AirPods Review: Welcome to the wireless future

The first day I used Apple’s new wireless AirPods in public, I was standing at the streetcar stop in front of my apartment. I reached down, grabbed the headphone’s charging case from my backpack, took out the headphones and and popped them into my ears. Little more than 30 seconds later, a man in a pick-up truck pulled up at the light and yelled out his window, “Hey man, do those actually work?”

I responded with, “Yes, so far they do.”

“Are you serious?” he asked.

I nodded.

“Man… technology is crazy,” he exclaimed, before driving off.

During that same ride two passengers and a TTC bylaw enforcement officer, all asked me the same question, “Do those things really work?”

Yes, Man in the Pick-up Truck, technology truly is crazy and Apple’s AirPods do look like something out of a science fiction movie, sometimes causing them to warrant the wearer unwanted attention, but more importantly, they actually do work.

The look

iphone7-23

Apple’s wireless headphones are admittedly aesthetically strange, resembling a cross between bright white, awkwardly shaped earrings, and regular Apple earbuds that have had their wires cut off.

The $230 CAD headphones are designed to complement the new 3.5mm headphone jackless iPhone 7 and 7 Plus, though they’re also compatible with any Apple device running iOS 10. Sure, Apple’s new iPhone includes a lightning-to-3.5mm adapter and lightning headphones in the box, but it’s clear the Cupertino, California-based tech titan believes the future of audio is wireless.

airpodsgif

When you open the headphones for the first time you’re met with a rounded container that looks very similar to a dental floss container. This is the AirPods charging case and where the tiny headphones should spend most of their time when you aren’t actively using them. It’s a nondescript box with a chrome accented hinge, lightning port on its base for charging, and a small button on the back for pairing.

Since I’ve always been a fan of in-ear headphones that don’t burrow into my auditory canals like so many fitness-focused earbuds do these days, I’ve always found Apple’s standard EarPods to be surprisingly comfortable. If you aren’t a fan of the company’s EarPods, which feel identical to these new wireless headphones, then the AirPods certainly aren’t going to feel comfortable to you either.

airpods-33

I’ve worn the AirPods while walking to work, sitting and standing on the streetcar, and during rare bouts of exercise, where I’m either riding a stationary bike or running on an elliptical. Contrary to what late night comedians and YouTubers might like you to believe, the AirPods remained firmly in my ears during all of these activities. Of course whether or not the case if the same for you will depend on the structure of your ear and how snugly they fit into them.

The experience hasn’t been perfect, however. In one instance, actually while snapping images of the iPhone 7 for my review at a nearby beach, I bent over at a strange angle and the left AirPod flew into the water. I quickly scooped the headphone out of the water and all was fine. It may seem like an obvious statement, but it’s important to note that Apple’s AirPods do not fit as snugly in your ears as other wireless earbuds like Samsung’s Gear IconXs.

The W1 game changer

iphone7-21

It’s also important to note that because the AirPods are based on Bluetooth 4.0 technology, you don’t need to be an iOS user to take advantage of them, though they are easier to setup with Apple’s latest mobile operating system; this is one of the AirPods’ main draws in the first place.

Along with the iPhone 7, I tested the AirPods with the Nexus 6P, the Surface Book, and a variety of other Bluetooth audio-enabled devices, and while not all of the headphone’s coolest features were available, most notably the one tap connection, they still performed quite well.

What separates Apple’s AirPods from other Bluetooth headphones I’ve tried, namely Samsung’s IconXs, is their ability to easily pair with any device running iOS 10. Just open the charging case near an iOS 10 device and the connection is instantly completed.

airpods-2

A small window pops up on the iPhone displaying battery life of each AirPod as well as the charging base, notifying you that the connection has been made.

It’s worth mentioning that it also wasn’t hard to connect the headphones via Bluetooth, but much of the AirPods appeal is that I can take them out of their carrying case and they’re connected to my smartphone immediately, removing the hassle that often comes along with using Bluetooth headphones. Quite simply, the AirPods just work and are surprisingly convenient.

Also, despite their somewhat awkward shape, it’s impressive Apple was able to pack this much tech into such a small set of earbuds; there’s a pair of batteries, accelerometers and even an optical sensor that determines whether the AirPods are actually in your ears, arguably the AirPod’s most useful feature. They do not, however, feature a heart-rate sensor like the IconXs.

iphone7-4

When one AirPod is removed, music is paused. When you put that bud back in, music starts playing again automatically. Removing both AirPods pauses the music and a few seconds later, turns the headphones off completely in order to save battery life. What initially sounds like a subtle change in the way headphones typically operate is truly game changing and surprisingly intuitive, especially for someone like myself who is always on the go.

Powering this fancy technology is Apple’s new W1 chip, silicon that manages the link between the AirPods and the device they’re connected to, though the underlying wireless language facilitating everything is still based on Bluetooth 4.0. This tech will eventually make its way to Beats wireless headphones in the future, says Apple, but for now, the W1 is only present in the company’s AirPods.

In my experience, I was able to eek out between 3.5 and four hours of battery life on a single charge, which is impressive given the dismal two hours of battery live I experienced with the IconXs. Also, just like Samsung’s wireless earbuds, the dental floss case acts as a charging base with battery life coming in at about 20 hours, allowing users to charge the headphones on the go. In my roughly two weeks using the AirPods I haven’t run out of battery life once and this is something I haven’t been able to say about Bluetooth headphones I’ve used in the past.

Sound quality

iphone7-22

I’m far from an audiophile, but I found the sound quality of the AirPods to be overall very average. More or less, they basically sound identical to Apple’s EarPods. If you were expecting high-fidelity quality headphones, you’ll be very disappointed in Apple’s latest wireless audio effort.

