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