If you are new to wireless earbuds, using the controls and telling when the earbuds are charging or when they are fully charged can be confusing. But there’s no need to get frustrated about it. With wireless earbuds, there’s always a learning curve – after a short adaptation period, using them and understanding their LED behavior becomes much easier.
In this post, I will explain everything you need to know about charging your wireless earbuds. Among other things, I will analyze different charging options, different ways of telling whether your earbuds are charging or not, and explain how to know when your wireless earbuds are fully charged.
- All true wireless earbuds come with a charging case used to charge the earbuds. That’s the only way to charge them – you cannot charge the earbuds without the case.
- All charging cases come with a USB cable (either micro USB or USB-C) or a lightning cable used to charge them. You can connect the charging cable directly to your PC, to a power adapter, or to a powerbank.
- Some charging cases support wireless (Qi charging) – check the user manual to see whether your model supports it.
- When the earbuds are charging, the LED indicator will glow or flash in a certain color. This LED indicator is sometimes located on the earbuds, but it can also be located inside the case or on the front of the case. Depending on the earbud brand and model, the LED will be steady red or it may flash red or white when the earbuds are charging.
- Most charging cases have external LEDs (one or multiple), usually located on the front of the case. These LEDs will tell you when the case is charging and when it’s fully charged. On most earbud models, the LED on the case will glow or flash red while the case is charging, and it will turn off (or turn green) when the case is fully charged.
- If your earbud model comes with a companion app, you can use the app to check the current battery status of your earbuds and your case. Some apps will even show when the earbuds are charging, and you can follow the whole charging process through the app.
- On average, true wireless earbuds provide 5-8 hours of playtime per charging cycle, while the case can fully charge the earbuds 4-6 times. Most earbuds will be fully charged in about an hour, while the case might require 5-8 hours to charge fully.
- If the earbuds won’t charge, you can try a few things to fix the issue: restart the earbuds, update their software, and reset them. If that doesn’t help, try cleaning the charging contacts.
- If the charging case is causing the charging problems, try using a different charging cable, different power adapter, or a different charging method (switch to wireless charging).
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How to Charge Wireless Earbuds?
The only way to charge true wireless earbuds is through their charging case. There’s no other way to charge them. If the case doesn’t work, you need a new one.
I’ve seen people making DIY earbud chargers that can be used to charge the earbuds without the case. This is not a complicated process. You just need an old USB cable, a pair of pliers, and a multimeter.
The problem with DIY chargers is their inconvenience. They are far less convenient than charging cases. Still, they do the job and can be used if your charging case malfunctions and you don’t want to buy a new one.
Making a DIY True Wireless Earbud Charger
How to Charge the Charging Case?
To charge the charging case you have two main options – wired and wireless (Qi charging). Additionally, for wired charging, you have multiple suboptions.
Wired charging is the fastest way to charge your earbuds’ charging case, especially when using a power adapter.
USB Charging Cable and a Power Adapter
Using a power adapter and a charging cable is by far the best option for charging your earbuds’ charging case.
A minor issue is that most of today’s earbuds, if not all, don’t come with a power adapter. Usually, the manufacturer will only include the charging cable, either USB-C (new earbuds), micro USB (older earbud models), or lightning cable (Apple earbuds).
So, you will have to buy the power adapter on your own or use the one that you already have.
The only remaining question is what power adapter should you use to charge your earbuds.
Most of today’s earbuds and charging cases will not be damaged if the adapter’s power rating is higher than the charging case’s battery power rating. The batteries have protection against overcharging, so they won’t receive more power than they can handle.
Still, if the user manual states the recommended adapter power ratings, it’s best to get an adapter with those ratings. Even if you use a more powerful adapter, the charging case will not charge faster.
Best Power Adapters for Wireless Earbuds
Charging JBL Earbuds (JBL Tune120TWS)
USB Charging Cable Connected to a Laptop
This is the cheapest option since you don’t have to buy adapters or anything. The charging cable comes with the earbuds, and you can just connect it to one of your PC’s/laptop’s charging ports.
The problem with this option is the speed of charging. USB 2.0 ports (type A) on today’s computers can deliver up to 5V/0.5A (2.5W). USB 3.0 ports can deliver up to 0.9A (close to 5W).
USB-C ports can deliver much higher wattages (at least 5V/3A or 15W), but they can’t always be used to charge the charging cases. USB-C ports with USB PD support can deliver up to 100W.
USB Charging Cable Connected to a Power Bank
Connecting your earbuds’ case to a powerbank, and charging it through this portable device is a great on-the-go option. You don’t need a PC or a wall outlet. I always have my 20Ah powerbank and three cables (USB-C to USB-C, USB-C to USB-A, and USB-A to micro USB) in my laptop case. This relatively small device saved my life multiple times, especially during long travels.
