The New Apple Airbuds™ are they worth the $159?

That is the big question, Are the new Apple Airbuds worth the $159?

For many that is the big question,  we all know that Apple have now resigned the 3.5mm Headphone jack to history as they drive off, kicking them out the car door like an unwanted pet at the side of the road.  Sure they include the Lightning based earphones and an adaptor to allow the connecting of you favorite 3.5mm based headset but would it be worth buying the earpods?

They are very likely proprietary, i.e. They will only work with Apple products so unless you are totally in the Apple ecosystem then these will never be the product for you.

Why can’t they work with non-Apple products?    

It’s only a guess at how they operate but we can surmise that because they work with all current Apple iPhones that they don’t have a special connection to the device itself.  The device though must run iOS 10 to work and be capable of Bluetooth 4.1! This is presumed because of how it sets up.

It automatically gets detected and visually shows a connection which is something that Bluetooth 4.1 is capable of but is also does it automatically which means it also makes use of a feature that was raved about a few years ago, iBeacon, to simplify the set up process.  This is the same system used to automatically set up Apple TV’s by putting an iPhone near an Apple TV during set up.

The Apple W1 chipset used in the Airpods, I surmise from how it was described do something special,  because they allow either the left or right to be used separately as a normal bluetooth headset we know that both have a separate radio and we have to assume that they both connect or spoof each other as being a single device, after all they read the data stream and it’s primarily music coming up.  When it’s voice I’m sure that it switches to a more normal bluetooth operation.

So at a guess we can assume that each one pulls the same data from the single bluetooth connection and the two earpods each juggle the data so that it compensates for any lost packets as it goes.    The reason Bluetooth can suddenly break up is because mammals are just big walking sacks of water and radio signals don’t do well when it comes to passing through water.  So when the signal is blocked to on earpod and it loses a data packet from the source device it automatically compensates because the chance that both earpods lose that data packet are pretty darn slim.This part is done at the earpod end by the W1 chipset.

While nothing can improve the quality of the bit-rate for bluetooth except the introduction of better technology that allows for higher data speeds than the current standard the biggest negative has always been the breaking up of the music stream and having two antennae is the perfect compensator.

The 5 hour battery life is pretty darn good, it’s an hour longer than many standard bluetooth headsets but is indicative of the bluetooth 4.1 standard in use.The reason that it is not going to work on non-Apple products is simply the ‘connection method’, because it uses iBeacon to set it up and operate it is going to limit it.  Who knows, it may work fine with non Apple hardware but chances are pretty slim.

I am All in on the Apple ecosystem, are they worth it for me?

Going by price, it may seem a lot to spend but really they have priced them at a competitive price.  I’ve seen headsets similar selling for twice that and without the features.   More importantly if you need to switch between using them on you iPhone to connecting to your iPad or connected to an Applewatch for a morning run then it is a perfect addition for you and you will get the use out of them then it will be perfect.

If it something you might use for a short time each day then maybe it’s not worth it.The choice is really your’s.

At least you don’t need to purchase an iPhone 7 to make use of the Earpods so if you want that same convenience and tired of buying all sorts of bluetooth headphones then they are maybe a good choice.

For Me?

I am sorely tempted to purchase these.  I have always preferred bluetooth, those pesky wires drive me to distraction.  So I may purchase them,  I’ve spent a fair bit on bluetooth products and so many times they’ve quit working after a few weeks or I’ve forgotten about them and the battery has failed and these with their own small compact charging case and no wires may be the solution I’ve been looking for.