The charging case can recharge the earbuds twice
charge inside this case, so if you keep them there when they’re not in your ears, and then remember to charge the case now and then, keeping the AirPods charged isn’t too much of a burden. The case itself charges via a Lightning port, so I just try to remember to top it off while I’m using the AirPods at my desk.
In my tests, the AirPods easily get Apple’s stated five hours of music time per charge. I’m at five hours on my stopwatch right now, in fact, and the AirPods have 12 percent charge left according to the Battery widget in iOS 10. Apple says the case should have about 24 hours of battery life in it, and just 15 minutes in the case can power your AirPods for three more hours (it got me from 4- to 79 percent). The AirPods make a sad little sound when they reach 10 percent, so you’ll know they’re almost out of juice.
Connecting the AirPods to an iPhone for the first time is as easy as opening the case. A message pops up on the iPhone offering to connect, and when you do, the AirPods also appear in the Bluetooth menu of any Macs (running macOS Sierra) you use with the same iCloud account. Switching to an iPad and Apple Watch with the same iCloud account is similarly easy, and you don’t have to trick your iPhone into unpairing with the AirPods to listen to them on a different device. They’re always paired to everything, and you can just select AirPods on that thing and press play.
The back of the charging case has a round white button that’s barely visible. With the AirPods in the open case, you can press and hold that button to turn a tiny LED in the case white. That means they’re in pairing mode, and you can pair them to an Android phone or another Bluetooth device, although without Siri or the extra features.
For iPhone and iPad users, you can’t find an better set of earbuds for ease of pairing. You should know, however, AirPods aren’t as easy to use as other true wireless earbuds for controlling your music. It also has terrible passive sound cancellation, so you’ll hear a lot of the world around you when using it.
Best true wireless headphones for audiophiles B&O’s Beoplay E8 Price: £269 inc VAT from fave.co/2CZOQae
Let’s get this out of the way: The B&O Beoplay E8 true wireless earphones cost £269. Being both a
cheapskate and a music aficionado, I tried, hard, to convince myself that other less expensive true wireless headphones that I’ve tested sound just as good, or better, than the E8s do. But they don’t. If you demand the best possible sound in a compact, wire-free package, these are the headphones to get.
The E8 earphones are constructed from lightweight polymer with aluminium accents. As each earbud weighs about 7g each, most people won’t find it a burden to have them jammed into their skull for hours at a time – provided they’ll fit. Instead of using rubber fins, or hooking into your ears like other in-ear headphones do, the E8s stay in place by being thrust into the opening of your ear canal. That they come with four different sizes of silicon tips to ensure a
secure fit as well as a set of Complyfoam foam tips helps to ensure a good fit – but you might want to buy them from a shop or online store with a solid return policy, just in case.
Available in black or charcoal colour schemes, the E8’s tasteful style run contrary to their audacious price. B&O’s Art Deco logo graces the cap of each earbud, along with a metallic accent. That’s it. Sized at 152x152x51mm, they’re neither the smallest nor the largest true wireless headphones that we’ve seen. When I inserted them in my ears, I found that they were noticeable, but not awkwardly so, like the Bose SoundSport Free.
Then there’s the E8’s leather-bound charging case. Next to the one that comes with Apple’s AirPods, it’s
the smallest, sleekest charging case that we’ve come across. You should know that the E8 are not in any way weather resistant. If you’re looking for something to wear at the gym, look elsewhere.
B&O states that when played at a moderate volume, their E8 headphones should run for four hours before needing to be topped up. With the two additional charges that the carry case holds, you can expect around 12 hours of total use before the works need to be charged via Micro-USB. I found this battery usage estimate to be accurate.
Tinkering with volume, playing/pausing or changing music tracks, taking a call, or engaging audio transparency (more on that in a second) is all done through the use of tapping or holding your finger against a touch panel built into the side of the earbuds. I found that touch was registered by the E8 90 percent of the time, with worse results occurring when my fingers were wet or cold. Through the use of the free B&O app for iOS or Android, it’s possible to tweak the amount of audio transparency that the headphones provide and to modify the sound profile with a number of presets or with ones that you come up with yourself.
No matter whether you listen to them using their factory preset profile or tweak your tunes, you’ll find that the E8s sound very, very good, especially for Bluetooth earphones. Each earbud contains a 5.7mm electro-dynamic driver, and offer a frequency range of 20- to 20,000Hz. Using their default audio profile, they offer a stunning wide soundstage, with slightly forward bass, that was warm and punchy, but never
overwhelming. The warm mids and clear highs that the headphones produced made everything I listen to, from Acquiraga Drom to Żywiolak, sound amazing.
But, the price. At £269, they’re one of the most expensive pairs of true wireless headphones we’ve reviewed, so far. Over the course of using the E8s, I repeatedly asked myself whether they were worth the price. My answer: if you can afford to splurge on a luxury item like this, absolutely.
While they rate among the most expensive true wireless headphones we’ve tested, the B&O Beoplay E8 are without a doubt, the best sounding and most luxurious-feeling headphones that we’ve tested. If you can afford them, you’ll most likely be very pleased with your purchase.
A little LED inside the case glows green when the AirPods are mostly charged, orange when they need charge. A more accurate meter is on the iPhone