Apple AirPods: Very Nice (Except for the Price)

2 minute read
| Dr. Mac's Rants & Raves

Dr. Mac’s Rants & Raves
Episode 225

I’m going to tell you all about Apple’s wireless AirPods wireless headphones today. Before I do, however, I need to give you some backstory for context.

I Didn’t Like the Wired EarPods

First, I don’t care for Apple’s EarPods, the wired headphones that ship with iPhones. I find them uncomfortable after just a few minutes of use, and they fall out of my ears regularly.

Apple's EarPods are (IMHO) not only uncomfortable, they fall out of my ears far too often.

Apple’s EarPods are (IMHO) not only uncomfortable, they fall out of my ears far too often.

Since the AirPods look almost exactly like wired EarPods without wires, I was pretty sure I wouldn’t like ‘em.

I Don’t Like Wireless Headphones

Second, I’m not a huge fan of wireless headphones in general. I’ve tested dozens of them over the past few years, and while most don’t stink, they almost all make it too inconvenient to switch between devices. Within a few days, most of them end up in a drawer and I end up using  my favorite wired headphones.

I tell you this so you understand that I never expected to like AirPods at all, much less like them as much as I do. And I do like them.

But, I Really Like AirPods

My first surprise was that, unlike the wired EarPods, AirPods are comfortable and fit my ears almost perfectly. In fact, the fit is so good that I can use them for hours without discomfort.

AirPods look like wireless EarPods, with a battery case that looks like a dental floss dispenser.

AirPods look like wireless EarPods, with a battery case that looks like a dental floss dispenser.

The first time you flip open the lid of AirPods’ included charging case (which looks like a dental floss dispenser), your iPhone will display a pairing window automatically, which is easier than most Bluetooth headsets, which use regular Bluetooth pairing.

For what it’s worth, AirPods can also connect to non-Apple devices, but they won’t pair automatically.

What’s especially cool and unique is that once you pair your AirPods with one Apple device, they’re automatically paired with your other compatible Apple devices via iCloud. So, rather than having to open the Settings app, tap Bluetooth, and then tap the headphones to enable them, you can simply swipe up from the bottom of the screen and select them in Control Center, which is much faster/easier.

AirPods’ sound quality is very good but not great. Still, I haven’t used any other headphones—wired or wireless—since the AirPods arrived.

They Do, However, Have Some Issues…

While I like them a lot, they do, however, have some issues. The big one, at least for me, is that there are no inline controls. You double-tap either AirPod to summon Siri, then you can say things like, “volume up,” or “next song.” Meh!

Furthermore, since they’re fabricated entirely of hard plastic, you can’t switch foam or silicone ear tips to get a more comfortable fit. This one’s not a big deal for me, but apparently is for others.

But the big issue is price—at $159, AirPods are 3x more expensive than my beloved Klipsh S4i wired headphones (about $50 at Amazon.com), which are more comfortable, sound better, and have an inline remote.

Still, I haven’t felt the need to break out my Klipsch headphones since I got the AirPods, and that should tell you a lot.

There is One Last Thing

The battery case looks so much like a dental floss container I couldn’t resist this parody sticker for $3.50 at Etsy.com.

This Jonyive & Jonyive Apple Ear Care with courage sticker was just $3.50 at etsy.com.

Resources:

AirPods. Apple, Inc. $159 at Apple.

Klipsch S4i-II. Klipsch. $50 at Amazon.

Parody Dental Floss sticker. $3.50 on Etsy.

7 Comments Add a comment

  1. I hate wired EarPods for the same reason as you . They simply didn’t work worth a damn for me. My last few Apple devices came with them but I didn’t even bother. . They don’t work. Don’t sound good. Don’t stay in. Don’t feel comfortable. So I too am very dubious about AirPods. Where we differ is oddly where we agree. The price is absurdly high. To paraphrase Apple itself, Insanely High. So high in fact I am not even bothering to try them. Looking at the demand this must be a minority opinion, but for the moment they’re not even an option. I could afford them, but they would be an experiment I’m 90% sure will not work. Maybe the price will fall in a year or three after demand eases up. But for now just nope.

  2. I have a pair and for the most part I like them very much.

    My major dislike is the case in that the lid does not fold back far enough for my old fingers to easily grasp the pods for removal; I would recommend that Apple hinge the top that opens to a reflex angle or rotate the pods in the case so that the ear part is closer to the front.

    As to sound quality for me they are more than good enough for their intended purpose. They are not meant to be for the recording studio or for audiophiles. When I go for my early walks/podcast listen I usually take my Bose QuietComfort 35 headphones. Otherwise when out and about I carry and use the AirPods, the fit nicely in the pocket.

    I was surprised at well they stay in place and how comfortable.

    The price? Well yeah, I would like them to be cheaper, but they don’t seem to be cheaply built.

  3. Doug Petrosky

    Your pricing argument seems apples to oranges.

    1) There is a great deal more electronics in AirPods than in wired headphones
    2) There is a battery in the AirPods that doesn’t exist in wired headphones
    3) There is a battery in the case
    4) There is a really nice case (wired headphone cases are cheap and suck)

    The bottomline is that in this class of headphones AirPods came out at an industry leading price. Apple has not done this sense the first iPad shipped in 2010 and they should be given props when they do this right. Apple entered an over priced market and forced the competition to drop prices.

    Finally, you ignored some huge benefits, like the above mentioned case. After the AirPods, caring other headphones is simply annoying! Also, these effectively act as both a bluetooth headset and headphones. Take one out and the remaining one plays both channels mono through earpiece that is in. With wired headphones (and many wireless) if you pull one out you only get the right or left channel.

    These are not poor quality headphones with gimmicky features. They sound very good and are worth the cost. IMHO

  4. furbies

    For me personally, the current iteration’s design is just too painful to use. (Maybe I have non Apple designed / approved ears ?)
    I still have and love the older in-ear wired earphones that Apple did. I can wear them for hours without discomfort, unlike the current Apple offering…

  5. I hear you about the price… But here’s my frame of reference: You can get a set of “good enough” bluetooth headphones for a quarter of the price of AirPods. Yes, they cheaper headsets won’t be as good, but I’m not convinced the AirPods are worth 4x the price to most people.

    That being said, I probably wouldn’t have tried the AirPods for $159 (I got them for review). Now, even after using and liking them, I’m not sure I would pay that much.

    My sweet spot for earphones/headphones is $100 or less; I think many people would consider even that too much.

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