Review: 6 Months with the AirPods

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The AirPods was announced back in September 2016, to be part of a wireless accessory for the iPhone, in particular, the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus which did not come with the headphone jack. It was slated to be release by the end of October, however, it has since been delayed to the end of December 2016.

With adverse response when it was announced, however, when Apple starts the sale of the AirPods, the response has been great and shipping times began to increase as the hour passes from shipping within a few days to a few weeks, till 6 weeks.

Even though after 6 months, AirPods still ships at 6 weeks and manufacturing of the AirPods seems to be difficult than expected, and its comparable to the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus Jet Black colour with 2 months of a wait which the supply can’t keep up with the demand. 

Fast forwarding to June 2017, the AirPods has been around for about 6 months and its time for a review on its performance card.

Connectivity

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I would like to start with its connectivity. Connecting with the AirPods is seamless. After the initial pairing is completed, there is no need to pair them again to your other iCloud devices that are running on iOS 10 and/or macOS Sierra as it has been synced via iCloud.

With that said, when removing the AirPods from the battery case, it automatically connects to your last used device.  You will hear a soothing sound to notify you that the AirPods has successfully connected to a device. 

If the iPad was my last used device and even though you have got your iPhone nearby, it would pair to the iPad instead. If your iPad isn’t nearby, the connection seems to be in a ‘search’ mode for the iPad instead of just automatically pairing with your nearest iCloud device. On your iPhone, you would have swipe up for the Control Center and select the AirPods from the list of devices to wirelessly connect and play to, or you can proceed to the Bluetooth settings if somehow the AirPods isn’t showing up.

Does It Fit?

The AirPods was made to fit for most ears and for the most time, I have not encountered any issues with it fitting in since using them. The time I had issues, was the first time I used the AirPods which was more of an ‘over-thinking-that-it-may-fall-out-and-end-up-damaging’ the AirPods kind of issue. Having to break a S$238 device on the first few days of usage isn’t a good feeling either. 

As part of the early adopters, it was still sceptical for real world usage of the AirPods that it will better fit than Apple’s own EarPods, which came with wires. Apple had said before the main reason of most EarPods falling out easily was because of the wires and having it wireless will likely fix the issue.

Having to use them during travelling and getting used to using one, there hadn’t been once that the AirPods fell off. It was just taking the AirPods out of the battery case putting them in my ears (which it automatically connects), shuffle a music playlist and that’s it. Walking from place to place, it still fits perfectly.

For workouts, this is where it gets tricky. For workouts that are light to moderate, the AirPods shouldn’t fall off. So far, I have not experienced the AirPods falling off. However, if you are doing some intense workouts, the chances of it falling off might be greater. This is especially if workout occurs on the upper part of the body. 

During workouts, it is almost definite that one will sweat and the AirPods is somewhat sweatproof. However, if there are too much sweat, it might slip off. That is one should take note of. 

Battery Life

The AirPods has got excellent battery life! The AirPods comes with a case, and it is a battery case, both for storage and charging. During normal usage, the AirPods can last about 4-5 hours. When the battery is low, just slot into the case. 15 minutes of charge can last about 3 hours, according to Apple. Take 15 minutes as a short break and it will bring the battery percentage to approximately about 60%.

With the cycle of usage and charging it in the battery case, it can last about 4-5 cycles on a full charge. That brings more than 24 hours of usage with both the AirPods and battery case at 100%. This is the best battery life, especially if you are on the go or on the road. 

Does It Sound Good?

The overall audio quality is around the mid-range given its price point at S$238. The AirPods only has limited noise-cancelling but the audio is fairly good. It is definitely an upgrade from the EarPods that comes with your iPhone. 

Hey, Siri! Commands and More

The AirPods is also able to accept Siri commands just like the iPhone. To activate Siri, simply double tap on the mid top area on one of the AirPods.

With the newly announced iOS 11, you can now individually set commands when double-tap on either the left or right to either activate Siri, go Next Track or Previous Track or Play/Pause.

Lost an AirPod or the Battery Case?

This is the worse that one can ever get. Each AirPod is really tiny (if you try to find) and the battery case’s size is pretty slim as well, to fit in pockets. However, sometimes we may lose them. 

If you have dropped it near you, you can always fire up the Find My iPhone app. To locate your AirPods, your iPhone must be on iOS 10.3 or later. Just like ‘pinging’ for your iPhone, it works the same for the AirPods. It sends a signal to the AirPods, from either the left AirPod and/or the right AirPod will play a sound at max volume. Do ensure that you choose the correct one if you have either one plugged into your ear or simply remove them from your ears. Upon hearing the sound, follow and you should be able to find it.

However, if you are pretty sure that you have lost it, you do not need to purchase the whole set of AirPods again for S$238. You can get a replacement for the part that you have lost. That replacement does come at a cost. For each AirPod lost, it is S$98 and the charging case if lost is S$98. That is really expensive for a replacement.

So, should I get the AirPods?

The audio quality may not be superb as compared to other similar price range wireless headphones, but it definitely packs a punch. 

The seamless connectivity with it’s limited noise-cancelling features, it is the technology and it being truly wireless, draws crowds into buying one. There are no wires at all, just  place the ‘pods’ into your ears. 

However, if the price point is a little steep, you can try the other wireless alternatives. Some other good ones are the BeatsX for S$198 or Jabra, which are around the S$100-S$150 range. Jabra is a good alternative who are looking and stepping into the wireless audio ecosystem before making the AirPods as my primary listening device.

For audiophiles, wireless earphones may not be ideal as there is a chance of latency issues and if you are using the iPhone 7, it comes with the headphone adapter to lightning. Otherwise for a normal user, it is a good pair of headphone to own. 

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