What are the new AirPods REALLY like? We look back at Apple’s original AirPods…
I’m a big fan of Apple’s products. I’ve been buying them for twenty years now—Macs, iPhones, iPads, iPods…you name it. But there was one device Apple made that never appealed to me: the AirPods.
When AirPods debuted in 2016, I was like many people: I thought they looked a bit silly, and I was never a fan of any earbuds Apple had ever made. There was always something about Apple’s wired earbuds—their shape—that made me despise them. I’d put them in my ear and within a few turns of the head, one or both buds would fall out.
Since the AirPods were shaped the same, I always assumed Apple’s wireless earbuds would likewise fall out of my ears easily, especially when walking or running. Plus, I’m used to high-end over-the-ear noise-canceling headphones. There’s no way the AirPods could sound as good.
However, when Apple introduced the new AirPods last month, I decided to give them a second look. After all, I was now seeing them everywhere on the streets. And I did like the “Hey Siri” functionality they now offered. So, I bought a pair (without the wireless case) and I’ve been using them for a few weeks now. Here’s what I found:
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Apple AirPods: Form & Fit
The most surprising thing I’ve found about the new AirPods is that they stay in my ears at all times. It doesn’t matter if I’m walking, running, or vigorously shaking my head to try to get them to fall out. No matter what, they stay put.
I found this surprising since Apple’s wired earbuds always fell out of my ears. Since the shape of the two buds are the same, I can only assume the AirPods stay in my ears so well because they don’t have a wired cord connected to them.
The cord of the earbuds turned out to be the culprit as to why Apple’s buds could never stay in my ear. The cord weighed the buds down and provided tension from pulling on the buds themselves.
Apple’s AirPods, as they have no cord, eliminates this problem entirely. It’s amazing.
Apple AirPods: Battery Life
Another thing that always turned me off about wireless buds like Apple’s AirPods were the 5-hour battery life. I’ve used wireless headphones for years, but those are large enough to contain batteries that will give me 48 hours of listening time on a single charge. Wouldn’t only 5 hours be annoying?
Turns out the 5-hour limitation of Apple’s AirPods are a non-issue. That’s because you get another 20 hours of charge with the carrying case. And any time you place the AirPods in their case, they automatically charge.
Over the last two weeks I’ve only found myself charging my AirPod case (and thus the AirPods) about every three days—much less than I thought I would.
Apple AirPods: Sound Quality
Sadly, I was right about the sound quality. The AirPods are in no way as good in sound quality as my high-end noise-canceling over-the-ear headphones. But of course, it’s laughable to ever think they would have been. Comparing any wireless earbuds to high-end noise-canceling headphone is like comparing apples to automobiles.
But when I compared the sound quality of the AirPods more fairly—that is to other earbuds, the AirPods are amazing. The sound quality is top-notch with clear vocals and rounded-off treble. To put it another way, the AirPods sound better than most standard wired earbuds.
Apple AirPods: “Hey Siri” & Final Thoughts
And then there is “Hey Siri” the hands free feature of the new AirPods. I’ve never been a big Siri user, but I’ve been using Siri more now since I have the new AirPods. It’s great when you are out walking and you can ask Siri to tell you the latest news, read the latest email, turn down the volume, or call a friend.
Thanks to the AirPods, you can use Siri more discreetly and without looking like a tech bro. Hey Siri support isn’t a reason to buy the new AirPods, but it’s a nice benefit.
So should you buy the new AirPods? All I can say is I’m glad I did. They haven’t replaced my high-end earphones, but I do use my AirPods just as much, especially when at my desk or walking down the street. Their small size makes them a no-brainer to always carry them with you as opposed to always carrying noise-canceling headphones.
Overall, I’m very impressed with the new AirPods and I can rarely see myself leaving the house without them.
Apple expert and novelist, Michael Grothaus has been covering tech on KnowYourMobile for the best part of 10 years. Prior to this, he worked at Apple. And before that, he was a film journalist. Michael is a published author; his book Epiphany Jones was voted as one of the best novels about Hollywood by Entertainment Weekly. Michael is also a writer at other publications including VICE and Fast Company.