In September, Apple unveiled the AirPods, its new wireless earbuds designed to fix the problem that it created when it released its latest iPhones without a dedicated headphone port. Apple promised to launch them in late October, but at the end of that month, the company suddenly delayed their release, saying: "We don't believe in shipping a product before it's ready."
Earlier this month, the AirPods finally went on sale, and began shipping shortly before Christmas. But some owners of the $159 earbuds are now questioning whether the product was indeed ready to ship when it did, amid a growing number of complaints about battery charging issues.
MacRumors reports that some users have reported abnormally high battery drainage while the AirPods are in their charging case. The earbuds offer up to five hours of usage before they need to be charged, and the case contains its own battery which can charge the AirPods on the go. According to Apple, the case offers "more than 24 hours of battery life" - but some owners say that they're not getting anywhere near that.
Those affected say that even when both the AirPods and the case are fully charged, the case continues to drain its battery at an alarming rate with the wireless earbuds stored inside. One user on Reddit, 'severinskulls', said that after leaving his AirPods in the case overnight - with both case and buds charged to 100% - he regularly awoke to discover that the case had still lost up to 20% of its charge.
Another owner said:
I started with a 100% level for both the buds and case yesterday. I used the buds for maybe 3 hours, then put them back into the case. This morining my case is at 50%!
Seriously! This is not even close to the 24 hours. The other 2 days I used about 5 hours and the case was already down to 30%.
It's not yet clear how widespread the issue is, but it certainly doesn't affect all devices, with many owners of AirPods describing a problem-free experience with both the earbuds and the charging case. But that comes as little comfort to those who are affected by the problem, and it appears that the only available solution is to seek a replacement charging case from Apple.
Apple's quality control has increasingly come under the spotlight in recent months, amid a series of issues affecting its products after launch. Following widespread complaints about the disappointing battery life of its new MacBook Pro notebooks, Apple addressed the issue by removing the battery life 'time remaining' indicator from its OS.
Following the release of its iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, some users reported that their phones were 'hissing' during heavy usage, while others experienced issues connecting to a cellular signal after exiting Airplane Mode. Some owners described early problems with the wired EarPods that Apple ships with its latest iPhones too.
Earlier this month, Apple also pulled its watchOS 3.1.1 software update after some users complained that it had permanently bricked their devices.