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Charging AirPods: Is an 18W Charger a Viable Option?

Apple’s AirPods have decent battery life, especially the Pro and Max models. But that does not mean we never run out of battery power at inconvenient times. Going for a run with your AirPods in, not realizing that they didn’t charge overnight for some reason, has led many to question if there’s a way to charge them more quickly. For example, can you use an 18W charger on AirPods?

You can use an 18W charger on your AirPods even if they’re not rated for such a powerful charger. They will charge perfectly and won’t cause any damage in most cases. You won’t necessarily get much of a benefit, though, since most AirPods only support 5W charging and are not compatible with 18W.

Different models of AirPods have varying charge ratings, and a more powerful charger shouldn’t impact the charging speed on most models. Apple limits the charging capabilities of all its devices to ensure safe operation. Let me explain the technology that determines how fast your AirPods charge and which chargers are ideal for each, so you can see what an 18W charger would do in each case.

Can You Use An 18W Charger On AirPods?

Why Won’t An 18W Charger Make A Difference To AirPods?

You should have no problems charging your AirPods efficiently with an 18W charger, with the only possible exceptions being the AirPods Max and 2nd Generation AirPods Pro.

What Determines The Charging Speed?

Modern Apple devices, like the AirPods, require that two components be compatible to charge them optimally: the charger brick and the charging technology built into the device itself. This prevents overcharging and possible damage from too much power entering the device.

To accomplish this, Apple built functionality into all their AirPods to regulate the amount of power that comes into the AirPods or their charging case so that any unnecessary power will be blocked.

You can see this process in action on modern iPhones and MacBooks that regulate charging, often stopping the charge at 80%, then charging the last 20% before the time you usually start using it. This optimizes battery life and saves electricity. Your AirPods also regulate their charging, but mostly to avoid overcharging.

So, even if you connect your AirPods to a more robust charger, like 18W, they won’t charge faster because the charging circuitry inside the AirPods’ charging case won’t allow more than 5W.

How Would Different AirPods Behave With An 18W Charger?

Different AirPods have different charging requirements, so an 18W charger won’t have the same impact on all of them. Here’s what you can expect from each model of AirPods and why:

AirPods 1st Generation

The 1st Generation AirPods support 5W charging through a lightning adapter, and they come with a 5W charging brick included in the box.

If you plug the charging case into an 18W charger, the circuitry should ensure that it only charges at a maximum of 5W.

AirPods 2nd Generation

The 2nd Generation AirPods support 5W charging through a lightning port on the charging case and also includes a 5W charging brick like the 1st Generation. However, some 2nd Generation AirPods also supports Qi wireless charging, which can typically support charging at 15W or higher.

Like the 1st Generation, the circuitry should limit charging to 5W, even if you use an 18W charging brick. The same applies to Qi; the circuitry in the charging case will not allow more than 5W.

AirPods 3rd Generation

3rd Generation AirPods use similar charging technology to the 1st and 2nd Generation models, but with a stronger battery that can last much longer. It also uses a 5W charging brick (included in the box), and you can use Qi wireless charging at 5W if you have the wireless charging case. There’s also the MagSafe option, but it’s also limited to 5W.

Whichever charging option you use, the 3rd Generation AirPods will never charge at more than 5W, even with an 18W charging brick.

AirPods Pro 1st Generation

AirPods Pro 1st Generation uses the same 5W charging technology and options (lighting and Qi) as the 2nd Generation AirPods. However, they have one significant difference: the charging case supports up to 18W fast charging through the lightning port.

So, your AirPods Pro 1st Generation should charge much faster when you use an 18W charging brick and lightning cable, as it was made to support it.

AirPods Pro 2nd Generation

The 2nd Generation AirPods Pro, being a very new technology, comes with a 20W charging brick and USB-C port as standard. It also supports MagSafe charging and Qi wireless charging at 20W.

Typically, it’s not a good idea to charge your AirPods with a lower-rated charger than it’s designed to use, as it could reduce battery life. However, Apple’s charging controller circuitry is so advanced that it will detect you’re using a lower-rated charger and attempt to continue charging. They will charge successfully in most cases, and if they don’t, the circuitry will stop the charging to avoid damage.

Since there isn’t too much difference between 18W and 20W, your 2nd Gen AirPods Pro should charge if you use an 18W charging brick, but it will likely charge more slowly. However, you should remember there is a slight possibility that it won’t charge at all.

AirPods Max

The AirPods Max doesn’t come with a charging brick included. However, Apple recommends using a 20W USB-C charging block with a USB-C to Lighting cable.

Since the Max was designed with 20W charging in mind (like the 2nd Generation AirPods Pro), it’s not ideal to use an 18W charger to charge it. Again, Apple’s charging circuitry should ensure that they don’t take damage, but since it will charge more slowly than it’s rated, there is a slight possibility of lower battery life.

Some users have even found they can successfully use 5W chargers with their AirPods Max, but most often (and probably after Apple released a firmware update), the headphones simply refuse to charge. There’s a possibility that they could do the same when you use an 18W charger, depending on Apple’s latest firmware updates.

The Quality Of The 18W Charger

The quality of the charger is something you should not overlook. Throughout this description, I assumed you would be using an Apple original charger or one made by a reputable dealer and certified Apple-compatible. I also assumed that the charger would be in good working condition. Your mileage may vary if these assumptions aren’t accurate.

You should always use an Apple charger or a high-quality alternative made by a proven brand for the best results. Anything less could damage your AirPods or reduce battery life, especially if the charger doesn’t deliver the same power that the AirPods require.

Conclusion

If you use a high-quality 18W charger, you should have no problem charging any model of AirPods with it. The older and entry-level models won’t benefit from the more robust charger, but they will still charge. The AirPods Pro 2nd Generation and AirPods Max may charge more slowly or refuse to charge at all, but they shouldn’t take damage from the 18W charger.

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