Any technology product with a lithium-ion battery must be kept between specific operating temperatures to work properly, and AirPods are no exception. The truly-wireless earbuds are the pinnacle of convenience and ease-of-use, so it’s easy to forget that they are vulnerable to the same issues as any other battery-powered device. Unlike wired headphones, which do not contain a battery and thus are less at risk to overheat, wireless headphones can overheat just as an iPhone can. However, while the iPhone provides warnings that an iPhone is overheating, AirPods are not capable of the same instructions. That means users must be extra careful to keep their AirPods cool, especially in the summer months.
Similar to iPhones and other mobile devices, AirPods must be kept out of extreme temperatures on both ends of the spectrum. In some cases, low temperatures can be just as dangerous as high temperatures. In order to protect the lifespan of AirPods — which can be shortened by repeated exposure to extreme temperatures — it’s important to know the boundaries of the wireless earbuds’ operating temperatures. Since AirPods are completely unrepairable, if damage occurs to a pair due to high temperatures, the only option is to replace the entire pair of earbuds. Moreover, some of the specific qualities of AirPods make them more vulnerable than most devices to overheating and temperature damage.
Apple lists the same temperature guidance for the three models of AirPods: the standard AirPods, the AirPods Pro, and the AirPods Max. The safe operating temperature range for all of these models is between 0º and 35º C (32º to 95º F), and operating outside of these temperature boundaries may cause the headphones to function abnormally. The company acknowledges that both the case and earbuds might feel hot during charging, and this is normal. AirPods will return to a normal temperature after charging is completed, but if the temperature remains elevated, the surrounding environment may be too hot. Since AirPods are always charging within the charging case, they are at greater risk to overheat while charging.
There are a few things that might happen to AirPods when they overheat, which can have short and long-term effects. If AirPods sense that they are getting too hot, the earbuds might temporarily slow or pause charging to regulate their temperature. The headphones might shut down for a period of time, but this usually occurs with exposure to extreme cold temperatures. When using AirPods in high temperatures, battery life can shorten, and these effects might be permanent. Because the AirPods use tiny battery cells that are always charging, they are more susceptible to capacity loss when the devices overheat.
AirPods mainly overheat when they are kept in environments with high ambient temperatures for long periods of time. The most common example of this is when left in cars parked in direct sunlight, which routinely experience temperatures greater than the AirPods’ safe operating temperatures. Other cases may include leaving a pair of AirPods in direct sunlight, especially in seasons with high temperatures, like the summer months. Apple recommends users avoid storing their AirPods in parked cars or in direct sunlight to avoid these issues. When left in environments with high temperatures, AirPods can overheat, resulting in temporary or permanent damage to battery life.