Apple AirPods first thoughts

I got some Bluetooth headphones about a year ago as an experiment. They were cheap but more than lived up to expectations. The lack of wires really is a game changer, albeit a totally #firstworldproblems one.

But they had flaws. When Apple announced their AirPods I was intrigued. Would they fix the problems while keeping the benefits? At ten times more than my old headphones I hoped so.

They arrived only a few hours ago so this isn’t a thorough review but here are my initial thoughts.

Out of the tiny box, first impression is that they case has a surprising heft. Maybe the size makes you expect it to weigh the same as some dental floss but the reality is batteries are heavier than that!

The lid smoothly flips up and the headphones themselves don’t just fall out. Instead they’re held in by magnets and require a gentle tug to extract. Overall the hardware design is understated and thoughtful.

Open the lid and hold next to an iPhone and it pretty much immediately pairs. No pin codes, no janky on-off buttons, no confusing flashing lights or mystery buttons. Even better, the details sync between your devices. It appeared on my iPad and even my pre-Bluetooth 4 MacBook Pro (which doesn’t automatically “see” the AirPods but does connect just by clicking “Connect” in the menu).

The sound from my iPhone is fine. I’m no audiophile — I don’t even play one on TV — but it’s loud and clear. They don’t fall out of your ears, even if you try.

The one area I was skeptical about — Siri rather than real buttons — is still an area for concern. It took me a few attempts to activate it. It seems to require quite a decent jab to activate, which does eliminate the possibility of accidental usage. “Volume up,” “Volume down,” “Pause” and “Resume” all do what you’d expect. Siri even activates correctly on the Mac.

How well it works in practice will have to wait for “real world” testing. What I will say is that the “pause when you take one out of your ear” functionality works as advertised. I love it.

I’ve not reached the end of day one yet but impressions are good. They feel good and Just Work, which sounds like damning with faint praise unless you’ve used other Bluetooth devices.

But it’s going to take a while longer to determine whether they’re worth ten times the price of my old headphones.