It's just over two years since Apple introduced AirPods, which meant the invasion of the company into personal wireless audio space (excluding Beats). At the time, the AirPods design felt totally strange, as if someone had clogged Apple EarPods and let them hang out of their ears, like two spoons without handles.
Of course, the Internet has shown no mercy, and inevitable jokes and memes have fallen into the flood. To make it worse, Apple's shiny white ear hooks faced a production delay, and eventually sold in the United States until December 2016, three months after they were announced.
Fast forward until 2018, and it's very clear that Apple has the last laugh, as AirPods were a huge hit, despite their relatively high price of $ 159 in the US and Rs. 12 900 in India. In a recent phone call, Apple's CEO, Tim Cook, who repeated his earlier comments, said AirPods were "misfortunes." This is not a surprise, as it is commonplace today to see people calm down the city with AirPods in their ears in the US, and this trend is catching up in India.
AirPods have become an integral part of our life here, there are Gadgets 360, so much so that after our smartphones, that's another piece of techno, many of us do not leave our homes without. We have used them for a long time, and we feel that it is a good time to take a closer look at what is so extraordinary.
AirPods design and features
Design AirPods could have been a deep joke when they debuted, but now it's safe to say that they are easily one of the best – if not best-designed genuine wireless headphones. The fact that the world's second-largest maker of smartphones recently announced a careless copy of AirPod – with other Chinese companies – is proof of the success of the design. This success depends on a few things.
First, it's a shape factor. AirPods are incredibly light thanks to the all-plastic construction, but this does not increase resistance. Our AirPods have survived for several years, and surprisingly have not seen many scratches or scuffs. The charging case with the capsules they supply is also tiny and can easily fit into the pockets without creating an unsightly niche.
The plastic case is as durable and has survived many drops, although it makes scratches quite easy. To prevent this, you can wear an AirPods case with leather or a small rubber casing to be shiny and sleeveless, although it's definitely not something you need do.
AirPods rest along the ridge of your ear canal, which makes them very comfortable even for a long time
The case has a flash port at the bottom to charge the AirPod and its own battery. Apple claims that AirPods can take up to five hours, and you can expect more than 24 hours of listening time with the charging case, which is impressive for this shape factor – we get a little bit into the real world. The case has a magnetic flap that snaps into place with a soothing click and the metal hinge for this feeling is as solid today as the day we first started using AirPods. The back of the case is a discreetly hidden button that is used during initial pairing.
Second, it's the way AirPods are sitting in your ears. Most wireless headphones are placed in the shape of their ears, which includes a silicone ear tip that enters the ear. The general advantage of this design is a good bass response, less distraction of ambient sounds and grip. As with headphones, even after a few hours of continuous use, the fingers can become tired.
Apple AirPods, on the other hand, have a similar design to the EarPods earphones that come with the iPhone. This means that the ear buds are sitting close to the ear, making them more comfortable. But what really amazes us is how well they stay, even in intensive use. We used them during gym training and even at runtime, and we never thought we'd have even the smallest ones. Yes, we all heard about people who had problems with the AirPod's in-ear, but none of us in Gadgets 360 – we have almost half a dozen AirPods among us – have faced this problem.
AirPods can look very simple but are packed with refractory technologies, including Apple's own W1 chip, which is the brain for operations and controls everything from Bluetooth connectivity, battery consumption, gesture manipulation, and audio processing. Each AirPod also has optical and motion sensors that, in conjunction with the W1 chip, can do things like automatic pause / resume when removing AirPods.
Each earpiece also has a pair of microphones to help filter out external noise. That means you can use the handset – and of course both headphones. This is the improvement of most competitions that limit the functional calls to just one headset.
The headphones fit into place in the case by means of magnets, so they do not fit when the lid is open. There is one LED in the cabinet that lights up white in pairing mode. If they are in the AirPods, the LED indicates the battery status of the headphones, otherwise it shows the status of the case – green means charging, while amber means that it remains less than one full charge.
