Does your Apple AirPods keep disconnecting all the time, annoying the hell out of you? Well, the good news is that you are not the only one facing this issue. Ever since Apple introduced its gawky-looking Bluetooth earbuds in 2016, thousands of users have complained about this issue. The problem is so widespread, it still affects AirPods users until today. In this article, we take a look at some possible solutions to this rather peculiar problem.
Note that most of the solutions in his article can also be applied to the Apple AirPods Pro as well.
Ever since their introduction in 2016, Apple’s wireless earbuds have become the go-to choice for headphones—especially among iPhone and iPad owners. A successor to Apple’s old wired earbuds marketed as Earpods, as of 2022, there are three different AirPod models to choose from. The AirPods (currently in its third generation), AirPods Pro (currently in its second generation), and the AirPods Max.
With ease of use being touted as the best aspects of Apple AirPods, it is downright ironic to see the Apple forum riddled with queries from people who seem to be facing issues with them. One issue, in particular, is when the AirPods randomly disconnect while you are in the middle of a phone call or even listening to music. Let us explore why this happens and look at plausible solutions.
Before we even start, it is a good idea to explore the causes behind this annoying issue. From our research, we were able to deduce that there could be several reasons behind AirPods randomly disconnecting. We were, however, able to pin it down to three major aspects:
- Software issue: Usually caused by a software update or accidentally changing some settings.
- Signal interference issue: Wireless devices are highly susceptible to interference.
- Hardware issue: There is something wrong with the actual hardware.
Depending on the cause, the troubleshooting steps to fix frequently disconnecting AirPods may vary from being outright simple to somewhat complex. Let’s now take a look at some of the plausible fixes—starting with the easiest.
At the risk of annoying many of you who may have other issues with the AirPods, we want to start off by addressing perhaps the most common reason behind frequent disconnections. A lot of people simply forget how long they have been using the AirPods for. Once the battery level on the AirPods goes beyond a certain threshold, it is susceptible to random disconnections.
The good thing is, you can quickly check the battery life on the AirPods using these simple steps. If you’re using an iPhone, you can do so by accessing the Batteries widget.
- To open the batteries' widget, tap and hold the home screen until the icons start shaking.
- Tap on the “+” symbol in the top left corner to access the widget page.
- Scroll down and look for the Batteries and then select Add Widget.
Now, you can monitor the battery life of the AirPods and be aware well in advance before the battery dips to critical levels and affect the sound quality.
Another way to do this is to simply pop them back into their case and leave the lid open. If you bring your iPhone close to the case, you may see a pop-up window that will display the charge left on both: your case and the individual AirPods.
If you’re too lazy to do all these, you can simply ask Siri what your AirPods’ battery percentage is!
Now that you have established that the AirPods have enough charge in them, it’s time to delve deeper. Since AirPods rely on Bluetooth for connecting to your devices, it is always a good idea to start looking for possible Bluetooth-related issues.
The very first thing you can do is to try turning off Bluetooth and then turning it back on again. Before you do this, it would be a good idea to unpair your AirPods from any other device you might have tethered it to. Once your turn Bluetooth back on again, check if the AirPods reconnect automatically and if the issue is resolved.
A more drastic method would be to unpair the AirPods from your phone and reconnect them again. Note that this process would also unpair it from other devices linked to the same iCloud account. To unpair Apple AirPods from your iPhone;
- Open Settings.
- Tap Bluetooth.
- Tap the “i” button next to the AirPods in the list of devices.
- Tap Forget this device.
To reconnect your AirPods to the iPhone, follow these steps:
- Make sure your iPhone is unlocked and on the home screen.
- Put your AirPods in its case, keep the lid open, and hold it next to your iPhone.
- You will see a setup animation pop up.
- Tap the ‘Connect’ option.
- A setup animation appears on your iPhone.
- Tap Connect and complete the setup process.
In case you face the disconnection issue on one specific device, it would be a good idea to turn the Wi-Fi off on that device to check if the issue persists. Note that you are performing this as a troubleshooting step just to check if turning off Wi-Fi fixes the issue. You will obviously need to turn it back on again once you establish that the Wi-Fi was the issue.
Once you do figure out that the Wi-Fi was, indeed, the culprit, it might be a good idea to reduce the distance between the AirPods and the connected device as much as possible. Also, check if the AirPods are in close proximity to microwave ovens, baby monitors, and even wireless cameras.
Random disconnection issued can also be the result of outdated firmware on the AirPods. To check if there is an updated firmware for your AirPods, here’s what you need to do on your iPhone.
- Make sure your AirPods are in the case and connected to the iPhone.
- Open Settings.
- Tap General and then About.
- Scroll down to the connected AirPods and tap it.
- A screen will now show you details about the AirPods—including the firmware version.
- To update the firmware, connect a lightning cable to the bottom of the charging case and leave the case next to the iPhone for a while (preferably overnight).
- This is because there is no way to force-install a firmware version to the AirPods.
- If there is a new software version available, the new update should be automatically installed.
In case your AirPods continue to exhibit the same disconnection issue, it’s time for more drastic steps.
Now, automatic ear detection is a nifty feature that basically does what it says. This feature lets your device know when the AirPods are in your ears. However, this feature has also been blamed for causing the auto disconnect issue. In case you are annoyed by random disconnections, it’s a good idea to turn this feature off. Here’s how.
- Tap Settings.
- Go to Bluetooth and tap the Info icon next to AirPods.
- Disable the option that says Automatic Ear Detection.
Automatic switching is a feature that was introduced with iOS 14. It allows AirPods to automatically switch between Apple devices. In case you have multiple Apple devices in your home, this feature is designed to make life easier. Oftentimes, however, enabling this feature could lead to random disconnections and the AirPods connecting to a wrong device. Anyway, this is how you can disable automatic switching on Apple AirPods.
- Open Settings.
- Tap Bluetooth and tap the Info icon next to AirPods.
- Tap the option that says Connect to this iPhone.
- Make sure the option Automatically is not selected.
- Select the option that says When last connected to this iPhone.
We have tried to address most of the causes, and possible solutions behind Apple AirPods keeps on disconnecting. In fact, there is a good chance that you may have solved the issue using one of the methods above. We believe most of the steps are relatively easy to perform.
However, there might be instances wherein you're still left with a problematic set of AirPods even after performing the aforementioned steps. In this scenario, it is a good idea to also check our dedicated article that deals with common issues faced by users of wireless headphones.
However, in case the issue still hasn't been solved, this could mean an issue that needs more attention and could point to a more serious hardware issue. This could especially be the case if you recall dropping one of your AirPods recently. In such a scenario, it is a better idea to get in touch with the nearest Apple Store and let them take a look at it.
Article updated in December 2022.