Are your AirPods disconnecting from your iPhone during phone calls or while you are streaming music? You aren’t alone. It seems that AirPods have been plagued with connection issues ever since they launched in 2016.
The AirPods disconnecting bug seems to have been a problem back in 2016 and 2017 with iOS 10.1, then again in 2018 following the iOS 11.2.6 update, and now it seems that people are still experiencing issues following the iOS 12.1 update.
Problems tend to be related to phone calls rather than playing music. However, in this article we will look at what to do if your AirPods disconnect from a phone call as well as how to fix more general connection problems between your AirPods and other devices, including iPhones, Macs and the Apple Watch and also in-car Bluetooth. Find out what to do if the audio on your AirPods keeps pausing, it a caller complains that they can’t hear you clearly or not at all, or if you discover that your AirPods cut out while you were in mid conversation.
While the cause of problem is not clear, there are a few possibilities. It may be related to the sensors inside the AirPods that determine whether or not they are in your ears, it may be related to the microphones inside the AirPods, or it could be down to Bluetooth interference. Whatever the reason hopefully one of our AirPod audio fixes below will solve the AirPod disconnection problem for you.
If you can't fix the problem, read Best AirPods deals to find a good price for a replacement pair.
Step 1: Check your charge
The first thing to do is make sure your AirPods have plenty of charge.
You can check the AirPod charge status on your iPhone by following these steps:
- With the AirPods placed inside the case, open the lid and hold the case beside your iPhone.
- A pop up window will open on your iPhone showing the battery level of both the charger and the AirPods.
- You can also check your AirPods charge in the Batteries widget on your iPhone. To do so, Swipe from left to right on the Home page and scroll down.
- If you haven’t added the batteries widget to your iPhone scroll down until you see Edit, tap on than and add Batteries.
- This widget will also show you the battery status of all your associated iOS devices - such as an Apple Watch.
Step 2: Check Bluetooth
Check that Bluetooth is turned on on the device you are using the AirPods with.
- On the iPhone or iPad open control centre and check that Bluetooth is on.
- Or go to Settings > Bluetooth and you should see a green indicator to show that Bluetooth is on.
Even if Bluetooth is on, it’s worth turning it off and on again.
- Do so in Settings > Bluetooth, tap on the green switch so it goes white.
- Wait at least 15 seconds before turning Bluetooth on again.
It will now say that your AirPods are Not Connected but should connect again as soon as you choose them as the source for your audio (see the next step).
Step 3: Check your audio device settings
You should also make sure you have selected your AirPods as the audio device - this may happen automatically because the AirPods identify that they are in your ears, but just in case that hasn’t happened follow these steps.
While playing music on your iPhone tap on the AirPlay icon that appears below the track (if you have the track selected).
Select your AirPods from the options.
If on a call make sure you have AirPods selected from the audio options that appear on the screen when you make the call.
You can also change the audio source when you are on the call by tapping on the speaker icon.
Step 4: Disconnect your AirPods then reconnect them
Turning it off and on again can solve all number of problems with electronic devices and the AirPods are no exception.
- In order to disconnect your AirPods you first need to put them inside their case, shut the lid and wait about 15 seconds.
- Now open the lid and press and hold the setup button on the back of the case.
- Wait for the light to flash amber and then white.
- Your AirPods will now have reset (this works even if they aren’t your AirPods).
- To reconnect your AirPods just hold them beside your iPhone (make sure you have Bluetooth turned on).
- Now go through the set up options that will appear on your iPhone screen.
Step 5: Clean your AirPods
Since it’s possible that your problem relates to dirt you might want to give them a clean.
We have advice about how to clean AirPods here.
Step 6: Use just one AirPod
There are reports that indicate the problem happens less frequently if you are only using one AirPod so you could leave one in the charging case.
Additionally you could set your AirPods up so that only one AirPod microphone is used.
- With the AirPods case open go to Settings > Bluetooth on your iOS device and select AirPods.
- Tap on i and select Microphone from the options.
- The default option here is Automatic - with both AirPods providing a microphone but you can change this to Always Left or Always Right.
Step 7: Turn off Automatic Ear detection
This is another feature that you can turn off to test whether your AirPods work better without it.
- Open Settings > Bluetooth on your iOS device.
- Tap on the i beside your AirPods then deselect Automatic Ear Detection.
This would normally automatically divert audio to your AirPods as soon as it detects them to be in your ears, but something could be stopping them from being able to detect this.
Step 8: Unpair your Watch
If you have an Apple Watch you could try unpairing it to see if that makes a difference. The issue might be related to pairing with both an Apple Watch and AirPods, so you could try unpairing your Watch and see if the problem continues.
If you have other bluetooth gadgets it's worth unpairing them too, just in case something is causing a conflict.
Step 9: Turn off Wi-Fi on your iPhone
We don’t know why this would make a difference but some users have found that after turning off Wi-Fi on their iPhone the audio related fault stopped. This may be down to sources of WI-Fi interference which we will look at in the next step.
Step 10: Check for sources of Wi-Fi and Bluetooth interference
There are various devices that could be causing interference so it’s possible one of them is responsible for your drops in audio. Here are some things you could try to avoid it.
- Move closer to your bluetooth device - e.g. your iPhone if the problem happens when on a call.
- Steer clear of microwave ovens, fluorescent lights, wireless video cameras (e.g. baby monitors) and cordless phones.
- Change devices that can use it to the 5GHz band to free up the 2.5GHz band for Bluetooth. (read how to do change to the 5GHz band here).
On a Mac
If the problem is related to using the AirPods with your Mac, check your Sound settings in System Preferences on your Mac.
- Click on System Preferences > Sound and under the Output tab choose your AirPods.
- Do the same under the Input tab.
If you are finding that the problem happens during FaceTime or audio calls made on your Mac, with callers reporting your voice isn’t clear or that they can’t hear you this could be related to Bluetooth having to send and receive audio, which can result in the sound quality switching from high fidelity to low fidelity.
Want to know what devices are compatible with AirPods, read this.