As much as we love our AirPods for their style, durability, and sound quality, there are endless ways that they can go wrong. And if you’re not worrying about volume, sound quality, or practical applications, you may be concerned about charging.
If your AirPods appear to be charging slowly, you’re probably wondering if there’s anything you can do to change that. Is there a way to speed up the charging process, for the case or the earbuds themselves?
In this article I’ll take a look at some of the common issues that can affect charging speeds, and most importantly, some proven fixes that can speed everything up.
Table of Contents
Why Your AirPods are Charging Slowly
There are a few different things that can affect the charging speed of your AirPods. And, for the most part, these are universal things that can affect any electrical item that is charged by a power cable.
Cleaning the charging port, for one, is an excellent way to improve connectivity between contact pins and improve the flow of electricity. I’ll detail exactly how to do a safe and effective clean a little later in this article.
Another thing to bear in mind that may appear to be slowing the rate of charging of your AirPods is Apple’s optimized charging feature.
Optimized charging is a feature that aims to extend the lifespan of your AirPods (and iPhone and iPad, too) by limiting the amount of time your devices spend at maximum charge. Again, I’ll explain this properly later, and show you how to turn it off if you prioritize faster charging over longevity.
There’s also a chance that your AirPods are suffering from a firmware problem (or are running out-of-date firmware) which is reducing their charge capacity. An update or a reset can mitigate these problems.
And finally, it might be time to consider that your AirPods and/or charging case are reaching the end of their lifespan. Lithium-ion batteries simply cannot last forever, and unfortunately, that day will come for all of us when we need to start thinking about replacements.
So, before we get into fixes, there’s one important question we need to address, so you can understand if you really have an issue in the first place.
How Fast Should AirPods Charge?
The answer to this largely depends on how much charge you have when you first plug your AirPods in, and if you’re talking about charging your AirPods to max capacity, or to a certain amount of usage time.
As a general rule of thumb, roughly 15 minutes of charge will give you approximately 3 hours of listening time. So, 15 minutes should get you through a long bus journey, or your commute to work and back for a day.
When your case is plugged in, however, 15 minutes of charge time gives you around 24 hours. That’s a whole day of listening from just a quarter of an hour of charging.
With that in mind, how fast your AirPods go from 10% to 100% is almost irrelevant, considering how much listening time you get out of just a short blast of charging.
If your AirPods or case has completely died and the battery is at 0%, it may take longer for them to show any sign of charging as the battery has to come back from the dead.
Similarly, if you regularly let your AirPods’ battery die completely before charging them, this could have a negative impact on the overall health of the battery. In turn, your AirPods will charge slower, hold less charge for less time, and deplete faster.
How to Speed Up AirPods Charging
So, now let’s get into actual practical fixes you can implement to speed up the charge times of your AirPods.
Clean Charging Ports
There are two different connectivity points that, if dirty, blocked, or damaged, will impact the speed at which your AirPods charge. The first one is where the AirPods connect with the charging pins inside the case. The second is the charging port on the bottom of the case where you connect a power cable.
Both of these areas can become damaged or dirty. The input on the bottom of the case can get clogged with dust and debris very easily too. Cleaning these connectors can improve the speed and efficacy of charging.
AirPod and Case Internal Charging Connectors
For the connector pins on the bottom of the AirPods and inside the case, a simple wipe-down with a microfiber cloth should do the trick. If there’s any noticeable gunk, you might want to apply a tiny dab of isopropyl alcohol to the cloth before you wipe.
Ensure you let everything air dry completely before trying to use it again.
AirPods Case External Charging Port
The external charging port is a little different – you definitely don’t want to get any liquid in there at all. The best way to release dust and dirt from the port is to give it a quick gentle blow, and see if anything dislodges.
You can also try the end of a toothpick to scrape out lint and balls of dust. Just be extra gentle to make sure you don’t damage any of the pins, and never use anything metal like a paperclip.
Reset Your AirPods
If you think there might be a problem with the internal firmware of your AirPods, you can try resetting them back to their factory default and see if this improves their charging capacity.
Here’s how to carry out a reset:
- Place your AirPods in the case, close the lid and wait for 30 seconds
- Open the lid, remove your AirPods, and place them in your ears
- Go to Settings > Bluetooth > Your AirPods
- Disconnect your AirPods (if they’re connected) by tapping the Information (i) next to them, then selecting Forget This Device > Confirm
- Put your AirPods back in the case but keep the lid open
- Press and hold the Setup button for 15 seconds, or until the status light begins to flash amber then white
- Reconnect your AirPods by bringing the case close to your device until the pairing pop-up appears on your device screen
You’ve now reset your AirPods! Any runtime errors or firmware glitches that may have been impeding their charging speed should now be cleared out.
If resetting your AirPods didn’t seem to help, it may be that you’re running an outdated version of the AirPods firmware, which could be strangling battery charge time.
AirPods firmware updates automatically, so you shouldn’t need to do anything. You can, however, take certain steps to ensure any firmware updates are downloaded and installed asap.
Firmware updates will download and install themselves when your AirPods are connected to power, Wi-Fi, and are within Bluetooth range of your device. So, the best way to ensure the update happens is to leave your AirPods plugged in next to your device overnight. If you can’t do it overnight, 30-60 minutes is the minimum recommended time.
Turn Off Optimized Charging
As I mentioned earlier, most Apple products now come with an already-on feature called Optimized Charging. Optimized charging works by limiting when your devices (in this instance, your AirPods) reach their fully charged state.
For example, if you’re charging your iPhone overnight with optimized charging turned off, your phone will reach 100% long before you wake up and unplug it. The longer a device sits with its battery at maximum capacity, the more its capacity for reaching 100% charge and retaining 100% charge will degrade.
With optimized charging, your devices will remember roughly the time they are unplugged, then sit at around 80% charge until that time (or just before that time), then charge up to 100%. Then, when you unplug your device, it’ll have a fresh full charge, and should last longer overall.
If you don’t like that, or you just want your device to charge as fast as possible, you can turn off optimized charging by first placing your AirPods in the case, opening the lid, then heading to Settings > Bluetooth, then tapping the Information (i) next to Your AirPods. Next, just toggle Optimized Charging on or off.
There you have it, some great fixes that should improve the charge time of your AirPods. Of course, it’s worth remembering that lithium-ion batteries only have a projected lifespan of 2 – 3 years, or 500 – 600 charge cycles – whichever comes first.
Every time you charge a device that uses a lithium-ion battery, some of the charge capacity is lost. That means over time, your devices will hold less and less power, and charge less and less effectively.
This means that unfortunately, your AirPods might just be at the end of their lifespan, and perhaps the best option is a replacement pair. Good luck!