Apple’s AirPods Max has no power button, so this is how the headphones conserve battery
It seems there was some initial confusion about how the new Apple AirPods Max handles power management. But Apple has now clarified the issue, or tried to, with an updated support page that outlines how and when the ₹59,900 headphones conserve battery life.
Apple had originally said that when the headphones are stored in the soft, slim smart case, the AirPods Max enter an “ultra-low-power state that preserves charge”. There was no clarity about what happened when the headphones were left outside the case though.
The Verge review found that the headphones lost only a few percentage battery points when left outside the case overnight. However, not everyone had that experience. Marcus Brownlee saw during his review that the battery loss was greater when the AirPods Max were idle.
Apple has explained that the AirPods Max enter into a “low power mode” when removed from the head and left stationary for five minutes outside the case. If they are left stationary and outside the case for 72 hours, they go into a lower power mode that switches off Bluetooth and features like Apple's Find My location tracking - this is pretty much like it being “off” or in deep sleep.
Importantly though, the smart case does not immediately trigger this deep sleep mode as soon as one would expect. Inserting the AirPods Max into the case puts them in the initial light low power mode, but it takes the headphones 18 hours of being in the smart case to go into the ultra-low power or deep sleep mode.
When the case is factored in, Apple does not mention that the headphones need to be stationary to enter this mode. But it is surprising that it takes the headphones almost an entire 24 hours to hit that point where they maximise battery, even in the case.
Apple is clearly prioritising quick device reconnections and ease of use over optimising battery life on the AirPods Max.
One thing Apple has not explained is what happens if the headphones are left worn around the neck once removed. However, since they would not be ‘stationary' in that case, they possibly remain active unless they are taken off and put on a table or stand.
Apple could adjust these default behavior modes through firmware updates, but even of battery drain is minimal in stationary mode, a manual power button would have been easier, perhaps.