The Apple AirPods wireless headphones were just released. The controversial headphones use the same Apple earbud design – but take away the wires.
Are the Apple AirPods worth the high price? They cost $159 and don’t come bundled with an iPhone 7. Are they really as easy to lose as people believe?
Let’s take a closer look at the Apple AirPods today in our review.
Sound quality is the first and most important thing to look at in earbud reviews. Design and controversy aside, let’s take a look at the AirPods from purely an audio perspective.
The AirPods sound noticeably better than most other Apple earbuds. They also solve one of the most annoying problems I’ve found with Apple earbuds: they’re not loud enough. When you turn them up to full, the sound quality isn’t great – but anywhere between 50% and 85% sound volume sounds excellent.
Obviously, you’re not paying $300 for these earbuds. They don’t have the same sound quality as the higher-end, premium lineup of headphones and earbuds. They’re good – but far below the premium-quality headphone market.
Nevertheless, you can expect some sound leakage from the AirPods – a victim of Apple’s commitment to build quality. The hard shell design looks good, but it forces some of the sound to go in directions other than inside your ears.
Overall, the sound quality is very good – and better than previous Apple earbuds. But it’s not going to win any sound quality awards anytime soon.
How Do They Feel?
Obviously, anytime you buy an Apple product, you’re looking for good sound quality – but even better design quality.
So how do the AirPods look and feel? Well, if you’ve used the wired Apple earbuds, then you know how the AirPods feel: they’re just the normal Apple earbuds without any wires. I couldn’t sense any noticeable difference between the wired and wireless versions.
That’s a problem for many people: I don’t know about you, but the Apple earbuds have never fit inside my ears properly. They’re constantly falling out or shifting. If I want the best sound quality, I need to press the earbuds into my ears.
Unfortunately with Apple, the earbuds don’t come with any modifiers, plugs, or alternative filler pieces you can use to make them fit better inside your ear. So if the earbuds have frequently fallen out of your ears in the past, then you’re going to have tough luck with the AirPods.
Nevertheless, many people enjoy the earbud design. If the previous Apple earbuds fit well inside your ears, then you can expect the same with the AirPods.
I still think the appearance looks stupid. This is what you look like while wearing them:
Photo courtesy of BGR.com.
Is it just me, or does that look like you have two half-smoked cigarettes dangling from your ears?
Is Battery Life As Bad As People Say?
At first glance, the 4 hour battery life on the AirPods looks abysmal. That’s not enough to get you through even half a day (Apple officially advertises a 5 hour battery life per AirPod).
However, the AirPods charging case comes with the ability to give your AirPods 24 hours of total charging time. You’re going to want to leave the AirPods in their charging case when you’re not using them (you don’t want to lose them), so in reality, charging times are pretty good – as long as you remember to keep your case charged.
How many times are you going to listen to audio for 5 hours straight? Probably not often. Still, if you plan on taking AirPods on frequent transcontinental plane rides, then the short battery life may be an issue.
Should You Buy the Apple AirPods?
If you like to sit at your desk listening to music, or sit on bus and train rides, then the AirPods provide good sound quality at a reasonable price (for wireless headphones). However, those who like to bike, run, or move around while listening to music may find that the headphones fall out of their ears (especially if previous Apple earbuds didn’t fit well in your ears).
You’ll also need to remember to put the AirPods in their carrying case when not in use – something you’re going to want to do regardless because the AirPods charge in the case.
Ultimately, the AirPods aren’t for everyone. Most iPhone users will continue using the earbuds that come with the iPhone 7. But if you feel like spending $160 on wireless earbuds – and the old Apple earbuds always fit well inside your ear – then the AirPods aren’t quite as bad as people are saying. Still, they’re not for everyone.