Apple AirPods review: Amazing but with one key problem

At $229 they are some of the best wireless headphones bang for your buck wise... but...

Apple’s AirPod wireless earbuds are finally available and they offer a familiar sound to those users of Apple earbuds in the past, paired with some of the most outstanding wireless technology but with one key flaw.

Hear me out.

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In the ear, on the question of audio quality, I think the Apple AirPods are on-par with the earpods which have been shipping with Apple iPhones for years.  And remember, those earpods are still shipping with the iPhone, cable and all.

AirPods offer you the chance to break free from the cable and go wireless – especially those with an iPhone 7 or 7 Plus which courageously lack a headphone jack.

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At $229, they are outstanding value.  Yep, you can get in-ear wireless headphones for less than that, even under $100 – but they all still have a wire.  A Wire between the two ears.  Apple’s AirPods are literally wire-free. 100%.

Then there is the W1 wireless chip.  This little beauty is inside the tiny AirPod, and is also in the Beats Solo 3 Wireless headphones.  Using the W1 wireless chip, Apple is able to create the most seamless and user-friendly pairing process in the history of wireless headphones.

There’s no going into settings, bluetooth, pressing a button on the headphone to get it into pairing mode then searching and connecting your headphones.

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With the Apple Airpods, you grab the AirPods container and flip it open – your iPhone simply shows a screen to “Connect”.  Press that button and you’re done.

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The AirPods come in that funky little container which is what you flip open to begin the pairing process, and from there you simply grab each AirPod and pull them out, press them into your ear and the sound starts playing.

It becomes almost magic when you realise the simple little tricks of the AirPods, like removing one will pause your music, put it back in to recommence.

Put just one in your ear and use it as a bluetooth microphone for handsfree calling.

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They really work quite well.

Siri is available, but as someone who just doesn’t use Siri I found that almost pointless, and double tap to pause and resume works well and quite fast.

But, there’s no gesture to go back a track, or forward a track.  Something common on both wireless and wired headphones.  Likewise there is no volume control other than on your phone.

I think I could get over that, if my main gripe didn’t exist.

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They look silly. My wife just laughed when I put them on, I felt like a complete poser wearing them on a plane with so many people able to see me.  It’s the idea of this little thing pointing out from your ear – they just look strange.

Could it be we (society) need to adjust?  Will we look back in a year or two and realise they had a sensational design vision here?

I’m not sure.

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I am sure the Apple AirPods are amazing value Bluetooth headphones at $229.  There is no doubt they are innovative in both design and technology.

But you need to be prepared to cop the stares.

Oh, and they stay in your ear better than the traditional EarPods – how, I don’t know.  But they do.

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Apple AirPods
Date Published: 12/20/2016
Sensational value wireless headphones, innovative design and technology, but they look strange!
4 / 5 stars
Categories
Tech

Trevor produces two of the most popular technology podcasts in Australia, Your Tech Life and Two Blokes Talking Tech. He has a weekly radio show on 2UE, as well as appearances across the country and regularly provides Technology Commentary to Channel 9’s Today Show and A Current Affair. Father of three, he is often found down in his Man Cave. Like this post? Buy Trev a drink!
2 Comments on this post.
  • Alan
    24 December 2016 at 1:32 am
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    I have a pair and absolutely love them, do what i do and just don’t look in the mirror.

  • Charlie
    25 December 2016 at 10:59 am
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    My pair showed up 3 days earlier than Apple initially promised them so score one for the big A there. Overall, I am finding them quite agreeable and I think the reason they stay in the ears better than the wired versions is that the wire, in the grippy silicone version (which I prefer over a newer, plasticky set that was in my latest iPhone), snags on everything. The AirPods don’t suffer that grippy cable and it’s lower center of gravity. What little mass is in these is resting inside the ear. Very nice.

    I’m sure the second version will have some physical or multi-touch volume controls which will be nice but this is a great addition to my new App,e Watch series 2 which I finally sprang for earlier this month.

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