Music has an airy sound to it and bass is nearly non-existent, though at times, sound does seem more crisp and clear than Apple’s standard EarPods. By default, double tapping on one bud wakes up Siri, allowing you to speak to Apple’s voice-activated assistant through one of the headphones in order to change tracks and adjust the volume.

Using this feature in public feels strange and I found myself avoiding it almost always. It would have been great if Apple utilized the W1 to create gesture-based track skipping functionality.

airpods-22

For example, a quick swipe to the right or left across the AirPod’s body could have resulted in songs moving forward or backwards. Those who are used to using the regular EarPods built-in control mechanism, which is also where the headphone’s mic is located, will find this shift to voice controls awkward and unnecessary.

To my surprise, the AirPods actually work really well for voice calls, which seems to be the result of the stem that points out the base of the headphones. This is where the microphone is located, creating a surprisingly accurate cone of reception that covers the wear’s face. During the few voice calls I’ve taken with Apple’s wireless earbuds I didn’t run into any sound issues, even when on a noisy streetcar, with the person on the other end hearing my voice loud and clear.

Forward thinking

iphone7-5

To come back to the outspoken man in the pick-up truck I mentioned earlier in this review, yes, Apple’s first stab at wireless earbuds actually do work. Their integration with iOS 10 is impressive and the company’s latest wireless effort solves many of the issues standard Bluetooth 4.0 headphones often suffer from.

They falter, however, in the sound quality category, leaving much to be desired, especially given their $230 price tag. It also would have been great if there was some sort of track skipping gesture controls built into the headphones. Talking into a void of nothingness in public just isn’t a useful control mechanic.

Like many first-generation Apple products, however, it’s hard not to admire what Apple has accomplished with the AirPods. The company still has a long way to go, especially looks and performance wise, if it truly wants to help spur wireless headphone adoption, particularity in the earbuds space.

airpods-55

Apple’s AirPods are set to release at some point in October, though a specific release date has not been revealed yet. This review is based on my experience with a pre-production set of AirPods. When we get our hands-on the retail unit we’ll update this review with additional information.

Update 20/12/16: I’ve gotten my hands on the retail version of the AirPods and my experience over the last few days has been very similar to the pre-production unit I originally reviewed.

The intermittent connectivity issues I experienced with the pre-production unit, however, seem to be gone. Other aspects of the AirPods, including battery life, sound quality and build, remains identical to my time with the pre-production AirPods.

Related: iPhone 7 review: iPhone 7 review: Apple sets the stage for 2017

Comments

  • Rev0lver

    So average sound quality, $230 price tag and they can easily fall out of your ears……The future has arrived!

    • Spencer Navarra-Chew

      Remember when my roommate brought home his first set of EarPods and I tried them. Sure. They’re comfortable, and the sound was fine for pack-in earbuds, but he damn things wouldn’t stay in my ears for more than 30 seconds.
      I’m of Mediterranean decent and my skin is oilier than average, so slippery plastic earbuds just turn in to a greasy NIGHTMARE for me, lol.

    • Lil’ Cwyin’ PC Cowar

      Oily? Delightful.

    • Mo Dabbas

      all I needed to read is “they basically sound identical to Apple’s EarPods” …. So they pretty much sound like garbage. anybody who tries to convince you that the standard earpods are of any decent quality then it mean he/she never really tried a proper headphones or earbuds.

    • FTR_Part_deux

      Why would you say they sound garbage? The Apple earbuds have come a very long way. I’ve had various iPods and comparing the early earbuds to the newer ones, they’ve certainly improved by a lot. And for stock earbuds that come with a phone, they’re not bad at all. It’s obvious they don’t sound UE customs or Shure IEMs or Sennheiser cans and it wouldn’t be fair to compare their SQ to Apple earbuds.

    • Mo Dabbas

      You’re comparing the old buds with the new one?? I mean that’s such a low bar comparison.
      Before starting to buy over the ear headphones (which I prefer way more than buds), I tried most of the headphones that come with phones. All of them were terrible except Sony’s which I actually found alright. Sony actually puts a decent earphones with their high end Xperia Z models. But others from Samsung, HTC, LG, Apple are all terrible. Of course I’m talking pre the year 2014 (that’s when I bought a couple of over ear headphones), some manufacturers don’t even include headphones with their phones anymore.

    • FTR_Part_deux

      All stock earbuds that come with a phone all have emphasized bass, muddy mids, and “ok” highs. Sony’s has always have exaggerated their bass, but that’s what the general consumer likes…emphasized bass and people think they’re good.

      But that’s the thing…it’s for the general consumer who doesn’t need or want to spend extra on 3rd party buds/cans. As long as they’re good enough and serves its purpose, the goal has been achieved. Factory cans, no matter what make, don’t really focus on SQ and it just wouldn’t be fair to place a high level of expectation, which you clearly have.

    • JHead82

      You’re missing the point here. The review is on a pair of $230 aftermarket Bluetooth headphones/earbuds, take the fact that they are Apple branded out of the equation for a minute. If they only sound as good as the headphones included with a phone, they should not be the same price or even more expensive than another pair of aftermarket headphones; including Bluetooth pairs. If the Airpods came included with the iPhone 7/7+ this would be a completely different argument. But the fact that I can buy a pair of headphones (wired or wireless) that sound better for less money is all that matters. Regardless of ‘cool’ features, and some quick pairing tricks (to iOS 10 devices only), sound quality should be a lot better than just ‘OK’, especially at the same price point as many of the other aftermarket brands that promote their products on the audio quality that is produced, which is what a headphone’s ultimate purpose is, at least to me, to deliver the audio from my music, videos, podcasts, etc. into my ears, at the best quality for my money. At $230, and only sounding as good as the ‘free’ pair bundled with the phone – to me – completely misses the mark.

