Ap­ple AirPods

THE FIRST AP­PLE-BRANDED HEAD­PHONES YOU’LL WANT TO WEAR.

TechLife Australia - - WELCOME - [ ALAN STONE­BRIDGE ]

AP­PLE’S PRE­VI­OUS FOR­AYS into head­phones man­aged to elicit mock­ery from many peo­ple, so let’s make a cou­ple of things clear about its new wire­less AirPods right away: they sound great, and they’re sur­pris­ingly com­fort­able to wear for a lengthy du­ra­tion, even if their vis­ual sim­i­lar­ity to ca­bled EarPods may make you think other­wise. Un­like EarPods, though, they didn’t fall out of our ears even once in weeks of test­ing, though we can’t ac­count for vari­a­tions in ear shapes.

The EarPods that come with the iPhone sound too muf­fled and lack clar­ity, so we use them only as a last re­sort. AirPods, how­ever, are de­light­ful, giv­ing good out­put with our iPhone set to 50% volume — though back­ground noise can read­ily leak in since they don’t form an air­tight seal. Au­dio qual­ity stayed great even as we cranked up the volume close to max.

Ap­ple’s bat­tery-life es­ti­mate of five hours from a full charge ap­pears to be ac­cu­rate, and even a lit­tle con­ser­va­tive; with volume at around 70%, we saw about 17% of the bat­tery ca­pac­ity used per hour.

In Set­tings in iOS or the Blue­tooth pane in macOS, you can cus­tomise how the AirPods be­have when you dou­ble-tap ei­ther ear­piece. In­vok­ing Siri is the de­fault, or you can opt to play/pause — re­mov­ing an AirPod also does this, as long as you leave au­to­matic ear de­tec­tion en­abled — or take no ac­tion at all. We would have ap­pre­ci­ated the abil­ity to skip a track with­out speak­ing to Siri or reach­ing for the iPhone; it’s also a pity you can’t set a dif­fer­ent ac­tion for each AirPod.

The silence which some­times pre­cedes the chime that tells you Siri is lis­ten­ing feels more awk­ward with the AirPods, as you’re re­liant on that cue to con­firm your dou­ble­tap has worked.

That aside, af­ter a cou­ple of days, we found the ges­ture easy to re­li­ably use.

As for the beam­form­ing mics (there’s one in each AirPod’s stem), they’re meant to fo­cus on your voice and fil­ter out other sound, but our ex­pe­ri­ence was mixed. In­doors and amid mod­er­ate noise out­doors, they worked great, but Siri be­came highly in­ac­cu­rate near noisy traf­fic.

If you’re won­der­ing about the AirPods’ size, yes, we wor­ried about los­ing them. Just one day af­ter we re­ceived them, we found their case had slid up and out of a jeans pocket while we were sit­ting down — and it took some­one else to point it out. Blame the smooth­ness of the Case, which a lit­tle rub­ber strip for added fric­tion would fix.

The bot­tom line here is that AirPods sound great and are re­ally comfy, but lim­ited con­trols and mic per­for­mance may irk de­pend­ing on where you use them.

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