The charger overlaps the AirPods battery, which is designed to extend the usage time for approximately 24 hours
AirPods also support the AAC audio codec, which is a step up from the default SBC encoder used to transfer audio over Bluetooth. They lack support for higher resolution audio codecs such as aptX and aptX HD, which are usually found in other products in this price category.
AirPods can only connect to one device at a time only when you connect them to Apple Watch and iPhone, in which case they can dynamically switch between the two devices. In other words, if your AirPods are connected to your iPhone and start playing something on Apple Watch, audio will automatically stream to AirPods.
Apple Watch throwing in the mix also offers additional comforts like tapping the Watch screen to answer an incoming call, which can also be done by double-tapping AirPods yourself, even if we have to admit it is a rather unpleasant experience. AirPods – and even other Bluetooth headphones – work great with Apple Watch LTE to listen to music or receive calls on the go even when the phone is not with you.
Retail AirPods is simple. A small white box contains AirPods, a flash charging cable and several instruction leaflets.
AirPods power and battery life
Pairing AirPods with an iPhone or iPad is a simple process. Simply bring the AirPods (in the case) near the device and open the lid. The AirPods image is almost instantly on the screen. Simply follow the on-screen instructions and set everything up.
If you have multiple Apple devices – iPad, iPhones, Mac or Apple Clock – associated with the same iCloud ID, AirPods will automatically be added to Bluetooth devices, eliminating the need for manual pairing with each individual. This in itself is a great win.
After pairing, the AirPods will actually light up. Both headphones have a touchpad along the neck of the neck, which can be programmed to perform different functions. By default, the double click will be called Siri, but you can change it to play / pause, previous track, next track, or just do nothing. What really is missing is physical controls for adjusting the volume. From a technical point of view, you can ask Siri to do it, but it is not the fastest solution, especially if there is noise around it.
The great bit, however, has the ability to assign different features to touch gestures based on the Apple device you are connected to. For example, we usually use gestures to control music playback when connected to an iPhone, and when we are connected to a MacBook, we need to call Siri. This is because these settings are memorized on individual devices, not on the AirPods themselves.
Playing music or video stops when you leave one of the headphones, which is also very useful, and we use a lot of what we are, whenever someone comes to us to be able to cope quickly. If you both delete both headphones, but when connected to a MacBook, the sound stops playing from the AirPods and switches to the built-in speakers of the notebook.
For each Apple device you use, you can set up another AirPod touch gesture
AirPods work the same way as other Bluetooth headphones on other devices. We use and disable the number of Android phones we tested and had no problems. Some touch gestures you've set up on iPhone also work with Android phones, which is great. You can skip tracks and use a play / pause gesture, but if you've assigned one of them to wake up Siri, do not expect it to trigger a Google helper. Other features, such as music that stops automatically when you leave one of the headphones, do not work with devices other than Apple.
All these fantastic gestures are fun, but what about sound quality? We just come out and say – airpods are not the best pair of Bluetooth headphones at this price, but that's fine because they are more than pure sound quality.
The weakest part of the sound is the lack of good bass. It does not sound straight, but if you're looking for that scream in your movies or EDM tracks, it will not find you here. When they say it, they deliver excellent mid-range details, and the tool separation is controlled by a great deal of touch. The heights are generally sharp and detailed, although sometimes we found them to be a bit too sharp and sizzling.
If we go back to lower frequencies, AirPods can work fine with fine bass notes, which is often enough. However, due to the lack of any kind of external sound insulation, we often had to collect more than usual. AirPods can get really loud, but at higher volumes the sounds will be a bit penetrating and can be tiring.
AirPods would not have an official IP rating of sweat resistance, but none of us had any problems on the front line, even when used in training and in the rain. The white AirPod color and the briefcase also matured very well without the appearance or change of color. You will have to clean the inside of the cabinet – near the place where the top of the AirPods is in charge because it has easily removed the dirt. If you are not regular, you are likely to leave a permanent mark.
AirPods handle voice calls very well, where we and the callers can clearly hear them. We did not experience any audio and video sync issues while watching videos and playing games.