    • FTR_Part_deux

      In that case, all BT headphones should be dismissed from any reference to SQ. All BT headphones will never reach similar SQ when compared to good ol’ analog headphones. The only thing BT headphones have over wired headphones is…wireless. I’d never consider a pair of wireless headphones.

    • thomas nguyen

      Jaybird x2 is good for 180, and they fit in your ear and not fall out. They have wires connecting the bud, but completely wireless to the device

    • I found the Jaybird X2s a hassle to connect to my phone and incredibly uncomfortable (like I state in the story though, I’m not a fan of in-ear headphones).

    • David Rawlins

      I’ve been using a set of wireless headphones I got off Amazon Canada for about $35. (Taotronics w/ built in mic) I’ve been very happy with their sound. (And the mic is handy for calls) Obviously their quality won’t match some over the ear headphones but for $40 CAD wireless buds I’ve been pretty impressed.

    • jay

      See you got the point 3.5 headphones

    • Smanny

      Wrong, Bluetooth aptX is better quality sound and E-aptX is even better with CD quality. Some Bluetooth headsets offer that now. So do not say that ALL wireless headsets are the same. Clearly that is ignorant on your part.

    • FTR_Part_deux

      Your APTX still uses compression to transfer the audio. Try to stream a lossless format that goes beyond the capability of APTX. And there is still a delay in audio with APTX.

      Clearly, ignorance exists when you think compressed music sounds better than uncompressed.

    • Iz3man

      Exactly.

    • FTR_Part_deux

      Why would any company price wired and BT earbuds/headphones for the same price if they sound the same? In actual fact, BT headphones sound WORSE than wired headphones and they are priced higher. Your logic doesn’t make any sense at all. And if BT headphones sound worse, according to your analogy, they should be priced less than wired headphones.

    • Brett Arnold Allard

      Not always the case! I own an Honor 8 and the sound using the 3.5mm jack is very lacklustre at best (Even with a high end set of cans) adding a amplifier obviously changes things completely but so do devices with built in amplifiers like the HTC 10 and axon 7. This is where I find that Bluetooth headphones shine the best as it potentially adds a better listening experience for those otherwise unfortunate devices.

    • Iz3man

      But now you get stock free sound for premium price.

    • Brett Arnold Allard

      I’m not a true audiophile but I have headphones that are nearly 20 years old and have better overall sound then anything apple has released over the years.

      Considering the Headphone market is gaining in popularity you would think apple would focus more on quality then ease of use, and aesthetics.

    • FTR_Part_deux

      Apple isn’t in the business to make the best sounding headphones, because there are many 3rd party companies that do that. Despite the headphone market gaining in popularity, not many people want to spend the dollars to get that SQ accordingly. Like with many things we buy, the more we spend on one item, there is a diminishing return in performance. Fellas get strange looks when someone plunks down $50k for a Sennheiser Orpheus HE90 setup, but how good would that really sound? Is it really 217 times better sounding than the AirPods? Or even a pair of UE custom IEMs, that can reach up to $1000…are they really 5 times better than the AirPods?

      And I certainly don’t doubt that your 20 year old headphones would sound better than a pair of AirPods, but depending on what model they are, they may not even be of the same comparison. Likewise, it wouldn’t be fair to compare your 20 year old headphones to a pair of Sennheiser HD800 or Grado RS1 or electrostatic headphones or…etc.

    • I think if you look at Apple as a company over the years, it’s always focused on aesthetics and quality over performance, at least in most cases.

    • Brett Arnold Allard

      There’s no argument there! However it just pains me (and I’m sure many others as well) that all we have here is a wireless set of apple buds with no real sound improvement over previous model ear buds! Even at half price this is still a tough pill to swallow.

    • jay

      The do sound like garbage and have no function at all. Like the icon X do. But apple trolls buying everything

    • Can’t Fix Stupid

      You gotta admit it takes courage to lose a pair of $230 headphones.

    • Iz3man

      85% of the people ( I use the term lightly) will lose 1..

    • Mr Dog

      $230 is one of the cheapest wireless earbuds on the market right now.

      Granted the average consumer won’t know the difference, it’s probably adequate

    • Iz3man

      I bought a set of awei Bluetooth buds not that long ago and for the $25-30 on ebay they are incredible, they last 16 hours, sound great and if you break em, it’s $25. I use them on my Harley with loud pipes and I don’t miss any sound from my music. Hell I once listened in on a meeting (muted my end ofcourse) and was able to follow just fine.. There are to rare high quality cheap ones out there.

    • Mr Dog

      Having a wire connecting the two headphones is a very easy way to solve the problems that are introduced with two independent earbuds. That is what drives them up in price and they both have their place in the market.

    • Rev0lver

      The average consumer doesn’t spend $230 on headphones regardless of sound quality. If these don’t appeal to audiophiles what’s the point?

    • Mr Dog

      There are other parts of the market it would appeal too. It is clearly not meant for the audiophile.

    • Rev0lver

      Like who?

    • Brett Arnold Allard

      I’m curious as well.. I’ll take better sounding headphones any day of the week over these especially considering what else the market has to offer.

    • Mr Dog

      The same people who bought $100 single bluetooth ear pieces when they first came out, those who have the money and use it for general use, with the added benefit of them also turning into headphones.

      I have seen people spend $150 on single ear bluetooth headsets, this would be so much of a better option.

    • Rev0lver

      You need to start associating with smarter people….

      Also, what the hell is using your money for ‘general use’?

    • Mr Dog

      Lol great argument.

      There is a market for these. Just because they are not for you doesn’t make them silly/dumb/bad purchase.

      There is a convieneve factor that some might not appreciate.

      Either way, people seem to be hating on this as usual because it is Apple.

      There was not a single bit of criticism when Samsung released a very similar product a few months back that was more expensive and lower after life. (Although it has a heart rate sensor).

