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Apple AirPods review: Great sound but limited utility

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Apple’s AirPods are a fascinating fusion of its ongoing love affair with design over just about everything else, which has both its appeal and its rather obvious drawbacks.

  • Great audio quality
  • Case adds battery power
  • Good call quality
  • Suitable for jogging
  • In no way inconspicuous
  • Lacks noise cancelling
  • One size doesn't fit all
  • Siri controls everything
  • Short battery life
  • Bluetooth pairing could work a lot better
  • All white design shows off the earwax

Apple’s purchase of Beats put it squarely in the headphones arena, but at the launch of the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus it also used that purchase to announce its own AirPods wireless headphones. It’s not the first time Apple has dabbled in own-brand audio, having offered for example the iPod Hi-Fi Audio dock a decade ago. AirPods, according to Apple’s hype, are wireless, effortless and magical, which sounds impressive, at least in theory.

Design

  • Suitable for jogging
  • In no way inconspicuous
  • One size doesn't fit all
  • All white design shows off the earwax
AppleAirPods_2_450

Performance

  • Great audio quality
  • Good call quality
  • Case adds battery power
  • Regular battery life is quite short, though
AppleAirPods_1_450

Features

  • Lacks noise cancelling
  • Siri controls everything
  • Bluetooth pairing could work a lot better
AppleAirPods_4_450

Verdict

Apple's AirPods are a fascinating fusion of its ongoing love affair with design over just about everything else, which has both its appeal and its rather obvious drawbacks. They're best suited if you're already heavily within the Apple ecosystem given the quick pairing with iOS and macOS Sierra devices and you like the rather obvious design style.
AppleAirPods_5_450

Pricing and availability

Apple’s AirPods are sold through Apple’s retail stores and online for $229.


Specifications

Apple AirPods (1st Gen)

Build

Category
In-ear Headphones
Colours
White

Connectivity

Wired/Wireless
True Wireless
Bluetooth
Yes

Features

Noise Cancelling
No
Rechargeable Battery
Yes
Battery Life
Up to 5 hours

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