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AirPods are the bestselling wireless earbuds.
If you live in a city, you can't walk two blocks
without spotting the iconic shape.
But their environmental impact has been called a "tragedy,"
and their sound quality isn't much better
than the earbuds Apple includes for free.
Why pay $159 when there are $30 earbuds
that claim to be just as good?
Just because they're the most ubiquitous
doesn't mean they're the best.
Let's start with what they get right.
AirPods work with other Apple products really well.
The W1 or newer H1 chip pairs instantly
and has less interference
compared to other wireless earbuds.
And features like taking out an AirPod to pause your music
or audio sharing are really useful.
But AirPods also have some huge flaws.
The biggest downside?
Their sound is just OK.
AirPods produce a perfectly average sound
that's clear in the mid-tones
and is good for podcasts
but doesn't pack much in the low end.
And because of their open design,
sound isolation is terrible.
There's also no noise cancellation,
so you'll be stuck hearing traffic or crowds around you.
The Jabra Elite 65Ts produce much better sound
at about the same price.
Even budget alternatives
like the $80 Anker Soundcore earbuds
offer just-as-good sound for half the price.
You might think you can put up with the sound quality,
but there's one issue you can't avoid:
the battery life.
Five hours on a single charge sounds great on paper.
But since their release three years ago,
there have been numerous reports
of decreased battery capacity.
And often the battery capacity of one AirPod
will deteriorate faster than the other,
leaving you with an uneven charge.
In March, AppleInsider compared AirPods from 2016
to a new pair from 2018.
It found that after one hour of listening, the older pair
had 52% and 19% less battery in each bud
compared to the newer pair.
Apple seems to be aware of this issue.
It even offers a special battery-repair service.
But that costs $49 to $69 per AirPod.
If your charging case is having battery issues,
that's another $49 to $69.
Out of warranty, replacing each bud and the case
costs $38 more than a brand-new pair.
The short battery lifespan might force you
to buy new AirPods after two or three years.
Even if your battery still holds a charge,
you might have to replace your AirPods
after getting caught in the rain,
because unlike competing earbuds,
AirPods have no water resistance.
Apple doesn't even advertise sweat resistance.
It's a real bummer to worry if your $159 earbuds
will survive some light rain.
But the broader impact of all of this
is much more serious.
AirPods are a waste nightmare.
iFixit gives AirPods
a 0/10 repairability score.
That means if something breaks
or your battery isn't holding a charge,
your only option is to replace it with a new unit.
Apple's repair is really just a replacement.
All electronics create waste,
but the short lifespan of AirPods means waste is created
much faster than it is with something like a laptop.
And this will likely get worse as AirPods
and other wireless earbuds become more popular.
But doesn't Apple put a lot of focus on recycling?
Yes, and they do offer a program
where you can send in your AirPods to get them recycled.
Which is great.
More companies should do this.
But most people don't know that this exists
or won't bother to do it.
Those dead AirPods will sit for years in your drawer
or a landfill.
Now, you might be thinking
that some water protection or noise cancellation
would increase the price.
It might. But one thing Apple could have included for free?
More customization.
AirPods have several double-tap functions
that you can set for each individual bud,
like play/pause or next track.
But other functions require you to use "Hey Siri."
So if you want to adjust your volume
without taking out your phone,
you have to assign one of two double-tap options to Siri
and then ask the voice assistant to lower the volume.
But depending on where you are,
this isn't always possible or convenient.
AirPods would be a lot more useful
if they added single-tap functions to each ear.
If you're a diehard AirPods fan,
you might be typing a comment about how AirPods
aren't the only wireless earbuds that have these issues.
You're right.
But with AirPods, you're paying a premium
for mediocre features and quality
just to be part of the Apple ecosystem.
AirPods integrate seamlessly with other Apple devices
and are well built.
But that doesn't automatically make them worth the price.
Removing the headphone jack
forces consumers towards expensive options
that have to be replaced more frequently
than wired headphones.
A lot of consumers would be better off
with a cheaper alternative.
And the environment would be better off
with a more sustainable one.
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Everything Wrong With AirPods | Untangled

579 Folder Collection
Mackenzie published on August 20, 2019    Angus translated    Evangeline reviewed
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