Apple AirPods Review - (Almost) Perfect
I think I was the only person the planet not initially skeptical about the AirPods. The day it was announced, there was (in my opinion) an unusual amount of negativity directed towards it, though I’m sure the removal of the headphone jack had to do with it.
Here were the (major) issues people had with the AirPods before actually using them:
- They’re expensive: I mean, they are, $160 is not beans. But everything Apple is relatively expensive. This “expensive” was more forgivable to me because of the fact that there aren’t many *truly* wireless buds out there offering what the AirPods are offering.
- Battery life: Apple said it can do 5 hours of listening time, and the case holds another 24 hours of charge. At the time, this sounded hella decent to me, so I was shocked at all the griping.
- You can’t increase or reduce the volume without whipping out your iPhone, Watch or using Siri: This is a genuine issue. It was annoying, it is annoying, I hate it.
- It’s much easier to lose than the EarPods: I’m actually not convinced that this issue is a legit one. Yes, the AirPods are small, separate and you can lose just one bud. But idk, you have one other bud left, who’s destiny isn’t tied to it’s brother’s with a wire.
- They won’t stay put in one’s ears, they’ll keep falling off: For me, this was particularly unreasonable because, the AirPods are pretty much the exact same form factor as the EarPods that came before it. I mean, it certainly wasn’t the wire that kept EarPods still. I personally love the EarPods/AirPods form factor; it’s not as intrusive as a lot of buds out there, with uncomfortable rubber tips that require you to shove them deep into your ear before attaining stability. I’m sure EarPods don’t stay put in everybody’s ears, but I don’t know any human being who has that problem.
- Sound quality: AirPods were never for audiophiles anyway, so I didn’t expect much.
I’ve been using the AirPods for more than 2 months now, and I feel like I’m in a better position to talk about the above issues.
First and foremost, in the 70+ days I’ve had the AirPods, the batteries have actually never died. This isn’t as a result of “mild use”; I use them a LOT. For most of that time, it was the only thing I used to listen to music & podcasts, make calls, talk to Siri etc.
I guess 5 straight hours of listening time is something one doesn’t do very often. So a couple of times in a day, I pop them back in the charging case (not because I think the batteries are low, but because I don’t want something in my ear at the moment) and they charge back up really, really fast. So there’s actually never been a time I wanted to use the AirPods and had to wait because I wanted it to charge a bit.
I also think the charging case is genius. Apparently, 24 hours of listening time charge is a lot of charge. The charging case is the one device I don’t charge every day and it has actually only ever gone flat once.
Bottomline, there are ZERO worries when it comes to the battery life of the AirPods.
Secondly, one of the features of the AirPods is the built in accelerometer. This is used to detect taps and double taps that let you pick up calls, pause music or active Siri. This tapping wasn’t very reliable at first, I usually underestimated the amount of tapping force required to trigger something but after a couple of days I got used to it and now it works pretty much all the time. Because of this, I actually use Siri a lot more, mostly to make calls. Tapping an AirPod & telling Siri to call your mum is much more convenient than having to bring out your phone from your pocket, find her contact and tap call.
One day, I was walking down the road back home and I got a text message from my girlfriend, which I saw on my Apple Watch and I immediately summoned Siri with the AirPods and told it to send a dictated reply for me and it worked very seamlessly. Obviously, this won’t work all the time as Siri can be very unreliable. Plus, having a Nigerian accent (and telco) will definitely contribute to Siri frustration. But, that day, it felt like I glimpsed Apple’s (wearable) future and it felt good.
One thing the AirPods lack that is impossible to ignore is the inability to do any form of volume control without Siri. You have to summon Siri (pausing your music) and tell it to increase the volume (which may or may not work). That entire flow sucks balls and it’s very not-seamless, very unlike what Apple would like you to believe about their products. This is actually the sole reason the AirPods aren’t completely perfect to me.
However, it’s hard to come up with a solution to this. Apple could have easily added something like “three taps for volume up” and “four taps for volume” down, but I can see how that would be confusing. It’s annoying enough trying to trigger Siri with two taps and accidentally playing and pausing your music instead. The better solution would be to do this without an accelerometer — with some sort of touchpad along the side of the AirPod but I imagine that would be hard to do. My own temporary solution is to use the Watch to control the volume. It’s not perfect, but I don’t have to bring my phone out of my pocket or anything stressful like that.
Thirdly, no matter what I do, these things don’t fall out of my ears. I use it when I run, during kickboxing training, while playing basketball, sometimes while skateboarding (although not doing any proper tricks) and they just won’t fall off. I used to think it was just my ears, but all the people who have worn the AirPods and shook their heads like Dualshock 4s trying to prove me wrong have all failed.
As for sound quality, it’s decent. I’ve never felt like I was experiencing poor sound quality while using the AirPods. They’re actually almost as good as the JayBird X2. One major drawback as far as sound is concerned is that they don’t keep sound in via ear seal but I’m not sure this isn’t by design (because keeping sound in = keeping sound out, and I think the AirPods are meant to be used while also interacting with other human beings).
More awesome AirPods facts:
- You have never paired anything as seamlessly as you’ll pair the AirPods to your iPhone(s) and iPad(s) before. All you need to do is open the charge case somewhere near your device and click “connect”, then it automatically pairs with all your Apple devices.
- Music stops playing whenever you take one ear out and automatically starts playing when you put it back in. I actually almost forgot about this because it’s etched itself into my subconscious as what should happen when you take out an earbud.
- My charging case and AirPods have dropped from scary enough heights a decent amount of times and nothing has happened to them. I’m not going to do a drop test or anything of the sort but I’ll definitely call them durable.
- You can now find your lost AirPod(s) within the Find My iPhone application. When you’re within range of your lost bud, you can tap a button to trigger a loud high-pitched sound from it — just make sure you’re not wearing the other one, because it too will make that sound. I think this feature will mitigate a lot of permanent AirPod losses, which is a good thing because replacing a bud will set you back $69.
If you can’t already tell, I love the AirPods. They’re a very impressive piece of technology. Do I think you should get one? It depends on what you want, really. If you want sound quality, volume controls and don’t mind a little bit of wire, you should probably get the Jaybird X2 or X3.
But if you don’t mind splashing cash and you want convenience, the amazing charging case, plus all the little awesome features that don’t add to the sound quality, totally go for it.