Apple AirPods Review - Sound that's just okayPremium design and borderline magic integration with Apple ecosystem makes it simple to overlook AirPods' average sound quality and lack of waterproof rating.

Apple AirPods

Apple AirPods

We like this

  • Integration seamless Apple

  • Battery life for head-spinning

  • Gorgeous, high-quality build

The Things We Hate
  • Sound quality is poor

  • High price tag

  • There is no waterproof rating

The AirPods are great if Apple is your only device of choice. But if the AirPods don't suit your needs and you want the highest quality sound and Bluetooth menus available, you should look elsewhere.

Apple AirPods were purchased by us so that our reviewer could fully test it and evaluate them. Continue reading to see our complete product review.

You've probably seen at most a dozen pairs Apple AirPods in your life, unless you live under a rock. Apple's launch of the AirPods at the close to 2016 was met by the familiar 'What' question. But somehow, they have clawed their way to the top of the wireless earbuds conversation—for good reason. These earbuds are a complete package that offers a lot of premium features. They are actually quite good, except for the sound quality and design preferences. They work well and let you get on with your life.

These were tested for 24 hours in NYC over a two-week span. Here's what they did.

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Design: Unique and Apple

Apple's design influence is undisputed. From a design perspective, the AirPods are one of the most controversial devices Apple has ever released. They look just like ordinary earbuds, with wires cut off and hanging out of the ear. They have been a status symbol for Apple two years since their launch.

AirPods can be the ideal accessory for iOS devices.

The stems, which contain the charging contact and battery, measure approximately 1" from the tip of the earbud to the end. The stems are all white and look exactly like EarPods, except for the metal tip. This product will look great with all Apple gadgets, especially when paired with the sleek, glossy, round battery case. The design of the product is personal. You can like it if you love the design. You don't have to like it. We can only say that plastic is beautiful and retains its shine, even after being tossed around in your day.

Related Reading: Jabra Elite 85t Review: Solid Earbuds with Tons of Features

Comfort: Shockingly discreet, yet little to no seal in your ears

Earbuds, whether wired or wireless, attempt to block out any sound by using an electronic seal. Apple has never subscribed to this philosophy—their EarPods offer a rigid plastic design without the seal-friendly rubber tips of most other headphones.

AirPods are the same, but they have taken extra care to make the cone of the speaker grill fit more comfortably into your ears. EarPods may not provide a snug fit but that does not mean AirPods will. AirPods are wireless and tend to "hang on" a little better because they're so lightweight. It will be difficult to get used to the absence of a seal at first. Although they can still come loose, we were surprised by how secure and stable our ears felt. However, sound quality can be affected by a lack of seal.

Apple AirPods

Related Reading: Jabra Elite 75t Review: Among the Best True Wireless Earbuds

Build Quality and Durability: Not the best, but satisfyingly Apple.

This category is difficult to tackle. The AirPods from Apple look premium, and are sure to please anyone who takes them out of their box. We have to be honest and say that the AirPods we tested had had their fair share of drops and bumps. However, we were pleasantly surprised at how little physical wear they showed and what functionality was available. The magnetic case and magnets that easily suck in the headphones into it provide a pleasant feeling. Apple doesn't claim water resistance and does not talk much about the materials used in making the AirPods.

If you do a lot in the gym or take part in a lot on outdoor jogs there is no resistance to rain and sweat. Our pair did not seem to be affected by the rain, although we have used them in a few workout classes. It's worth considering, as most of the true wireless earbuds in this price range do boast an IP rating.

Sound Quality - The weakest, but most usable link

AirPods have this as their biggest complaint. AirPods' sound quality does not represent a primary use case. This is actually quite interesting, as if you look at the whole Apple product page, it doesn't mention the sound quality other than calling it "Rich, high-quality stereo."

The headphones have an average, punchy sound for their size, but lack much bass.

Apple sells Bose SoundSport Free headphones on its website. Either Apple is aware that these headphones are not premium drivers, or it could be that they assume everyone knows what EarPods sound. They sound just like EarPods in all our testing. The headphones have an average, loud response considering their size, however, they lack bass. They're perfect for phone calls, spoken words, and podcast listening. If you are an audiophile there may be better options in the price range.

Apple AirPods

Battery life: An outstanding feature

They are comparable in battery life to the other earbuds. Nearly every true wireless premium earbud advertises a listening time of five hours. If you use a lot, it may be less. Apple claims the same 5 hours of listening time, with a slightly shorter talk time. The earbuds lasted for about 4 hours and 30 minutes while listening. Voice memos and phone calls took more than 2 hours.