      These headphones, at this point in time, do not have high margins.

    • Rev0lver

      I’ll criticize any sub par product regardless of manufacturer, and this is a product in search of a market that it will likely never find. I’m sure there are some people who would buy these even if they gave the user ear herpes but that doesn’t mean it’s a good product.

    • Mr Dog

      This kind of product will likely become more common place moving forward.

      A truly wireless solution offers more flexibility in use cases while delivering a similar outcome.
      I do not want a wire holding my headphones together if I am going Bluetooth, it gets in the way and there is a much greater chance of the entire headset becoming useless if that wire is broken.

      Like I mentioned above, there are plenty of times where I sit at my desk with one headphone just sitting on the desk while the other in my ear. There is no comfortable way to walk around with only one earbud in the ear either. I prefer using only one ear piece when walking and talking so I am somewhat aware of my surroundings, but there is no comfortable way to do that.

      Sure, at this point in time the price/performance is not on par with those but moving forward it will catch up as tech advances but we have to start somewhere.

    • Rev0lver

      “Sure, at this point in time the price/performance is not on par with those but moving forward it will catch up as tech advances but we have to start somewhere”

      So you’re admitting these are a compromised product.

      It took you a while to come around but we finally agree.

    • Mr Dog

      Yes, I agree. Sound quality is compromised for convinience. But that doesn’t mean there’s no market.

    • David Rawlins

      I’m actually really enjoying the Taotronics ones I mentioned above. I use them similarly to you. Often one earbud in for music or talking on the phone. Haven’t had any issues with the cord (and they’ve actually gone through the wash). I’d highly recommend giving a $40 set of bluetooth headphones with a mic a try. You might find you don’t mind the cable nearly as much as you thought you would. I actually find the ones I’m using very convenient because of the magnetic backs on the buds. When not in use I can just hang them around my neck. Anyways, my 2 cents. 😉 Cheers!

    • This is exactly who is going to buy the AirPods.

    • David Rawlins

      Hell no. Go to Amazon Canada. I got a set of Taotronics Wireless Earbuds for $40 total. They’re great every day/gym buds. Sound quality is good, (for sub $200 buds). The mic is handy for phone calls as well and the magnetic backs allow you to just hang them around your neck when you’re not using them.

    • Mr Dog

      Again, those are a different category. Bluetooth headphones that are attached together is. Much easier engineering problem then having 2 completely wireless solutions.

      Yes, they do still compete with each other. But price wise you cannot compare something with $100 worth of tech inside it to one with $10.

    • David Rawlins

      Ah, I see what you’re saying. I can agree there. And most definitely there’s going to be a niche. I find the concept of Airpods odd though, especially coming from Apple. They are an engineering marvel, and yet functionally, they seem so impractical. Apple in the past has been about functional simplicity, and yet I can’t think of anything more needlessly complex than individual wireless headphones. Easy to pop out of the ear (depending on the ear of course, but overall reviews point to this fact), easy to lose (small individual pieces), etc.

      They’re cool for cool’s sake, but not much more. As mentioned their sound quality is low, (around the same as the base set). I’m not trashing Apple, and people will buy whatever they like regardless, I just can’t objectively see significant advantage of these to say the ones I previously mentioned.

  • Johan S******s

    Probably doesn’t make sense to spend $230 on mediocre sound just to be an early adopter. Maybe when there’s a good over the ear set with the w1 chip that can be used for more than 4 hours between charges, that run time is a deal breaker

    • Victor Creed

      Beats Solo 3. Over the ears, W1 chip and 4 hours playback.

    • Johan S******s

      Thanks for the recommendation, I think my baseline is probably like 8 hours though, I should be able to use them on a cross country flight without stopping to recharge. Jabra has a couple of pairs with 12-15 hour run time that were top picks on the wire cutters’ rankings, but not the same kind of ease of use compatibility they’re talking about with these w1 sets.

    • thomas nguyen

      What about jaybird x2

    • Cornfed710

      I think they have 50 hours battery due to the W1 chip.

    • mxmgodin

      40* hours, not 4, for the Solo3.

    • Cornfed710

      That’s right

    • Mr Dog

      This! I’m surprised there isn’t more talk about the Beats Solo 3 going from 12hour battery to 40 hours! That is a giant jump

    • jay

      When my solo are empty I plug them in the phone and still music

    • Lil’ Cwyin’ PC Cowar

      Thank you for your reasonable and balanced comment…but it’s missing something…oh, yeah – the pathological hatred.
      Good on you, Johan.

    • Garrett Cooper

      I’d recommend Bludio R’s (or whatever the current model is). I’ve had a pair for about 4 years and they’re fantastic. They look identical to Beats, sound great, over ear and very comfy, and I picked them up for $100 CAD. I use them for working out about an hour a day, and I go probably a month between charges. I was shocked by the battery life TBH.

  • ConcertMaster

    Waste of money, prone to bring easily lost or misplaced and average sound quality? For $230? Uh yeah… I’ll pass

  • southerndinner

    Those are the ugliest ****ing things ever. Average sound and a truly atrocious design for $230 is not acceptable. If the Icon X were less than $230 I’d probably consider them despite their mediocre battery so long as they aren’t as ugly as these things.

    • jay

      check out newegg i think they sold them for 230$ i bought mine at the samsung store and can not be happier.

    • Lil’ Cwyin’ PC Cowar

      Then don’t buy ’em; it’s not rocket science.

    • If sound quality is your concern that the IconXs definitely aren’t the headphones for you either. In my experience they didn’t sound any better than the AirPods.

    • southerndinner

      I have no doubt about that, I’m more concerned about the look. To which there is no comparison, simply because the AirPods are the ugliest things ever made.

