Are Ap­ple AirPods Worth the Buy?

iPhone Life Magazine - - iView -

The first time I saw an Ap­ple AirPod com­mer­cial, I watched as a hip, young, ag­ile au­dio­phile danced his way across the screen. I couldn't help but think that I was prob­a­bly not in Ap­ple's tar­get de­mo­graphic. How­ever, I bought Ap­ple's has­sle-free wire­less ear­buds any­way. Ap­ple's prom­ise of sim­plic­ity, porta­bil­ity, and tech­nol­ogy had sold me.

My first con­cern was whether they would fit, since the sim­i­larly shaped EarPods that came with my iPhone of­ten popped out of my ears. Thank­fully, I've had al­most no prob­lem with my AirPods since I pur­chased them. I sus­pect the weight of the EarPod cord and the slightly dif­fer­ent AirPod con­tour make the dif­fer­ence.

Sim­ple and Easy to Use

After a sim­ple one-tap setup with my iPhone, my Blue­tooth AirPods are now al­ways con­nected. Ex­cept for mi­nor hic­cups, the AirPods just work. I put the AirPods in my ears, and they con­nect to my iPhone. I take an AirPod out of my ear, and the au­dio au­to­mat­i­cally pauses. As­sisted by the iPad con­trol cen­ter, I can eas­ily switch and lis­ten to au­dio on my iPad.

By de­fault, dou­ble tap­ping on an AirPod activates Siri. I don't like talk­ing to Siri in pub­lic. Fur­ther, I find Siri frus­trat­ing, as it of­ten doesn't un­der­stand me. I soon changed the dou­ble­tap set­ting to start and pause au­dio in­stead. When I do want to speak to Siri, or make a phone call, I use the mi­cro­phones in the stems in­stead.

I of­ten use only one AirPod for au­dio­books and podcasts, dou­ble tap­ping to start and pause lis­ten­ing. I use both AirPods for music, and while I'm not an au­dio­phile, they sound great to me. They also do a great job at fil­ter­ing out back­ground noise.

Room for Im­prove­ment

I find that the AirPods' lack of con­trols is their biggest draw­back. The only way to ad­just AirPod vol­ume is to ask Siri and wait, or to do it man­u­ally on the phone. I am sur­prised Ap­ple didn't en­gi­neer ad­di­tional con­trol options. For ex­am­ple, Ap­ple might have let me lower and in­crease vol­ume by stroking up and down on an AirPod stem. Touch and hold an AirPod could have ac­ti­vated Siri. Spe­cial left and right tap­ping could take the au­dio back­ward and for­ward. I'm also not 100 per­cent happy with how the AirPods look. The two-inch white stems pok­ing out of my ear seem dorky, but I sus­pect I'll get used to the sight of them over time.

The AirPods come in a small, white, bat­tery-charg­ing case, which eas­ily fits in my pocket. The in­cluded Light­ning ca­ble is used to charge the AirPods and case, pro­vid­ing 24 hours of lis­ten­ing. De­pend­ing on how of­ten I use my AirPods, they can drain the bat­tery case fairly quickly, so I end up charg­ing the case three or four times a week.

One of the biggest con­cerns peo­ple have when con­sid­er­ing a pair of AirPods is ei­ther los­ing them or dam­ag­ing them. After us­ing the AirPods for a few weeks, I am not so con­cerned about that. They fit well in my ear, even when I'm bend­ing over or walk­ing fast, so I don't worry about them fall­ing out and get­ting bro­ken. And start­ing with iOS 10.3, Find My iPhone can help you find a charged AirPod so long as it's in Blue­tooth range of an iCloud-con­nected iOS de­vice. If the AirPods are dis­charged or en­closed in their case, Find My iPhone re­veals the last lo­ca­tion the AirPods and your iOS de­vice were con­nected.

Fi­nal Thoughts

If Ap­ple's EarPods fit your ears well and you're OK with putting down $159, then I ab­so­lutely rec­om­mend the AirPods.

Il­lus­tra­tion by Mikaila Maid­ment, mikail­a­maid­ment.com

Hal, along with his wife Rita, founded iPhone Life’s orig­i­nal pub­lish­ing com­pany, Thad­deus Com­put­ing, in 1985. You can reach him at hal@thad­deus.com. Check out Hal’s new book at med­i­tatin­gen­trepreneur.com.

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