First impression – two days with Apples Airpods

Hey Everyone, if you feel a little bit lazy today, feel free to “listen” to my short review on the Apple Airpods:

Are the Airpods comfortable to wear?

Two days ago I picked up a pair of Apples bluetooth powered in-ear Airpods. Although the form-factor is somewhat special, they fit me well and are very comfortable. Of course this very much depends on the shape of your ears – and that changes dramatically over time. A few years ago I tried on some of Apples headphones and they did not fit me at all. Yet, these are just right for me and I barely sense wearing them at all.

On of the things I love about the in-ears is that they do not completely shut out all of the sounds around me. I don’t like it very much when I cannot hear anything at all. Especially while being on the streets (busy traffic) or in the other extreme, when I am at home and it is quite anyway.

Let’s talk about sound quality

Now this is where I need to make a very clear distinction between calls and listening to music. Apparently, the Airpods use different sound protocols to transfer both types of sound to the headset. A stereo sound for music and a mono-low quality sound for calls.

Music sounds great on these simple little buds. Of course they do not deliver the same quality of sound as my Bang & Olufsen over-ears, but the sound is decent to say the least. The mids are probably strongest and the bass is not too overwhelming, which I personally like.

As much as I love my new Airpods, I have to admit one thing: the calling sound quality is below par.

Now when it comes to calling someone (on the phone, facetime, whatsapp or any other type of messenger), the quality is a different story. It is very disappointing to say the least. I have read a dozen or so reviews by others who have experienced the same thing. Namely, there is a lot of white noise and a slight hissing sound when talking to someone on the phone.

This is my main purpose for the Airpods and I love the fact that I can speak with just one of them in either one of my ears, but the hissing noise is very annoying. I do hope that this is something that can be updated by Apple through an over the air software update. These buds can do a lot better than that what you get when calling someone. The same goes for Siri – it just sounds crap. Full-stop.

Would I recommend them?

I think that it is good that there are people like myself who “try things out” and feedback the first mover product before it reaches the masses. Airpods are great, but the poor sound quality on calls really makes me second guess whether I would recommend them to someone or not. I guess it depends a lot on your personal usecase. I will keep them for now though and hope that this feedback will reach the right people who can make a difference at Apple to fix this.

Ten years ago I already ran around with a single ear Sennheiser bluetooth  headset and I cannot recall the calling quality 100% anymore, but I think it was better than what Apple offers us today. That sort of feels askew to me.

Two weeks later

Alright it has been two weeks and I am still wearing my Apple Airpods. I have to be honest, they are growing on me. I have tested them out now in a number of busy environments and they worked really well. Not a lot of complaints so from from “people on the other side of the line”.

As far as the calling quality is concerned, I have started using VOIP-calling more. The quality is just better. If you would like to find out how it went while using them in the gym, listen to the 03:30 min. podcast below.

Remco Livain
I’m a digital entrepreneur, online performance marketeer, founder and CEO of the digital innovation consultancy GANDT Ventures (based in Switzerland). We support organizations (SMBs, corporates and later stage ventures) in their digital efforts. I learned the trades of the (online) business at Venture Stars (MIFLORA), Rocket Internet (Westwing Home and Living) and Insparx (C-Date and be2).

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