So I have the gen 2 AirPods without a wireless charging case. Before I bought these, I was using the wired EarPods that came with my iPhone 8 Plus. So those are my immediate comparison. Otherwise, I had used a pair of MPOW wireless over-the-ear headphones for a long time.
The Fit And Feel
The AirPods fit my ears as near perfect as I can tell. Much to my delight, they don’t wiggle loose or fall out, not even when wearing a hoodie or changing my shirt. They’re so small and light! I can wear them for hours in comfort.
To me, the most stand-out trait of AirPods is how easy they are to use. I never have to turn them on or off. I never think about pausing or resuming playback. I just put them in or take them out and they just work. The auto-pause feature when you remove one or both – excellent. (There’s one caveat in my gripe section later on.)
Since they go in my ears instead of over, they do not interfere with glasses or wearing a hat. That’s convenient. Their tiny size in the case fits in my pants’ change pocket! So I take them with me pretty much everywhere I go and use them often. I love having them always at the ready.
The AirPods’ battery-life lasts long enough to watch a feature-length movie with them, no problem. They recharge in the case fast, and the case also charges up quickly. In my heavy usage, I need to charge the case once every 2 days or so.
As for wireless range, they’re surprisingly far reaching. With Bluetooth 5.0 in both my iPhone and the AirPods, I find they go very far, even around walls and through floors. Connection is solid.
For Apple Podcasts, they sound terrific. And for Apple Music, they sound very good. YouTubing audio is great. To my ears, they have a bit more bass than the EarPods, and a bit more instrumental separation and “soundstage.”
AirPods get louder than I can stand, exceeding the 80 decibel range. Some ambient noise does filter in since these buds just sit in your ears. But that’s also convenient at times. I’ve used them on a long car ride without any disappointment.
One of my favorite things about my AirPods is how flippin’ reliable and easy it is to talk to Siri. The microphones are so close to my mouth that saying, “Hey, Siri…” works practically 100% of the time. Siri’s voice in my ears sounds excellent, and her response time is immediate.
Siri is so easy to use that I’ve found myself trying out more and more requests. To my surprise and delight, Siri often responds helpfully, even knowing the context of my commands, making it easier to just talk to her. I’m a fan!
A highlight: Siri reads my texts to me, like while driving! My hands stay at 10 and 2, a charming sound plays, quietly pausing my podcast or song, then Siri announces who texted and what he/she said. Love it! This, too, fits in the convenientcategory.
“Live Listen” is sort of an accesibility feature I think. It basically lets you use your iPhone as a remote microphone and the AirPods amplify the low sounds nearby. In testing it, I could hear my cat snoring from another room. It’s like using hearing aids.
Related to this feature, I love the Decibel Meter built into Control Center. It actively shows you the loudness of your audio while listening. You see if it’s too loud or not. This is great! I have Tinnitus and minor hearing loss, so this is a meaningful ability.
Another great detail: if you lose an AirPod, you can ping it with the Find My app. A beeping sound will play from the AirPod and it will appear on a map to help you locate it.
Besides simply removing an AirPod to auto-pause what’s playing, you can double-tap either earbud to pause. My small gripe is that the force needed is a bit more than I’d like. I’ve had a few times when I didn’t tap hard enough, but I’ve also never had an accidental pause.
The AirPods are small and light so they’re easy to drop. I dropped one in the car while driving and couldn’t retrieve it until I stopped as it slipped below the seat. They’re a bit fiddly to pluck from the case or return them, so you must be careful.
Although sound quality is good across the range, they’re a bit bright for my ears and I’d like more bass. But given their tiny size, I think they sound as good as physics allows.
To wrap it up, all I can say is AirPods are excellent overall. Apple sells a lot of them; they’re very popular for a reason. They’re the real deal.
I gave away my big wireless headphones and quit using any others. AirPods can’t be beat. Unless, of course, they’re AirPods Pro. I just might upgrade to the Pros next year!