Apple AirPods FAQ: Your Questions, Answered

BY Gautam Prabhu

Published 22 Dec 2016

AirPods FAQ

After several delays and a long wait, I finally got a chance to check out Apple’s AirPods.

Evan wrote about his first impressions and the excellent review, so here’s a follow-up article where I hope to cover everything there is to know about the AirPods in an FAQ format.

What’s the difference between the AirPods and EarPods?

Other than the obvious difference, AirPods are wireless whereas as EarPods are wired, the AirPods are noticeably bigger even though design wise they look quite similar, especially the stem. The AirPods also come with a lot more openings compared to the EarPods. I will update the post when I get more information about what each of them is meant for.

AirPods vs EarPods

Do they fit the same as Apple’s EarPods?

I have never been a big fan of Apple’s EarPods. They have the tendency to fall out of my ears if I am not too careful, so I was quite concerned the same thing would happen with the AirPods. Surprisingly, AirPods seem to fit the ears a lot better. The fact that they’re slightly bigger probably helps, but the biggest difference is the lack of wires that probably don’t exert the force to make them fall out. I have even tried headbanging to see if they fall off, but they have stayed in my ears. People have apparently played tennis and danced with them but they haven’t fallen off their ears as well. They’re also so light that there have been times, I have had to check my ear to figure if I am still using them.

But having said that, I don’t believe the universal design of the AirPods will be comfortable for everyone. If you don’t find EarPods too comfortable, then there is a high chance you won’t find AirPods too comfortable either.

Can you lose AirPods easily?

When Apple unveiled the AirPods for the first time, the first thing that came to my mind was that I will end up losing them quite easily. However, the small charging case that comes with the AirPods, is a perfect companion for the AirPods. It is small enough to carry them around in your pocket and keep them charged. You won’t lose them if you get into the habit of putting them in the charging case. In fact, since we can’t

If you do end up losing one of them, then you can get a replacement from Apple for $69, which isn’t as bad as buying a new one for $159.

How do you pair the AirPods with your iPhone?

The seamless integration of the AirPods with iOS devices is just brilliant. Initially, I made the mistake of trying to see how the pairing works by removing them from their case, which was a mistake. They need to be in the charging case to pair them with your iPhone. When you open the AirPods charging case for the first time and bring them near your unlocked iPhone, the Pairing screen appears, and all you have to do is tap on the Connect button to pair it with your iPhone. The best part is, it automatically pairs your AirPods with all your iOS devices that are signed in with the same iCloud account.

AirPods and iPhone Pairing

How do you pair with non-iOS devices like Android devices?

The pairing with non-iOS 10 devices to be accurate, is not as seamless, but it is quite simple. You need to press the button in the front of the charging case until the light blinks, and then go to the Bluetooth settings and choose AirPods.

Will someone else be able to pair my AirPods with their iPhone?

Once your AirPod is paired with your iPhone and hence your iCloud account, the pairing process for any other iOS device which is signed in with a different iCloud account will be the same as the process for non-iOS devices.

Can I use just one AirPod at a time?

Yes, you can use just one AirPod at a time. Your iPhone will switch over to a mono mixdown so you hear both sides of any stereo audio.

You could use it as a workaround to use the AirPods for a longer time by using them one at a time.

What is AirPods Battery life?

Apple claims that AirPods deliver 5 hours of listening time on one charge. Thanks to the charging case you can get more than 24 hours of listening time.

How fast do the AirPods charge with the included charging case?

You can get 3 hours of listening time by charging your AirPods in the charging case for just 15 minutes.

How do I find out AirPods and the Charging case’s charge status?

There are several of ways to check the charge status of the AirPods, and a couple of ways to check the charge status of the charging case.

When you open the case, the light shows the charge status of the AirPods when they’re in the case, or charge status of the case when the AirPods are not in the case. Green light means the AirPods or the case is fully charged, orange light means they’re not fully charged.

AirPods Charging Case Charge Status

Alternatively, when you open the case, you will see a popup on your iPhone, which shows you the charge status of the AirPods and the case if they’re in the case.

AirPods Charging Case Charge Status on iPhone

You can also check the charge status of the AirPods by adding the Batteries widget in the Today View.

How do you increase the volume with the AirPods?

