Initial Impressions of the Apple AirPods

There’s a lot of talk lately about the looming release of Apple’s Bluetooth AirPods. It looks like demand is really high (or at least sorta high) and I’m not surprised. When the AirPods were first announced, a lot of people were shocked by the $159 price. I wasn’t. I bought a quality pair of Bluetooth headphones last year and they cost $150 (although now they’re only $99). During the past week, I had the opportunity to spend a little time with some Apple AirPods and thought I’d report in my initial impressions.

  • The AirPods feel a lot like Apple’s existing EarPods. If you like the way those fit in your ear, you’ll be fine with AirPods. If you don’t like the fit of EarPods, don’t bother with AirPods.
  • I’m a lot less worried about them falling out of my ears after having tried them out. The hold is pretty good for day-to-day moving around. I think I could use them on a run but but not rock climbing. In hindsight, the only time I’ve ever had traditional EarPods fall out of my ear is when there is some external pressure from the cord, like catching it on a door handle (which I do often).
  • The battery charging dental-floss-sized case is clever and charges fast. You’ll have no problem using AirPods all day if you can occasionally drop them in the case for a recharge. There’s also a nice little magnetic snap as the AirPods drop into the case. Once they are in place, they are held in magnetically. You are not going to have an issue with the AirPods falling out of the charging case. It takes deliberate force to get them out.
  • The AirPods sound adequate. If you’re picky about headphone quality, these are not the headphones for you. That said, I listened to music in them and, in my brief time with them, thought they were as good, if not better than my current Bluetooth headphones. They are also not noise-cancelling. I don’t see myself using them on airplanes.
  • I really like the single ear mode. It’s an excellent way to handle calls. I’m on the phone a lot with the day job and I really like the idea of AirPods for calls.
  • The lack of physical controls is very … well … Apple. It’s part of what makes the AirPods so attractive but also can be maddening if you want to change the volume or skip a track without talking out loud to Siri. If you have an Apple Watch, you can get around this without pulling your phone out of your pocket or purse. I think this shortcoming will be the biggest complaint about AirPods.

The AirPods will release for sale in October.