Apple AirPods review: Great value at £127.20
DEAL ALERT: If you’ve been waiting for some Apple AirPods deals to bring this popular product’s price down to something more manageable, now is the perfect time to pounce and make a purchase. Through the O2 network, you can currently buy a pair of Apple AirPods for £127.20, which is 20% less than the usual price of £159. To claim the discount, you must enter the code ACCESSORY20 at the checkout stage.
David’s original review continues below
Remember when the iPad came out and you first saw someone using one in public? It looked odd, didn’t it? Well, I’ve been on the receiving end of those looks – albeit in the office – for the past week, thanks to two futuristic-looking Apple AirPods sticking out of my head. Once you get over that, and the £159 price tag, you’ll realise they’re actually really good, practical earphones that you just want to keep on using (with the iPhone 7).
It’s about time, too. I’ve often wondered when Apple would give headphones the Apple treatment, and I think the AirPods are the first example of this. AirPods show signs of promise.
Apple AirPods: How they feel
Imagine cutting the cables off your regular EarPods and then putting them in your ear – that’s exactly how AirPods feel. The major benefit of not having wires, aside from not having to untangle them several times a day, is the improved grip. I gave this a rigorous testing in the office and the only way these are going to fall out of your ear is if you take a big tumble.
Free from wires, nothing tries to pull the lightweight AirPods from your ears. This results in a surprisingly comfy in-ear fit that won’t hurt should you decide to test their five-hour battery life.
It’s surprising how liberating it is not to have wires hanging from your ears. Traditional earphones are hardly debilitating, but the way the AirPods rest in your ear is really something you have to experience.
This will sound ridiculous, but they’re akin to the feeling of running barefoot – and I love running barefoot.
Apple AirPods: Sound quality
AirPods sound better than any headphones Apple has made to date – and they’re louder too. Turn the volume up to full on your Music app and the sound falls just on the right side of uncomfortable. Play music at a more sensible volume and the sound quality is very clean and true.
The hard-shell design Apple persists with is an issue, though. Yes, they look nice, but having a one-size-fits-all shape brings problems with sound leakage (not to mention fit). Wear these on the Tube and the rattle and screech of carriages will once again drown out podcasts. Listen to loud music in the office and AirPods will annoy your colleagues.
There’s room for improvement here, but for the most part, sound quality is very good.
“You’re going to lose them instantly, though”
No, you’re not. I thought the same thing when I first tried them on. However, this is where the charging/carry case comes into play. It really is the perfect place to put AirPods when you’re not using them. I’ve been slipping the case into my pocket or bag when I’m on the go, or just keeping it on my desk, giving it the odd charge when I’m at work.
Apple AirPods battery life: Bad on paper, more than enough in reality
There’s good and bad news when it comes to battery life. The good news: the charging case will give your AirPods enough power to last 24 hours. The bad news: each Pod has a maximum battery life of five hours from a single charge, so you’ll have to charge them multiple times to achieve the advertised 24 hours.
This doesn’t sound great on the face of it, but I’ve been trying – and failing – to test the five-hour battery life for days now. It quickly became habit to slip the headphones back into the case when I wasn’t using them, where they immediately begin charging again.
The reality of day-to-day life is that it’s near-impossible to find the time to listen to audio for five hours straight. Also, you can use any iOS 10 device to check the battery life of your AirPods and charging case at any time.
Apple AirPods: Connecting AirPods to the iPhone 7
Being able to pair AirPods to an iPhone is easily my favourite thing about these headphones. Simply flip open the charging case and put them next to your iPhone. A message will flash across your iPhone screen, and then all you need to do is press Confirm. That’s it.
The next thing you’ll hear is a satisfying low ding to let you know they’re ready to roll. Once in position, they have a couple of neat party tricks. The first is a simple double-tap, which is the cue for Siri to say hello – the AirPods have microphones built in, so you can ask Siri a question without touching your iPhone. The second trick is a simple but brilliant one. Apple uses infrared to tell when a Pod is in your ear. Take one AirPod out of your ear and your music will automatically pause. Put it back in and music resumes.
Apple AirPods: Verdict
AirPods aren’t meant for everyone. The EarPods that come in the box with the iPhone 7 are the earphones meant for the proletariat; AirPods are meant for people who want to free themselves from a life of tangled wires and a physical tether to their phones.
If you have the money to spend and want wireless earphones, these won’t disappoint.