Toggle Dark Mode
On September 7th, Apple held an event in San Francisco, where they introduced, among other things, the eagerly-awaited iPhone 7. The release, although exciting, has been controversial for almost a year now, in large part due to rumors that Apple would eliminate the standard 3.5mm headphone jack on the phone. Well, the rumors were true – the iPhone 7 and the iPhone 7 Plus have no 3.5mm headphone jack. In order to listen to music using headphones, users will have several options – use traditional headphones with the included 3.5mm to Lightning port adapter, use the included Lightning-enabled earbuds (or one of the hundreds of pairs of Lightning-compatible headphones on the market), use Bluetooth headphones, or a fourth option, buy a pair of Apple’s brand-new AirPods.
The AirPods, which have been rumored since this past April, offer some pretty impressive functionality. The AirPods charge in a custom charging case, and pair with the iPhone and Apple Watch incredibly easily – simply open the case in close proximity and tap the “connect” icon that appears on your device, and pairing occurs immediately. A proprietary “W1” chip inside the AirPods contains dual optical sensors and accelerometers that detect when each AirPod is in your ear – the “always on” AirPods will only play while in your ear, and pause when they’re taken out. According to Apple, “an additional accelerometer in each AirPod detects when you’re speaking, enabling a pair of beam-forming microphones to focus on the sound of your voice… filtering out external noise to make your voice sound clearer than ever before.” On top of that, a double tap on the AirPods will activate Siri for a variety of commands, including volume adjustment or track skipping. The AirPods will reportedly last an impressive five hours on a single charge, and the charging case offers an additional 24 hours of battery life before it, too, must be charged.
While the AirPods are indeed impressive little pieces of hardware, there are plenty of drawbacks that Apple has seemingly failed to address. Priced at $159, despite all of the impressive technology inside, the AirPods seem to simply be wireless versions of their stock EarPod headphones. Sound quality of the EarPods are notoriously unimpressive when compared to devices in a similar price range, and many complain about the “one-size-fits-all” fit of the EarPods – the reason why most earbuds ship with sets of different tips for different sized ears. That’s not to mention that the small size will certainly make misplacing one or both of your $159 AirPods very easy – the internet is already awash with jokes about lost AirPods, and they won’t even hit the shelves until later this fall.
Thievery will certainly also be a concern – the AirPods contain no security measures, and if one or both are stolen, you’re paying out of pocket for a new pair (note that Apple has claimed that you will be able to purchase a single AirPod if one is lost or stolen). The good news is that the AirPods do work with other Bluetooth-compatible devices, although Apple claims that the AirPods “just lose the magic (ease of setup, seamless transitioning from device-to-device, Siri, etc.) when not used with an Apple device.
Apple’s AirPods will be available later this fall, and will retail for $159 – no word on how much a single AirPod will cost.