USB Charging Cable Connected to a Phone/Speaker
Some phones support wired power sharing, which could be an even better on-the-go option than a powerbank, but I’m not a fan. I still prefer using a powerbank. Why? Because you have to discharge your phone to charge your charging case, and I like having a fully charged phone.
On certain occasions, using your phone to charge your earbuds’ charging case or some other device can be a convenient option, but if you’re interested in a permanent portable solution, go for a powerbank.
Using iPhone to Charge AirPods
Wireless charging is becoming more and more popular, not because it’s better (it’s not), but because it’s more convenient.
Qi is a wireless power supply standard that allows you to charge compatible devices wirelessly using induction. It’s convenient and fairly fast. Today’s charging pads can deliver up to 15W of power, so they are not much worse than USB-A power adapters.
Keep in mind that only a small portion of today’s true wireless earbuds support Qi charging. It’s getting more popular, but it’s still not omnipresent. So, check whether your earbuds support wireless charging before buying a Qi charging pad.
Also, note that most of today’s Qi wireless charging pads don’t come with a power adapter – you have to buy the adapter separately.
Qi Charging Pads
Charging AirPods 3 Using a Wireless Charging Pad
Reverse Wireless Charging
Some phones can be used to charge the earbuds’ charging case wirelessly because they support Qi charging. So, instead of using a charging pad, you can use your phone to charge the charging case or some other device that supports wireless charging.
This is probably the most convenient option for charging your earbuds since you don’t need cables at all, but you will have to think about your phone’s battery, especially if you are outside and have no access to power outlets.
Samsung Buds 2 Pro Earbuds – Ways to Charge Them
How Do I Know When My Earbuds Are Charging?
Sometimes, the only way to tell whether the earbuds are charging or not is through LED indicators (on the earbuds or on the case). More advanced earbud models also have companion apps that can give you more precise information about your earbuds’ battery and charging status.
All true wireless earbuds have LED indicators designed to tell you when the earbuds and the case are charging.
Based on the number and type of LED indicators, you can make a difference between three types of earbuds: earbuds with independent LEDs on each earbud and additional LEDs on the case, earbuds with two sets of LEDs on the case (no LEDs on the earbuds), and earbuds with only one LED on the case (no LEDs on the earbuds).
Some earbuds have independent LEDs on each earbud and additional LEDs on the case. This is my favorite type of earbuds. Earbuds made by JBL, Jabra, and Skullcandy have such LEDs. Some SONY and Bose earbuds also have such LEDs.
The LEDs on the earbuds will light up when you put the earbuds in the case and they start charging.
Depending on the model, the LEDs might glow steady red (or amber) or steady white while charging. Or, the LEDs might blink red or white. The LEDs will light up every time you open the case. Based on the color (and behavior) of the LEDs, you will know whether the earbuds are charging or not.
On these models, charging cases will have an additional LED indicator (or multiple LED indicators). These indicators will tell you the current battery or charging status of the case.
Some earbuds don’t have LEDs on them. Instead, they have two LEDs on the case – one on the outside and another on the inside. The one on the outside will tell you the charging case battery status, while the LED inside the case will tell you the earbud battery/charging status. Samsung Galaxy Buds, for example, have such LEDs.
Depending on the earbud brand and model, the LEDs will glow differently to indicate the earbuds are charging.
The third type of earbuds are those with only one LED light, usually located on the front side of the case (or inside the case). All AirPod models belong to this group. Based on the behavior of this single LED, you will know whether the earbuds and charging case are charging.
However, you can’t tell the status of the earbuds and the charging case at the same time when you only have one light.
If the earbuds are inside, the LED will tell you the earbud battery status. When you take the earbuds out, the LED will tell you the battery status of the charging case.
When your AirPods are inside the case and charging, the LED on the front of the case will light amber/orange for a few seconds to indicate the earbuds are charging. The LED won’t stay on all the time – it will go off after a few seconds, but that doesn’t mean the earbuds are not charging anymore. When you close the case and open it again, the LED will light up again.
When you take the earbuds out and connect the charging case to the power source, the LED will also light up amber, and it will also go off after a few seconds.
AirPods Charging Case LEDs – What Are Their Meanings?
Companion App or Battery Widget
LED indicators will only tell you whether the earbuds are charging or not. They can’t tell you the exact or at least approximate battery level at any given moment. Based on the LEDs, you can only know when the earbuds are charging and when they are fully charged.
More advanced (and more expensive) earbuds come with companion apps that give you more control over the advanced features and allow you to know the exact battery status of the earbuds and the case. The app will also tell you whether the earbuds are charging or not and will give you the exact battery levels.
