How do I charge the AirPods Max?

Apple Airpods Max Listening Experience
Apple Airpods Max Listening Experience (Image credit: Apple)

How do I charge the AirPods Max?

Best answer: You can charge the AirPods Max using the Lightning port. The headphones come with a Lightning to USB-C cable in the box, but no charger.The magic of AirPods in a new over-the-ear form factor: AirPods Max ($549 at Apple)

Lightning port for charging

The AirPods Max will charge directly via a Lightning cable. As you can see in the AR render below, a Lightning port can be found on the bottom of one of the earpieces. This is the first product in the AirPods line that charges directly and not via a charging case.

AirPods Max render in AR

AirPods Max render in AR (Image credit: Apple)

The AirPods Max comes with a Lightning to USB-C cable in the box, but Apple doesn't include a charger. This means it will easily plug into your MacBook Air or MacBook Pro to charge, or if you happen to have one of the best iPhone 12 chargers, those will work just fine to charge it up.

The Smart Case doesn't charge the AirPods Max?

Airpods Max Smart Case

AirPods Max Smart Case (Image credit: Apple)

No. Unlike the AirPods and AirPods Pro, the case included with the AirPods Max — known as the Smart Case — will not charge your AirPods max at all. You can still charge the AirPods Max via the cable when you're using the Smart Case, as the Lightning port on the bottom is still exposed, but the case itself holds no charge at all.

Additionally, when you place the AirPods Max in the Smart Case, it will activate an ultra‑low‑power state that is meant to conserve battery life.

AirPods Max battery life and quick charge

Speaking of which, the AirPods Max has a battery life of approximately 20 hours of playback. If you look at Apple's footnotes about the AirPods Max, you'll notice that they tested the 20-hour figure with ANC on the entire time and Spatial Audio during movie playback. It's possible that without as much ANC use, you may be able to get more than 20 hours out of your pair of AirPods Max. As always, battery life depends on usage, device settings, and other factors.

Apple states that a five-minute charge on a pair of dead AirPods Max should give the headphones another 90 minutes of playback time.

"5-Minute charge testing conducted with drained AirPods Max that were charged for 5 minutes, then audio playback was started until the AirPods Max stopped playback."

There's no mention exactly what the wattage of the charger they used was for the test was, but likely you'd want a pretty powerful charger, at least 18W, to get that kind of performance.

Luke Filipowicz
Staff Writer

Luke Filipowicz has been a writer at iMore, covering Apple for nearly a decade now. He writes a lot about Apple Watch and iPad but covers the iPhone and Mac as well. He often describes himself as an "Apple user on a budget" and firmly believes that great technology can be affordable if you know where to look. Luke also heads up the iMore Show — a weekly podcast focusing on Apple news, rumors, and products but likes to have some fun along the way. 

Luke knows he spends more time on Twitter than he probably should, so feel free to follow him or give him a shout on social media @LukeFilipowicz.