After some delays, Apple’s AirPods promise a future without wires and an experience unmatched by existing bluetooth headphones. Does the lack of wires and improved connectivity make these earbuds worth buying?
Reviewers have spent the last few weeks running around with shiny white sticks coming from their ears. Let’s see what they’re saying!
Apart from the wires and subtle differences to the shape, AirPods look almost identical to the wired EarPods that ship with every iOS device in existence. Reviewers who had issues keeping EarPods in place during moving had similar issues with these. Then again, there were reviewers mentioning jogging, doing flips and living with their AirPods in with zero issues.
As with any earbud, fit will be the ultimate factor in how much use you get from your AirPods.
Ars Technica summed up fit and design opinions well, saying, “The AirPods are shaped exactly like Apple’s standard EarPods, so if you hate the way the wired earbuds feel or if they physically don’t fit in your ears, you won’t like these either. But the sound quality is noticeably better than the 3.5mm or Lightning AirPods.”
In particular, reviewers noted improved audio quality—particularly for bass response.
While each AirPod includes a mic for use when taking calls or using Siri, you'll find no other dedicated hardware controls. This concerned many reviewers. Simple tasks, such as skipping tracks or changing volume levels require pulling out your phone. However, the quick double-tap to launch Siri received rave reviews. You can also pause playback by removing one earbud from your ear. But, resuming requires interacting with your device yet again.
This was the biggest issue reviewers faced. Apple Insider said, “There's room for improvement. It'd be nice if Siri could handle a subset of common tasks on local devices, particularly for music and volume controls that beg for a faster response than an iCloud roundtrip can logistically accommodate.”
Charging and pairing we’re both high points for most reviewers. Using the W1 chip, the AirPods pair with any iOS 10 device by flipping open the carrying case and tapping connect on the device you wish you pair with. Pairing with your iPhone will also pair the earbuds with your Apple Watch, MacBook and other Apple tech.
Charging is equally simple. Just drop your AirPod back into their carrying case. AirPods offer 5 hours of streaming with a single charge. The carrying case hold enough power for 24 hours of use before you must plug the carrying case in to charge. A full charge of the earbuds takes less than an hour.
You'll need an iOS device to use many of the AirPods' featues. Android users must use a dedicated button on the carrying case to pair with each device you want to use. You’ll also lose access to Siri, with the double-tap pausing and resuming audio playback instead.
Overall, reviews had no problems recommending the AirPods as long as you don’t mind the price. Ars Technica stated, “The AirPods are pretty good wireless headphones for a specific sort of person. You need to like Apple’s EarPod design and be OK with the way they sound and fit in your ear—the audio quality in the AirPods is noticeably better, but it’s not night-and-day. To get the most out of them, you’ll want to be embedded deeply into Apple’s ecosystem, since only Apple devices can seamlessly pair with the headphones.”