    • Datsyuk13

      Looks are subjective, and I happen to think the IconXs are much, much uglier than the AirPods.

    • southerndinner

      I’d agree the icon x aren’t pretty but the AirPods being ugly isn’t really subjective. Your taste might be, though, if you think they aren’t absolutely hideous

    • thomas nguyen

      What do they look like in ear is different than you looking at them on the table.

    • Sighmonsez

      @Thomas. Well, I certainly don’t want people to think I have cutoff straws sticking out of my ears…

    • Ha! Me too.

    • We’ll have to disagree there. The IconXs look like a hearing aid, at least despite looking kind of strange, the AirPods actually look like headphones. In general though, I question the utility of wireless airbuds overall. Unless you’re set on the concept, they really don’t make much sense.

    • jay

      Better having straw outside your ears

    • jay

      But the features are amazing and everyone wants

  • Bob Loblaw

    Anyone who spends $230 on these pieces of sh!t should get their head checked. You could get ATH-m50x’s for $180 and get way better sound.

    • ConcertMaster

      About sums it up. I use a pair of Plantronics Backbeat Fits that run for about 5-6 hours with great sound quality for $149 Plus they are great for working out with and won’t fall out of your ears like these pieces of shít

    • Spencer Navarra-Chew

      Bought my Sony SBH-52 for $60 which lets me use earbuds of my choice, so I spent $150 on Sony XBA earbuds. Fantastic sound, stays in my ear, full controls for music, notifications on the BT clip, and 8 hours of playback. Hell the clip even has a built in FM radio if the mood strikes me. And I still spent less than the AirPods

    • Mo Dabbas

      I used to have plantronics backbeat go 2 and they were decent with about 6 hrs battery. I got those for 60 on sale.

    • ConcertMaster

      Yeah. the Backbeat Go is a different model though, The Fit is more designed for workouts and an active lifestyle. Still the battery is very good for a pair of Bluetooth earbuds and the sound quality was nothing to sneeze at as far as I was concerned.

      My sense is these Airpods are really only good for someone moving around lightly or in stationery position. If your’e working out such as running, biking or any other strenuous activity they are prone to falling out because of sweat buildup and the fact they don’t anchor to your ear.

    • Lil’ Cwyin’ PC Cowar

      And another one…let the hate run deep, brother.

    • ConcertMaster

      Not hate. Just feel these are waaay over-priced for what you get and by the looks of it, most on here agree.

    • Lil’ Cwyin’ PC Cowar

      Wow. Good thing folks have choice, Bobby-Blue…

    • Bob Loblaw

      Thanks Reba

    • Mr Dog

      Your comparing over the ear monitor headphones ?

      Why buy a $60k Audi when you can get a more powerful truck? Right?

  • demigod79

    This article makes it sound (no pun intended) like Apple was the first to invent wireless ear buds! Not only is Apple late to the party but their product looks ridiculous and has serious drawbacks (what kind of modern headphone has no track or voice controls?). The only benefit to the AirPods is quick pairing (and that’s only with iOS devices). In virtually every other category it is beaten soundly by the competition.

    The fact of the matter is that if a third party had created the AirPods they would have been waved off as rubbish. However, since Apple created them it is “forward thinking” and represents a “wireless future”, LOL.

    • Spencer Navarra-Chew

      The didn’t even pioneer quick pairing!
      Sony has been using NFC-Bluetooth pairing on all their wireless audio products for years.
      One quick tap to pair my Z3TC with my matching Sony BT headset, speakers and even my home stereo.

    • demigod79

      Ah, my mistake. In light of this, the AirPods are outclassed in every single category.

    • Not to point out the obvious, but they do have voice controls. I talk about them in the story extensively (though they’re definitely not how i want to control music).

      For me, and a lot of other people out there, the AirPods sound “good enough” in terms of sound quality. The quick pairing alone, which I think is better than any other pair of wireless headphones I’ve used before, including Beats, Plantronic, IconX a few Sony branded headsets.

    • Spencer Navarra-Chew

      Except that Sony had quick pairing years ago. My (2 year old) Z3 pairs to any modern Sony headset, BT speaker or even wireless-enabled home stereo with a simple tap.

    • demigod79

      Ah sorry, I meant volume controls. I’m very aware of voice controls, but this is no replacement for physical controls on the earphones (on this I agree).

      IMO, what Apple should have done is included a cable to connect the AirPods, like most other bluetooth earbuds. Not only would this have allowed them to include physical buttons for track and volume controls but it would also nullify the issue with them slipping out and getting lost (kill two birds with one stone).

    • That actually would have been a cool move.

    • FTR_Part_deux

      Hey DemiTurd, did you even read the review? They do have voice control.

    • FlamesFan89

      He replied that he intended to write volume controls, not voice. Good on you though for jumping straight to childish name calling.

    • FTR_Part_deux

      Someone needed a serving of humble pie. Reading his first comment and then reading his follow up comment says that he enjoyed it. lol

  • Spencer Navarra-Chew

    I have a 1st gen Moto Hint that I use daily as a general purpose headset, other than being stero, I can’t see the advantage the AirPods offer over it. There was originally suposed to be a stereo version of the Hint offered, but that evaporated when the Lenovo buyout happened.

    For commuting and working out I use my trusty Sony Bluetooth adapter. It gives me 8 hours of continuous playback, the freedom to use any earbuds I want and it feeds me notifications without having to grab my phone. Oh, and it cost me $60.

  • jay

    was it on a US channel when TIM said that with wire they always fall out… TIM COOK please buy a pair of samsung iconX and than you know what amazing is. hear rate monitor touch button pause/play song skib song… also 4GB internal storage and you can copy from your phone to the earphones also can answer calls. i think the last time i saw them on special for 230CAD.

