Ever since Apple removed the headphone jack from their phones, user options have become limited to what true wireless headphones can offer.
Apple led the way with their AirPods, launched in 2016 to both excitement and ridicule. But are AirPods good quality? Or are there better options out there?
Let’s look at AirPods up close and judge them based on several quality metrics; how well they’re built, sound quality, as well as battery life.
AirPods are known for being compact and convenient. You can see that through how their design evolved over the years; beginning from the AirPods (1st generation) that were launched in 2016, to the 3rd generation that were launched last year.
The goal was to make a less bulky, more streamlined design that fits well inside the ears so it wouldn’t fall out, but still wasn’t too uncomfortable to wear for a long time.
The designers aced that concept with the regular AirPods (1, 2, and 3), giving the customer a very similar experience to their wired earpods without the hassle of wires. The 3rd generation by far is the most evolved, with shorter stems and an angled head to fit better in the ear.
The exception to this rule would be the AirPods Pro, which have a similar chassis but fit snugly inside the ear canal via silicone cups. This design serves the AirPods Pro’s active noise cancellation feature, but proves a bit uncomfortable after a while.
AirPods Build Quality
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When it comes to build quality, Airpods seem to have generally positive reviews. The minimalist, all-white aesthetic Apple is going for leaves very little room to mess up the execution of their designs.
That said, there were instances where customers received AirPods that were so badly built, other people on the internet thought they were fake!
This happened with the first batch of 3rd generation AirPods that were sent out right after the launch. Customers noticed separation between parts, jagged plastic edges, as well as creaking charging case hinges that moved sideways.
This issue was first noticed in Vietnamese-assembled units, but other customers soon found out the problem happened with Chinese-assembled units, as well.
After some social media backlash, Apple graciously replaced the faulty units with new ones upon customer request. However, no real apology or product recall happened, leading customers to believe this was nothing new for the company.
AirPods Sound Quality
Let’s put looks and build quality aside. As with all things, it’s what’s on the inside that matters. And for AirPods, there seems to have been a learning curve when it comes to sound quality.
Many will tell you that the 1st generation AirPods’ sound was nothing to write home about. Well, this is an understatement. AirPods usually get a bad rap because of the performance of their first run. However, Apple seems to be on its way to changing that reputation
Starting from the AirPods Pro, which saw a huge leap in sound quality that almost matched the leap in price, Apple seems to be appealing to audiophiles.
The louder sound, richer bass, and overall improvement in sound clarity are making AirPods Pro on par with larger, bulkier over-the-head headphones.
So much so, that when Apple released their actual over-the-head offering, the AirPods Max, they used the same type of chip and the same technology.
And even with the 3rd generation of AirPods, many people praised the spatial audio feature, although the headphones come with no active noise cancellation. So, yeah. AirPods sound great!
Do AirPod Batteries Last Long?
Apple seems to have picked up on customer complaints regarding battery life ever since the first iteration had a measly 2-hour talk time and about double that of music playback. This was pretty low, considering the price of the first launch compared to other Bluetooth headphones.
Compare that with the 4-hour talk time and almost 7 hours of music playback of the 3rd generation AirPods, and you’ve got yourself an absolute winner. This was game-changing for Apple, who definitely understood the assignment and delivered!
The charging case holds four more full charges, so if you carry it around, you’ve got yourself 35 hours of music playback and 20 hours of talk time. And with the current wireless charging compatibility, you’re more likely to have a fully-charged case with you.
Are AirPods good quality?
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Well, if you factor in things like design, sound quality, and battery life, you can tell that AirPods in their current form are much better quality than when they first came out. They are super versatile, well-built, and they pair great with Apple products, the iPhone and the iPad.
That said, there were a few hiccups that caused some customer distrust, especially when the launch of AirPods 3 was followed by reports of terrible build quality. However, it seems like Apple has all of this behind it now, as AirPods are more popular than ever.