I picked up a set of AirPods about three weeks ago, and have been in love with them. They are one of the most Apple-y products I’ve ever used.
I’ve long avoided using headphones as there’s too much friction. You’ve gotta have somewhere to put them, detangle the cords every time you want to use them, and constantly get the cable stuck on things. I can’t tell you how many times as a younger man that I had earbuds violently ripped from my ears after getting caught on something.
I even tried a set of wireless Plantronics earbuds for a while - a set with a cable running between the ears. They were barely an improvement over normal wired earbuds. The battery life was awful, they had clunky charging, and I still had to deal with a cable getting tangled every time I had to take them out of my pockets.
AirPods are the opposite of all this friction. Quite simply: they just work. For the first time in years I’m using and enjoying earbuds.
Setup is absolutely effortless. After removing AirPods from the box, there are only two steps:
- Open the lid of the case
- Tap ‘connect’ on your phone.
No entering pairing mode, no diving down into Bluetooth settings, just pop open the case and connect.
Once connected, using AirPods is seamless and effortless. There’s no turning them on and off, you just open the case, pop them in ears, and you’re going. AirPods have sensors for each earbud that will detect when they’re in your ear, and will automatically turn on and begin routing your device’s audio to them.
While there are no buttons on the earbuds, Airpods do have a small amount of physical controls. You can double tap on either earbud and they can perform a small set of tasks, either play/pause, next/previous track, or Siri. If you take one of the earbuds out (to talk to someone for example), any music that’s playing will automatically pause, and it will resume once you put the earbud back in.
AirPods charge exclusively through the included charging case. Apple rates the earbuds for 5 hours of charge, and the charging case can provide multiple full charges. The case charges using the included lightning cable, and provides a simple and fool-proof way to carry AirPods with you when you’re not using them, and I’ve experience great battery life in real-world testing.
AirPods aren’t just for iPhone, they work brilliantly with Macs as well. AirPods are connected to your iCloud account so you don’t even need to pair them with your Mac. When switching from iPhone to Mac, just pop open the AirPods case, and select AirPods from the volume menu in the menu bar.
For me, the biggest use case for AirPods is actually for calls. At work I use a soft phone exclusively, but have struggled to find a good way to do audio. I’ve tried a few standard Bluetooth headsets and they’re all awful. None of them have decent audio quality, charging them is super clunky, and they all randomly disconnect for no reason. Just. Awful.
Conversely, AirPods have been great for calls. The audio is top notch, I don’t have to deal with clunky chargers or making sure that things are paired - they just work.
Audio quality in general with AirPods is pretty good. Obviously they’re not going to surpass a high-quality set of dedicated wired headphones, but the audio is sufficient for most people. It comes down to a trade off: you can get high fidelity audio (and suffer through dealing with a cable), or you can have a set of truly wireless earbuds with audio quality that is on par with the EarPods you get out of the box with the phone.
AirPods are one of the best Apple products I’ve used in years. They’re pure Apple. Simple. Easy to use, and innovative. Wireless headphones have been around for a while, but no one nailed it until now.
Typed on iPhone