Product Review: Why I Love And Hate Apple AirPods

I’m generally a fan of Apple products.  I have a MacBook Pro, an iPad Pro and an iPhone X.  The products are pretty reliable.  The iPhone X has had a few glitches, but I really can’t recall a major issue with any MacBook I’ve ever owned.  When AirPods were released last year, I wasn’t eager to get them.  I’ve never really liked the comfort of Apple’s earbuds.  And, I was skeptical that something without a gel tip would stay in my ear.  My go-to earpiece finally died after a few years, so I decided to take the plunge.

I went by my local Apple Store to see if they would let me test the headphones out.  Good news!  They have a pair that are “test” headphones.  They sanitize them in between tests.  I was able to pop them in my ears, walk around the store, do a few jumping jacks (yup, really) and decide they were comfortable enough.

Opening Up The Box

As with all my other Apple products, minimalist is the theme for things like packaging, manuals, etc.  The box contains….the headphones.  Well, and the charging case they come in.

Here’s a picture of me holding them in my hand so you can see the size of the battery case.

The unit charges with a lighting adapter, the same as the iPhone.

Setting up is ridiculously easy.  The AirPods come partially charged.  You can just open the case next to your iPhone and touch the AirPods option on your Bluetooth screen.  That’s it.  They do pair with non-Apple devices as well, though I didn’t test that functionality.  The AirPods paired seamlessly with my laptop as well.  Here’s a quick video of me pairing the AirPods to my phone:

I thought I’d look stupid wearing them, but I’m also way past caring what I look like if the earpiece works.  They really don’t stick out that far, as you can see from this image on Apple’s website.

What I Love About AirPods
  • I was surprised that I liked the fit and feel as much as I did.  They’re not the most comfortable headphones I’ve ever worn.  But, they are much more comfortable than I expected.  Not as good as the Bose SoundSport.  Good enough, and they really did stay in my ears well, even during exercise.
  • The sound quality is quite good.  Again, I’d give the Bose SoundSport the nod.  But, these are a very good set of headphones for listening to music.  Folks listening to me during phone calls said they could hear me clearly.  AirPods convert stereo feed into one headphone if you’re only wearing one, another nice feature.
  • They charge quickly.  When the battery dies, pop them back in the case and 20 minutes later you’re fully charged.  5 minutes in the case will buy you another 30-45 mins.
  • They’re super easy to set up (see my video above).
  • They’re great for sharing.  Since you can wear one or both, my wife and I actually split them up to listen to a podcast on our recent looooonnnngg drive to Disney World.
  • Charges with lighting adapter.  If you have other Apple products, then you can charge with just one type of cable.  Most other headphones I’ve used charge with micro USB.

 

What I Hate About AirPods
  • The battery life is just plain bad.  The most I’ve gotten is a bit less than 3 hours.  It’s usually 2 or 2.5 hours.  I spend quite a bit of time on the phone and that’s just not enough.  Fold in music, podcasts (I have my own!) and that’s just not enough time.  My previous earpiece would last almost 7 hours.  Sure, I can charge the AirPods quickly and use just one at a time to keep going. But, that’s just not convenient.
  • Which leads me to the concern about switching AirPods.  If I keep one in the charging case and switch when the battery gets low, I have to grab my phone and restart what I’m listening to.  Occasionally, I need to quit the podcast or music app and restart as the headphones get “frozen” between switching and won’t start playing again.
  • Answering calls is inconsistent.  Once I’ve gotten the AirPod to pair with my phone and initiated a call, they generally stay connected.  But, I’ve had tons of trouble just popping one of them into my ear and answering a call, or switching from headset to AirPod.  Maybe I have weird ears, but this is annoying.
  • You can program a single and double-tap function where tapping the AirPod while it’s in your ear performs a task (pause, play, etc).  Again, maybe I’m just not built for AirPods.  But, after a few weeks, I’m no better at this than when I started.
The Final Two Pennies

The bad stuff outweighs the good stuff for me with this generation of AirPods.  I’ve heard rumors that there’s a new version coming out.  Hopefully, that one will work better.  My dislike for the AirPods isn’t enough to get me to buy a new earpiece yet.  I’ll ride these ones out and see if I can get more value out of them over time.

