For the past two weeks, I’ve been using Apple AirPods every day to listen to music, audiobooks, podcasts, you name it. I pop them into my ears when I walk to work, I wear them at my desk and I’ve even used them to listen to interviews I need to transcribe for this site. What do I think of them? Are they worth the $159 Apple is charging for them? Read on and find out.
I picked up my pair of AirPods at the Apple Store on Walnut Street, here in Philadelphia. They received a shipment of 100 AirPods and by the time I got there, just a couple hours later, they only had four left. As numerous articles have pointed out, AirPods are selling well. Let me tell you what my experience has been with this highly-coveted gadget over the past two weeks.
My biggest concern with AirPods, before I even tried them on, was their design. In the past, the earphones that Apple packs with its iPhones – now branded as EarPods – didn’t fit me well. They’d easily fall out of my ears, so I figured the same would be true for AirPods. I was wrong. Despite shaking my head vigorously, walking through huge gusts of wind, and more, my AirPods have yet to fall out of either ear. That said, they aren’t snug. The reason for this is because they’re made of smooth plastic. There is no rubber or grip of any kind, so they either fit you or they don’t. My advice is try them on at an Apple Store near you before deciding whether or not to buy them.
On a single charge, AirPods last five hours. However, the floss-like case they are stored in charges them, bumping the total battery life to 24 hours. Even better, the case charges the AirPods at an extremely fast rate. If you need a quick charge, just drop them in the case for 15 minutes and you have another three hours of battery life, which is fantastic. Honestly, I think I might like the case more than the AirPods themselves. It’s an ingenious idea and expertly designed, as the magnets in the bottom of the case easily snap each AirPod in place. If you use your AirPods every day, like me, you’ll have to charge them in their case once a week.
Pairing AirPods with your Apple devices couldn’t be easier. Make sure the Bluetooth on your iPhone is turned on, flip open the top of the AirPods case and hold it near your phone. A window will pop up asking you if you’d like to connect the AirPods, and you’re ready to go. Once the AirPods are paired with your iPhone, they are also paired with any Apple device (e.g., iPad, iMac, etc.) associated with your Apple ID. All you have to do is select the audio choice you want, and you’re all set.
In the morning when I put my AirPods in, they automatically connect to my iPhone. I don’t need to re-pair them or go through any additional steps. And when I take one of them out, whatever I’m listening to pauses. If I place the AirPod back in my ear within a few seconds, the audio resumes. Siri is also built into the AirPods, so a double-tap enables me to skip tracks, raise or lower the volume, ask for directions, or just about anything you can think of doing. While this is a nice feature, I never use it. I don’t need people staring at me while I’m walking somewhere. Instead, I prefer to pull my phone out to change songs or raise/lower the volume by pushing the buttons on the side of my phone while it’s in my pocket. This isn’t ideal, but it’s the most efficient – and least embarrassing – way to use AirPods in a public setting.
For $159 AirPods better sound damn good, am I right? After all, you can buy EarPods for a fraction of the price. I’m happy to report that they sound great. Music especially sounds good coming out of these tiny wireless marvels of audio engineering. However, if you live in a crowded, loud city like I do and walk to work, it’s much harder to hear podcasts and audiobooks because there is absolutely no insulation from the noise around you. The lack of any rubber on the AirPods themselves makes matters worse. Many wireless earphones have a rubber in-ear grip that blocks out noise and keeps the earphones snug in your ear. These don’t. You’ve been warned.
Should you buy AirPods? That depends on your preferences and how immersed you are in Apple’s ecosystem. If, like me, you have various Apple devices and you enjoy the aesthetic the company perpetuates, then, yes, AirPods may be for you. If you don’t own an iPhone, are prone to losing things and don’t want to spend $159 on earphones, there are many cheaper alternatives that are equally impressive. One worth exploring is Skullcandy Method Wireless In-Ear Headphones. They’re great and a fraction of the price of AirPods. All that said, AirPods are one of the few times Apple has been able to create something new and special in the wake of Steve Jobs’ death. I hope it’s a sign of things to come.