Review of Apple AirPods, sound and magic in equal parts

The first Apple Bluetooth headphones are now available. After several delays the AirPods can already be ordered in the Apple Store online and in the physical stores. Apple's commitment to wireless is already more than consolidated and the AirPods are a reflection of that. A product that combines technology, design and, for the first time in a while, recovers the magic of Apple. The "It just works" (It just works) regains all its meaning in new headphones that, will not be as complex or important as an iPhone or an Apple Watch, but that impress from the start.

Minimalist to the extreme

Apple has wanted to make a simple product to the fullest, and has succeeded. It is striking that there is no logo on the headphones or its case-charger. Only the small text on the back “Designed by Apple in California” reminds us that we are in a product of the apple company. The whole set is made of the classic white polycarbonate from Apple, a material that seems relegated to accessories now that aluminum floods its shelves, but I personally love it.

The size is ridiculously small, considering the huge amount of technology that this accessory includes. Little bigger and thicker than a 42mm Apple Watch and smaller than the case of the previous EarPods, the box with the AirPods inside can be carried in any pocket, no matter how narrow the pants are. And the idea is that these AirPods are always with us to be able to use them daily, at any time, either with our iPhone, iPad, Mac or Apple Watch.

More than enough autonomy

It is one of the main weaknesses of wireless headphones. How many times have you picked up your Bluetooth headphones to go running or take a walk and have found them downloaded? This should never happen to you with the AirPods, since the case that keeps them is its charging base, with a battery enough to charge them up to 5 times completely. Up to 5 hours of autonomy with a single charge, and more than 24 hours using the charge that the charger case stores guarantee that you can use your AirPods as long as you want until you get home. And if you run out of battery while listening to music, with only 15 minutes of charging in the case you will have 3 more hours of autonomy thanks to the quick charge they incorporate.

The connector of the case-charger is Lightning type, how could it be otherwise, and the box includes a USB cable to Lightning with which we can recharge the batteries of our AirPods, iPhone and iPad. Apple has refused to implement the USB-C in this new accessory, something logical if we consider that the product to which it is primarily intended lacks that connectionr. Will we have to wait for the iPhone 2017? includes the USB-C to see it also in the AirPods.

There are different ways to check the remaining battery of our AirPods and the charger case itself. Just by opening the small box of the AirPods with the iPhone nearby we will see a window in which the different charges of each element appear, and we can also check it from the Notification Center if we use the battery widget, where the battery of the battery already appears Apple Watch and iPhone. If we are using it on Mac, we will also see the remaining load simply by pressing the volume control icon on the top bar.

Automatic configuration

The magic of these headphones starts from the first moment you open the box that contains them. Your iPhone will detect that they are close and With a simple press of a button on your screen the AirPods will be linked not only to the Apple phone, but also ready to work on any device Share your same iCloud account. You will not need to repeat the process with the iPad, the Mac or any other Apple device, because it will be ready to work. Did I say any device? False, because Apple TV inexplicably does not share this automatic configuration, something inexplicable and hopefully it will be solved with a simple software update.

The Apple TV is currently suffering the same fate as any other non Apple device: compatible but without magic. You can link the AirPods to any device compatible with Bluetooth headphones, either Android or any other system. To link it you must press the button on the back of the box and repeat the usual procedure with any such headset.

Sound quality good, but not excellent

It is undoubtedly one of the most controversial points of these headphones. Those who say that for that price (€ 179) there are headphones with higher sound quality than the AirPods are right, and if this is the feature you are looking for in headphones, these are not your goal. But we are talking about headphones that combine technology and sound in a really small size, with an enviable autonomy leaning on its charger case. If we combine all the elements we will not find a similar product in the market at that price, and that when we talk about a company always associated with expensive products such as Apple, it is at least surprising.

But nobody wrong, we talk about headphones with good sound quality. It has been said on many occasions that the quality is the same as that of the Lightning EarPods, which is outright false. AirPods are heard better than EarPods, their variant with cable. It shows especially in the bass, and it shows that you can hear nuances of music that with the EarPods you do not perceive with the same clarity. Compared to other wireless headphones that I have the quality is superior, including the Plantronics BackBeat and The Dash headphones from Bragi.

The active noise cancellation that manages the W1 chip works quite well, and although the headphones do not completely seal the ear canal, listening to music in noisy environments is not a problem, without having to increase the volume and thus taking care of the health of our ears. Another noteworthy aspect is the hands-free function, with a good microphone that captures your conversation well even if it is away from our mouth, even in noisy environments.

More magic: change device with one click

The magic of the AirPods is not limited to its configuration, which after all is something you only do once, but you will notice it every day when using them with different devices. Switching from one device to another is simple, as simple as opening the audio options of the device in question and choosing your AirPods. Forget the tedious task of deactivating the Bluetooth of a device to be able to link like another, having to reconfigure the connection … None of that is necessary because the change is fast and almost transparent to the user. Especially it shows with the Apple Watch, with which it will not be necessary to choose the AirPods, because once they connect to the iPhone they will also do it to the Apple Watch.

Physical controls? Siri is your friend

This is one of the points to improve by Apple: the controls. Currently we can only choose between Siri or the play / pause options when double tapping on the AirPods. A pity that the sensors of these headphones have not been used more to be able to raise and lower the volume or to pass of song without having to resort to Siri. You can do everything thanks to the virtual assistant of Apple, but there are situations in which talking with your virtual assistant is not a possibility, or it is very rare. And if you don't have an internet connection, forget about using those Siri controls.

After using headphones like The Dash for a while, I really miss those touch controls or using head gestures. At this point we are not yet very familiar with Siri in the most basic tasks, and although it may be common for a while to go down the street and listen to people talk to Siri or Cortana, at the moment it is strange. Let's cross our fingers for Apple to solve this with a simple software update, because the potential is there.

Magic and technology at price content

Apple AirPods mark the birth of a new product with great potential and that in its first version has great qualities, such as its autonomy, its ease of configuration and handling, its good sound quality and its compact design. With all this the price of € 179 seems more than adequate for a product of this type, especially when we see the higher prices of competition with products, in most cases, lower in performance. The AirPods will undoubtedly mark the way forward for many manufacturers from now on, and the first step towards the complete absence of cables in our devices.

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