December 13th, 2016 might not be a widely recognized date. But, perhaps, it should be. That date marks the moment when the world was introduced to Apple’s AirPods for the very first time.
Late 2016 might not seem that long ago, but that one release changed people’s relationship with their media in a way that’s almost hard to understand these days.
Bluetooth earbuds were hardly unknown at that point. But they tended to have issues that kept them from reaching mainstream popularity.
The AirPods brought easy Bluetooth pairing, pristine audio fidelity, and long battery life to the average person. The days of tangled earphone cords would soon be a thing of the past.
The success of the original AirPods quickly led to an improved second generation in 2019.
The most notable improvement came in the form of an H1 processor that supported Siri. Additionally, it had significant improvements in talk time and connection speed.
Finally, 2021 saw the 3rd generation of AirPods enter into the consumer market. This generation included added water resistance, skin detection, and spatial audio.
On top of the standard design Apple also has Pro and Max versions of their AirPods to deliver progressively more powerful capabilities. Though, of course, that comes at an extra cost.
It’s clear that AirPods made a huge impact on the world. But, like any tech product, they’re not a one-size-fits-all solution for everyone’s needs.
AirPods have solid pros but also some cons which should always be considered before deciding on whether or not they’re the right choice for your lifestyle.
Let’s now discuss the main pros and cons of Apple airpods so that you can have a clear picture of whether you should buy them or not.
AirPods come with a considerable number of benefits. But the following are the ones that are most likely to impact the average person.
1) Great Sound Quality
Sound quality was one of the biggest reasons why AirPods caught on so quickly. Bluetooth headphones and earbuds had already been around for quite some time when the first AirPods were released.
But Bluetooth also tended to come with some significant downgrades to audio quality. Apple’s AirPods changed all of that for the better.
They were Bluetooth earbuds, delivering both voice and audio playback, that sounded just as good as top-of-the-line wired headphones.
They’ve even been put to the test against hearing aids. Obviously, a hearing aid needs to be incredibly sensitive in order to augment people’s hearing without causing any major discomfort along the way.
But when put to the test against them, Apple’s AirPods actually had performance that either matched or surpassed hearing aids.
2) Long Battery Life
The AirPods also forced people to rethink their preconceptions about wireless battery life.
The public had largely taken it as a given that Bluetooth audio meant constant recharging. But the AirPods started out with impressive battery life that just got better with every generation.
The 2nd gen AirPods boasted a battery life of up to five hours of active listening. And the 3rd gen boosted that to six hours.
But keep in mind that those numbers are with active use for high-quality audio playback. And the AirPod’s case also acts as a charger.
So if you occasionally take the AirPods out of your ear to charge them up in the case you’ll be able to get around 30 hours of listening time before needing to charge the case again.
3) Their Case Can Be Used To Charge Them
As previously noted, Apple took an interesting approach to its battery structure for the AirPod.
The first point of innovation came from the AirPod’s own battery. Apple managed to provide high-quality audio with quite respectable battery life.
But the idea of implementing a charger into the lightweight AirPod case took an already great implementation even further.
You essentially charge a battery within the case. And that case is then used to charge the battery in your AirPods.
The case itself is compact to the point where it’s easy to carry around in a pocket or bag.
So you almost never need to worry about finding a charger for your AirPods. You can instead just bring your case with you when you’re going to be out and about for longer periods of time.
4) Seamless Connectivity: Great Compatibility With the Apple Ecosystem
One of the other reasons for the low use of Bluetooth earbuds was their compatibility issues.
The Bluetooth protocol has been around for a very long time now. But actual implementations of that protocol could be, and often still are, a little unpredictable.
It’s hard to know for a fact whether any given Bluetooth device will connect to your phone, tablet, or computer.
Bluetooth is, in theory, a universal protocol that anyone can enable. But that’s not always the case in actual real-world situations.
For example, many people would buy earbuds only to discover that their music player didn’t support stereo Bluetooth but would instead only output low-quality mono.
Apple was able to change all that because they had full control over both their Bluetooth devices and their implementations.
So right from the start, a user could be sure that their new AirPods would work with any of their other Apple products. For example, you can get full AirPod compatibility with Apple’s computers, laptops, phones, and tablets.
5) Fits Comfortably in the Ear
One of the concepts that comes up time and time again with Apple’s AirPods is their physical design.