For the app to work and show you this essential information, the earbuds have to be connected to the app. Some earbuds have to be taken out of the case to connect to the app, while others can stay in the case.
While I’m not a fan of AirPods charging case indicator, I absolutely love their battery widget for iOS devices. All iOS devices have native support for this battery widget. It will tell you the exact battery percentage for each earbud and the case. It will also tell you when the earbuds or case are charging.
Using Battery Widget on iOS Devices to Check AirPods’ Battery Level
Some SONY earbud models (like WF-1000XM4) come with the SONY Headphones Connect app. This app gives you control over numerous advanced options. Among other things, the app will tell you the battery levels of both earbuds and your case.
Almost every earbud manufacturer has an app that works with some of their earbud models. One of the basic features of these apps is the earbud and charging case battery status.
Sennheiser earbuds use the Sennheiser Smart Control app, Jabra earbuds use the Jabra Sound+ App, Bose earbuds use the Bose Music app, and Beats earbuds use the Beats app for Android devices. On iOS devices, you can use the battery widget to check your Beats earbuds’ battery status.
How Do I Know When the Earbuds Are Fully Charged?
If the earbuds have independent LEDs on them, they will change their color or behavior when they are fully charged. For example, LEDs on some JBL earbuds will turn from blinking white (charging) to solid white (fully charged).
On other earbuds, the LEDs will turn from solid red or solid amber (charging) to solid green (fully charged).
On Samsung Galaxy earbuds, the LED inside the case will turn solid green when the earbuds are fully charged. Also, the light on the front of the charging case will be solid red when the case is charging, and will turn to solid green when the case is fully charged.
The situation is similar with AirPods. When the AirPods are inside the case and fully charged, the LED on the front will be solid green for a few seconds when you open the case. After a few seconds, the light will go off.
The easiest way to tell when your earbuds are fully charged, as explained earlier, is the companion app or the battery widget (AirPods and Beats earbuds). So, if your earbuds come with a companion app, use it to check whether your earbuds are fully charged.
How Long Does It Take for the Bluetooth Earbuds to Charge?
The charge times range between 30 minutes and two hours, depending on the model, battery size, and type of charging. To be clear, I’m talking about earbud charging. Charging cases can take up to 5 hours to fully charge. Again, it all depends on the battery size and type of charging.
Below, I have listed charge times for some of the most popular true wireless earbuds on the market.
Earbud Model Battery Life Charge Time Cumulative Battery Life Jabra Elite Active 75t 6.5h 2h 26h Galaxy Buds+ 13h 2h 2h JLab Audio JBuds Air 3h 15min 1h 50min 36h Bose SoundSport Free 4h 50min 1h 50min 14h Jabra Elite 7 Active 8h 1h 50min 30h Sony WF-C500 11.5h 1h 50min 28h JLab Audio GO Air POP 9h 1h 40min 36h Jabra Elite 65t 5h 1h 40min 15h Jabra Elite 7 Pro 8.5h 1h 35min 33.5h JBL Endurance Peak II 6.5h 1h 35min 33h JBL Live Pro+ 7h 1h 35min 27h Skullcandy Sesh 4h 1h 35min 11h JBL TUNE 220TWS 2.5h 1h 35min 14h Jabra Elite Active 65t 5h 1h 30min 15.5h Bose QuietComfort 7h 1h 30min 22h Sony WF-C700N 8h 1h 30min 16h JBL Tune 125TWS 7h 1h 30min 28h Sony WF-1000XM5 8.5h 1h 20min 26h Galaxy Buds2 5h 1h 20min 19h Skullcandy Spoke 6h 1h 20min 21h Jabra Elite 85t 6.5h 1h 20min 30h Galaxy Buds Live 7h 1h 20min 25.5h Sennheiser MOMENTUM True Wireless 3 8.5h 1h 20min 34h JBL Vibe 100TWS 5h 1h 20min 20h Beats Fit Pro 5h 1h 20min 21h Sony WF-1000XM4 10h 1h 20min 31h Galaxy Buds Pro 4.5h 1h 20min 15h Sony WF-1000XM3 7h 1h 20min 28h JBL LIVE 300TWS 4.5h 1h 20min 13h JLab JBuds Air ANC 8.5h 1h 20min 25h Anker SoundCore Life P2 6h 1h 20min 35h JBL Live Free NC+ 5.5h 1h 20min 16h Sennheiser CX Plus 7h 1h 20min 21h Nothing Ear 6.5h 1h 10min 27h Bose Sport Earbuds 4.5h 1h 10min 13h JBL Endurance Peak 3 10h 1h 10min 40h Sennheiser MOMENTUM True Wireless 2 4.5h 1h 10min 17h Ultimate Ears FITS 8h 1h 10min 20h Jabra Elite 8 Active 9h 1h 5min 35h Jabra Elite 10 7.5h 1h 5min 30h Galaxy Buds2 Pro 5h 1h 5min 17h Apple AirPods Pro 5.5h 1h 5min 32h