February 10, 2017
There’s a lot of things to be skeptical about when it comes to wireless earbuds — will there be Bluetooth connectivity issues? Is the limited battery life a deal breaker? Aren’t they going to fall out of our ears every time we turn our heads? Well, we’ve managed to get our hands on a pair of AirPods — the product that arguably brought wireless audio technology into the spotlight in the first place — and here are our initial impressions after a day of use:
As you might have already noticed, the AirPods look exactly like regular Apple headphones with the wires cut off, but the build quality is clearly superior — even though each “pod” only weighs 4 grams, there’s a certain heft that makes it feel like a quality product (we are talking about Apple, after all). We’re not exactly on board with the in-ear look, though, which kind of looks like we’re wearing a pair of pearl earrings.
Connecting the AirPods to your iPhone is a breeze — simply open the charging case and tap on the prompt that shows up almost immediately on your screen, it’s as simple as that. If your iPhone and Macbook are synced via iCloud, they’ll connect automatically to your computer as well. Pairing the AirPods to a non-Apple device is possible, but less…magical as you simply connect them like you would with any other Bluetooth device.
The AirPods feature a one-size-fits-all design, and while we felt a little uneasy when we first put them on — touching our ears every five minutes to check if they were still there — after a day of use it’s clear that they’re a lot more snug than they look. An office-wide shake test also proved that you’ll probably have to fall flat on your face before they fall out of your ears.
It goes without saying that sound quality is hands-down the most important aspect of any pair of earphones, and AirPods thankfully deliver in that respect for the most part. While they’re definitely not going to replace a pair of $500 earphones with multiple drivers, the AirPods feature a surprisingly crisp, well-balanced sound that should satisfy most listeners.
This was probably the most disconcerting part of the AirPods (or any wireless earbuds, for that matter) when we first heard about them, but surprisingly quick charging times make it a slightly easier pill to swallow. The EarPods themselves hold up pretty well — going down 20% after our hour-long morning commute — and can be fully charged in about 20 minutes, while the charging case took roughly an hour to reach 100% again.
It’s pretty cool that the AirPods’ Infrared sensors can detect whether they’re in your ears or not, automatically stopping playback when you take them off and starting when you put them on again. You can also double tap them to enable Siri or play/pause music, which is something we admittedly haven’t used a lot but is a nice feature to have.
You don’t realise how much wires tie you down until you’ve used the AirPods, and it’s going to be real hard to go back to regular earphones after experiencing such unbridled freedom. While the aesthetics definitely leave something to be desired, the AirPod’s impressive features more than make up for it. Wireless earbuds will no doubt eventually become the norm of audio technology, but you can get a decent preview of the future right now if you’re willing to pay the price.