I have a LOT of gadgets. Seriously. I buy all the toys I can get my hands on and that my bank account can handle. There’s nothing more fun (to me) than seeing if a piece of technology will be transformational and add real value to my life. 10 years ago, other than the OG iPhone (yes, that was 10 whole years ago!!), it didn’t feel like there was much out there that TRULY made my life easier. Sure, I still spent my money on all kinds of gizmos and gadgets, but if I’m being completely honest there wasn’t even much that actually made life more fun for more than a few weeks. There was no Uber, no Airbnb, no Google Home or Amazon Echo, no iPad or Apple Watch, no GoPros, no drones. Heck, there weren’t even mobile apps or many of the social media platforms that we’re addicted to today. But nowadays it seems like every month there’s some new product or service that I’m dying to try. I honestly can’t imagine a more exciting time to be alive (Game of Thrones time is a close second until the day I would inevitably be betrayed and beheaded by my brother).
If I listed out all of the gadgets I’ve spent money on over just the past year, you’d think that a) I’m a millionaire, or b) I’m insane. I can assure you that (unfortunately) the former isn’t true, and the latter…well, I’ll let you be the judge of that as you get to know me through this blog. Every now and then I DO pause and think back on what I’ve bought over the past 3,6,9 months and evaluate what was actually a good purchase and what might be worth re-gifting to a family member or throwing on eBay. I don’t know what the % split is in terms of what I keep vs. what I get rid of, but let’s just say I do tend to buy more than a few things that I use excitedly for a short period of time, and then tire of pretty quickly. One big exception is the single greatest purchase I’ve made in 2017 (and maybe in the last few years) — Apple AirPods.
I have always preferred earbuds to over-the-ear headphones, and have always kept my eye out for a pair that was expensive enough to signal quality, but not SO expensive that I would be upset with myself when I inevitably lost them. So when the AirPods were announced I honestly wasn’t THAT interested. They were a bit expensive and there was a long wait time to get them (somewhere around 4-6 weeks). However, the idea of being completely wireless intrigued me, especially given the fact that Apple has started to gently push us that way by removing the headphone jack from the iPhone 7. I also didn’t love the other “wireless” earbud options that were out there. Ultimately, the early-adopter in me won (shocking) and I ordered a pair and waited. And waited. And waited. When the shipping confirmation email finally came in late January, I had almost forgotten that I had ordered them.
How I Use Them
For everything! Whether I’m running or just doing chores around the house and want to listen to an audiobook or a podcast, I pop these babies in and bask in my wireless freedom. I know it sounds dumb, but they really do make simple things like working out or walking through an airport way more enjoyable!
Why I Love Them (or Don’t)
- Good fit. If the wired Apple earbuds fit your ears, these should too. I’ve worn them while running in New Orleans where there is no shortage of sweat, and they have stayed firmly put. As with most earbuds, they get a little uncomfortable after 6-7 hours (i.e. a flight to Europe), but otherwise, they don’t make my ears sore. My boyfriend is always joking that I’m going to lose one of them, but if one of them falls out while you’re listening to something the sound will automatically pause, so you’ll know you’re one down. And if you really just can’t keep track of them, you CAN buy a single pod replacement for $69 (gee thanks, Apple).
- Good sound. I’m not an “audio junkie”, but like any normal person I like my music/books/podcasts to sound clear, and not “tinny” or distorted. No issues here.
- Freeeeeeedom! I never knew just how annoying it was to be tethered to my phone while listening to music or talking on the phone…until I no longer was!
- The rechargeable case is amazing. I’m skeptical of the “Geniuses” that work in the Apple Store, but the guy/gal at Apple that came up with the idea for a case that stores + charges the earbuds at the same time is TRULY a genius. It’s hard to lose them and/or find them dead because your first instinct when you take them off is to put them right back in the case.
- Pairing is seamless. Apple just does this stuff right. And the AirPods seem to take Bluetooth pairing to a new level. You have to do it yourself to understand. They pair seamlessly with my MacBook Pro, iPhone, and iPad. When you pop one of them out, the audio pauses automatically, and when you pop them back in (as long as it’s within a reasonably short amount of time), it will resume where you left off.
- Battery. The good side of the battery is that I easily get several hours of listening time, and they recharge VERY quickly. I think Apple says that you can get to ~80-85% on a 15 min. charge, and it’s no exaggeration. It’s pretty amazing.
- No volume control! This is probably my single biggest annoyance with the AirPods. You can double-tap on one of the AirPods (while they are in your ear) to either initiate Siri, or pause/resume your audio, but that’s it. With the sophisticated gesture systems that other devices use these days, the AirPods should be able to handle some other command so you can adjust the audio without having to touch your phone. If you have an Apple Watch you CAN adjust it from there, but not everyone will have both.
- Cost might scare some people. $159 is a bit steep for plastic earbuds. I list this as a dislike, but I still 100% recommend that if you have Apple devices, and the money, you go out and buy a pair of these immediately. They’re worth the $.
- Availability (or lack thereof). I ordered these back in December 2016 and didn’t receive them until late January 2017. I just did a quick check on the Apple’s website and it looks like if you order a pair now they’ll ship in 6 weeks. I’m no Apple insider so I don’t know if that’s because they just don’t make a lot of them, or because they are so popular, but either way it kind of stinks to have to wait so long for any product that has technically been “available” for this long. The scarcity of product really annoys me (I’m looking at YOU, Nintendo). Just make moreee!
- Battery. The bad side of the battery is that I can’t tell if keeping the AirPods in the case all the time will destroy the longevity of the battery. There are hundreds of articles about batteries and how to maximize their life, and I honestly have no idea what is right and what is wrong. I’ve driven myself crazy trying to figure it out. However, after about 6 months of use, I’ve noticed that one of my AirPods seems to charge slightly faster than the other — which seems odd. So it’s something that I’ll have to keep my eye on.
- Compatibility with certain devices. While they will pair with certain non-Apple devices (i.e. an Android phone), they won’t pair with everything that you’d like them to pair with. Especially if you’re me and you’re greedy. One area where this is really glaring is on flights with in-flight entertainment. I made the mistake of getting on an international flight PUMPED about being able to use my AirPods, and then realized I was a complete idiot for not bringing a wired pair as a backup.
Overall I really can’t recommend the AirPods enough. I am not exaggerating when I say they are the best thing I’ve bought in a VERY long time (and I say this as I stare at a box I like to call my “tech tomb,” where all my unused devices and toys go to die). They definitely make certain aspects of my life easier, albeit in somewhat trivial areas. Workouts and runs are more enjoyable, and I like being able to wander around the house and listen to a podcast and not bother my boyfriend (or maybe HE likes that?). On top of that, they are extremely portable and easy to carry around.
I didn’t really bother to address the “nerdiness” factor of wearing them. I may have a little blindness when it comes to wearable technology, but I truly don’t think these things look that weird. I could quite possibly be the ONLY person in New Orleans that owns a pair and I haven’t felt like anyone has stared at me when I’ve been wearing them (at least for too long). I’ve even had a few people stop and ask me about them. Of course, when I visited friends in San Francisco every other person was wearing them, so I felt a little more at home 🙂 But really, don’t let that stop you. If you buy them, you’ll love them. I promise.
*Other people seem to agree with me — 98% of AirPod owners say they are “satisfied” or “very satisfied” with them.
Note: I’ll do another post in the near future about which podcasts I listen to, and different podcast listening apps I’ve tried. I’d love your input on any podcasts that you love too! I’ll also do a separate post about Audible, as I’ve been trying that service out for the last 8-9 months. Stay tuned!