Become a MacRumors Supporter for $25/year with no ads, private forums, and more!

MacRumors

macrumors bot
Original poster
Apr 12, 2001
54,693
16,880


When Apple unveiled AirPods Max last week, it revealed that they don't come with an on/off power button, but instead enter an "ultralow" power mode when inserted into the included Smart Case. That left a lot of questions about what happens to battery life when they're left out of the Smart Case and not being actively used. However, today Apple has provided some somewhat surprising answers to those questions, suggesting that the Smart Case isn't as essential to preserving battery life as many first thought.

AirPods-Max-Smart-Case-Battery-Life-Feature2.jpg

According to Apple, when AirPods Max are taken off but not put in their Smart Case, they enter a "low power mode" after five minutes of being left stationary. If left untouched, they remain in this low power mode for three days, after which the headphones enter an "ultralow" power state that disables Bluetooth and their Find My location to help further retain their remaining charge. From Apple's AirPods Max support document, updated overnight:
If you set your AirPods Max down and leave them stationary for 5 minutes, they go into a low power mode to preserve battery charge. After 72 stationary hours out of the Smart Case, your AirPods Max go into a lower power mode that turns off Bluetooth and Find My to preserve battery charge further.
Apple has also clarified how AirPods Max behave when placed in their Smart Case, and it turns out that the same two distinct low power states are involved, but enabled at different times. The first "low power mode" is immediately activated upon insertion, but the "ultralow" power mode doesn't actually kick in until after 18 hours in the Smart Case.
If you put your AirPods Max in the Smart Case when you're not using them, they go into a low power mode immediately to preserve battery charge. After 18 hours in the Smart Case, your AirPods Max go into an ultralow power mode that turns off Bluetooth and Find My and maximizes battery life.
Based on this description of AirPods Max power-saving modes, it would appear that the headphones enter the same "low power mode" when put down and left alone for five minutes as they do when placed in the Smart Case. However, the same "ultralow" power mode that activates after AirPods Max have been left for 18 hours in the Smart Case takes a full 72 hours to kick in when they are left out of the case.

Before Apple provided the above information, tests conducted by MacRumors suggested that AirPods Max battery drains only slightly faster when left outside of the case – a difference that is likely down to the longer time it takes for the "ultralow" power mode to activate when the headphones aren't in the Smart Case.

Putting aside the seeming arbitrariness of these sleep mode activation times, the main takeaway is that in the short term at least, there's no real power-saving advantage to be had from putting AirPods Max in the Smart Case instead of just setting them down on a desk and not touching them. But if you don't plan to use them again for the next 18 hours, then that's when to put them into the Smart Case, otherwise the "ultralow" power mode will take three days to activate, by which time the battery drain is likely to be a lot more significant.

Given the confusion that has followed the power-saving features of AirPods Max, some users have speculated that Apple might be able to add a power-off functionality to the physical controls via a future software update. Is that something you would prefer over the current situation? Let us know in the comments.

Article Link: Apple Clarifies Power-Saving Modes of AirPods Max When Not in Use
 
Last edited:

LongWayHome

Suspended
Oct 18, 2020
503
1,006
This is really good to know. I wish Apple would just be upfront about this stuff from the get go instead of waiting until people complain enough they feel they have to explain how their devices actually work. We are paying a premium for these headphones and it would be REALLY nice to know that we don't have to use your ridiculous case and not lose a ton of battery because of it.
 

iReality85

macrumors 65816
Apr 29, 2008
1,094
2,363
Upstate NY
“Putting aside the seeming arbitrariness of these sleep mode activation times, the main takeaway is that in the short term at least, there's no real power-saving advantage to be had from putting AirPods Max in the Smart Case instead of just setting them down on a desk and not touching them.”

I think this is what it comes down to. Why 3 days instead of... 3 hours? Or 3 minutes? The time duration to activate the ultralow power mode is completely arbitrary. This function should be something that the user determines, and usually is done with a dedicated on/off power button.

I know Apple likes to have its devices just magically operate in the background, but I think this is a case of over engineering. Even phones- devices that are meant to be “always on” devices- come with power buttons. If Apple is really that much against having buttons, then I think there needs to be a stand alone app for AirPods Max owners to customize settings. Owners should be able to adjust settings for power save, mic, etc. Not everyone would want or need those options, but we’re talking about a $549 device here. Having a robust app would make sense.
 