If I was starting over, I’d carry the Bose Soundsport and my Plantronics Voyager Legend.  I seriously loved that Plantronics headset.  Comfortable, long-lasting battery, good sound quality.  Doesn’t work for music, since it’s only one ear.  But, I think I’d rather carry two sets of headphones and an extra cable than the AirPods, all things considered.

The post Product Review: Why I Love And Hate Apple AirPods was published first on Pizza in Motion

4 Comments

  1. Your review of the headsets is perfect and exactly what happens down to the “wait why is it not connecting” I just need to switch ears while the other charges. It seems the connecting part had gotten less reliable with some of the iPhone updates. he size is compact, the case is small and easy to recharge on the go, yes other headphone pieces have lasted longer but I forget to recharge them. The AirPods case holds its charge for a long time, I obviously do recharge them, I just can not think of a time when they did not have enough power to give me that quick 5 minute recharge when I need to keep a conversation going. I also think they are perfect for short flights when I do not want to carry my Bose QC headphone. Plus the AirPods easily change from a single unit to stereo when you place the second one in your ear. Your review covers all of the good and bad, in my opinion think the good outweighs the bad although there is one more bad and good point I can think of,

    The bad: They do not easily pair with other devices, although you can find articles online of how to pair them with something other than an iPhone, iPad or MacBook, I can not pair them with my TV or other bluetooth devices easily.

    The good: If you lose one and I have, you can go to the Apple store and they will sell you a single unit to replace the one you lost or broke.

    I have tried dozens of other headsets, most recently I purchased the Sony WX1000X, they are noise cancelling. They are uncomfortable, a PIA to update, the case is more than twice the size, they were an impulse purchase because I like gadgets. Frankly they were a waste of money is how I feel at this time.

    The one headset I purchased in the past two years I would endorse is the Dash Pro by Bragi however the battery life is not good enough for long uses and don’t confuse this with the Bragi headphone, the headphone is uncomfortable to use and not worth the money. The Dash Pro is comfortable to use and wear, they are waterproof, you can even wear them in the pool or shower, tap controls and head movement controls let you control volume, next track, mute and even outside noise with Audi Transparency, they even claim to help with on the fly language translation when paired with and iPhone and an App, although I have never had the patience to get this to work and if it takes too long I lose interest. They also track fitness, tracking oxygen levels, features I don’t use and most of them are easier and more consistent to use with the watch. For music though the Dashpro is very nice they are upgradable which has gotten easier with each update and their techsupport has been helpful in the past. If you like gadgets and have a money to spend these are great to have, check Amazon for pricing I have seen it change from $200 to 299 although today they are only available at $299.00 https://www.bragi.com/thedashpro/ I originally purchased them as part of a kickstarter project.

    if forced to choose one device, I would purchase the Apple AirPods again, in the next update I hope they add more gesture controls besides having to choose only one. I think these are the the best portable headphone you can purchase for music and Audio today for the amount of money they cost if you have an iPhone.

    1. Leonard, battery life is a big issue for me. But, I appreciate the recommendation on the Dash Pro. I’ll take a look at them. I’ve heard there’s a generation 2 AirPod coming out. Maybe they’ll improve. So far, underwhelming.

  2. I have gotten very good at “toggling” them on, when they are not connected. It’s really easy, you just need to learn the tricks. So, at most, I’ll lose the first few seconds of a call. I happen to love my AirPods, with a few caveats. They are a pain in the ass, “danger” on public transport. Get bumped on a tube, or escalators and you can easily lose a ‘pod. Also, same issue with using inflight (if you doze off). But, I use my Bose QC35 in-flight after too many AirPod issues… not to mention, the lack of noise cancelling makes them not particularly suited to in-flight use.

    1. baccarat_guy, I don’t think I could use them on a plane. I like the noise canceling too much on my Bose. I can sleep just fine with my Bose in, whether up-right or lie-flat. Don’t think I could manage it with the AirPods. Maybe I’ll get some lessons from you in Vegas in May on how to toggle!

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