Apple explains how AirPods Max low-power modes work

No, you don't need the Smart Case to enter low power mode.

Ever since Apple released AirPods Max, questions have swirled around its low-power modes. Do you really need to use the Smart Case to save battery life, or let the headphones idle for hours? Thankfully, Apple is finally setting the record straight. The company has outlined the low-power modes for the AirPods Max, and the truth is more reassuring than what you might have heard online.

Yes, the Smart Case immediately sets the over-ears to a low-power mode. However, they’ll also enter that low-power mode with as little as five minutes of inactivity — not the two hours you may have heard about in early reports. AirPods Max will go into an even more aggressive battery-saving mode that shuts off Bluetooth and Find My if you leave them alone for 18 hours in the Smart Case, or 72 hours by themselves.

The 72-hour threshold might help you track your headphones if they’re lost or stolen.

This still won’t please you if you’re looking for a true power-off toggle on the AirPods Max, or wish you could force the low-power mode instantly without resorting to the Smart Case. Even so, this could be reassuring if you’re worried about waking up to dead cans in the morning. Unless your battery is already very low, you’ll likely have plenty of charge left.

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