Apple AirPods battery life test results: how long do they last?

We have spent the last few days testing the Apple AirPods and you can already see our full review of Apple's truly wireless earbuds, but there is one particular aspect of the experience that deserves a separate mention: battery life.

Apple promised that the headphones will last 5 hours each on a single charge, with the case itself providing an additional 24 hours worth of playback, so we wondered: do the actual headphones live up to those numbers? After all, we'd already tested some competitors like the Samsung Gear IconX and while we loved their more discrete design, we only got between an hour and an hour and fifteen minutes, depending on the volume.

Well, do not worry: the Apple AirPods not only live up to their promise, but they even exceed the expectations: we tuned in to iHeartRadio and started streaming non-stop until the buds battery die. The test started at 11:04 AM and finished at 5:06 PM, which works out to 6 hours and 2 minutes of battery life on a single charge. Impressive!

What impressed us no less is the fact that you just return the AirPods in their dental floss-like case and they get fully charged from 0 to 100% in just 20 minutes. In comparison, the same pair of Gear IconX's that we tested took an excruciatingly long one hour and 10 minutes to get fully charged.

This is a gamechanged for wireless earbuds: sure, many people don't like the design of the AirPods with the tips sticking out of your ears, and more importantly, some people don't like that the AirPods just don't fit well in their ears, but it's hard to argue that Apple has done a wonderful job making these little things last and last.

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1. Xboxsucks69

Posts: 28; Member since: Sep 01, 2016

We got 6 says it all, iphonearena

23. sgodsell

Posts: 7227; Member since: Mar 16, 2013

There are a lot of better options than these airheads when it comes to price and features. Especially when it comes to battery life. If I am going to have something stick out of my ears anyway. Then I can pick up a Bluetooth headsets that can offer 40 hours of battery life.

25. Leo_MC

Posts: 7238; Member since: Dec 02, 2011

”Better” means better features than what w1 has to offer, only that there's no other headset that does that.

29. sgodsell

Posts: 7227; Member since: Mar 16, 2013

There are lots of others that offer better features than Apples Airpods. Some offer storage so you can play music directly from them, and some have fitness tracking, like a heart rate monitor, and step counter. As far as the 6 hours of stream music from these. I don't believe it. Because some have said they last 4 hours, and some have said 4.5 hours. I am not into any of these earbuds or airpods, because the battery life is ridiculous, period. My current LG tones+ last 18 hours. I also just received a new Bluetooth headset that is suppose to last 40 hours, and so far I haven't needed to charge them yet.

30. bucky

Posts: 3778; Member since: Sep 30, 2009

The lg tones are hideous and huge. The battery life on the airpods has been reported to see 5 hours pretty much everywhere ( though if you have a link to that review I'd appreciate as I'm buying them). The 40 hour Bluetooth pair has to be a full over the ear set so not compatible.

35. joey_sfb

Posts: 6794; Member since: Mar 29, 2012

Still better than a Q-tip design which look plain silly.

38. sgodsell

Posts: 7227; Member since: Mar 16, 2013

The LG tones sit around your neck. To some they are hideous and huge. But they offer full phone, music, and volume controls, and have a really great microphone for phone calls. The Sennheiser headset I just received has really great sound quality, noise cancellation, plus full phone, music, and volume controls. All of which is missing from Apple's AirPods. Sure they are over the ears and they cost an additional $100 over the cost of AirPods, but they are most certainly compatible with iPhones, Androids, or computers in general. Oh, and they last a lot longer in terms of battery life.

39. Leo_MC

Posts: 7238; Member since: Dec 02, 2011

Hmm, let's see: audio sync (if you have watched video, using wireless headphones for listening the sound, you know what I mean); pairing (just open the cap and they can be paired; open cc on another device and pair them). No other headphones are able to do that better. As for the usage time, the reports in the wild show that it's very possible to get to 5-6h with average usage.

42. sgodsell

Posts: 7227; Member since: Mar 16, 2013

Hmm, let's see: audio sync (it's starts with having a great wireless connection, which means great hardware, so the connection doesn't drop out when you move around, or you are too far away from your paired connected device, like your smartphone). You are talking to someone who has multiple Bluetooth headsets over the years. Some good and some not so good. Today many offer outstanding battery life with excellent standby times rated in weeks. As far as pairing is concerned, Apple and you have made a big stink on how hard it is to pair a Bluetooth device to you Smartphone or other Bluetooth devices. I know full well how hard it is to pair 2 Bluetooth devices together. Naturally it depends on the devices. But today most Bluetooth headsets or speakers allow multiple devices to be paired. So you could have a tablet, and a smartphone paired to a Bluetooth headset with no problems. Naturally it depends on the devices but some Bluetooth headsets will allow and remember up to 4 paired devices, before it will recycle it's first paired device. At which point the first Bluetooth device will have to be paired again. Apple and you have made it sound like it's a major pain in order to pair a Bluetooth device everytime. When in reality it's not difficult at all. However I will give credit where credit is due and Apple giving users a simpler choice and option for pairing is a nice feature. But once again it's not like you are going to pair your headsets or speakers to a ton of devices. Most users will pair a Bluetooth headset or speaker to one or two devices at most.

45. Leo_MC

Posts: 7238; Member since: Dec 02, 2011

Audio sync is perfect when listening to music but it has a slight delay in Samsung when watching video (the sound goes to main bud then to the second one and only then it start to play, which means we have a delay of as much as half a second between the image and sound); this is not happening to Air Pods, because of the w1. I'm sure Apple can design its iOS so that it would be easy to pair any earbud just as easy as Air Pods, but until it does... I'm also sure that the future earbuds from other manufacturers will have their version of w1 processor and will be just as good as Apple's, but until they do... I would not buy either one, because I can get what I need from a cheap 30 euro hardware. But if I had to choose, Apple would be a distant winner.