The battery case is what sets AirPods apart. Apple claims that the battery case, which measures just two inches in size, can provide 24 hours extra listening time. This is almost five times the capacity of the headphones. Although it was true that the case took about 20 hours, we managed to talk quite a bit during this time. These guys easily beat Bose, Jabra and many other front-runners even though it took them 20 hours.

The battery case is what sets this product apart. Apple claims that this tiny, two-inch battery pack provides 24 hours extra listening time.

This is what it amounts to: seamless integration in your daily life. You're going to the gym before attending a conference call and haven’t charged your AirPods for several weeks. It'll be fine. The case can charge with the Lightning cable from your iPhone, so it is easy to locate a suitable cable for these devices. The best part is that the case can be used to charge your iPhone for up to three hours and give you an additional hour of audio. This was true during our tests. This is a remarkable product that will be difficult to match.

Connectivity - One of the best seamless devices that we have used

The seamless integration with the Apple ecosystem is another reason you should buy Apple AirPods. AirPods can be used interchangeably with an iPhone, iPad or Macbook. They fold so well that you will wonder how you ever went back to Bluetooth headphones.

Apple accomplishes all of this using a complicated system that includes the W1 chip, an array optical sensors and an accelerometer. The chip detects nearby Apple devices and will alert you if the optical sensors sense any changes in light. when you open the battery case), a notification will automatically pop up on your iPhone or iPad to ask you to pair them—no need to fumble in the Bluetooth menu. The headphones can also stop playing music automatically when they are pulled out of your ears using both the accelerometer and sensors.

Apple AirPods

A Mac is different. The popup that appears on your iPhone will not appear on your Mac. However, if you click on the Bluetooth icon within your menu bar you will see your AirPods there even though they aren't paired yet. Although it's a lot more user-friendly than Bluetooth headphones, this integration is not as seamless as iOS. If you have an Android phone or a PC, the Bluetooth pairing button can be used to pair the headphones. Follow the instructions in the standard Bluetooth menus. It's a great option considering Apple tends to be stingy with third-party and Android integration.

Software Integration: It's limited, boring and somewhat disappointing

Software integration is another aspect of connectivity. These are Apple products so there's no separate app. Apple instead offers customization options right within the Bluetooth menu. You can modify the AirPods' names, change what touch function each ear has (a double tap to one ear can activate Siri and control music), or disable Automatic Ear Detection. Although it's great that the AirPods are built directly into iPhones without the use of a third-party app, it does have some limitations. You can only make these changes on your Android and Windows devices, so you need to first update the Apple device. These headphones were designed for Apple users so this shouldn't be surprising. It's worth noting.

Pricing: Highly expected, but not unreasonable

These could be argued to be too costly, but that would likely not hold true. These are high-end earbuds at $159 MSRP. You can see why this is so true, especially when you think about the poor sound quality. It's not a terriblesound but it isn't a excellentsound.

You're getting the exact same price as a MacBook or flagship iPhone: seamless Apple integration. These headphones are truly magical when they're paired with iOS, even though it sounds like an Apple advertisement. These headphones are great if your headphones don't need to be repaired every Bluetooth issue. We recommend the following competitors for their sound quality.

Apple AirPods

Competition: Better sound—but not connectivity—is out there

Bose headphones are a classic brand. Apple also sells SoundSport Free earbuds on its site. Bose is a better choice if you prefer high-quality sound over iOS integration. Bose is a compromise between convenience and greater audio quality.

Jabra 65ts have a reputation for being popular when used at face value. These are more versatile and offer better water resistance, superior sound quality, and a tighter fit. The AirPods also offer iOS connectivity.

Sennheiser Momentum wireless buds, a newcomer to the market, are nearly twice the cost. The world-class sound quality, including the superior driver design and ultra-premium build qualities, is what you get for your money. We don't want to be a broken record but it is true: AirPods have better sound quality, and iOS integration.

Are you not ready to purchase yet? You can still look at other options in our review of wireless headphones that are the best.

Final Verdict

It sounds good, but it isn't great. There's also no guarantee of waterproofing or sweatproofing. AirPods make the ideal accessory for iOS devices. AirPods are the only earbud that comes with W1 chips, except for the fake wireless BeatsX.

Specifications

  • AirPods Product Name
  • Apple Product Brand
  • Prices from $159.00
  • Dec 2016 Release Date
  • Product dimensions 0.5x0.6x1.5in
  • Colour White
  • Weighing 0.2 ounces for each earbud and 1.4 ounces in the battery case (empty).
  • Battery life: 5 hours of listening and 2 hours talking. Additional time is required for charging the case.
  • Wireless or wired
  • 3 feet range wireless
  • 1-year warranty
  • Bluetooth Spec Bluetooth 4.1
  • Audio Codecs AAC

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