Are Apple AirPods Worth the Buy?
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.
If Apple's EarPods fit your ears well and you're OK with putting down $159, then I absolutely recommend the AirPods.
Hal, along with his wife Rita, founded iPhone Life’s original publishing company, Thaddeus Computing, in 1985. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Check out Hal’s new book at meditatingentrepreneur.com.