AirPods: Good Enough, but Worth the Wait? (Or the Price?)

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(Last Updated On: November 20, 2020)

The wait is over, and Apple’s AirPods have arrived. For $159, you get a plastic box resembling a Tic-Tac container with rounded corners, but instead of mints, there are wireless earbuds inside! Superficially, they resemble the old EarPods with the cords cut, but they’re a little beefier; the thicker stalk presumably holds the W1 chip (in all its connective glory) and enough battery for the promised 5 hours of use.

The AirPods fit decently well. They’re slightly larger than the wired EarPods for a more secure fit, but that means you’re out of luck if you already have issue with getting the stock Apple buds staying put. If they fit, though, they fit. After a few migraine-inducing head-shakes and creaky jumping jacks, the AirPods stay put. Sweaty exercise (although we’re ashamed to admit that our three jumping-jacks met that criteria) might be a whole other animal, however. Pairing them to a device is as simple as advertised; just open the lid of the case and hold it a few inches away from your iPhone, hit “Connect” on the prompt, and…that’s it, let the tunes flow.

The sound quality is about what you’d expect from this price point. Full, rich sound, nowhere near wired over-the-ears, but the bass response is surprisingly adequate. Many are pleased by how much nicer the quality is over the EarPods, but $159 headphones should always sound better than the freebie ones. We played genres from classical to club music and it all sounded fairly good, and the bass didn’t get crunchy even at higher volumes while vocals stayed crisp.

As a controller, the AirPods work great. Pull one out of your ear and the music stops after a second; pop it back in and it continues. You can also call up Siri by double-tapping. If you don’t use Siri regularly, it seems especially odd to call her up without a visual interface and you might not initially know what to do with her besides play the next track or find an album or playlist, but off the top of my head, I like the idea of having Siri jot down memos or add to my shopping list. If you’re not a Siri fan, just open the settings via your iPhone and change the double-tap to simply pause and play.

Overall, we think the AirPods are solid but not mindblowing. It’s sort of absurd that early iPhone 7 adopters had to wait so long and pay so much for something so ordinary. The price point is a little unnerving, especially when you consider the $69 price to replace a lost bud regardless of warranty. But they do work, and they work well. If Apple is able to start bundling the AirPods in for free (as they do the EarPods), it’ll definitely push the company ahead as far as audio is concerned. For now, we recommend saving a little more and exploring the other options out there on the market. If the headphone jack on your device is broken, you should know that iFixYouri repairs them for much less than the cost of good Bluetooth headphones, so send it in and save some money!