After some initial confusion about how AirPods Max manages power management, Apple has tried to clarify the issue with an updated support page showing how and when its new $ 550 headphones automatically keep battery life.
Initially, the company said that “when stored in their smart, soft and thin case, AirPods Max enters an ultra-low power state, which keeps the load.” But there was uncertainty about what happens when they are left behind outside case. In my review, I found that the headphones lost only a few percentage points of battery when left overnight without a case – nothing close to a worrying level of leakage. But not everyone has had this experience; Marques Brownlee noticed a higher amount of battery loss when the AirPods Max did not work.
According to Apple, the AirPods Max enters a “low power mode” when it is taken out of the head and left stationary for five minutes outside the case. If left in this state for 72 hours, enter a lower power mode that turns off Bluetooth, and features like Apple tracking my location. This, in essence, sounds like when they actually stop.
But somewhat surprisingly, the smart case doesn’t immediately trigger this deeper sleep mode as fast as I would have thought. The introduction of AirPods Max in the case immediately puts them in that easier way of reduced consumption. But it takes 18 hours for the headphones to be in the smart case for them to enter ultra-low power mode. When considering the case, Apple never mentions that the headphones must be “stationary” to enter these modes. But the fact that it takes almost 24 hours for the AirPods Max to reach the point where it maximizes battery life – even if it is – is a bit surprising to me.
Clearly, the company prioritizes quick reconnection of devices and convenience instead of removing the last part of the battery from the AirPods Max. A big question is what happens if the headphones are left worn around the neck when removed; since they are not stationary in this scenario, they assume that they remain fully active until they are removed and placed on a table or standing. Apple may be able to adjust these default behaviors through firmware updates, but for now, that’s how AirPods Max works.
Even though I saw a minimal battery discharge and, as I say in our video review, I still want it to have a power button. For simplicity.