Apples latest hardware, the AirPods were revealed back in September with iPhone 7. They were set to ship late fall, that turned into late December, and then about a week or two before Christmas. The availability of the hardware was extremely limited. Apple sold out of stock in about an hour and shipping began to slip weeks, then a month. I said from the beginning I wasn't getting them. It wasn't the cost that turned me off ($159) since I spent more than that on other bluetooth devices. It was that fact the EarPods CONSTANTLY fell out of my ears. Traditionally, I have had better success with earbuds that hook over the ear versus ones that sit in the ear canal. For the last two years, I have been using Jaybirds X2's. They are a great pair of headphones. Especially, when paired with the Comply foam tips.
For those of you that know me, I'm REALLY bad at saying "NO" to Apple products. I was able to land a pair last week thanks to a handy website, https://airpods.isinstock.com . You sign up for alerts for an Apple Store nearest you and you will get an email once that store indicates they have stock. I got the alert around 11AM on a Thursday and ordered them about 2 minutes later. Then 5 minutes after that they were sold out (currently showing available for in store pick up at the end of February).
Setting the AirPods up was extremely easy. I opened the case they came in, hit "pair" on my phone and I was all set. I was able to switch the AirPods from my phone to my Mac painlessly. There is a W1 chip inside the AirPods blows for easy pairing to all of your Apple devices. Adding them to the AppleTV was not as easy, but it wasn't hard. You have to place the AirPods in the case, keep it open, press the button on the back and open the settings app on the AppleTV.
The AirPods came almost fully charged. Once I got them set up, I put them in the case to charge overnight. Friday was my first day really trying the AirPods. I had them in my ears most of the day (about 6 hours). At the end of the day, the AirPods were at 10%. I popped them back into the case and there they sat until Saturday. Saturday I had them in my ears all day again. From 8AM till noon, I was listening to Apple Music almost non-stop. I popped them into the case while I was eating, then popped them back into my ears and continued trucking along.
Here was the real challenge and most likely will be for a lot of people. Like I said above, the EarPods didn't fit very well and the same applies to the AirPods. They stayed in my ears if I wasn't doing anything. However, once I started walking, talking, or if I was chewing, the pod would pop right out. As you can imagine, this is super annoying. While working on Saturday, I was wearing a winter hat and that kept the AirPods from falling out. I did purchase a $10 accessory that clips onto the AirPod and hooks over the ear. This almost solved the problem with them falling out. If I'm sitting at my desk or doing minimal activity, then they stay put. However, once I start working out, especially anything where there is a lot of movement, the AirPods pop right out. I also ordered these but they won't be in for a week or so. I'll update when they do.
The audio quality was pretty good. The acoustic mix is really nice, Im not an audiophile at all, but I do like nice sounding headphones. The microphone quality isn't the best, they are nowhere near close enough to your mouth for something like podcasting, but they are ok for phone calls. I did notice some distortion during a FaceTime call, but for the most part there were few issues.
In addition, the the fit being a problem for (some) people, the lack of controls is right there with it(for others). The AirPods have no buttons on them. There is one way to control them and that's via a double tap on one of the buds. This double tap will do one of two things, activate Siri, or act as a play/pause feature. This setting can be adjusted in the bluetooth setting of the phone. I have mine set to play/pause since I don't use Siri that often. Siri with the AirPods has benefits. Siri is the only way to control volume fast forward, rewind, or skip a track since there are no physical buttons.
This method can by annoying, especially if Siri decides to not work, and could make you look a bit crazy while in public. Who wants to be that guy walking around yell "Siri, raise the volume 30%.", "Siri rewind 30 seconds.", "Skip this song." I know I wouldn't be doing that. Thankfully, I rarely have my phone out of reach so it's no burden to me to grab my phone and do any of the actions I mentioned above. I haven't played around with Siri and the AirPods too much, but Id much rather have the double tap set to play/pause. Another cool feature of the AirPods is how they pause whatever you are listening when you take of one them out.
The AirPods from Apple are a decent pair of wireless headphones for the cost. While the hardware has pros (audio quality, ease of set up, wireless) and cons (lack of controls, potential for poor fit), there are other bluetooth headphones at various price points that may suit your needs better. I love my Jaybirds and I also backed a pair on kickstarted that will also act as a personal trainer, https://www.getvi.com (pre-order). I will probably keep the AirPods and use them more around the office and home. Its difficult to say yes or no to purchasing the AirPods. I suggest going to the Apple Store and trying them out before you toss $160.00 at Apple. The biggest thing to remember is these headphones are not for everyone and your usage will vary. There is a lot of technology packed into these little pods and that has me excited for generation 2.