50. PaulSprinter

Posts: 2; Member since: Apr 08, 2018

I think the main point for me is that airpods dont neccesairly need 40 hours of battery time. Personally I don't see myself using earphones for more than 4 hours, and when i'm finished I can simply put them away and in around 15 minutes I can use them again with full charge.

32. azimesmail

Posts: 264; Member since: Nov 23, 2014

Aren't these cheaper than almost every "truly" wireless earbuds? Gear IconX, Jabra Wireless Elite, Bragi Dash, Earn, etc. It's cheaper than them all, and have a better connection...

44. sgodsell

Posts: 7227; Member since: Mar 16, 2013

Azimesmail you have to point out that Apples AirPods are cheaper. However I notice that you didn't even mention that all the ones that you listed have features or options that are not found on Apple's AirPods. For instance the Gear IconX, Jabra Elite, and Bragi Dash all have fitness tracking capabilities. The IconX, and Bragi Dash both have 4 GB of on board storage, and can play back stored music without carrying your phone. Plus they have health tracking and can track your heart rate as well. The Bragi Dash go a little further in the sense that they can track laps when you swim. The Jabra Elite are the most expensive at $349. However they can track your fitness level like nothing before these came into the picture. These even have an VO2 sensor, and can track your oxygen levels as well as your heart rate. Not to mention they can automatically track a number of different workouts. So if you drop down to do some push-ups, they can automatically track that, and know that you are doing push-ups. But that is not the best part of Jabra Elite's. They also have a built in Coach, so you receive voice prompts and alerts during your workouts. It's like having a life coach in your ear. The Earin's are more for audiophiles, especially when they can reach 105 db with a range of 20-20000 Hertz. So they offer really great sound quality for $40 more than Apples AirPods. Plus all of the devices you listed have volume and music controls on their outside. Something that is missing from Apple's AirPods.

24. Leo_MC

Posts: 7238; Member since: Dec 02, 2011

If they got 6 hours (on par with what other tech sites got), should they have said they only got 1 hour just to please dumb asses that express dislike to Apple products?

3. TerryTerius unregistered

That's actually kinda impressive.


Posts: 1168; Member since: Oct 05, 2015

I like how they look...Sorta. if these things have a mic in the base for telephone calls, that would be awesome. Personally, my only gripes with these are that a) they're too expensive, and b) they're from Apple

26. Leo_MC

Posts: 7238; Member since: Dec 02, 2011

They have the microphone. a) they are cheaper than Samsung's earbuds. b) this is really stupid; why do you care who has made the product as long as it is what you need and want?!

43. sgodsell

Posts: 7227; Member since: Mar 16, 2013

The Apple part comes into play because if these are paired to another device that is not Apple, then you will be missing a lot of features, which are only supported by using iPhone or another Apple device. There is no volume controls, or music controls with Apples AirPods. Even then if these AirPods are connected to an iPhone, there is still no controls, except for voice controls which are sent to your iPhone.

46. Leo_MC

Posts: 7238; Member since: Dec 02, 2011

There is play/pause. Volume control or skip track are done through Siri (which is why I wouldn't like them).

51. PaulSprinter

Posts: 2; Member since: Apr 08, 2018

There's way to get every single feature that is available on apple devices to also work on android, and it's quite easy.

34. azimesmail

Posts: 264; Member since: Nov 23, 2014

Expensive, yet cheaper than other "truly" wireless options. Gear IconX, Jabra Wireless Elite, Bragi Dash, Earin, etc

31. vincelongman

Posts: 5677; Member since: Feb 10, 2013

Yep, I'm really impressed with their battery life and easy connect with Apple devices Sound quality, lack of physical controls and aesthetics are disappointing Overal I'd say they are wroth it if people want battery life and easy connect with Apple devices

4. bucky

Posts: 3778; Member since: Sep 30, 2009

Still trying to find a pair. I got a gift card to bestbuy and they have absolutely none of them just yet.

5. NarutoKage14

Posts: 1318; Member since: Aug 31, 2016

And at what volume % was this test performed? What type of music/audio was used? These variables make all the difference.

13. dorianb

Posts: 617; Member since: Oct 24, 2012

My only regret is that I have only but one (1) up vote to give to this statement

15. Unordinary unregistered

I'm getting a solid 7 hours out of mine with 70% volume and at home. A full 10 hour work day with 40% volume (office)

6. TechieXP1969

Posts: 14967; Member since: Sep 25, 2013

Icon X? You're using them wrong. They get up to 90 mins if you stream the music from your phone. You get 3 hours if you put the music on the earbuds themselves. I guess you were to lazy to copy a few tracks to the earbuds and test them that way?

8. Victor.H

Posts: 1056; Member since: May 27, 2011

No, we were not too lazy, we tested playback times on the IconX when you copy music (90 to 100 minutes in our tests), but we need to compare the two on equal terms. And on equal terms, that's the numbers that you get. And let's get real: how many people will actually copy music to their earphones in 2016 rather than just listen to Spotify / Apple Music?

11. trojan_horse

Posts: 5868; Member since: May 06, 2016

"And let's get real: how many people will actually copy music to their earphones in 2016 rather than just listen to Spotify / Apple Music?" The US isn't the world, bruh... Copying music to an earphone is actually more budget friendly than subscribing to a music streaming service and/or paying for internet data to stream music. "And on equal terms, that's the numbers that you get." So you got 6 hours on the AirPod... Couldn't it be actually less than that? Just curious.

21. sissy246

Posts: 7087; Member since: Mar 04, 2015

Bet you are totally right on both. Apple released a low number just to make them look good.

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