Apple AirPods First Impressions: Great in All the Right Ways but One

BY Evan Selleck

Published 20 Dec 2016

Apple’s truly wireless AirPods are here. After a delayed release, were they worth the wait?

There’s a movie that stars Ryan Reynolds, along with plenty of other great actresses/actors, that released many years ago. It’s called Definitely, Maybe, and, right at the very beginning, it had its most memorable moment for me: truly wireless earphones. Reynolds’s character slips each one into his ears and goes about his business, as a musical number plays over the scene.

Ever since that moment, I’ve wanted truly wireless earphones. That was way back in 2008.

Technically, there have been wireless headphones for awhile now, but we’re really starting to see a push into the truly wireless frontier. A variety of different companies have options out there, from small name startups to bigger brands, and we’ll likely see the effort get an even bigger push in the years to come.

Apple’s now fully engrossed in that idea with its AirPods. The company put them up for sale last week, and while in-store stock was at a premium beginning yesterday, they were technically available for those who stood in line. Early online orders started arriving yesterday, too, and I was lucky enough to be bunched up in that group — despite having an initial arrival date of tomorrow.

So, I’ve been using them. I went through my normal daily routine, with work, and picking up kids, and errands, and whatever else in between that came up. Which included picking up even more presents for the holidays. First and foremost I wanted to see how comfortable the AirPods were as replacements to the wired EarPods. Could they work as a replacement?

The short of it, is, yes. Keep in mind that this is just an early impression, but the AirPods do sound a bit better than the EarPods. They are louder, and the bass is a bit more noticeable. They still sound like one would expect, considering their price, but it’s not awful by any means. They get the job done.

I’ll just roll with the positives here, as far as first use cases go. Not having to deal with wires is great. Any kind of wires. I’ve used the wrap-around wireless headphones in the past, and I just wasn’t a fan. Being able to just pocket the AirPods, pull them out and put them in, and repeat as necessary, is fantastic.

And they’re comfortable, too. I know that this will be different for each person –some folks just don’t think the EarPods are comfortable– but for me, these things feel light as a feather, but they fit nice and snug, too. I did a quick workout with them in place, and I never had them fall out.

Switching between devices is great, too. Being able to quickly listen to a YouTube video playing on the iPad, Spotify on the iPhone, or another video on my MacBook is basically seamless. This is an Apple product, through-and-through. It just works.

But, and this is a glaring issue: media playback controls and volume controls. Or, to be specific, the lack of physical options on the AirPods themselves. This is obviously a facet of the AirPods that’s been talked about since their unveiling, and it’s a real issue.

Apple wants me to be wireless, which is great! But making me wireless while also forcing me to either talk to Siri in public places just to control volume or song selection, or still have to pull out my phone to do those things is dumb. That’s it. It’s just dumb. Add to that the fact that you can, at least, double-tap the AirPods to Play/Stop music, but that it means you sacrifice accessing Siri at all, is equally dumb.

I wish this was something that could change with these first-generation products, but, if it isn’t, Apple absolutely has to add it in the next iteration. As positive as everything else is about these truly wireless earphones, these missing controls are equally aggravating.

But this is just one day. I don’t necessarily expect anything to change a great deal here, but there needs to be some more time spent with them before a final opinion can be made. As it stands right now, I’m generally happy with the AirPods, so that’s a good thing.

Did you get your AirPods yet? If so, what do you think of them so far? Are you still waiting to receive yours in the mail, or are you hoping to find them in a store this week?