For some, the classic Apple EarPods was a thing of beauty, for others it looked stupid, fell out of your ear too easily and had poor sound quality. Now that Apple has brazenly removed the headphone jack from their iPhones, many people are turning to the wireless AirPods. As you might expect, opinions are just as big and polarizing as before. Let’s take an unbiased look at this product to see how it actually stacks up without the elitism or inflammatory anger getting in the way.
Headphone comfort is a matter of personal preference since every ear is different and people like wearing different styles of headphones. That being said, the wireless AirPods are basically the same as the wired version in terms of shape and comfort. They feel somewhat loose but just snug enough to stay in place. Many people think this is a more natural shape that won’t hurt after several hours, while others think it’s too loose.
In short, if you tried the AirPods before, then you already have your answer. The overwhelming majority feel it’s quite comfortable, but there are many who disagree.
What’s the likelihood of AirPods falling out? This was a big problem with the wired version, so you would expect it to be even worse with the wireless. Thankfully, the headphones are properly balanced and it’s rare for them to come out of your ear, even when doing vigorous activity. So, don’t be scared to run, jump, climb or whatever else you like doing. The AirPods should stay with you the whole time.
The battery life is about middle-ground when compared to other wireless headphones. You can get about five hours of life with a full charge, and it only takes about 15–20 minutes of charging to get three hours. That’s better than many products, but then there are others that can last up to 40 hours or more.
For most, this five-hour capacity will be just fine. The quick charging ensures that if your headphones die, you won’t have too much downtime. Think of it as time to take a break, eat something small, and then you’re back on your way.
This is probably the biggest problem with the AirPods and the most polarizing aspect of them. There are no buttons on the headphones. Many wireless headphones come with buttons to stop songs or change volume, but not here. There are two ways to change volume: either directly from your phone (which in many cases is inconvenient, you probably won’t have it in your hand if you’re listening to music), or enabling Siri.
Siri can be accessed by double-tapping one of the buds. That sounds cool, and it gives you access to her even when your phone is away, but you’ll quickly see some problems. Instead of instantly changing volume, you have to wait for Siri to load, give the voice command (which can be weird in public) and then hope the volume isn’t changed too drastically.
You can also use your phone or Siri to stop a song, and recently an updated was added that allows you to tap the bud as well. Another way to stop a song is to take out one of the buds, which will instantly stop the music.
Sound quality is something that people have disliked about Apple EarPods for years. While certainly not terrible, many people think that these headphones don’t do music justice and tend to give a homogenous sound to everything. Apple has heard this complaint and is now using the new W1 chip in their wireless AirPods. This chip improves just about everything in the unit, but we are going to focus on sound.
Many reviewers note that the sound quality is surprisingly good, especially when compared to similarly priced units. The bass is considered a little low, so it many not be ideal for people who love that heavy thumping, but otherwise they work just fine.
Despite the outcry against the wireless AirPods, most of this is fueled by anger over the removal of the headphone jack. While AirPods are certainly not the first wireless headphones or top-tier, they are very good and solve many of the problems that AirPods users have experienced for years. If you already loved the classic EarPods, then the wireless version is even better. If you hated the sound quality, then the new version might change your mind. Not everyone will be pleased, but this is a fine addition to the Apple lineup of products.