With the iPhone 7, Apple has taken a bold and courageous decision of removing the 3.5mm audio jack. While Apple is bundling Lightning EarPods with the handset, it really wants people to switch to wireless audio. To help in that regard, the company also launched AirPods — its own wireless earphones that use its custom W1 wireless chip.
Considering that AirPods is priced at $159, not everyone will be able to afford them. But are the AirPods any good? Should you really even consider buying them? Let’s round up some of the hands-on experiences from other publications to find out.
They sound fine, although it was hard to tell in the din of the event. Apple’s not making any big deal about redesigning the sound of them, so I would expect them to sound like the EarPods. The major thing is obviously that they’re wireless, which is interesting. Pairing was basically instant, although I heard one of the demo people tell another that it sometimes takes up to 10 seconds. You just flip the lid of the charging case up, and the iPhone slides up an AirPods screen that asks you to pair them (if it’s the first time you’ve used them) or if you want to connect (if you’ve already set them up). After the initial connection, it’s seamless — you just open the case, put them in, and go. The case has a Lightning port on the bottom for charging, with a built-in battery that can supply 25 hours of listening; the individual AirPods can run for up to five hours on a charge.
As for the sound quality, I couldn’t help but be impressed by how loud and full the sound from the AirPods was. Listening to a Sia track, the notes were crisp and the highs seemed really solid. The track I was listening to didn’t have a ton of bass, but on first inspection it seemed to be at least passable.
Let me put it this way: AirPods sound way better than wired EarPods. I know that isn’t saying much, but it’s worth noting when you consider that the design is very, very similar.
The white buds look like Apple’s EarPods, the headphones that have shipped with every iPhone for years, so it’s not surprising that they feel the same way too. They’re much lighter than most Bluetooth headphones, and nestled comfortably into my ears.
In every meaningful way, they really are just EarPods with the cord chopped off. That means they don’t sound great, though they’re probably good enough for most people. I had to turn the volume all the way up to be able to hear Sia’s “Cheap Thrills” over the din of the room.
So, if first impressions are anything to go by, AirPods are nothing but wireless EarPods and offer the same average music quality like its wired brother. At $159, it will definitely be a hard sell, especially since they are something that one can easily forget or lose somewhere — just like the Lightning to 3.5mm adapter.