AirPods Max’s battery life meets Apple’s claims, tests show

A series of independent tests shows that the battery life of the AirPods Max lives up to Apple’s claims.

Apple makes two key claims about battery life. First, that the over-ear headphones last “up to” 20 hours with ANC and spatial audio in use, and they actually did a little better than this in testing …

The tests were conducted by a design agency as part of a promotion for their own charging stand for AirPods Max.

Apple: “Your AirPods Max can get up to 20 hours of listening, talk time, or movie playback when you’ve turned on Active Noise Cancellation and Spatial Audio.”

In our test, we used fully charged AirPods Max and played Apple Music’s Global Top 100 playlist on an iPhone on a loop. We turned up the volume to 75% with Active Noise Cancellation turned on. The AirPods Max lasted about 22 hours, before shutting down and disconnecting from the iPhone.

What seems less accurate is the battery percentage indication.

It took more than 1 hour to go from 100% to 99%. While the rest of the graph shows a more linear discharge, the same behavior can be seen at the end, when it again took about 1 hour from the 1% battery until they disconnected. Note that this is based on the battery level displayed by Apple and may not reflect the actual battery charge itself. The reasons Apple decides to display the percentage in this way are subject to speculation.

Apple also said that if it runs out of power, charging the headphones for just five minutes will get you another 90 minutes of use. This statement was also believed to be accurate.

Apple: “If you charge the AirPods Max for 5 minutes, you get about 1.5 hours of listening.”

To test Apple’s claim, we charged the fully downloaded AirPods Max for exactly 5 minutes. This gave us 1 hour and 39 minutes of listening, playing the Global Top 100 on Apple Music at 75% volume with Active Noise Cancellation turned on.

As Apple acknowledged in a support document released sometime after the headphones went on sale, using the Smart Case makes no difference in actual use.

We tested both, leaving the AirPods Max stationary outside the Smart Case and inserting them into the case to see how much battery drains in comparison. When leaving the AirPods Max stationary outside the Smart Case for 12 hours, we noticed a 5% drop in the battery life displayed. We also let them sit 12 hours inside the Smart Case and also recorded a 5% drop. According to the battery level displayed by Apple, although a rounding could be applied, both configurations seem to work the same and we haven’t seen a big difference. Battery consumption is approximately 1% every 2.5 hours. It remains to be seen how efficient the ultra-low power mode is, which Apple claims to activate after 72 hours outside and 18 hours inside the Smart Case, but it’s unlikely to play a role in typical use cases.

Some users, however, report massive battery drain overnight, even going from 100% to 0% in some cases. We haven’t heard any explanation yet of what might be causing this.

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