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Why I’m Excited About AirPods

It’s no secret that I am a huge fan of EarPods. I’ve written my own odd to EarPods where I praised a few of their core features. Even though they come in the box and I have bought other earphones, I keep returning to EarPods. Those features (and more) make me very excited for the future of AirPods and it probably should make you excited about AirPods too.

Why EarPods are good

I won’t go into my full post on EarPods but here are the reasons I like EarPods (they may not apply to you).

  • They feel great in my ears
  • They have decent enough sound
  • They have controls for your iPhone (and a mic)
  • They don’t need to be recharged
  • They are fairly cheap to replace
  • They can be wrapped up small in a bag or pocket

That’s not to say they are perfect. I know people who don’t find they fit well in their ears, They also seem to break pretty quickly. The audio quality isn’t amazing and having a wire means they get caught on doors, or it just dangles wildly. Yet, every replacement I’ve tried, so far, hasn’t replaced them.

The Four Main Problems with BlueTooth headphones

Bluetooth addresses the issue of wires getting in the way and there are headphones which have better sound quality, but after that things start to get a little more tricky. Bluetooth really suffers from three major issues, as well as a few minor ones.

1. Pairing

Setting up headphones and more importantly, switching devices with the same headphones is tricky with bluetooth. The process involves going into a bluetooth setting area, turning on the bluetooth device and pressing a (usually) small button to start the process. Then you have to confirm that it is the correct option. When switching, you have to do the same process again and you usually have to tell your device to repair. Sometimes their is a security code you need to type as well.

This isn’t convenient but it isn’t a definitive reason not to use bluetooth headphones. It can be overcome and if you only use your headphones on one device, then it isn’t that big an issue really. In truth, I only use bluetooth headphones on one device (when I do use them) because of this reason. I might use them on more if it was more convenient.

2. Battery

This probably is the biggest argument against Bluetooth headphones. Battery technology is improving and the bluetooth chips have become more power efficient, yet getting decent battery life seems evasive. Some headphones are now claiming 30 hour battery lives which means you get over a day of constant use. That’s probably the right ballpark to aim for. More than that will only be useful if you really can’t get to a charging port (a rare event nowadays) and yet it also includes a buffer for the difference between lab conditions and real life use. Even still, to get battery life like this, you’re limited to over ear headphones which aren’t everyones style. Small in ear headphones? tough.

A side note, there is the possibility that too much battery life would also be bad as it would stop you from forming a consistent charging habit, leading to your headphones dropping dead suddenly.

3. Sound Quality

Obviously this varies. A good pair of bluetooth headphones will sound better than a bad pair of wired headphones and a good pair of wired headphones will sound better than a bad pair of bluetooth headphones. However, you can get better sound quality for much cheaper on wired headphones. Whats more, some people don’t like the more digital sound from wired headphones (even if they are getting music from a digital source).

4. Dropping connections

This is just an annoyance which is far too common with bluetooth. The connection might suddenly drop for no reason and then be very difficult to get back. Spoiling your work out, cutting off your call, and so on.

Apple AirPods address almost every Bluetooth complaint

AirPods take on the biggest issues straight on and lead to a much improved experience over traditional bluetooth headphones and they gain the benefits of not suddenly getting caught by the door with your wires.

Pairing

AirPods use the W1 chip which will intelligently pair with your device when you hold it close. It then shares that data across iCloud so you can seamlessly switch between devices. This is the sort of magic you can do when you have control of hardware and software.

This connection also appears to be more reliable than traditional bluetooth connections, so you shouldn’t suddenly lose your phone call.

Battery life

The battery life in the AirPods isn’t revolutionary. It’s only advertised as 5 hours. However, the battery case they come with help to change the game a bit. It will charge your AirPods when they aren’t in use supporting a full days charge. When you add in the ability to use one AirPod in Mono mode, you could charge the other for 15 minutes, then swap and you’ve got another several hours of playback.

Sound Quality

This is something I can’t talk about yet until I have actually tried them. As far as I can tell, AirPods are supposed to have similar sound quality to EarPods. This means that if you like EarPods, you’ll probably like AirPods (a common theme). In my opinion, the sound quality is good enough. I’m sure it could be better and this may be an area where there are limits that can’t be overcome, but I feel EarPods will be good enough for me.

Rounding up

AirPods are due in late october (not long now) so we won’t have to wait long to see what they are like. Honestly, AirPods are the device that intrigued me the most from the Apple iPhone 7 event and I can’t wait to get my hands on a set.

What do you think about AirPods

About Chris Wilson

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