Brief description of the AirPods
AirPods are wireless Bluetooth earbuds created by Apple. They were first released on December 13, 2016. The product’s second iteration, with improved battery life, was released on March 20, 2019. AirPods are Apple’s most popular accessory product, with 35 million units sold in 2018 alone.
In addition to playing audio, AirPods feature a built-in microphone that filters out background noise, which allows taking phone calls and talking to Apple’s digital assistant, Siri. Additionally, built-in accelerometers and optical sensors mean that AirPods can detect taps (e.g. double-tap to pause audio) and in-ear placement, which enables automatic pausing when they are taken out of the ears.
On March 20, 2019, Apple released the second generation AirPods, which feature the H1 chip and hands-free “Hey Siri” support. An optional wireless charging case was added in the offerings. Apple claims that the new AirPods have 50% more talk time over the 1st generation AirPods, which were discontinued on the same day.
One criticism of AirPods is their high price (about $150); however, at launch they were actually priced less than most “true wireless” earbuds on the market (e.g. the Samsung Gear IconX and Bragi Dash) and remain competitively priced with similar products from other major brands.
Another criticism is the perceived tendency to fall out of one’s ear; however, testing by Business Insider has shown that it is quite unlikely for this to happen during normal use for most ear types.
Another prominent criticism was an issue that caused the charging case battery to deplete at a rapid rate despite the AirPods not being used. Users were reporting upwards of 30% idle discharge per day. In response, Apple upgraded the AirPods’ firmware to version 3.5.1, which addressed connectivity and battery drain issues.
The Lithium-ion batteries in AirPods can see significant degradation over time, with two-year-old sets lasting for less than half of the advertised five hours.