Apple AirPods are the new wireless earphones for your iPhone or iPad, but where can you buy them in the UK, how much do they cost and do Airpods work with Android mobile phones? And more importantly, are they actually any good? Here’s all you need to know about Apple AirPods.
Apple has taken a big step towards its totally wireless future by releasing the wire-free AirPods earphones. These are two independent earphones that pop snuggly into your lug-holes, to offer battery-powered listening and voice recognition.
The critical reception of Apple’s AirPods has been rather mixed, as the earphones have plenty of positives but also a fair few negatives. And as they’re rather pricey here in the UK and in other countries, purchasing them can be a tricky decision. That’s why we’ve compiled this all-you-need-to-know AirPods guide, so you’re fully informed before commiting to Apple’s wireless ear buddies.
Apple AirPods UK price
The Apple AirPods are a cool new technology for the company so, as you’d expect, they’re not cheap. You’ll need to splash out a hefty £159 to snap up a pair of these, which includes the wireless charging case and a Lightning-to-USB cable to charge the case’s built-in battery (which in turn charges the AirPods).
Lose any part of the setup, be it an earpiece or the charging case itself, and you’re a bit stuck really. Bearing in mind that’s easy to do with them all wirelessly separate, you might want to consider adding insurance to that price tag too.
Where can I buy AirPods in the UK?
You can of course buy the AirPods direct from Apple, either through its website or in one of the many Apple stores springing up across the UK.
Alternatively, you can also pick up the AirPods from O2, again for £159. You can order online direct through O2’s website, with free home delivery.
Apple Airpods setup process: How do I pair my earphones with my iPhone, iPad and other Apple devices?
One of the great advantages of AirPods over other wireless headphones is their simple connectivity with Apple devices. Hold them and the charging case near one of your Apple gadgets and they’ll automatically pair using NFC, then instantly work across your other Apple devices, including Watches, Mac computers and iPads. It’s all perfectly seamless, thanks to iCloud.
Apple AirPods: Do they work with Android devices?
AirPods do indeed work with Android phones and other devices, but the experience isn’t so seamless and user-friendly.
AirPods can be connected to Android devices, as well as computers, just like you can pair up normal Bluetooth headphones. But you’ll need to pair them the old fashioned way, by finding them in your device’s BT settings. You also won’t get access to all of the best AirPod features, while battery life may also suffer if not used with Apple devices.
How good is the battery life of Apple AirPods?
AirPod battery life is good, but it can also be great. Thanks to the wireless charging case you can go for up to 24 hours between charges, or so claims Apple.
Your AirPods will last for five hours on a charge when connected with an iPhone 7, with other less optimised devices lowering that. But pop them back in the case and a 15-minute charge will offer three more hours of use, totalling 24 hours in all before the case also runs out of juice. Not bad at all then, presuming you’re using an iPhone 7.
Apple AirPods are more than just wireless earphones
One of the really fun features of the AirPods is the way they work. They’re ‘always on’ and so always connected. As a result, all you need to do is pop them in your lugholes to listen. Infrared sensors let them know when they’re in your ears and ready for action. And if you drop from two to one when using them with an iPhone, it’ll switch from stereo to mono so you get the complete audio experience in that one ear.
When you want to skip track, change volume or ask Siri something, you just double tap an AirPod’s external surface. Thanks to motion sensors it’ll react immediately, allowing you to verbally request a command – and this is accurate too, thanks to the built-in smart mics (see below).
Do the Apple AirPods have voice recognition and Siri support?
Voice commands with the AirPods is a super smart experience thanks to beamforming built-in mics, which work with the motion sensors to detect when you’re talking. This can then filter out background noise to offer the best possible voice recognition and audio quality, ideal for both Siri controls and for calls.
All these smarts and sensors are run by Apple’s M1 chip, developed specifically for the AirPods. That means smart controls while also offering the most efficient use of battery.
Are the Apple AirPods good for exercise?
The Apple AirPods design has been the subject of much debate. Some enjoy the minimalism and style, while others have called them ugly, cheap and basic. It comes down to personal preference. What doesn’t, however, is their fit.
While the AirPods sit snugly in most ears. there are no options to change earbuds for a different size of fit. So if these don’t comfortably lodge in your ears, bad luck. They should sit fine for day to day use, in most people’s case, but don’t expect them to remain in place while running.
It’s a shame since the price tag is so high, meaning most people will need to spend even more if they want running headphones too. That’s a double shame when you consider these work with the Apple Watch, which could let you run with music minus your phone.
AirPods vs EarPods: Is there a difference in sound quality?
Despite being newer, the Apple AirPods are reportedly the same as Apple’s EarPods in terms of sound quality. That’s not bad, but not great either.
Expect a decent amount of bass, but not heavy boom. These replicate AAC audio, says Apple, but won’t necessarily blow you away. That fit, with plastic earpieces that don’t mould to the ear, may be part of the issue – meaning more background noise bleeding in. The lofry asking price makes this issue more of a problem for those seeking higher quality audio reproduction.
If these were run friendly, the quality issue may have been more easily overlooked. But since AirPods are for day-to-day use, sound quality is a seriously important feature for many.
Apple AirPods review: Are they worth the money?
We’re working on our in-depth AirPods review right now, testing them for several weeks to make sure they’re worth your time and money.
However, in the meantime you can check out our full AirPods unboxing and hands-on review to see the AirPods in action.
AirPods alternatives: What other earphones work with the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus?
Although Apple has ditched the headphone jack for the new iPhones, you still get a Lightning-to-3.5mm adapter in the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus box. That means you can actually connect any earphones or headphones that you already own to Apple’s mobiles.
Of course, you can also hook up any Bluetooth headset or headphones too, if you like the idea of going wireless.
Check out our guide to the best earphones for the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus for more ideas of AirPods alternatives, and a more in-depth look at audio on the latest iPhones.