I’ve gone through quite a number of bluetooth earpieces. The one thing I’ve found though is the quality was always subpar compared to normal wired earpieces, and my guess is due to the amount of power required normally to deliver a decent balanced bass. The market seemed to have fallen on it’s head, and went the route of creating ear inserts and calling them earbuds. This doesn’t fly in my world, since my ears hurt after using them along with creating compacted ear wax or even collecting on the earbud itself. They never quite sounded right since it always seemed like they were intentionally pressed closer to the ear drum.
I decided to splurge and get a set of Apple Airpods since they act as headphones along with microphones. It did hurt to initially purchase them due to the price being artificially high with Apple not officially selling them at their stores since the stock is severely low. There was a seller on Amazon, and I ordered through them… for $60 more than MSRP. After a week or two of use, are they worth it to me? Yes.
Basically, they feel the same as the stock earpods, without wires attached. Here is a picture of them with Airpod skins protective wraps along with Spigen brand earhooks covers for use on my motorcycle. I have to say the Spigen earhooks do a great job of containing the Airpods into my ear while riding.
And this is what they look like without the earhooks, which is how I use them when not on a moving motorcycle.
The reason they have sold themselves to me so heavily after using them is for several reasons. One is that each earpiece senses when inserted into the ear, and alerts the device it is paired with. This has been very helpful while listening to music and talking on the phone, since as soon as the earpiece is removed the music application senses the change and pauses as if the headphones were unplugged. This also is helpful while on speaker – as soon as the bluetooth earpiece is inserted, the phone automatically switches over. The integration with icloud is awesome, if you use it. Using icloud, the Airpods can be migrated between iPhone to Macbook Pro to iPad to anything else using icloud. Once the Airpods are added to one of the devices on icloud, it’s added to icloud and instantly added to everything else while being managed by icloud. I’ve used this to migrate my Airpods between my iPhone to my Macbook Pro, then back to my iPhone after using them for what I needed.
The ability to switch between earpieces is a nice feature as well, and I use this feature while on long production-related calls now. Using a single earpiece, Once I notice the battery getting low on power, I pull the other one out of the charging case and put it into my ear. Then, I put the one I’d been using into the case to charge. The battery in the case I’ve yet to entirely use through the day, and each earpiece I’ve gotten about 2-3 hours of active use (not standby) from between charge. I’ve also noticed if used as simply a headset, the battery lasts much longer, usually 4-5 hours.
The container holds the earpieces perfectly, since it’s molded to fit and there is a magnetic holder at the base of the container to pull down and secure them. This makes holding them in your pocket very stable. The sticker skin that I have around it is mostly to break up the white color.
Until another business decides to make something that has the same ease of use, quality, and integration, I’d buy this again in spite of it being outrageously priced simply because nothing else offers it that I have seen.
EDIT July 29th 2017
I gotta say, these are my favorite set of bluetooth earpieces I’ve ever owned. I’ve used them for conference calls, listening to music, listening for notifications while at work, etc. One of my favorite features is being able to pull them out of my ears on an instant, and the music just pausing. That’s great at work when someone walks up, and I can pull the earpiece from my ear and talk without fiddling with my phone. The other thing I love is that I’m able to use them when I ride my motorcycle. With the Spigen brand earhooks, I’ve been able to ride many times to and from work without the earpieces slipping out of my ears. Now granted I have a windshield on my cruiser which cuts wind quite a bit, but not completely when at 70+ MPH on the freeway. Also, the noise cancellation works awesome I’ve found. You’d think with the microphone (on the bottom of the earpiece stem) being so far from your mouth that it would be a problem, but it does just fine when I’m talking normally to someone and there’s noise around me from others talking in the office. I’ve used it out of the office too, and I haven’t had anyone have issues with hearing me. In fact, most don’t think I’m on bluetooth, which in itself means a lot. When I’ve been on long conference calls, I’ve been using one earpiece, and after 2 or so hours when the charge gets to 30-35% I put the other earpiece in my ear then charge the one I’d been using without any interference with the call. The earpiece recharge only takes 10 or so minutes, and the charging container lasts for quite a few charges. I went without charging the container for a week or so, only charging once in its life so far when it reached 40%.
The only complaint I have so far is how oddly my phone won’t connect with the airpods even when they are paired. I turn off bluetooth and turn it back on, and all is well. I spoke with an Apple store “Genius” (I hate that term), and she said the same as what I’d been doing. Not sure why, but it’s a quick fix.
EDIT September 15th 2017
I still absolutely love the quality of the Airpods. I do think Apple needs to work on the bluetooth pairing detection, however. One thing I notice quite a bit is how iOS at times detects them immediately and other times I have to manually turn them on in the “settings -> bluetooth” area. I still notice turning off bluetooth and turning it back on helps at times, so it’s definitely an iOS subsystem quirk that more than likely will be fixed as the audience gets larger. I thought I lost my main Airpod set because I was in a rush and couldn’t find them in the morning, so I picked up another set at the Apple store. (NOT liking to buy them again, btw). Ended up finding them at home, so now I have two sets and I’m using one set for my personal phone and the other set for my work phone. With that being said, I’m using the work cell phone for nearly all work calls now, and it’s amazing during meetings.