AirPods Impressions: Potential 'Game-Changer' With Good Design, but Will They Stay in the Ear?

To compensate for the lack of a 3.5mm headphone port on the new iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, Apple yesterday introduced the "AirPods." The wireless headphones give users 5 hours of music playback, and come in a carrying case that doubles as a battery pack, holding an extra 24 hours of charge in a small, 2-inch tall frame.

Following the keynote presentation yesterday, Apple let a few members of the press test out its new pieces of hardware, including the iPhone 7, Apple Watch Series 2, and the AirPods. Although the noisy showroom made it tough for many journalists to judge the headphones' sound quality -- which Apple says is "rich, high quality AAC audio" -- many left impressed with the new technology, and curious to see how they'd perform on a day-to-day basis.

tc-airpods-2

Images via TechCrunch

TechCrunch noted the subtle advantages of AirPods and their existence in the Apple ecosystem, mainly the seamless way that the headphones pause music automatically whenever users take them out of their ears, and resume the same track when returned. The site was less sure of the design of the AirPods, particularly whether or not the small headphones would stay in place during jogs or other strenuous workouts, although the "long tail" of the AirPods "actually goes a ways toward helping them fit better in the ear."

It’s an interesting aesthetic choice, one that bucks the recent trend of fully wireless Bluetooth headphones, which are largely circular. These maintain the EarPods’ long tail, which actually goes a ways toward helping them fit better in the ear.

As far as how well they’ll actually stay in there if you, say, go for a jog, it’s hard to say, though the buds could certainly benefit for some sort of anchoring system akin to what you get on sportsbuds from companies like JayBird.

As a counter-argument to everyone's concerns over whether the AirPods can become dislodged while moving, USA Today digital editor Natalie DiBlasio posted a short video on Twitter to test out the AirPods' resistance to jumping and shaking around. Only 9 seconds long, DiBlasio's test is still interesting as proof that the AirPods appear lodged well enough in her ears as to resist her movement test, although a long run with more sweat and motion could prove a more daunting task for Apple's wireless headphones.

CNET's editors gave some of the more positive impressions of the AirPods, calling the new headphones "game-changers," with the caveat of the device living up to Apple's promised potential of high quality music and a consistent connection. There still remains worry over how different sized ears will work with the AirPods, which could cause unfortunately negative experiences for some users.

If they're as easy to pair with your phone and have as rock-solid a connection as Apple is saying they have, they're going to be game-changers. The fact is, once you go totally wireless, it's hard to go back to wires, and with Apple's backing behind this new type of headphone -- and a $159 price tag that's not too outrageous -- you may soon be looking at a lot people wearing the same white earbuds but with no wires between them.

tc-airpods-1
Wired left impressed with what the AirPods could do for the wireless headphone market, particularly in the hassle-free set-up process, but was noticeably more hopeful for "something that looks and sounds better" than the AirPods to come down the line in the future. For what Apple's made now, the site still noted that the AirPods were "much lighter" than other Bluetooth headphones, and they "nestled comfortably" in the ear.

I hope that AirPods don’t scare everyone else off from trying to make Bluetooth headphones. I don’t think they will, because they don’t sound good enough. And these aren’t the ones that will ship in the box with your iPhone 7; you get the standard EarPods when you buy an iPhone, which connect over Lightning now. (There’s also an adapter.) But hopefully Apple has set the bar for how easy it should be to connect Bluetooth headphones, and how responsive they should be. If someone can copy that, and make something that looks and sounds better, we might not miss the headphone jack at all.

Since the features of the AirPods are so focused, much of the other reactions and impressions for the device echo similar opinions as the ones we've collected above. It sounds like Apple's made a quality, if high-priced, pair of wireless headphones that might be aimed more at casual music listening than intense workouts, undoubtedly a market the new Beats headphones will help bolster. For more impressions on the AirPods, check out the sites below:

- Engadget
- Macworld
- The Verge
- The Telegraph

Related Roundup: AirPods 2
Buyer's Guide: AirPods (Caution)

Top Rated Comments

(View all)
Avatar
53 months ago
Wish they came in black :oops:
Score: 26 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
53 months ago
These appear to be the same shape as the current earbuds.

I don't understand all of the "will these stay in my ears?" questions...

Did the earbuds in your recent iPhone(s) stay in? Yes? Then chances are these will too. No? Probably won't want to get these....

Why is this such a big question when we have a nearly identical product in our hands today?
Score: 21 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
53 months ago
I'm not sold that these will be a game changer. I think the cost is too high, the battery life to short, not having them stay in your ear and it will be easy for you to lose them
Score: 19 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
53 months ago

CNET ('http://www.cnet.com/products/apple-airpods/preview/')'s editors gave some of the more positive impressions of the AirPods, calling the new headphones "game-changers," with the caveat of the device living up to Apple's promised potential of high quality music and a consistent connection.