The only way to increase the volume of the AirPods is by double-tapping on the step to invoke Siri and asking it to increase the volume. That’s not great as it means it interrupts what you’re listening to. If you want to avoid that, you will have to increase the volume using your iPhone.

Is there a way to Play/Pause music with the AirPods?

There are few ways to Play/Pause music with your AirPods. When you take any of the AirPods from the ear, it automatically pauses the music. It works the same way as unplugging the EarPods from the iPhone.

The same way, if you’re playing music on your iPhone, and you put the AirPods in your ear, it will start playing the music out of the AirPods. If you’re not playing music, nothing happens.

You can also use double-tap on the stem to invoke Siri, and ask it to play or pause music.

You can also change the default configuration by going to the AirPods Settings (tap on the info icon next to the AirPods in the Bluetooth settings), to play/pause music instead of invoking Siri when you double-tap the stem.

AirPods iPhone Bluetooth Settings

How is the sound quality of the AirPods?

From Evan’s review, the AirPods sound better than the EarPods, at least as far as I’ve noticed. There’s a bit more range present, and the bass is certainly more noticeable. But, just to be clear here, these aren’t going to impress the audiophiles out there — just like the EarPods generally don’t, either.

However, for the price of the AirPods, and their truly wireless design, it’s more than just serviceable. They sound good. They get really, really loud if you want them to, which is a good thing when blocking out the rest of the world is what you’re looking for.

That doesn’t really carry over with phone calls, though. I made a few calls, and while I didn’t get any complaints from the people I spoke with on how I sounded, they sounded like they were in a tunnel, or something similar. And, for what it’s worth, you can answer a phone call by double-tapping the stem of an AirPod. You end the call in the same way.

Siri, on the other hand, is loud and clear.

I would agree with Evan’s assessment, though I didn’t face the issue that he reported about the call quality. I found the call quality relatively good.

How do I answer calls on the AirPods?

You can double-tap the stem to answer calls just like you do to invoke Siri.

It is disappointing that I can’t use basic voice commands like answer call or decline call, which would have been more convenient. Siri only informs you who is calling when you get a call.

Can I decline or answer calls with Voice commands?

You cannot use voice commands to answer calls on the AirPods. It is one of the problems that Apple has with Siri, and the way it needs to be invoked. It is one of the useful features of my Plantronics headset.

Does Siri work without an internet connection?

Unfortunately, Siri doesn’t work without an internet connection. Apple should have at least allowed the basic playback controls without an internet connection.

What inside the box?

The box includes the AirPods in the charging case (of course), along with a quick start guide in the usual Designed by Apple in California envelope, and a Lightning cable.

What’s the range and the reliability of AirPod’s Bluetooth connection?

The range of the AirPods is quite good thanks to Apple’s custom W1 chip. It isn’t clear if the AirPods are Class 1 or Class 2 Bluetooth devices as Class 1 have a range of 100 meters approx 328 feet, and Class 2 have a range of 10 meters or 33 feet. There are speculations that the W1 chip is Class 1 though I doubt it as Apple would have definitely marketed it as a feature. I am able to walk around in my house without losing the connection.

The connection has also been quite stable and I haven’t had to pair them again manually. But it is probably too early to comment about it.

Are the AirPods water-resistant?

Apple doesn’t say if AirPods are water-resistant or waterproof, so I haven’t tried to test it, but the AirPods and its charging case survived a full wash cycle and even a water immersion test without any issues.

Do you like them?

From the AirPods review, the AirPods are a typical first-generation product from Apple, for better or worse. Being an early adopter has its moments, but at the same time if someone said they wanted to wait for the next iteration of the company’s truly wireless earphones, to see if Apple adds more features to the mix, I don’t think I’d blame them.

At the same time, I’m generally happy with the first attempt. Not having media playback controls, or volume controls, is annoying, and I think it’s a dumb oversight on Apple’s part –especially considering the majority of the competition features this — but it is what it is. Everything else about the AirPods is great, so I can overlook these things for now.

Of course, that could change at some point down the line, and I could get annoyed at having to still pull my phone out of my pocket just to change songs a month or two from now. As it stands right now, though, I think it might be worth the (little) annoyance.

If you want to stick with Apple’s ecosystem, and you want earphones that pair easily, with good-enough sound and a lightweight design, the AirPods are worth checking out.

If you’ve any more questions. Please feel free to drop me a line in the comments.