Review: AirPods are Apple’s “Okayiest” Thing They Sell Today

Posted on November 17, 2017 by Brad Sams in Hardware with 36 Comments

Last week, I found myself at an Apple store buying a pair of Air Pods. Why exactly I was doing this, I’m not fully sure, but I wanted a pair of Bluetooth headphones for use at the gym and these seemed like a good choice. After all, Apple makes quality products, right?

When the AirPods were announced, they were mocked much like the Apple Watch and iPad but those devices turned out to be pretty good. Yes, many might argue the Watch is not all that good but personally, I like it and Apple continues to make new versions.

But the AirPods are a bit different, they are taking Apple’s Earpods and making them wireless and I will say, they are just ‘okay’. Anyone who says that these things have excellent sound quality should be checked to see how many shares of the company they own.

Aside from the sound quality nailing the ‘sounds modestly better than a landline phone” benchmark, they are easy to use, quick to charge, and work as advertised.

The connection between the phone and the earbuds never dropped; they connect instantly once pulled out of the case and the battery life is good enough for a few trips to the gym. Even though I feel like an absolute tool while wearing them, they have yet to fall out of my ears while running.

That being said, I still feel a bit nervous that they may fall out at some point. But, this is something I must personally overcome if I want to live out my lifelong dream of wearing these to embarrass my wife and kid at the grocery store.

To adjust the volume you have a couple of not-so-convenient options. The easiest way is to tap the AirPod which activates Siri and you can ask it to turn down the volume but you don’t get to set the level as it only it drops it a few notches; if that’s not good enough, rinse and repeat as desired. If you have an Apple Watch, you can turn the crown down or up which is the best way to adjust the volume or you can pull your phone out of your pocket like a 13th-century peasant.

If you are looking for a headphone that blocks out no outside sound, you have found the perfect product. Apple’s choice of using hard plastics with no rubber gasket to create a seal in your ear means that they let ambient noise in like 1985 Camaro Z28. The side effect of this is that you must turn up the volume which means you have the choice of hearing your music or losing your hearing.

Apple missed a big opportunity to make it easier to adjust the volume, you should be able to slide your finger up and down the stem to adjust the level. Here’s to hoping V2 will include this so I can be given the honor of handing over another $159.99 to Apple.

For me, I need something that I can use at the gym that doesn’t that doesn’t have a wire. I know there are lots of options available and I’m sure i’ll get many unsolicited recommendations here in the near future.

If you are on the fence about these things, I’d probably say “pass” for now. The sound quality isn’t that good, the built-in gestures need some work, and they are about attractive as wearing socks with sandals.

That being said, they do nail the basics well enough that for early adopters, they will likely be pleased with their functionally. At the end of the day, they are very convenient to use which is one of Apple’s hallmark features and will likely keep me embarrassing myself on a regular basis at the gym.

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