If you ask 10 people about incredible invention ideas that they’ve had over the course of their life, there is a fair chance that at least one of them would say, “wireless headphones.” There have been a number of different iterations (https://www.cnet.com/news/11-alternative-wireless-earbud-headphones-that-arent-the-apple-airpods/) of wireless headphones in the last couple of years; however, with Apple’s December 2016 release of wireless AirPods and the accompanying lack of a 3.5mm headphone jack on the new iPhone 7, the global Apple addiction is likely going to help along our relationship with these little marvels.
Since we’re talking about earbud style headphones, it makes sense to begin with sound. The AirPods boast fantastic sound quality and although they do not perform at quite the same level as some of their top-tier wired counterparts, the differences are imperceptible to all but the most discerning. I may even go so far as to say that these are the best Bluetooth headphones I’ve found yet. If you have the power to listen to Metallica on maximum output and simultaneously retain the detail to get your pops off with Prokokiev in the reading room, you are bound to enjoy AirPods. If you need something relative to compare the sound quality to, take the standard Apple EarBuds and multiply the sound quality by about 1.5.
One thing to consider: just as with their wired predecessor, the AirPods do not use any noise cancelling technology for audio playback. For noisy environments, such as airplanes or high traffic areas, this is one thing to contend with. If you are an audiophile, do not fret as news that Sony may be releasing Bluetooth headphones with noise cancelling technology (http://www.express.co.uk/life-style/science-technology/750397/Apple-AirPods-could-face-a-major-challenge-as-Sony-unveils-noise-cancelling-rival) may spur Apple to similarly up their game with subsequent releases – and with it being Apple, you can be sure there will be subsequent releases.
Look, Feel, Physical Function
With that out of the way, let’s discuss the experience you get from the AirPods. They come in a contemporary case that also serves as a charger and follow a similar aesthetic to the EarPods you would have received when purchasing an older iPhone model – minus the chord. While you may be thinking that there is no way that these will stay in your ear by themselves, anecdotal evidence from runners and office workers alike suggest that they do stay put quite nicely, though they may not necessarily feel as snug as an earphone with a silicon insert might. The risk of loss for these headphones certainly does exist, but lay more in the realm of, “I set them down and one fell into a couch cushion, never to be seen or heard from again.” The case/charger is supposed to help with this since they’re of no use dead. Lastly, say what you will about it, there is a strap (https://www.spigen.com/products/airpod-strap?variant=27600250113) available for the loss averse user.
For such a small package, one wouldn’t expect the battery to worth its weight in salt, or Potash for us Saskatchewan folk. If you are inclined to listen music at high levels for extended periods of time, you would be right. On the other hand, if you listen at “safe” levels, Apple’s claim of five hours of operating time per charge is accurate. On top of that, once fully charged, the Lightning port equipped case has the capacity to charge the AirPods over four times, with each charge taking about 15 minutes.
Functionality (The Meat and Potatoes)
The AirPods, like all of Apples other integrated tech, do not disappoint when it comes to connectivity. Open the AirPods case next to your phone and pair using your phone. Presto. In-ear = connected, out-of-ear = disconnected, take one AirPod out = pause.
Beware if you’re not a fan of Siri. While you will be miles ahead of the guy at the airport having a 10-minute conversation with his iPhone on speaker, the AirPods are still heavily reliant on Siri to change tracks, adjust volume, etc. It’s incredibly useful to be able to tap your ear twice and dial a phone call, though you can still control everything from your phone if Siri is not your cup of tea.
Some of the most exciting features involve what you can do with the AirPods. They can be paired with iPhones, Apple Watches, iPads, Macs/Macbooks, Apple TV, and even with Android, Windows, and other devices. Apple may be renowned for closed systems, but it is nice that they didn’t extend this ideology to their headphones.
If you’re interested in checking into the specifics of pairing with other devices, we highly recommend that you check out iMore’s AirPod Guide (http://www.imore.com/airpods-ultimate-guide).
- Sound and microphone are likely the best wireless set on the market, considering the microphone is in the earpiece.
- With the case on hand, you may be able to get through 24 hours between case charges.
- Pairing is a breeze with iPhones and similarly easy with other devices.
- A relatively snug fit with no wire to be concerned about, keep an eye out for subsequent releases with silicon inserts for improved fit.
- Price point is on par with Apple products, but you do get what you pay for as usual.
- Your relationship with Siri must be developed to use AirPods without additional input from your device. In-line controllers for wired headphones have done a great job of providing unobtrusive control on the go.
- High potential for loss, however that can be said for all wireless headphones.
- No noise cancelling technology for playback.
If you are committed to the Apple aesthetic and have the coin to spare, the AirPods will give you a better experience in terms of sound, connectivity, and convenience than any of its counterparts, Apple or otherwise. If you are leery about Siri, prone to loss, or looking for an option with noise cancelling features, it may be in your best interest to evaluate other options.