Welcome to my review of the Apple AirPods.
The AirPods are probably one of the most anticipated products from Apple since it removed the headphone jack on the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus. Judging by the 6 week waiting time many people are buying these.
I have already experienced Apple’s new W1 chip that is found inside the AirPods with the new Beats Wireless Solo 3 headphones. The W1 chip performs miracles with the connection process, locking on to the audio and then not dropping out any audio ever along with a huge distance possible from the iPhone. So my expectations were really high with the new AirPods.
Setup Process and Configuration Options
Just open the lid of little charging case the AirPods come in, and a message will pop up on your iPhone asking to pair. Tap connect, and voila. The AirPods will get renamed with your name. If you want to give them a different name, though, you can change it at any time via the settings app.
Now the AirPods are paired to your iPhone , via iCloud, the pairing syncs across all your Apple devices. Neat.
So now whenever you pull your AirPods out of the charging case, they instantly turn on and connect to your iPhone, Apple Watch, iPad or Mac. Audio will automatically play as soon as you put them in your ears and pauses when you take them out. The controls work by using Siri. To adjust the volume, change the song, make a call or to get Siri to do anything else, just double-tap to activate to bring up Siri. You don’t need to say “Hey Siri”, just talk.
If you head over to the settings app, tap bluetooth, then look for the Airpods in the list, and tap on the “i” you can now do the following –
– To change the AirPods name, open the settings app from your iPhone’s home screen. Tap on Bluetooth. Tap on the current name of your AirPods under My Devices. Tap on Name. Edit the name.
– By default, double tapping the AirPods activate Siri. Again in the settings you can switch between Siri, Play/Pause, or to disable double tap function. That’s all you can do at the moment in terms of the double tap functionality.
In the settings app you can also tell the AirPods which side you would like the mic to work. Normally, both mics are on, but you can just have the left or right side if you desire. I would recommend leaving this setting alone, as the AirPods will decide where the best signal is coming from.
Do they fall out? No they don’t no matter how hard I tried. The AirPods use optical sensors and a motion accelerometer to detect when they’re in your ears and automatically routes the sound and also engages the microphone. And when you’re on a call or talking to Siri, an additional accelerometer works with beam forming microphones to filter out background noise and focus on the sound of your voice.
Battery life is 5 hours of listening time on one charge. The case is a charging case and provides up to 24 hours of charge. A 15 min charge provides 3 hours of listening time.
Audio Quality / In Use Experiences
I have now used the AirPods for 8 hours. The 5 hour battery life is correct. I got 5 hours 15 mins on my first charge. Recharging them in the case was a speedy affair and I did check that the claim of a 15 min charge provides 3 hours of music. Impressive.
The AirPods are more comfortable than the EarPods. I am not sure why, but it might be because they are marginally lighter and sit better in my ears.
The charging case is smaller than I expected, which is great as it will easily fit in any pocket.
The AirPods have a stronger, fuller bass line that the EarPods and sound good with all genres. The mid and treble are average, but certainly not dull or recessed. The soundstage is middle of the road. The AirPods do sound better than the EarPods. The maximum volume is plenty loud enough for me.
At £159, there are headphones that sound better, but there are none that offer all the connectivity, flexibility, size, style and wire free convenience. The AirPods do not drop bluetooth connection and that in itself is remarkable.
I watched a number of YouTube videos and watched a TV programme. The voices were in sync. Walking down a very busy main road, I was still able to double tab and ask Siri a question. I used Siri to raise or lower the volume, skip tracks and more. It is worth noting, Siri can only change tracks with the official music app from Apple. Using Amazon Music or a third party music player app called Neutron, Siri could not skip to the next track.
I also tried the AirPods with my MacBook Pro with Touch Bar. And as if by magic, the AirPods were showing up ready to select. Double tapping to bring up Siri to change tracks using iTunes work fine, albeit it is faster to manually press the next track on the Touch Bar. The AirPods sound superb when connected to the MacBook Pro.
When it comes to noise cancellation, the AirPods have none. You can use just one AirPod. If you take one of the AirPods out of your ears, the music stops. If you then ask Siri to play the music, it will now play through the other AirPod in mono. So if you wanted to listen to a podcast, and just use one AirPod at a time, you could manage 48 hours worth of battery life.
Overall, the entire package is beautiful to behold and a pleasure to use. The music quality is about 7.5/10.
In the video below, I try and shake the AirPods out of my ears, unbox and reveal more about these little gems.
A superb product from Apple. Wire free headphones are the future. The future is now. Highly recommended.