JBL Vibe Beam 8.5h 1h 5min 25h Sennheiser CX 6.5h 1h 5min 20h JBL Tune 225TWS 4.5h 1h 5min 22h Nothing Ear (2) 5.5h 1h 28h JBL Tune 130NC 7.5h 1h 30h Bose QuietComfort II 6.5h 1h 27h Amazon Echo Buds 3rd Gen 4.5h 1h 18h Beats Studio Buds 5h 55min 15h Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation) 6h 55min 30h Beats Studio Buds + 7.5h 55min 30h JBL TUNE 230NC TWS 9h 55min 35h Skullcandy Push Active 9.5h 55min 42h Anker Soundcore Life A2 NC 11h 55min 55h Skullcandy Dime 4h 55min 13.5h Skullcandy Grind 10h 55min 43h Apple AirPods (3rd generation) 7h 50min 41h Skullcandy Sesh Evo 5h 50min 19h Anker SoundCore Life P3 6h 50min 28.5h Skullcandy Indy ANC 5h 50min 20.5h JBL Live Pro 2 8.5h 50min 33h Skullcandy Sesh ANC 7.5h 50min 38h Skullcandy Jib 6h 50min 22.5h Skullcandy Smokin’ Buds 8h 45min 20h JBL Tune Flex 6.5h 45min 32h Beats Powerbeats Pro 11.5h 40min 23h Skullcandy Dime 2 3.5h 30min 11.5h Skullcandy Dime 2 3.5h 30min 11.5h Apple AirPods (2nd generation) 4h 30min 25h Skullcandy Indy Fuel 3h 20min 12h Skullcandy Indy Evo 3h 20min 13.5h
Frequently Asked Questions
- Question: How to check if my earbuds are fully charged?
- Answer: Every earbud model is different, but they all have some kind of LED indicator that informs you about the current status of the earbuds and the case.
- Some earbuds have LEDs on each earbud, while others have only LEDs on the charging case. These LEDs change color or behavior (from blinking light to steady light and vice versa) to indicate battery and charging status.
- For example, the LEDs might start blinking red or blinking white when the earbuds are charging. On some models, the LEDs will just glow red or amber when the earbuds are charging. The same LEDs will turn solid green or solid white when the earbuds are fully charged.
- Question: How long does it take for earbuds to charge?
- Answer: It depends on the model, battery size, and type of charging. Most earbuds will be fully charged in about an hour. Earbuds with fast-charge support will give you up to 2 hours of playtime after only 10-15 minutes of charging.
- Question: Should the earbuds be in the case while charging?
- Answer: Yes, the earbuds must be in the case. That’s the only way to charge the earbuds.
- Question: How do I check my earbuds battery?
- Answer: The LEDs on the earbuds or the charging case can give you some general information about the earbuds’ battery status. However, they can’t tell you precisely your earbuds’ battery levels. They will, for example, start blinking red when the earbuds’ batteries are below 10 or 15%.
- Some earbuds (Bose, for example) will tell you the exact battery levels on startup through voice prompts.
- The best way to check the battery levels of each earbud (and the charging case battery status) is through the companion app. Unfortunately, not all earbuds come with companion apps.
- Question: Should I always keep my earbuds in case?
- Answer: If you don’t want to lose them, keeping them in the case is your best option. Don’t worry about overcharging your buds. They all have overcharge protection and will stop charging when the earbuds are fully charged.
- Question: What does the red light on earbuds mean?
- Answer: If you see a blinking red light when the earbuds are not in the case, it usually means the battery is critically low. If you see a steady or blinking red light when the earbuds are inside the case, it probably means the earbuds are charging.
- Question: Can I charge my earbuds overnight?
- Answer: Yes, you can. Don’t worry, they won’t be damaged. All modern earbuds have protection against overcharging. They will stop charging once they are fully charged.
- Question: Can I charge one earbud at a time?
- Answer: Yes, you can. There are no limitations when it comes to charging your earbuds – you can charge one or you can charge both at the same time.
- Question: Does overcharging earbuds damage them?
- Answer: If the earbuds are working properly, you can’t overcharge them. All modern earbuds have protection against overcharging.
Bluetooth earbuds are trickier to operate and understand than Bluetooth headphones or Bluetooth speakers. Still, when you get good instructions and spend some time with your earbuds, things become easier.
If you didn’t know how to check whether your earbuds are charging and when the earbuds are fully charged, I hope this guide helped you figure it out.