Apple didn’t just manage to fit some high-tech capabilities into a small package. The company was also able to engineer it all in a way that didn’t feel intrusive.
The end result is an audio experience that you can lose yourself in without being distracted by the feeling of something in your ear.
6) Noise Cancellation
The first generation of AirPods supported noise cancelation. But Apple took the concept even further over time.
With the 2nd and 3rd generation, Apple added a special blend of spatial audio and computational algorithms to augment that noise cancellation even further.
As you’ll soon see, the company built even further on noise cancelation with a true adaptive transparency mode.
7) Can Be Used To Make Calls Using Siri Integration
Siri is one of the hallmarks of Apple’s larger ecosystem. And make no mistake, you’ll find Siri perfectly integrated into AirPods. And, likewise, that integration moves across all of your Apple devices.
This essentially means that your AirPods can use Siri as a bridge of sorts to the other devices.
One of the most useful examples is the use of Siri with your AirPods to place calls. Press the stem of your AirPods or just say “Hey, Siri” and you’re ready to place a call just as if you were using Siri directly on your iPhone.
8) Adaptive Transparency Mode
Adaptive transparency is how the AirPods let you hear the world around you. They automatically pick up the outside aural environment with their built-in microphones.
The earbuds then mix in that sound with their speaker output. This is why you can still hear the world around you even with AirPods in your ear.
But Apple took this concept even further with a new adaptive transparency mode that automatically regulates sound levels.
For example, think of how annoying louder vehicles can be when you’re on a jog. If a truck or motorcycle goes by then you’ll often have your music, and your sense of calm, drowned out.
But Apple’s AirPods can use adaptive transparency mode to automatically lower the sound of especially loud elements of your environment.
You’d still hear the truck or motorcycle. But their associated noise would be lowered to a point where it wasn’t jarring anymore. It’s a new way to really immerse yourself in your music while still being aware of the environment.
Of course, no piece of technology is perfect. And AirPods are no exception to that rule. For all of their charm, they do fall behind in the following categories.
The exact cost of AirPods will vary on a case-by-case basis. There’s always the potential for deals and sales after all.
But as a general rule, you’ll be paying a lot more for Apple’s AirPods than you would for most Bluetooth earbuds.
Part of that is to be expected from the AirPod’s feature set. AirPods have a build quality that easily places them in the top tier of the market.
But part of the cost simply comes from the fact that Apple as a whole tends to cost a little more.
However, Apple fans can attest to the fact that they find a lot of value in the larger ecosystem and just how long the company’s products tend to last.
2) They’re Easy To Misplace or Lose
This downside is especially rough given the earbud’s cost. AirPods are both expensive and very easy to lose.
They’re very small devices that people are constantly taking out of their ears. It’s easy to just set one down for a minute and then lose track of it.
Of course there are some ways to help mitigate the risk, like making sure to always put AirPod’s back in their case. But the risk of losing them is always going to be there. And some activities can even make it easier to lose your AirPods.
3) They Can Fall Out When You Exercise
Exercise is one of the more common reasons for lost AirPods. People often buy them in the first place so that they can make their workouts a little more entertaining.
But a combination of sweat and movement is a perfect recipe for earbuds to fall out. Apple has been able to help decrease the risk. But the compact design of AirPods makes them inherently at risk during workouts.
4) Compatibility Issues With Non-Apple Devices
This downside goes hand in hand with one of the device’s major advantages – the Apple ecosystem.
One of the larger advantages of Apple AirPods is the fact that they work so well with other Apple devices.
For example, the controls are perfectly integrated into phone and media controls on the iPhone. You can even use the AirPod’s Siri to place calls on an iPhone.
And Apple will of course always make sure that iPhones and iPads are compatible with AirPods.
But those advantages disappear once you try to use AirPods on non-Apple devices.
In fact, you start to see the same problems pop up that kept Bluetooth earbuds as a niche item for so long.
In particular, the fact that Bluetooth compatibility issues can come into play when you mix and match devices. And there are some issues that really can’t be addressed.
For example, the H1 and H2 chips from Apple that power some of the AirPod’s advantages aren’t compatible with non-Apple devices.
So, you’ll miss out on most features related to adaptive transparency mode and more when using AirPods with Android or other mobile systems.