Apple Airpods Bluetooth Heaven or Hell

When Apple launched the iPhone 7 they also introduced the Apple Airpods a bluetooth version of their classic earpods that they supply with every iPhone.

There has been much said about the Airpods in reviews and some pretty biased sounding reviews.   I recently purchased a set and decided I’d do my own review, no photo’s no bullshit, just factual use.

Unpacking

After a long wait, almost six weeks from ordering to delivery, they arrived,  the airpods come with it’s own lightning cable but no charger.  This is typical though of the many sets of bluetooth earphones I’ve used over the past several months.

The case/charger unit is far smaller than many of the photographs imply in the reviews,  it’s about the size of a very compact dental floss dispenser and only slightly heavier.  I had anticipated a rather awkward sized device.

The Airpods are securely located.   They arrived with a charge in them so they can be paired out of the box and then charged when you get a chance to do so.

Pairing

Much has been said about the ability to pair to multiple Apple devices and switch between them.  Pairing them to your phone is easy, simple open the charging unit next to your iPhone and it pairs them.

I found it to be a little less obvious for the further ones, maybe I should have read the instructions but I’m a guy, and we don’t read instructions.  It wasn’t until I realized that there was a tiny button on the rear of the charging unit and then it managed to pair successfully with other devices.

Wearing

We’ve all suffered from earbuds dropping out of our ears,  I’ve tried so many brands and every single one has suffered the same issue, the weight of the wire or the wire catching, even on the bluetooth ones with a wire between the two earbuds, tugs them one.  It’s annoying and in the case of a fully wired ear buds like the Apple’s earpods suffered pain when I’ve caught the wire and physically ripped the earbuds out.

This is the first time that I have had a set of earbuds that feel comfortable in the ear without them dropping out.   Even with those with little clips they would fall out or work their way out but the Airpods are so light I don’t notice them there and better still even with exercise and jumping around they’ve stayed in place with the only time being where I knocked while putting a seat belt on, at which time I was going to take it out anyway.

Sound Quality

Much has been said by reviews about noise leakage and claiming they let too much noise in, maybe t’s just me but every single set that I have purchased over the years has allowed noise to leak in and the ones that use noise cancelling tend to make me feel ill, I don’t know what it is but they just do.

The last set I purchased, Bluetooth earphones by Anker I could hear everything around me and couldn’t hear what I was listening to over the sound leaking in even at full volume.

I do like sound from around me to still be audible though, I’m not interested in blocking the world out I just want to be able to hear my music or audio feed without the world around me hearing it.

With the Apple Airpods they worked perfectly and there was actually less noise leakage from around me than many of the fully in-ear earbuds, certainly the Anker ones with their big rubber bungs let in far more noise than the Airpods.

Sound quality is as good as a wired headphone and certainly not any worse than the Apple Wired earpods.

Operation

Many reviews have gone into detail about the operation and how you can set it for pause play when tapped or activate Siri.  While I have used the remote on teh wired earpods I tend to forget about the ‘remote’ functionality and these days tend to use my Apple Watch to control the volume and forward or back through tracks.

There has been much said about the reliability of Bluetooth headphones with the sound breaking up and I have disputed this and pointed out that many of the problems are caused by the users body’s blocking the signal.

Range has always been an issue for many and I’ve disputed this also pointing out that I’ve had good reproduction with Bluetooth headsets with minimal break up of sound unless I got too far out of the quoted range and certainly rarely had sound breakup when carrying the phone unless the phone was blocked by my body completely.

In use the Airpods have been flawless, they haven’t suffered sound breakup, in fact today I was going to the grocery store and put the phone down the car seat when getting out and forgot it.  I started listening to a podcast and walked across the carpark.

Now I parked 150 meters away from the entrance to the store, I don’t see the point of fighting for a parking space when there is a huge car park.

I didn’t realize that I had left my phone in my vehicle until I entered the store and had walked between two metal shelving racks with pallets of canned goods blocking the signal.

The airpods didn’t break up, sound quality didn’t drop, until the signal was lost completely.   At which time I realized the phone was not in my pocket and after a panicked backpeddle to my vehicle found it on the seat where I had obviously left it.

I have never had a set maintain sound and connection for any distance far in excess of the operating ability of Bluetooth 4.2 but the Airpods certainly did and I was impressed by this.

If this performance is reflected multiple times in the future then the Apple Airpods will be the most reliable Bluetooth earbuds that I’ve ever used.

Battery Life

The longest I have used the Airpods has been 4 hours and was rather impressed with the 46% battery life remaining in the Airpods without having had to be inserted into the charging dock/case.

I’ll be traveling in the next few weeks and will see how good the battery life is then and will update this blog post when I finish my 24 hour trip.

Conclusion

Even if you have an Android phone these are ideal for you.  They work on both platforms and better still compared to many similar totally wire-free headphones they priced competitively.  I’ve always liked the feel of the Apple earpods so I am a little biased on this point.

I totally recommend them.  The wait time for delivery is a little bit of a pain and I wish I had ordered them at pre-order.  It’d also be nice if they were available in black but the original Earpods are only available in white so color is really a mute subject.

 

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