    • Two hours of playback definitely doesn’t sound amazing to me. I also found the IconXs very uncomfortable.

    • jay

      2 hrs? mine getting me 4 hrs and good for me with all the features are fine.

  • jay

    one thing i noticed that the iphone in silver looks pretty good.

    • Lil’ Cwyin’ PC Cowar

      I still think the 5 looks the business, Jay.

  • danbob333

    I don’t like the fact that you need 3 items (2 earplugs + case). Too easy to loose one. They are very small.

    Also the use of Lightning as a charging port is a big fail. Should have been a standard connector.

    • thereasoner

      Same here, definitely not carrying that around all the time.

    • I think the losing issue has been blown out of proportion a little bit. If you have a bag on you, just bring the AirBud’s case along with you. If you don’t, just drop them in a pocket and keep track of their location. I don’t see how the AirPods are any easier to lose than other wireless earbuds or even a standard Bluetooth headset.

    • danbob333

      because you have 3 items to loose instead of just one.

    • Datsyuk13

      The Lightning port is huge for current iPhone users like myself. I can understand the argument for microUSB but the current setup benefits users like myself far more – the chargers I have at home, work and in the car are all Lighting port.

    • danbob333

      They could have used USB-C just like the Mac Book.
      But I agree they should also have switched to USB-C for the iPhone.

  • thereasoner

    Why would people be asking if they work? Wireless bluetooth ear pieces have existed for ages !

    • Mo Dabbas

      technically we don’t really know how factual the story is. You know, It may be of the imagination. lol

    • It’s all factual 😛

    • Mo Dabbas

      Lol. I don’t know. He sounded pissed off so I put a theory to ease on him.

    • Do Do

      …and bluetooth hasn’t worked that great for ages, I see no reason to believe this version will be any better but maybe I’m wrong, we’ll see.

    • I think that’s the issue. Some Bluetooth devices work great, whereas others I’ve had a nightmare trying to get them to connect. It’s really hit or miss. This is something the W1 chip, regardless of how you feel about the AirBods and their expensive price tag, are trying to change.

    • Spencer Navarra-Chew

      I agree that BT pairing can be a nightmare and I applaud Apple for steping up with a solution.
      My only real problem here is that you fail to acknowledge they’re late to this party as NFC pairing has been around for years .

    • I believe that Apple has done a better job with the technology than any pair of wireless headphones I’ve ever personally tried. There might be ones that match the W1 out there but I haven’t personally seen or tried them.

    • Spencer Navarra-Chew

      I can’t say if Apple’s implementation is better or not – I’ve not tried it yet.
      My point is that it’s not the revolutionary feature the media at large has touted it as. At best, it’s an incremental upgrade over existing technology and as the impartial media doing a review, you’re responsible for reporting it as such.
      If you’d like to play around with Sony’s quick-pairing. I’d be happy to meet you sometime and let you try it.

    • FlamesFan89

      I will preface this by saying I haven’t used many Bluetooth devices, but I’ve never had a pairing issue, and until reading these comments, I had never heard of anyone having issues with Bluetooth pairing. It’s nothing but an anecdote, but I’m not convinced Bluetooth pairing issues are a big problem.

    • Mr_Smoosh

      Same here. I have a pair of jaybirds, and several models of Sony sets. Never had an issue pairing with any phones, or laptops, or PCs.

    • Datsyuk13

      Probably due to there being no connecting wires whatsoever.

    • thereasoner

      You don’t have wired connections with Bluetooth headsets either and people have been using those for years.

  • JD

    So for $230 you get mediocre sounding earbuds with so so battery life and a whole bunch of tech that makes no difference In actual use.
    This article reeks of ARDF. I’ll wait for headfi to review them thanks

    • Lil’ Cwyin’ PC Cowar

      I thought the review was fair and well balanced but perhaps that was not what you were hoping for…

    • I state in the story that I’m definitely not an audiofile. I’m reviewing these from the perspective of an average person who enjoys listening to music occasionally. I’ve tried a fair amount of wireless earbuds over the years and found these to be the simplest to setup and use despite their average audio quality.

      Also, I’m assuming ARDF stands for the “Anglican Relief and Development Fund?” 🙂

    • JD

      Can you elaborate on the range of the buds and volume.
      I’m sorry but when you start off with a Headline like “Welcome to the Future” and “W1 Game Changer” I actually want to hear why…
      All I’m seeing is Sorry We’re late to the game. We got wireless buds out there with NFC pairing and capacitive controls on the bud and this is the best Apple can come up with for $230?

    • I think if you take a closer look at the review those questions are answered pretty thoroughly. I talk extensively about why I think the W1 is a game changer and why despite the AirPod’s issues, I feel Apple has helped solve many of Bluetooth 4.0’s issues. You can totally disagree with the justification, as I expected many of MobileSyrup’s readers to do, but it’s definitely in there.

      It’s also interesting that you point out the price when most other wireless airbuds cost a similar amount of money or even in some cases slightly more (like Samsung’s IconXs for example).

    • JD

      So I should read between the lines to see why its game changing? Most of the issues are non-issues with modern gear. I don’t even see any kind of comparison. The iconx has a significantly better functionality than these.
      All I see is gushing, I’m just being objective which is what reviews should be.

    • Sighmonsez

      Patrick. An average person will not spend $230 for a so so earbud. An average Apple hyper-fan may, though…

    • Mr Dog

      PLEASE do show us wireless earbuds that have great sounding quality for similar price.

      (There are NONE! Apples are likely one of the cheapest

    • JD

      There are many Great sounding earbuds that are cheaper and sound better. Bose, Sony and Jaybird all make better sounding buds. Move to the VModas (I prefer cans anyway) and they’ll blow these things away.

