Apple often issues firmware updates for its entire AirPods line, including AirPods Pro, AirPods 2, AirPods 3, and AirPods Max. However, the company doesn’t make it clear how to actually update your AirPods, nor do they share what each firmware update does. So here’s how to do it, whatever model of AirPods you use.
But first, why should you bother? Apple isn’t updating the firmware without a purpose, of course. Firmware updates can solve bug issues, like when AirPods Max users were experiencing abnormal battery drain (for all other issues, there’s the hidden reset option we’ve talked about before) and improve performance, so it pays to update them regularly, even if they seem to be working fine.
How to check your AirPods’ current firmware version
First, check the firmware version of your AirPods to make sure the update hasn’t already happened. The first step is to connect your AirPods to your iPhone. For this step, how you do that doesn’t matter, but it will matter when it comes to actually installing the update (more on that later).
Now, on your iPhone, head to Settings > General > About, then scroll down. If your AirPods are connected, you should see their name appear. Tap the name, then check “Firmware version.” As of this article, 4E71 is the latest firmware version for all AirPods, but head to Google to make sure Apple hasn’t since issued a newer update.
How to update the firmware on your AirPods
To update your AirPods, you’ll still need to connect them to your iPhone, but in a specific way: the trick here is to make sure your AirPods are connected to your iPhone while remaining in the case. Your AirPods won’t update if they’re outside of the case, so don’t keep them in your ears and expect iOS to upgrade the firmware. So long as you’ve paired your AirPods with your iPhone before, they should connect when you lift the lid to the case (again, AirPods Max should connect while placed in the case).
Now, you’ll need to plug your AirPods into power. Theoretically, the update should work if you use wireless charging (if your AirPods case supports it), but I’ve only ever seen walkthroughs use a lightning cable for firmware updates. Once connected to power, let your AirPods sit for 10–15 minutes. After this period of time, go ahead and check the firmware version for your AirPods: it should now be fully updated. If not, try this step again.