AirPods. Apples new wireless headphones are out just a few short weeks and are still tricky to come by. They retail for €179 on the Irish Apple Store. I was lucky enough to be sitting on twitter when the original launch went up and was able to get my hands on a pair.
As is my general luck with electronics the first pair I receive had a hardware fault. Apple swiftly replaced these free of charge. My second pair I've had just over 4 weeks now and i think they are one of my favourite pieces of each I've owned for a while. They aren't perfect and still need a few software updates but they really do feel like the future of headphones.
They come in a relatively small box and are presented in a fashion you come to expect from an Apple product, every inch wrapped in a removable plastic to ensure your new toy is pristine. Once removed what awaits you can only be describe as dental floss! Yes the charging case is a similar size to dental floss but holds much more than a tooth cleaning. Flip open the top of the case and you'll see your two new headphones popping out and a green LED light up. The AirPods are held firmly in place by a magnet and when seated in the case are able to charge if they require it.
Next turn on the bluetooth on your phone and flip open the AirPods case , without further invention a new screen will pop up asking you to connect the AirPods to your phone. The process is very simple and only take a few seconds - no need to install an additional app like some other headphones. Its the new W1 chip which apple has embedded in the AirPods which allows for this process and also helps with the connectivity and battery life. I can circle my whole house with my phone left inside and still not lose connection like I would with previous BT headphones.
Once connected and in your ear - you'll hear a tone when the AirPods have detected that they are now in your ear - you can use a double tap to start audio playback. Another double tap will by default activate Siri but this can be changed to pause within bluetooth settings for the AirPods. If you remove an AirPods the audio will automatically pause too.
Sound wise they are a step above the normal EarPods but they obviously can't compete with some of the higher end wireless headphones available on the market. The audio quality though is very clear without the background hiss that can be present on some other headphones not he market. Really if you wan audio quality you should be targeting a higher end option.
Call sound quality is ok. its going to set you world on fire but the mic is very good and no-one ever commented to me that they knew I was on headphones will conversing. One thing I noted was that sometimes during calls the bluetooth connection seems to drop and this is very frustrating. It always reconnects but you'll lose a few seconds of the conversation as the audio switches from AirPods to phone and back again. I'm sure Apple are aware of this and have software patch in the works. The one area where some people may have more gripes is the lack of physical volume controls on the AirPods themselves. you'll need to use Siri ( which requires a internet connection) or the phone itself to change the volume.
When you are finished using them you simply pull them out and place them back in the charging case. 15mins of charging gives you about another 3 hours of charge and a fully charged pair lasts about 5 hours. The charging case really is a great idea an its one of the things that Apple does well. these guys simple work and you never have to worry about having dead AirPods. In my experience with normal use the charging case lasts 4-5 days on a single charge. For me thats great.
Are they worth the €179? It depends, your paying a premium for the apple experience. But saying that I love my AirPods and I use them a lot my than my Bose QC 35 simply because I can fit them in my pocket and have the with me at all times. There are other brands out there that are cheaper but none of them really possess that "magical" feeling of flipping open the charge case, putting the AirPods on and not having to worry about the connection.