(Image: © Future)

It’s never good when the music stops. Whether you’re listening to your favourite album on the way to work or in the middle of a call, a dead pair of Apple AirPods are as sad as it sounds. Thankfully there are few different ways you can improve AirPods' battery life – including just by checking it regularly, so you have a chance to charge before running out of power.

If you own one of the best AirPods, then its longevity will of course vary depending on which model you own, but we've got some tips and tricks to extend their battery life that will work on any of them, from the cheapest AirPods 2nd Gen up to the latest AirPods Pro 2.

Steps for how to improve your AirPods battery

  • Check your AirPods' battery level
  • Turn on Optimized Charging
  • Turn off noise cancellation features
  • Lower the volume
  • Charge one AirPod at a time

Tools and requirements

  • AirPods
  • An iPhone

Step by step guide

1. Check your AirPods battery level

(Image: © Future)

There are three different ways to check your AirPods battery. The first and quickest way is on your iPhone’s lock screen. You’ll recognize this from when you first paired your AirPods to your iPhone, as it automatically brings up a notification on your screen showing you the AirPods charge percentage. The second way is to simply ask Siri: How much charge do my AirPods have?   

The third way that you can use to keep track of your battery level is on your iPhone’s home screen with a widget. To set this up, press and hold anywhere on your home screen, then press the + icon at the top left side of your screen. This will bring up all your widgets so you’ll need to search Batteries to find the right one. There are three different styles that you can then choose from. Once you’ve decided on one you like, press Add Widget, which will place it in your home screen. 

If all else fails, or as a bonus fourth way, you can also check the battery life in your iPhone’s Settings when connected by pressing [your name] AirPods

2. Turn on Optimized Charging

(Image: © Future)

Just like how you can enable ‘Low Power Mode’ on your iPhone to get the most out of your charge capacity, you can also turn on a similar mode for your AirPods. You can do this by opening your iPhone’s home screen and going to Settings. Then open your AirPods case – make sure to close the battery life display if that pops up – which will bring up more settings. 

Scroll down to Optimized Charging and make sure that this feature is turned on – you can check this by making sure that it is green. By enabling this, your AirPods will be able to maintain their maximum possible battery life for longer, through learning your regular charging routine, which will help stop your battery ageing and losing capacity over time.

3. Turn off noise cancellation features

(Image: © Future)

If you’ve made the jump to the AirPods Pro, AirPods Pro 2 or AirPods Max then you’ll likely have found the active noise cancelation (ANC) to be one of their top features – and the latest-gen AirPods 2 are a major improvement on their predecessors – but they do use up quite a substantial amount of battery.

By switching these off, you can get longer use out of your AirPods. You can do this by going to Settings – make sure your AirPods case is open – and then pressing [your name] AirPods. Under Noise Control you’ll be able to switch this mode to Off, further down you’ll also be able to turn off Adaptive Transparency. If you want quick access to your adjustment settings, you can find these by swiping down on the top right corner of your screen and holding down on the volume bar. 

4. Turn down the volume

(Image: © Future)

We hear you. There are times when playing music loudly is absolutely necessary because you're in a loud place, or just because the song's a banger, but it isn’t always needed. Whether you’re at work or just wanting to block out background noise to focus, you might not need the volume up high.     

Just like how additional features such as noise cancelation and transparency mode drain your battery faster than if you didn’t have them turned on, so does a higher volume setting. By turning down the volume on your AirPods to a more ambient level you can not only save your ears, but your battery life too. 

5. Charge one AirPod at a time

(Image: © Future)

If you’re on a call or just want to finish that podcast, a neat trick that you can use to get more out of your battery life is by charging one AirPod at a time, which allows you to still be able to listen, and you'll get twice as much listening time from charging one AirPod than if you charged two. Just five minutes of charging time will equate to one hour of listening time, which can sometimes be enough power for the commute home.

Another nice feature of AirPods is that you can turn ANC and transparency mode off in each individual Pod, giving you flexibility if you need to be able to still hear what’s going on around you. You can do this by accessing your AirPods Settings and under Press and Hold AirPods you will have control for each Pod. 

Final thoughts

As one of the first best wireless earbuds to go to market, Apple has come a long way since launching the original Apple AirPods in 2016. It’s a testament to the company’s design and quality build, which is why we count the AirPods among our best wireless earbuds – but they're no good if they're dead. You don't need to use our tips above all the time, but it's good to know about them, so you can make use of them when needed.

Amelia Schwanke
Senior Editor UK, Home Entertainment

Amelia became the Senior Editor for Home Entertainment at TechRadar in the UK in April 2023. With a background of more than eight years in tech and finance publishing, she's now leading our coverage to bring you a fresh perspective on everything to do with TV and audio. When she's not tinkering with the latest gadgets and gizmos in the ever-evolving world of home entertainment, you’ll find her watching movies, taking pictures and travelling.