REVIEW: Apple AirPods

Music is such a pivotal part of the fitness journey. How, you ask? Well, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve struggled through a workout because I forgot to bring my headphones to the gym. Sometimes I’ll drive to the gym, realize I don’t have my headphones, and drive all the way back. Listening to music helps me zone out of the physical strain of cardio and weights. Over the past 4 years I’ve used various headphones, and the best fit was Powerbeats2 Wireless from BeatsByDre. I used those headphones for 2 years, through marathons and countless gym sessions, until I lost them either in the airport or in the back of an Uber. Because of this misfortune, I’ve decided to replace them with the AirPods by Apple, and I’ve been overall impressed with them.


AirPods were introduced on September 7, 2016, alongside the iPhone 7 and Apple Watch Series 2. Apple originally planned to release the AirPods in late October, but the company delayed the release date. On December 13, 2016, Apple released the AirPods to be ordered online. They were available at Apple Stores, Apple Authorized Resellers, and select carriers on December 20. Due to the high demand of the headphones, they sold out FAST and were on 6-8 week backorder. I personally HATE ordering something and then having to wait for them, and I had the Powerbeats so I wasn’t too pressed. A few friends of mine bought them when they came out, and informed me that they fit in their ears perfectly, the sound quality was great, and most importantly, the AirPods didn’t fall out of their ears while working out (which was one of my main concerns). Recently, the availability of the AirPods has improved to the point where you can now walk into an Apple store and purchase them without any delay. The ability for me to walk out same day with the AirPods, combined with losing my PowerBeats, meant it was time for me to dive in.

my dirty laptop, and the AirPods. included in box are the AirPods, charging case, and lightning cable.

Technology

The AirPods work over bluetooth and they are easily paired with your iPhone / Apple Watch. They hold up to a 5 hour charge, and the charging case can charge it for up to 24 hours of usage. To pair with the iPhone, you simply have to enable bluetooth on your phone and open the charging case within range of the phone. After a few seconds, they are paired and ready to go. The charging case is recharged using the same lightning cable thats used with iPhone 5 and later models. They can sense when they’re in your ears and pause when you take them out. They are compatible with iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, and Mac.

AirPods and charging case in a silicone case I bought from Amazon, just to protect the case

Features

One of the under appreciated features of the AirPods is the ability to change the double tap settings. You can double tap either AirPod to activate Siri and use all kinds of voice commands to operate your phone without taking it out of your pocket. The double tap functions can be changed as well, to play/pause music or to skip songs. By default the AirPods automatically detect which mic is more efficient. They also know when you’re talking and when you’re listening. Quoted from the Apple Website: “A voice accelerometer recognizes when you’re speaking and works with a pair of beamforming microphones to filter out external noise and focus on the sound of your voice.” Also “Optical sensors and motion accelerometers work with the W1 chip to automatically control the audio and engage the microphone, giving you the ability to use one or both AirPods. They also enable AirPods to play sound as soon as they’re in your ears.” Also, devices that use iOS 10.3 or later have the ability to find lost AirPods that were paired with the phone.

i-Blason AirPods Strap and Earhoox. The strap was in hopes that it would give me the fit of the PowerBeats, but it just felt awkward. However, the Earhoox improved the fit of the AirPods drastically. I definitely recommend them. Both came from Amazon

Sound

Now here’s where the real review starts. I was never a fan of the original headphones that came with the iPhone. I used to work out using wired Skullcandy headphones that were sold at Marshall’s and surprisingly they had GREAT sound quality for $20 headphones. Upgrading to the PowerBeats meant more bass and the advantage of being wireless. The sound in the AirPods are great. Not too much bass, and enough volume to keep you immersed into the music or hear your caller clearly. I would compare the sound to a step above the EarPods that come with today’s iPhone models. The fitting increases the bass response but the bass will never compare to PowerBeats. But let’s talk about my number one concern with buying the EarPods.

Earhoox on the AirPods, stock image from their site

Fitting

Apple has done a great job with running advertisements that show active users of the AirPods to get across the point that they won’t fall out of your ears. The PowerBeats worked great for me because they had the over the ear hook and the rubber fitting piece on the earbud to fit snugly in the ear canal. I used the wired EarPods before and because of the material they would always fall out easily (also because there was a wire attached). Still, friends that work out / run a lot told me their AirPods NEVER fell out. I took a trip to the Apple Store for a separate issue and tried on a pair of AirPods while I was there. I was impressed at the fit, as they seem to be slightly larger in ear than the EarPods and therefore fit better for me. Also the Genius at the store recommended some third party accessories to help them stay in ear. I was sold. I bought them later that week and they have been great ever since.

customizable features of the AirPods

Overall Impressions

Overall I am more than satisfied with the AirPods. I think a pros and cons list would work best here.

Pros: Charging case increases battery life, no need for a separate charger (use same charger for iPhone), fit is great with Earhoox, better headphones to use for everyday life outside of the gym, ability to find lost AirPods, Siri integration, great sound quality, cheaper than PowerBeats

Cons: Not as much bass as PowerBeats, doesn’t fit as well as PowerBeats, have to put on / take off Earhoox to use in charging case.

I would definitely recommend these for iPhone users, but since everyones ear is different the best thing you can do is to stop by an Apple Retail store and try them on yourself. They would great for lifestyle bluetooth headphones to make calls, listen to music casually, and keep charged without additional cables. They are just as good in the gym doing cardio, as long as they stay in your ear.

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