AirPods may not have very good bass but bring good sound quality for most uses
Battery life is a bit mixed. With one of our units, even after a year of almost regular use, we get four and a half to five hours for one charge. The charging case will always keep AirPods recharged, which means we will end up charging once or twice a week. We use our AirPods quite commonly on a typical day, with a few hours of commuting and then a few hours with AirPods connected to the MacBook Air.
Keep in mind that if you use AirPods for a large number of calls, the battery drain will be faster because the headphones are rated for only five hours for music and in just two hours per call charge. This is called AirPods charging very quickly because only 15 minutes will get about three hours of playback, as Apple has promised.
However, with another set of AirPods – which are now 21 months, but which give solid playback of music for four and a half hours at 75% of volume, when it is fairly new – we just managed to exhaust over an hour of music playback. This is somewhat unsatisfactory, and in the absence of any way of checking the overall health of the AirPods battery, it was difficult to solve the problem. Apple offers an AirPods battery replacement, but it should not really be necessary for a product that is – certainly used a lot every day – out of warranty for only 9 months.
This means we have resorted to using only one headset at a time to use AirPody continuously. Yes, they still charge very fast, but it is unpleasant to drain the juices every 75 minutes, so it's easier to use one handset while the others get / stay charged and just switch between the two. It's a terrible deal if you listen to music – though AirPods will convert stereo to mono when you do it – but it works for us because we first listen to podcasts even though we can not claim to be fans of this jugaad.
While in the battery life area you can check how much juice from the AirPods is left, simply ask for Siri or open the AirPods case cover on your iPhone / iPad and wait for the condition to appear. You can also view AirPods battery status using the Batteries in iOS widget. On your Mac, you can find this information in Bluetooth settings or via the Bluetooth icon in the menu bar.
AirPods may seem a bit expensive at first glance, but with their versatility, performance and performance, they are easily one of the best value offered in the current Apple product portfolio. Yes, there are many AirPods alternatives available for the budget, but everything we tested either is inappropriate to recommend or cost just like AirPods – or even more.
While AirPods are best used with Apple, it's nice to see that they are not completely mutilated when using them with devices outside of Apple's ecosystem. Yes, the design limits the passive isolation of ambient noise and the amount of basses offered by AirPods, but we think most people will be quite happy with their sound.
We've heard of the legends of the successors of AirPods for over a year and when there was no show on the Apple iPhone XS event, we were pretty sure it would appear later in the year. Unfortunately, it did not even happen on October 30. We also expect the release of the wireless charging boot, which should debut with AirPower, but Apple is completely silent on this issue.
It is clear that Apple is no rush to run the successor of AirPod – the product is far from doing so well, so why repair something that is not broken? When we said that, we have a small list of features and changes that we would like to see in the next version of AirPod, and a volume check would be at the top of this list. We already have touch parts along the AirPod's throat, so why not allow a sliding gesture to raise the volume up or down?
Secondly, we really would like to have the right support for more devices. Although it's not a big problem when switching devices, it would be nice to have two active connections at the same time so we can say that we're calling on our phone when listening to music through a laptop
Recent rumors suggest that other AirPods may also have built-in biometric heart rate sensors and other health related indicators – the way Samsung makes a truly wireless Gear IconX headset, which may slightly increase their cost. Earlier this year, we have also heard rumors that Next Generation Airways will get against water and a stronger chip for immediate Siri experience, but I think we will have to wait for 2019 to see if it is true or not.
Even if we know that there is an AirPod successor on the horizon, we have no problems recommending the current one. If you own an iOS or other Apple device such as a MacBook, you will appreciate the seamless way AirPods work with these devices. If you're looking for better sound insulation and bass, then the Sony WF-SP700N is currently your best bet for a similar price. If you do not like the design in the ears, we recommend Bose Sound Sport Free even though they are more cost effective than AirPods.
Price: Rs. 12,900
- Light and comfortable
- Pleasant sound quality
- Useful gestures and other features
- Compact charging case
- Weak bass
- No passive isolation
- Mixed battery life in the long run
Reviews (of 5)
- Design / Comfort: 4.5
- Audio Quality: 3.5
- Battery Life: 3.5
- Value for money: 4
- Overall: 4