In this brief Apple AirPods review, I don’t rehash what others have said. Instead, I offer these five observations about Cupertino’s most interesting new product in years.
- Custom Apple W1 chip
- Use of optical sensors and a motion accelerometer
- 5 hours of listening time on one charge
The Big Switch
When introducing AirPods in September, Apple put a lot of emphasis on the device’s easy setup process on iPhone. Less advertised has been the seamless connectivity that exists between AirPods and the rest of your Apple devices.
Once you’ve connected AirPods to one device, it’s available on other devices connected to your iCloud account, as long as you have macOS Sierra, iOS 10, or watchOS 3 installed. Just choose AirPods on those devices and then hit “Connect” under your Bluetooth settings.
Once you’ve connected AirPods to one device, it’s available on other devices connected to your iCloud account
You wouldn’t expect this type of simplicity to be a big deal, but it is. It means headphones no longer tied to just one device. For me, this has lead to a lot more podcast and music listening, since I can now travel between devices with ease.
Apple promises that AirPods can go five hours between charges. Initially, I was somewhat unimpressed with this number, especially when compared to products such as the Bose QuietComfort 35, which offer 20 hours of play time between charges.
In practice, I now realize that AirPods don’t just offer five hours of listening time between charges. Thanks to the AirPods charging case, that time is extended to 24 hours. Better still, to get a three-hour charge, just add the AirPods to the case for 15 minutes.
This convenience is a big deal, especially when you consider that the AirPods case is just a little bit larger than a box of dental floss.
Time to Pause
I’ve also been impressed with the AirPods’ ability to pause music (or video) as soon as I take one of the buds out of my ear. This feature comes in handy when I’m watching Netflix on my iPad. I no longer have to find the pause button on the screen, which is awesome.
Again, this is an AirPods feature that Apple should advertise more.
Yes, It’s a Q-Tip
Many have noted that AirPods look rather odd when being worn and it’s true. AirPods don’t necessarily look bad, but rather weird. The many stares I have received while working on this article at Starbucks proves this.
For a company that prides itself on creating stunning devices, these first-generation AirPods lack in the style department. I’ve felt the same way about Apple EarPods, for which the AirPods design is likely based. Hopefully, the AirPods design will evolve over time.
AirPods have not been designed to blow you away by the sound quality. They contain a lot of bass and sound tinny, at best. And yet, they sound much better than I expected, especially during phone calls, when using Siri, and when listening to audiobooks and podcasts.
They stay in your ears, 95 percent of the time
And yes, they work just fine during a brisk walk or modest run. (They also stay in your ears, 95 percent of the time, at least.)
If you’re a true audiophile, AirPods are almost certainly not for you. However, true audiophiles already know this, as should you.
Though not a perfect product, AirPods do offer a fun, new way to enjoy content on our iOS devices and interact with them. I can’t wait to see how this product improves in future models.
You can purchase the $159 AirPods through Apple and other retailers.