11 Things You Need To Know Before Buying Apple’s New Wireless Headphones

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Apple / Jenny Chang / BuzzFeed

So… Apple removed the headphone jack from the iPhone 7 and the internet freaked out. But thankfully, the company had a solution: wireless devices called “AirPods.” Much to the chagrin of anyone familiar with Apple, they weren’t included with iPhones. Instead, they’re sold as a premium accessory, and boy, are they hyped. When Apple quietly released them at the top of the year, ship times were upwards of six weeks (and they’re still around there today, almost two months later). Regardless of the hype, I got myself a pair of these things and wanted to test them out to see if they were really as groundbreaking and epic as Apple promised when it announced them many months ago.

Following are a bunch of questions any potential AirPods buyer might have about this expensive new upgrade.

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2. So, how are AirPods different from EarPods, anyway?

So, how are AirPods different from EarPods, anyway?

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Imagine if someone took regular EarPods (the ones that come with every iPhone) and chopped off the wires, then gave you a cute little case to store them in that charges them. That’s what AirPods are.

They pair to your phone using Bluetooth. When you plug both AirPods in, you’ll hear a confirmation tone that they’re connected, then you fire up your favorite music app and you’re set. The entire process takes seconds.

If you double-tap either of the Pods you activate Siri, and when you remove one AirPod from your ear, your music will stop playing.

In case you’re wondering, the sound quality is about the same as the EarPods. I’m not an audiophile, but I did test both AirPods and EarPods with bass-heavy songs and smoother songs as well and I honestly couldn’t tell the difference. The bass was about the same, but I will admit that for certain songs the EarPods did seem slightly louder.

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3. Does Siri work well with the AirPods?

Does Siri work well with the AirPods?

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Sadly, no. But I will say that calls sound great and make it very easy to have a hands-free situation without ever having to look at or hold your phone. Callers on the other end also noted how clear and crisp I sounded while talking.

Back to Siri. Full disclosure: I hardly ever use Siri.

Using the virtual assistant with AirPods isn’t that easy or seamless. You have to double tap the top of the AirPod in the right position and it takes Siri a few seconds to respond. The idea is that you give Siri commands like “next song” or “raise the volume,” and let’s be real, shouting these commands in public is embarrassing.

I really wished that there were other nonverbal ways to control the music — like a triple tap to raise the volume or other helpful motions you could make, just for the sake of discretion.

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5. If I don’t have an iPhone, can I use AirPods?

If I don't have an iPhone, can I use AirPods?

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Stephen Lam / Getty Images

Yes, you can. But honestly, the point of AirPods is how easy it is to pair them and how well they just work with iPhones and other Apple products. So if you have an Android or other non-Apple phone it’s probably best to go with an alternative set of wireless headphones.

If you want to disregard the above information then know this: There is a small button on the back of the AirPods case that allows you to activate the Bluetooth search function, and it will show up in your phone’s Bluetooth menu. Then you just tap on AirPods and they will connect.

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6. Will they fall out of my ears?

Will they fall out of my ears?

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It depends on the size and shape of your ears. I’d consider my ears to be pretty average, and I never felt like the AirPods were going to fall out. I tested various situations to see if they would fall out, including jumping up and down, walking down the street, and shaking my head vigorously from side to side — and nothing happened.

What I will say though is that when I wore a hood and pulled the hood back, sometimes the AirPods would get caught and I’d have to make sure they didn’t pop out.

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7. What’s it like to work out with AirPods?

What's it like to work out with AirPods?

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It’s pretty freeing. Working out with the AirPods was great because I didn’t have to worry about a cord getting in the way when on the StairMaster or treadmill, or when lifting weights. It was also very easy to leave the case at home for less bulk. As I said previously, sweat didn’t affect them, so that’s not an issue.

Now this didn’t happen to me, but my colleague who also has AirPods said she was on an elliptical machine and tucked her hair behind her ear and one of the AirPods went flying. I don’t have long hair so there’s a low chance of this happening to me, but I just thought I’d mention that for what it’s worth.

Are they waterproof? No. You can’t swim with them, that’s for sure. But they are sweat-resistant, and while working out with them and sweating heavily (shout out to the StairMaster) I experienced no problems.

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8. Do they hold a good charge?

Do they hold a good charge?

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Apple quotes five hours of playback time for just the AirPods. With the case it’s a full 24 hours.

I’m used to charging my phone and Apple Watch every night. I do this religiously. So it was very easy for me to plug the AirPods into my computer before I went to bed. This means that they never ran out of charge. For me, in fact, they never even got that low, because I’m anal about charging my stuff.

If you’re the type of person who gets annoyed that you have to charge stuff and your phone is constantly on 1% then these might not be for you.

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9. What’s it like to commute/travel with AirPods?

My colleague who also has AirPods did mention that she still carries around a pair of regular EarPods because she’s terrible about charging things. She told me that on a recent flight to LA the fully charged AirPods didn’t last the entire flight. This meant she had to keep interrupting what she was listening to in order to recharge them in the case. It was only a slight annoyance, she said, but it’s still something to consider.

Commuting with the AirPods, for me, is fine. I’ll sometimes get a weird look because they’re so white and noticeable. But the true beauty is that I never have to worry about my cord getting caught on someone’s backpack or purse (it happens more than you’d think) on a crowded train — so that’s a positive in my book.

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11 Things You Need To Know Before Buying Apple’s New Wireless Headphones

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