    • Mr Dog

      They are not the same. Having a wire connecting the two was an easy way to solve the problem of two independent earpieces.

      You should be comparing fully wireless to fully wireless.

    • FlamesFan89

      Independent ear pieces solves a problem that doesn’t exist. It’s essentially a party trick that reduces the actual quality of the product, while raising the price.

    • Mr Dog

      Just because it is not for you does not mean it is a party trick. I would prefer a fully wireless solution weather they are the Earin ones, Samsung or Apples.

      If I need only one headphone, I do not want the other one hanging around my neck or from my ear lol. There are plenty of times where I need to be slightly aware of my surroundings and would be nice to have just the earpiece in my ear while listening.

    • FlamesFan89

      Doesn’t removing one of these from your ear pause the music?

      At the end of the day, it’s a novelty that costs more than it should, and it is far from being anything new, innovative, or revolutionary.

    • Mr Dog

      you are able to use only one if needed.

      No one said anything about new, innovative or reolutionary. But it’s expensive because the cost is high and it will be a low volume product.

      As technology progresses, the Airpods along with all other true wireless earbuds will become cheaper as well.

    • FlamesFan89

      The headline, along with the whole first section of the article wreaks of “Apple reality distortion field” and that this is something amazingly new.

    • Mr Dog

      Did you read the article? It wasn’t that Apple loving.

      Also these are one of the cheaper options in its category.

    • FlamesFan89

      Only if you limit it to the very specific category of wireless earbuds that are not connected together. If you actually consider all wireless earbuds, these become a complete waste of money as they offer no real advantage for the increased price.

    • I think what you’re talking about, whether you want to admit it or not, are two very different product categories.

    • FlamesFan89

      It has nothing to do with me admitting anything. The category is wireless earbuds, and the broader category is wireless headphones, whether you want to admit it or not. 😉

    • I think you might be suffering from an “Apple hate reality distortion field” 🙂 Yes, other companies have released wireless earbuds that a similarly priced, in some cases even cheaper, but they don’t match the ease of use that stems from the W1 chip. Some might come close though, like the IconXs for example.

      I agree that the overall utility of wireless earbuds is questionable, that’s completely true. If you just have to have a pair though I still contend that these are the best and some of the cheapest ones out there in this particular product category.

    • FlamesFan89

      I wholeheartedly disagree. I think that the “category”is being intentionally limited. The Jaybird X2s beat these in every way, with the lone exception that the Airpods are slightly easier to pair with Apple products, and that’s just one example.

  • Lil’ Cwyin’ PC Cowar

    ‘Base’ may be nearly non-existant but I’d rather read about bass, as in the lower frequencies of the music 🙂

  • Cornfed710

    You know the W1 is already available in beats headphones, Solo 3, 50 hours of battery and great range because of it.

    • Those headphones have not been released yet. They’re also not wireless earbuds.

    • Cornfed710

      Actually they have been released. You said this

      This tech will eventually make its way to Beats wireless headphones in the future, says Apple, but for now, the W1 is only present in the company’s AirPods.

      You don’t specify buds, so, I guess I just don’t get it.

    • Mr Dog

      But the Beats Solo 3, are not compareable to the Airpods.

    • Cornfed710

      I was replying to the part where he misstates that the W1 is currently only available in the airpods. You can order the solo 3 today with the W1 inside.

  • TP

    I don’t know. From this review, it sounds like this is really waste of money, and Apple is still admired for ‘forward thinking’.
    My Phiaton BT100NC offers much more for much lower price tag.
    Neckband design is not everyone’s cup, but it is way more convenient than having to carry a case all the time and having to worry about losing one of the pair (or both)
    It also offers
    – active noise cancellation
    – NFC – if you are that lazy to press the power button when you want to use them
    – sound quality – not ‘greatest’ of all BT headphones, but audiophile forums give very positive review on sound quality
    – battery life – 12 hours on single charge
    – offers a headphone-jack cable so you can use if battery is low, if device doesn’t support bluetooth, etc.
    – price – less than USD$55 on Amazon
    – you can wear while working out (water splash proof, and the band holds the earbuds nicely so they don’t fall off)
    – control play/pause, forward, rewind, volume, phone conversation, etc.

    Mine is more than a year old in the market and I am sure there are much more competitive products out there (I’ve seen some from Samsung, Bose, Onkyo, LG, etc)…and this is Apple’s ‘forward thinking’ product?

  • Cornfed710

    You guys really need some  specialist over there, by any chance do you contribute to the mobile syrup podcast? Every time they talk about Apple products/services they get so many facts wrong it’s not even funny. That being said, I love the podcast and listen to every episode.

    • Feel free to email us if you hear any inaccuracies on the SyrupCast. We always love feedback!

    • Cornfed710

      Thanks for the reply

  • neo905

    I noticed you took all these picturesque photos of them but not one of you actually wearing them Patrick. Then we would be able to see how ridiculous they really look. Picture tampons hanging out of your ears. Not so picturesque anymore is it…

  • Omar

    I feel like those people asking “do they work?” thought that they were broken earpods lol

  • Zee

    “Contrary to what late night comedians and YouTubers might like you to believe, the AirPods remained firmly in my ears during all of these activities. ”

    Then in the very next paragraph:

    “The experience hasn’t been perfect, however. In one instance, actually while snapping images of the iPhone 7 for my review at a nearby beach, I bent over at a strange angle and the left AirPod flew into the water”

    Isn’t that what the entire comedy sketch was about? The earbuds are easy to fly out of your ear?

    • I think you’re missing the point of what I’m trying to say. I mention a bunch of activities where the didn’t fall out, then discuss a situation where I had my head literally upside down where they actually did fall out (in this case, any earbud headphones would have fallen out). I wanted to illustrate that they sit firmly in my ears, but if you push them, just like any headphones, they’re going to pop out.

