I've been using AirPods daily for just over a week, and I believe they're the best new product Apple has released in years. They brilliantly solve the biggest problem with Bluetooth devices across the board (pairing) and have been a joy to use.
What I love about AirPods.
One: Setup and pairing is a breeze. Simply open the case, tap connect, and your AirPods will pair with your iPhone and every other device signed in with your Apple ID (except for Apple TV). Switching between devices is as simple as choosing the AirPods from the device you want to use.
Pairing is slightly different with non-Apple devices. It requires holding a small button on the back of the AirPods' case. That said, they will work with your Android phone, Windows PC or any other Bluetooth-capable device.
Two: AirPods are smart. Place them in your ears, and they're ready to play music. Pull one out, and your music pauses. Put it back in, and it resumes. Pull both out, and your music stops completely. Put one in, and the audio plays in mono (perfect for a phone call or podcasts). Put the other one in while you're listening to that podcast, and it automatically switches to stereo sound. This is how Bluetooth headphones should work.
What I wish was better.
One: Double-tap one of the AirPods, and Siri activates. Surprisingly Siri is a lot better with AirPods. Siri never misunderstands what I'm saying. (I'm assuming that's because the mic is so much closer.)
This is a great improvement, but Siri is still Siri. She knows what I'm saying, but she can't always answer my questions and doesn't play well with Overcast, a 3rd-party podcasting app that I use. Asking Siri to "skip 30 seconds" works with the Apple podcast app but freezes up with Overcast. (My understanding is that the 3rd-party app developers have been given everything they need to fix that on their end.)
Siri is an important part of AirPods, and it needs to be better.
Two: Music controls aren't great. By default the only way to adjust volume or skip songs is with Siri. You can change the double-tap in setting to be play/pause instead of activating Siri, but I mostly play/pause by taking one out of my ear.
I find myself using music controls on my phone or watch. It's a slight inconvenience, but I haven't found it overly annoying.
The sound quality of AirPods is better than I expected. To be fair, the quality is not as high as the QC 35s, and if you’re an audiophile (which I am not), I’m sure you’ll notice opportunities for improvement. But if you like the EarPods that came with your iPhone or other earbuds, you'll be happy with the AirPods sound quality.
I was a bit concerned with the 5 hour battery life, but the charging case makes that a non-issue for me. I wear mine for hours at a time and store them in the case when I'm not using them. Since just 15 minutes in the case gives them 3 more hours more battery life, I've never seen the AirPods under 50% charge. I charge the case every three days.
AirPods fit me perfectly. They don't slip at all and are quite comfortable. I even forgot they were in my ears one day at work.
I've talked to a handful of people with them, and for most this is true. Apple is playing a numbers game. They'll work really well for most ear types, but they won't for some.
They're pretty much the same shape as EarPods, but since they don't have a chord pulling on them, they're a bit less likely to fall out for everyone. If EarPods always fall out of your ears, I'd be cautious before ordering AirPods.
Look and Feel
On their own, they're really nice looking. The industrial design and build of the case and AirPods is really high quality. They feel great, and are incredibly small for all the tech inside.
In ear, is a different story. They are futuristic-looking, to be generous.
If they sell really well and celebrities start using them (which I think they will), the look will normalize.
Cost & Competition
AirPods cost $159 from Apple. That's pricey for earbuds, but actually a bit low compared to their direct competition.
Other Truly Wireless Headphones
- Jabra Elite Sport: $250
- Bragi The Dash: $250
- Bragi - The Headphones: $149
- Erato Apollo 7: $279
- Samsung Gear Icon X: $199
- Earin True Wireless Headphones: $199
- Rowkin Bit (Stereo): $109
Bluetooth Earbuds Connected by a Wire
The Future of AirPods
AirPods are more than headphones to Apple. They're Apple's second wearable, and I'm excited to see how they evolve over the next five years.