Unravelling the Apple AirPods

After buying the new iPhone and being mesmerized by Apple Music, I felt an urgent urge to have a wireless headphones. The requirement was simple - they should be convenient and should sound awesome! And being on Apple's ecosystem, what could be more better than Apple AirPods. After using it for few days and smitten with its ease of usage, I thought of writing this review.

The Apple's AirPods where introduced back on September 7th, 2016 along with iPhone 7. It introduced the world with truly wireless headphone with it's revolutionary W1 wireless SoC designed to deliver Class 1 Bluetooth performance. Ok enough of nerdy stuffs, it basically means AirPods have maximum theoretical range of 100 meters from your phone, table or PC! Get ready to prepare chapatis in the kitchen while still occasionally watching your favorite daily soap in the hall and all this while talking to your mother! Pretty cool huh!

For Those

  • Who seek true wireless experience.
  • Who wants to invest in descent sound quality based on wireless standards.
  • Who like ease of pairing across any device supporting Bluetooth. 'One Tap' setup for Apple devices.
  • Who like long lasting battery and quick charge capability.
  • Who like Apple products and their design language.

Not For Those

  • Who do intense workouts or swimming. Chance of AirPods coming loose or in contact with sweat/water is high.
  • Who do listen to a lot of music since in our runs, prolonged usage did hurt our ears.
  • Who love physical volume button.
  • Who are comfortable with unique design and protruding stalks.
  • Who don't mind having to charge yet another device.
  • As with any Apple product the box is pristine white with embossed images of AirPods on the top.
  • The box is a perfect square and holds product details on one side. This one of course being MMEF2 device.
  • Interestingly at the bottom of the box you get to see the glimpse of what is contains i.e. Airpods, Charging Case and Charging Cord. Pretty neat!

Unwrapping any Apple device is an experience in itself even before experiencing the product. All the special thought that has gone in detailing out every side is mind-blowing. You may be wondering - has the blogger gone crazy praising the packaging - but we usually judge a book with cover, don't we? And this one in particular is aesthetically simple yet beautiful, impactful and yells quality. All designed by Apple themselves in California and manufactured in China.

Opening The Box

  • Opening, aka, unboxing AirPods is typical Apple again. Open the box and you are greeted with familiar 'Designed by Apple in California' message printed over pouch.
  • The pouch has typical Quick Start guide, Warranty/Safety guide and Service related information.
  • Moving the pouch out of the way gives the glimpse of the AirPod Charging Case (containing AirPods docked within) sitting snugly in its podium.
  • Pulling out the Charging Case reveals a tab pulling which out gets you the access to the charging cable (no charger, sorry)

If you particularly have iPhone or iPad, you may never need to use the supplied cable as most of the time you will be charging with their chargers and it charges pretty quick too. You may as well keep the cable as spare for those rainy days! Let me also make a special mention of usage guide leaflet. You can as well go through my instructions here but that piece of paper could get you comfortable with AirPods very quickly.

Few additional word of praises for the packaging here (can't stop myself). Apple took special care or at least that meets my eyes that they match the box color with that of AirPod's Charging Case. The top cover has particularly embossed AirPod images which viewed from several angle looks class. Pretty impressed with Apple's Design department!

Meet the Cute Case

  • The case is roughly half of index finger's length (well depending upon whose finger :)) with about similar width. It has all round curves and extremely smooth to hold.
  • Behind the case there is this sleek looking chrome finished bracket holding the cap with again a familiar message saying 'Designed in California. Made in China'
  • Just hidden in the aesthetics, there is small round button with multipurpose functions involving paring, resetting, etc.
  • Opening the cap on top reveals the AirPods sitting tightly under the case and charging all the time.
  • The light between the pods tells the charge of the pods when docked in the case or charge of the case when both pods are out.
  • Removing the pods reveals the deep well where pods rest and you can clearly see two pins meant to provide charge to the pods.
  • At the bottom of the case lies the lightning port connector which could be connected to any standard charger for charging the case.

One of its kind Charging Case. Made out of very durable plastic with rounded corners all over. Feels smooth and comfortable to hold (not that you will be holding it for long). The Chrome finish on the opening bracket and seamless integration of multipurpose physical button makes it look like piece of art. All crease lines are very well concealed and the only thing breaking the white monotony from front is the lighting port at the bottom. It could be easily carried in the Jeans or Pant's pockets or slotted into your favorite pouch in your sack.

My better half fondly calls it premium 'paan ki dibbi' (paan is Indian delicacy mainly chewed after meals for digestion) but that is only to tease me and shake me out of its obsession!