"Game changer" isn't the first phrase that comes to my mind when thinking about these new things, especially considering the cost and a single available color. Wireless, regardless of which technology, isn't new and isn't a game changer anymore.
Score: 16 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
53 months ago
CNN says, "If they...[live up to marketing hype that essentially describes them behaving very similar to other high end bluetooth headphones].. they will be games changers." What game are they changing? Has gamechanger jumped the shark? The original iPhone was a gamechanger. New wireless headphones? C'mon.
Score: 14 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
53 months ago
Those wireless airpods should of came with the iPhone instead of people buying them separate.Not Cool Apple!!!!!!
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

Here's How You Can Download iOS 14 and iPadOS 14 Around the World [It's Out]

Wednesday September 16, 2020 2:36 am PDT by
Apple's official public release of iOS 14 and iPadOS 14 dropped on Wednesday, September 16, just a day after the company released the Golden Master to third-party developers. Also set to be made available to the general public for the first time are watchOS 7 and tvOS 14. Getting Started With iOS 14 Video Click image to watch iOS 14 Getting Started While that's left a lot of developers...

When Will the iPhone 12 Launch? Here's What We Know

Wednesday September 16, 2020 6:12 am PDT by
Yesterday's "Time Flies" Apple event saw the release of the Apple Watch Series 6, Apple Watch SE, iPad 8, and iPad Air 4, but no new iPhone models. Rumors before the event strongly alleged that it would not see the unveiling of new iPhones, with many reports pointing to an October launch. The lack of new iPhone models yesterday seems to confirm that the iPhone 12 lineup will not appear...

Apple Releases iOS 14 and iPadOS 14 With Home Screen Redesign, App Library, Compact UI, Translate App, Scribble Support, App Clips, and More

Wednesday September 16, 2020 12:48 pm PDT by
Apple has released iOS 14 and iPadOS 14, the newest operating system updates designed for the iPhone and iPad. As with all of Apple's software updates, iOS 14 and iPadOS 14 can be downloaded for free. iOS 14 is available on the iPhone 6s and later, while iPadOS 14 is available on the iPad Air 2 and later. The updates are available on all eligible devices over-the-air in the Settings app. To ...

Apple Updates AirPods 2 and AirPods Pro Firmware to Version 3A283

Monday September 14, 2020 11:24 am PDT by
Apple today released new 3A283 firmware updates for the second-generation AirPods and the AirPods Pro. The second-generation AirPods are being updated from the 2D15 firmware they were previously running, while the AirPods Pros are being updated from the 2D27 firmware they had installed previously. Apple does not provide details on what's included in refreshed firmware so we don't know what's ...

Spotify Says Apple One Bundle Will Cause 'Irreparable Harm to Developer Community'

Tuesday September 15, 2020 12:26 pm PDT by
Apple today announced Apple One, a series of new subscription bundles that provide access to various Apple services at a combined monthly price. In response, Spotify sent out statements (via Peter Kafka) to the press decrying Apple's anti-competitive behavior and calling on "competition authorities" to stop Apple before it is able to cause "irreparable harm" to developers.Once again, Apple...

iOS 14, iPadOS 14, watchOS 7, and tvOS 14 Will Be Released September 16

Tuesday September 15, 2020 11:06 am PDT by
Apple today announced that iOS 14, iPadOS 14, watchOS 7, and tvOS 14 will be officially released on Wednesday, September 16. Apple has seeded the final Golden Master beta versions of each update to developers in advance. ‌iOS 14‌ and iPadOS 14 introduce dozens of new features, including a redesigned Home Screen that supports widgets on the iPhone and iPad for the first time. For more...

New AirPods Pro Firmware Introduces Spatial Audio Support and Automatic Switching

Monday September 14, 2020 12:22 pm PDT by
The new 3A283 firmware that Apple released for the AirPods Pro today appears to introduce support for Spatial Audio, a new feature coming to the higher-end AirPods with iOS 14. Multiple reports on Twitter and the MacRumors forums indicate that the firmware update adds a "Spatial Audio" option to the Control Center, which can be activated to enable the feature. Note that using Spatial Audio...

Apple Releases Safari 14 for Mac Ahead of macOS Big Sur Launch

Wednesday September 16, 2020 1:40 pm PDT by
macOS Big Sur didn't launch alongside iOS 14, iPadOS 14, tvOS 14, and watchOS 7 today, with the update coming later this fall, but Apple did release the Safari 14 update for macOS Catalina and macOS Mojave users. Safari 14 brings improved performance, customizable start pages, a Privacy Report to see which cross-site trackers are being blocked, and a new tab bar design that provides tab...

Full Transcript of Apple's 'Time Flies' Event With Apple Watch and iPad Updates

Tuesday September 15, 2020 8:46 am PDT by
Apple's virtual "Time Flies" event kicks off today at 10:00 a.m. Pacific Time, with Apple expected to debut new Apple Watch and iPad models, but it appears we may not see the iPhone 12 until next month. While we're not expecting to see new iPhones today, Apple's software updates for its various platforms are likely nearly ready for launch, so we may be hearing more about them today. Check...

Everything Apple Announced at Today's iPad and Apple Watch Event in Just Seven Minutes

Tuesday September 15, 2020 2:19 pm PDT by
Apple today held its annual September event, but this year was a bit different because no new iPhones were announced. The "Time Flies" event focused on the Apple Watch Series 6 and the iPad Air, and saw the debut of a new Apple One services bundle. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. It took Apple an hour to introduce the new devices, but we've recapped the event in...