First introduced in September last year, the AirPods are in a sense, Apple’s proposed solution for their decision to remove the headphone jack from their iPhones – a wireless alternative for a future without cables. These come in their own carrying case that acts as both protective storage and charging base.
The case has been cleverly built to initiate pairing with Apple products – simply lifting the cover starts the pairing process, making it a real no-brainer. A button on the back of the case does the same task for non-Apple devices, and the execution overall is typical Apple – slick and efficient.
This case also acts as an external battery pack, charging the AirPods for up to 24 hours listening time, with a quick charging feature that gives you three more hours with just 15 minutes of charging. On top of that, there’s also a custom W1 chip in the AirPods that helps to manage battery life, giving the set a good five hours of wireless listening per charge. It also uses optical sensors and a motion accelerator to detect when they’re in your ears, disengaging to save battery life once they’re out.
Despite the slightly odd looking design – the AirPods have extended ends that make them look more like candy canes than earphones – the AirPods did give us a fairly comfortable fit. However this didn’t translate to a good seal, as we could very much still hear everything that was going on around us, forcing us to raise the volume to block it out.
In terms of audio quality, the AirPods delivered audio performance consistent to their wired counterparts, which is to say – pretty average. The headphones have a very flat sound signature, with little in terms of dynamics. It does do a decent job on vocal-heavy tracks, so people who listen predominantly to pop should be fine. However the bass response is lacking, so on a groovy piece like 24K Magic by Bruno Mars, what gets you moving is more Bruno’s vocals than the lush bass beat. This is again reflected with our formal test tracks, where the headphones performed best with Hotel California by The Eagles, a piece that’s more heavy on the highs.
Just opening the case starts the pairing process.