  • LOL people are asking you if bluetooth headphones really work? WTF

  • MeHow

    Naive question but I am not able to find the answer. Do you need to carry the case all the time with your phone around or you can leave the case at home and go for a walk just with your pods and phone?

    • Datsyuk13

      The case is strictly for charging and for the initial pairing. You can go for a walk, etc. with the AirPods and not bring the case with you.

    • You could totally do that. I typically have my backpack on me most of the time so I just pop them in the case and drop them in my back when I’m done.

  • Pokpok

    “I’m far from an audiophile, but I found the sound quality of the AirPods to be overall very average”

    But yet, on September 14th, “Despite being arguably the best, although admittedly probably the most funny looking wireless ear bud-style wireless headphones on the market, Apple’s AirPod wireless headphones have become a running joke in the tech industry right now.”
    So, which one is it?

    • Not sure where the contradiction your pointing out is given these stories were written in succession. The sound quality is average, but so is the sound quality of any set of wireless earbuds I’ve tried. One story was written from initial impressions of the headphones at Apple’s hands-on, the other is after getting a review unit and spending much more time with them. I decided that they look strange, but not any stranger than other earbuds out there.

  • rick

    These annoy me for the sole reason, they are the true reason the 3.5 jack is gone. The only way Apple can recoup the money they dropped on Beats is by aggressively steering people to Beats and Airpods. I’ll boycott on that reason alone – at least the airpods for sure. Will see what “cheap” wireless set Beats comes up with. To me no headphone warrants the ridiculous prices out there. None of them – regardless of brand. 70 bucks Canadian max. Anything else is ridiculous. But that’s just me.

  • Uberman X

    So along with the battery drain on the phone with having Bluetooth on all the time I now have to worry about battery drain on my headphones.

    I don’t buy the crap that the jack had to be removed to save space on the phone. Other phones have the jack with bigger batteries, bigger screens.

    I don’t buy the claim that the jack had to be removed to offer water resistance. Other phones offer water resistance and a jack.

    This was all about killing card swiping modules like Paypal, Square and the like which use the audio jack in a selfish attempt to push Apple Pay. And of course the money/revenue from a whole new set of Air Buds and related wireless accessories.

  • Iz3man

    I hate this.. IT’S NOT NEW TECHNOLOGY. Just because Apple force fed it to its sheep doesn’t mean it’s new.. It’s Bluetooth it’s been out since the early 2000s. And at $230, I’m willing to bet me buds at 1/3 the price sound better, it’s a rip off the isheep are used to having.

    I want a review test, pop these in your ears jump on a free flowing exhaust Harley and listen to the music, tell me how clear they are.. My Bluetooth buds sound great at 120kmph ripping on my bike.

  • slimdizzy

    Nice mention of the “easy” pairing but forgot to mention that it only works with iCloud users and the associated devices. No iCloud, no easy pair. Gloss over that or just didn’t know at all?

    • I’m not sure that’s actually the case. I’ll certainly look into it though. If this is true, most iOS users probably have an iCloud account anyways, making this a non-issue.

    • slimdizzy

      It was mentioned in the presentation but to your point there are approx 800MM iCloud users so ya prolly a non-issue in most cases.

  • Erik

    If you loose 1 of the set, your screwed.. it wont work anymore and gotta shell out another $230 for another pair..
    I can see all the headlines now…

  • Donovan

    I’ve never understood why Apple has never made a pair of quality headphones before. Like, obviously it would make a lot less sense to do it now that they’ve bought Beats, but I always thought it would’ve been fitting given their music roots with the iPod and whatnot.

    It’s pretty cool to see all the nifty features they’ve stuffed into the AirPods, but I would never buy them simply because I need more from a straightforward audio standpoint to justify $230 on an audio device. Hopefully some of those features will trickle down to other OEMs like Jaybird who can make some decent quality wireless IEMs.

    On a side note, does anyone know if there’s a way to keep music playing with one AirPod out? I do a lot of one-earbud-music-listening and I can’t see these ever being ideal for me if the music is always paused with one AirPod out.

  • The_Nexus

    Thanks but no thanks… I’ll hang onto my Sony over the ear headphones – cheaper, better sound, and can pair with my Android phone, my iMac, and my Macbook Pro.

    I’m still trying to figure out how people can imagine that these “AirPods” are somehow revolutionary when wireless/bluetooth headphones (and in the ear buds – the wireless Yurbuds have been out for some time now…) have been around well before Apple decided to head towards the wireless headset market

  • Alex

    Can you do a test in regards to connecting the Airpods to Apple TV 4? As in, will it be as simple as it is connecting the airpods to an iphone or mac, or ipad? I would absolutely love it if i could instantly connect the airpods to my apple tv, so watching netflix on my big screen can be quiet, so my girlfriend can still do her work.

  • downhilldude

    In the “funny ’cause it’s true” category, go to YouTube and search “conan o’brien airpods”. Too good!

  • jay

    Future is here? What about icon X? That’s the future internal storage no heart rate monitor no step count and so can not even copy my music on those air pods and take it for a run. ????????????

    • Will Maitner

      Toss a bunch of tracks on your watch and sync it to that.. What’s the issue?

  • Robert Carter

    could you use these for movies, is thre any latency in the connection?

  • karenkns

    I think it will be easily lost.

  • Pingback: Apple removes app that helps your find your AirPods from the App Store | Mo.bi - Leading Brand In Mobile Business()

  • Pingback: 12 wearable predictions for 2017 | Mo.bi - Leading Brand In Mobile Business()

  • Pingback: Apple adding ‘Find My AirPods’ feature in iOS 10.3 | Mo.bi - Leading Brand In Mobile Business()

  • Pingback: Bragi Dash review: too much, too fast | Daily Update()