Apple released a new product just in time for the holidays. If you head to an Apple Store, Best Buy, or any of the wireless carrier stores, you could score a new set of AirPods for $159 (if they are in stock). Before you make the purchase, keep a few things in mind.
1. They last five hours and the case can recharge four times
Apple is using the W1 chip in the AirPods, which means the battery life is much better than you might expect. In my tests, they lasted all week for occasional use or about five hours. A sensor knows when you take them off and eventually they power down on their own. The AirPods also charge up quickly--after 15 minutes you can expect to listen for about three hours.
2. The build quality matches up with the included Apple earbuds
The actual earbud piece is not all that different from the EarPods included with the iPhone. That means the build quality is about the same--this product is not made for running or a workout, and there's no promise about water resistance. In my experience, the EarPods do tend to work if you're caught out in the rain and at least one teardown claims some water protection.
3. The earbuds stay put better without a wire
One reason I like the AirPods so much is that they tend to stay put in your ear, which is one advantage of using wireless earbuds. On wired earbuds, the wire tends to pull down a bit and can cause the earpiece to move around while you listen to music or make phone calls. Also, no cord means no tangles.
4. Watch out for interference
In a crowded coffee shop, I did notice some interference--my music stream stuttered a bit on only a song or two. This was likely because there were so many competing signals. (I made sure my music was downloaded locally.) Most wireless music products have some minor glitches on occasion, and Apple would say there isn't much you can do about interference in a public place.
5. You look a little weird
One minor gripe here. The design of the AirPods is trim, small, and they fit nicely in your ear and that's fine. Yet, a few people commented that the white pods with a small antenna pointing down looked a bit odd, almost like you're wearing earrings. Wearing one at a time mostly solves that problem since it is not as weird.
6. The sound quality is more distinct due to the tighter fit
In my review, I noted how the music sounds so distinct. That's the big selling point here and why I recommend them. There were some discoveries on some songs I've known for years, like a chirping sound in a song by How to Dress Well.