Wires are a thing of the past, or so Apple’s CEO Tim Cook tells us. To reinforce that statement, Apple has released the AirPods, Apple’s first truly wireless headphones. Put them in your ears and they connect instantly and are ready to use with all of your devices. Speak into them and your voice sounds clear. Sounds great, doesn’t it? And with no headphone jack on the new iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus (you’ve either got to go Bluetooth wireless or get a Lightning connector), wireless headphones may soon become the norm on Apple devices. But has the wireless headphone revolution finally taken shape, or is there still some more work to be done? And with a high-end price tag of $219 (yes, that’s right – two-hundred-and-nineteen dollars!), are they worth your hard-earned dollars? Let’s find out.
DESIGN & COMFORT
The AirPods look exactly like a traditional pair of Apple earbuds, except they cut off abruptly a couple of inches below the bud. They dangle down from your ears like futuristic-looking earrings, or the detachable heads from an electric toothbrush. AirPods and the charging case they come with have faced some criticism for not being all that good-looking, while other people offer praise for its unique design. Some people prefer a more secure, snug fit with memory foam tips while others want earphones that are easily removable – really it all comes down to personal choice. The AirPods rely on a one-size-fits-all plastic housing to keep themselves sat firmly in your ears.
AirPods sound great, reproducing music very clearly for such tiny earbuds. Like their predecessor, the EarPods, the AirPods have clearly been designed to suit a wide range of music tastes, and though they aren’t as bass heavy as Beats, they should be more than suitable for most people. Whenever you pull your AirPods out of the charging case, they instantly turn on and connect to your iPhone, Apple Watch, iPad or Mac. Audio automatically plays as soon as you put them in your ears and pauses when you take them out. To adjust the volume, change the song, make a call or even get directions, just double-tap to activate Siri.
Apple’s custom Bluetooth chip, the W1, is designed to allow for automatic pairing with Apple devices running iOS 10, WatchOS 3 or MacOS Sierra. Just place the headphones near your compatible device and they’ll automatically be detected and ask for pairing, no diving into settings menu needed. You can also transition easily between Apple devices, toggling between the sound of your computer to your iPhone or iPad’s. The charging case is an excellent work of design. You charge the case up via its Lightning port, and once fully charged the case holds enough power to fully charge your AirPods over four times. This battery life of the AirPods is awesome, and better than anything else on the market.
The AirPods are fully wireless and ultra lightweight. Their wireless connection is reliable, the sound and call quality are excellent, and the compact charging case quickly charges the buds. However, their rather open design allows ambient noise to link in, and Siri isn’t always as reliable as you’d like her to be. Depending on your style, you may love or hate the design, and while the AirPods are definitely a step in the right direction, they’re not the only wireless models out there, and $219 is still a high price to pay for compact size and convenience. The AirPods win out, but they’re not a home run. Not yet.
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