The AirPods snugly sits in the craftily designed wells and if you are inserting them in right direction, they are instantly pulled in by the case by mostly the magnetic pull. They are held place by the very same magnetic pull and never at all move or rattle. The cap as well seems exhibiting the same magnetic pull phenomena especially when you are couple of millimeters opening or closing it. Again the cap is held tightly to the case with absolutely no rattling or unexpected opening of any kind.

One spoiler though. The Charging Case and Airpods seems having semi shiny texture. Attracts lots of 'scratches', especially the case. Last thing we want to see on any premium device.

While charging Apple devices, I am used to hearing that 'clunk' sound reassuring me that its charging. Unfortunately AirPods don't give that feedback. You particularly need to check the LED within to assure its charging. The LED itself is self-sufficient for all tell-tale signs. Once used to you may never need another device to confirm the charging status of AirPods and Charging Case.

Cleaning the Charging case is bit of challenge as it attracts lots of lint especially on and round the lips of cap. Occasionally you as well use ear buds to clean-up the wells. Just be sure you don't rub or exert too much pressure on the charging pins.

Hello Pods

  • Behold and meet the legends! The two airpods side by side with a unique design to fit snugly and comfortably in your ears.
  • On either side of the pod (the dark round dot) is the proximity sensor (dual optical sensors) which detects whether the pod is inside the ear or outside! You hear a confirming 'ding' right after you put pods in your ears, much of it is possible with these sensors
  • The pods also contains microphone each which is selectively activated with the W1 chip for optimal conversation and power saving.
  • The pods contains¬†accelerator meant to detect motion as well speech.
  • The pods are packed with Apple's much touted, low powered wireless chipset called W1 meant to deliver 5 hours of usage in single charge.
  • The inner ear side of the pods contains the wire mesh behind which is the speaker. The sound quality of the speaker driver is at par with what we get from in-the-box iPhone headphones.
  • At the bottom of each pod there is this semi-circular chrome finished metal ring. Well aesthetically it looks good but it acts as contacts (+ve,-ve) to charge pods when docked in charging case. Neat!

The AirPods has a unique design meant to fit perfectly in ears. This design was first seen with Apple Earpods. The material used is same as that of Charging Case and has similar rounded and polished edges.

They don't particularly have noise reduction and you could hear your surrounding pretty well but the advantage to it is that you can continue wearing them for very long. They don't hurt your ears as much as other headphones do. I can easily do 2-3 hours while putting them on.

They are powerhouse of chips and sensors all working together to deliver a world-class listening experience. It can detect whether you have put on one AirPod or both and accordingly activate mic. It can also sense weather you are at all wearing the devices or have just removed it from ears and could pause/play your programs.

The sound quality is similar to what you get from EarPods which is great by wireless standards. The range usually crosses 2-3 walls and still sound great. When you get out-of-range it simply stops sounding all together. So either quality sound or no sound. Nothing in between! I have played it with many music players like Amazon Music, Gaana, Saavn, Wynk, Apple Music, YouTube, Spotify, etc. and they sound great with any of them especially when streaming high quality or HD audio (bit rate @ 256 bits or above)

Tapping the AirPods on top performs programmable actions. You can play next, pause, activate Siri, take call, etc. with it. See our tips & tricks section for more details.

The protruding stalk though at times feel like sore point but make no mistake they house teeny weeny battery and antenna. Aesthetically when put in ears they sometime feels outright strange, I got all sort of reactions from people from where the 'wire' has gone to they look like earrings. Well may not suite or go with many but the convenience that it brings is unparallel!

The AirPods don't fall off easily from ears and at the same time feel light. However a little bit of 'shaking' you head (listening to AR Rehman/Rock/Pop) and there they come off. Many a times I managed to slip them through my ears and fall on floor (5-6 feets) and man they are sturdy. Not even a single ding. They could be wore while you are working out but there have been complains that sweat and water take a toll on them and they eventually stop functioning. I believe in later iterations Apple addressed by introducing additional glue to have proper seal.

Price range - what more could be said it's Apple and they sell at higher price. They retail somewhere between Rs. 12,000 to 12,500 (USD ~179). If you wish to buy here is the link to Amazon.in

Technical Specifications

(courtesy Apple)

WeightAirPods4 grams (0.14 ounces)
Charging Case38 grams (1.34 ounces)
DimensionsAirPods16.5 x 18.0 x 40.5 mm
Charging Case44.3 x 21.3 x 53.5 mm
ConnectionsAirPodsBluetooth
Charging CaseLightning connector
SensorsAirPods (each)Dual beam-forming microphones
Dual optical sensors
Motion-detecting accelerometer
Speech-detecting accelerometer
BatteryAirPods with Charging Casecoming based on real life tests!

Next Article: Pairing & Using pods

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