When Apple announced its new wireless earphones at the iPhone 7 launch (sans headphone jack), people had a lot to say about it, and not all good. The AirPods were being mocked before they went on sale mostly due to the way it looked, considering its price. If I’m honest, I also thought they looked a bit silly; it just felt like something was missing from the design – that would be the cable that I’ve been familiar with on any pair of head/earphones, for as long as I can remember. The wireless earphones I’ve used in the past were linked by a smaller cable holding both earpieces together, or the sport ones that fit around your ears. With the AirPods, it looks like Apple just cut the cable off from its regular EarPods that come with the iPhone. Sort of:
Now that I’ve used the AirPods, both out in public and indoors, and travelled with them; here are some thoughts:
1. They are the easiest pair of earphones to connect to an iPhone. You don’t have to read instructions, just flip open the lid for the first time with your phone in hand, and almost immediately you will see a pop-up, and seconds later, it’s connected to your iPhone. Interestingly enough, it didn’t name them ‘NFS AirPods’, which is what my phone is called, but rather it pulled my first name to call it ‘Nafisa’s AirPods’. They can be renamed under Bluetooth Settings, just tap the ‘i’ on the connected device.
2. If you double-tap the AirPods, there’s a shortcut linked to it. They are activating Siri (default); turning them off; or pause/play. I changed mine to ‘pause/play’ initially but I found that it doesn’t work all the time. The location for the double tap is located at the front of the AirPods but the amount of time it takes to register the tap, it’s just quicker to pause/play on the phone. It sometimes works on the first go, and sometimes not. It can get frustrating. The custom setting appears to work on my phone only, not on Macbook, where it brings up Siri. I’ve since changed it to switching it off.
3. Initially I felt self-conscious about wearing them in public but it didn’t last very long. When I got on the plane, it was the first thing I reached for, to drown everyone out and by then, I didn’t care who was staring at me (I don’t think I got weird looks). In fact, I’m gonna go out and say it that it’s the best earphones to travel with ’cause the air hostess can’t see if you’re wearing them or not when it’s time to remove them – haha! Well, that is if you have long hair to cover your ears (or wearing a beanie).
4. When you take a single AirPod out of your ear, music will pause. Put it back on, music will resume. When you take both off, your music will stop playing, even after your put them back on. This works much better instead of the ‘pause/play’ double tap shortcut.
5. Sound quality is good. For regular folks (not audiophiles), the AirPods delivers good quality sound with heavier bass than the normal EarPods. This is most noticeable when you listen to DJ Snake’s Turn Down For What (my go to song to test any speaker, which, side note, sounds incredible in my car 😂). While I do have other better quality earphones and headphones to choose from, the AirPods are still good and it would be my preference when flying. I travel light, and have never taken over-ear headphones on a plane.
6. They work well when making phone calls, I’ve not had issues with sound quality. When you do make a call, you can choose to make them over your phone, loud speaker, or AirPods. The person on the other end of the call can hear you just fine/as normal; unlike when you’re on loud speaker or handsfree in your car.
7. I’m sure you know that the AirPods casing is the battery. What I’m concerned about is every time you put the AirPods back into the case, it charges. It’s great having them at 100% when you need to use them at any given time (unless you’re running low and forgot to charge the case), but I’m not sure what this means for the long term battery life. The same way you shouldn’t charge your phone when it’s not below 20% or the battery will get damaged, not sure what the impact would be.
8. The AirPods are not my primary earphones. In general, I have weird ears where not many earphones suit me. I get ear aches very quickly. For lengthy periods, I would opt for over-ear headphones. I’ve been lucky over the years to have amassed a bunch of them, either as prizes or gifts so I do have the option to switch to whatever I am in the mood for. That said, if you want to buy a pair of AirPods, make sure you have at least one other option. If you own any smartphone, you already do.
9. I have not tested them for running, and personally, I don’t feel comfortable running/working out with them. I would rather use earphones that are suited for a workout. There has been a case of a marathon runner who did a 10K run and made a video, you can check it out here. He says they stayed in his ears the entire time and didn’t fall out. But, we all have different shaped ears.
10. Is it worth the price tag? I received this pair from iStore, which sells for R2 599. It’s a lot of money to spend on a pair of earphones. For now, because of it’s initial release and being first-gen in South Africa, I would say that if you have that kind of money and want one, then yes. It’s like an iPad, nobody needs one.
Weight: 4g each
Charging Case: 38g
Battery on single charge: 5hrs listening time; 2hrs talk time
AirPods in charging case: More than 24 hrs listening time; 11 hrs talk time
Charging port: Lightning connector (cable in box)
PRICE: R2 599
AVAILABILITY: iStores nationwide/online
Welcome to Wired to the Web. My name is Nafisa Akabor and I’m a technology journalist covering business and consumer tech for the last 14 years. I’m passionate about start-ups, smartphones, mobile payments, travel tech and electric cars. ✉️ firstname.lastname@example.org