AirPods Max owners reporting huge battery drain

AirPods Max review
(Image credit: Future)

The AirPods Max is facing yet more confusion over its power usage — and more upset users — as reports emerge of Apple’s noise-cancelling headphones emptying its battery while supposedly in power-saving mode.

AirPods Max owners across Reddit, the Apple support forums and the MacRumors forums have all reported battery drain far in excess of what could be expected, raising questions about how reliable the Smart Case and the low power mode it enables can be.

For the unaware, the AirPods Max has no power button, and can’t be turned off manually. Instead, it enters low power mode when either left untouched for five minutes or docked in the bundled Smart Case.

There’s an even more frugal “ultra-low power” mode that kicks in once the AirPods Max has been left in the case for 18 hours, but even the standard power-saving mode should only cause the headphones to lose a few percent of battery power over several hours.

However, now there are numerous user reports of the AirPods Max battery emptying overnight, or otherwise draining much faster than low power mode should allow. While this is a seemingly a mere bug that’s affecting a relatively small number of owners, it’s a deeply unfortunate fault given that the AirPods Max have already befuddled some users. It took an updated Apple support page just to explain the different battery-saving modes, and missing power button, when the headphones launched last year.

MacRumors user Broken Hope suggests that the excessive drain issue may be caused by the AirPods Max not properly disconnecting from source devices when entering low power mode, citing his Mac still listing the headphones as available when stowed away. Hopefully this means the problem is a software bug and can be fixed via update, rather than a permanent hardware issue.

James Archer

James is currently Hardware Editor at Rock Paper Shotgun, but before that was Audio Editor at Tom’s Guide, where he covered headphones, speakers, soundbars and anything else that intentionally makes noise. A PC enthusiast, he also wrote computing and gaming news for TG, usually relating to how hard it is to find graphics card stock.