Last edited:

LEDOLPH

macrumors newbie
Dec 16, 2020
22
32
Europe
Aside from the price, the lack of switch off ability is a deal breaker. You get home you sit on sofa and someone sends you a video. But your headphones are off, does it play through iPhone or AirPod maxes?
Not really a problem. The switching is pretty good. In your example you’d put on your headphones (which would turn them on) and press play on whatever Apple device you wanted to watch the video on and they should just work.
 

aso238

macrumors newbie
Sep 29, 2020
12
50
I don't want that smart case on my desk when I'm using my AirPods, I like my workspace nice and clean.

Why didn't Apple make the case a bit bigger to protect your whole device and able to charge your AirPods wirelessly in the case. That would make it perfect for traveling etc
 
Last edited:

Areyouwinningson?

macrumors newbie
Nov 12, 2020
16
12
If the circuits and gates allows it then a simple firmware update should technically add a off switch function to the noise cancellation button by long pressing the noise cancellation button, if not, then updates can still be pulled for early kicking of the ultra low power saving mode when leaving them stationary. Apple could easily fix this if it wants, but the question here is that will they do it?, as it will affect the sales of the additional purse shaped case.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Mr. Rod and neander

LongWayHome

Suspended
Oct 18, 2020
503
1,006
I think the issue here is that Apple is treating the Airpods Max like they do the other Airpods. They want to give the same experience in regards to taking the headphones off and putting them in the case just like we do with the other ones. But Apple should have taken into consideration that unless the case is charging the headphones people might not want to use it and honestly shouldn't have to rely on it if its not charging their headphones.
 

Areyouwinningson?

macrumors newbie
Nov 12, 2020
16
12
I think the issue here is that Apple is treating the Airpods Max like they do the other Airpods. They want to give the same experience in regards to taking the headphones off and putting them in the case just like we do with the other ones. But Apple should have taken into consideration that unless the case is charging the headphones people might not want to use it and honestly shouldn't have to rely on it if its not charging their headphones.


Thats not the case. They probably want to earn more by separate sales of cases, as the case is not good quality wise and will be the first to fail in the lifespan.
 

EmotionalSnow

macrumors regular
Nov 1, 2019
239
712
Linz, Austria
Again Apple's reluctance to include a simple feature means you need to go through a ridiculous storage procedure to maintain battery life. Why not allow a press of the crown for a few seconds to power down the device instead.
Except that storing them in the case does not really benefit battery life. Edit: The only reason to store them in the case is if you plan to not use them for a day or longer and for transport of course. No need to put them in the case each time you take them off.

Aside from the price, the lack of switch off ability is a deal breaker. You get home you sit on sofa and someone sends you a video. But your headphones are off, does it play through iPhone or AirPod maxes?
They know whether they are on your head. It would be nice if people would inform themselves about a product before commenting.
 
Last edited:

LongWayHome

Suspended
Oct 18, 2020
503
1,006
Thats not the case. They want to earn more by separate sales of cases, as the case is not good quality wise and will be the first to fail in the lifespan.

I don't think that's it. I highly doubt Apple is going to make any other type of case for these headphones. If they did come out with say a "travel case" then yes I would fully agree with you on this.
 

Kabeyun

macrumors 68040
Mar 27, 2004
3,153
5,916
Eastern USA
I’m sure a firmware update can modify this behavior, and even enable the crown to activate ultra low power mode, if it becomes apparent that it’s needed.

I wish Apple would just be upfront about this stuff from the get go instead of waiting until people complain enough they feel they have to explain how their devices actually work.
Have there been lots of complaints about AirPods Max battery drain? Please cite your source.

For a company that claims to put the privacy of people front and center, it's disappointing that they made a device with microphones that can't be turned off.
It’s not the listening that’s a theoretical problem, it’s what’s done with what it hears. You’re welcome to review Apple’s policy and be reassured.
 
Last edited:

giggles

macrumors 6502a
Dec 15, 2012
820
628
MKBHD (or whoever from Apple briefed him or gave him talking points) has some ‘splaining to do about that “after about 2 hours” comment that confused the internet for 2 weeks.

So, in daily usage the smart case saves a grand total of 5 minutes before them going to low power mode anyway.

And in travel usage it shortens the “Find My” window from 72hrs to 18hrs, not even a day to realize you left them somewhere.

Think I’d keep them out of the case.
 
Register on MacRumors! This sidebar will go away, and you'll see fewer ads.