There’s no such thing as an ‘AirPods competitor’ in my world anymore. There are only two types of earphones: truly wireless or AirPods. Let me explain why and light some fires along the way.
I got my AirPods quite a while back, and it was as simple as opening the charging case right next to my iPhone, tap on ‘Connect’ in a pop-up window and I was done pairing. But that’s not all, the AirPods were available on my Mac, iPad and even my Apple Watch. A very, very seamless experience. Didn’t even have to press a button to get things going.
I didn’t even have to bother with individual earpieces to make some sort of feature work either. If I wanted to use the right earphone or the left one only, I don’t have to think twice and recall the manual if it was even possible. You can use both earphones (left or right) individually. Heck, you can even bring up Siri by double tapping on either one of the earphones. Again, don’t have to think about, or recall, which earphone triggered what feature.
The competition, on the other hand, requires you to properly read the manual before you get to some sort of grips regarding what sort of fragmented features you are getting. Then, it asks you to take the earphones out of the case. Then, it asks you to press and hold a specific button on one of the earphones to start the pairing process. It goes further (in some cases) and even asks you to press the second button on the other earphone. You now start to see blinking lights meaning that you are ready to pair.
When you are done pairing, a new set of problems take flight.
What if you want to switch between devices? You can’t do it like the AirPods. You have to start the pairing process all over again for the new device. I get it, at this point readers are going to scream at me and say straight away: but the AirPods have the advantage of the W1 chip, don’t give the third-parties that much hate. That’s exactly what makes the AirPods, AirPods.
If the above problems weren’t enough already, there are many truly wireless earphones out there that don’t let you use any single earpiece for listening to music or talking on the phone. Either it’s only the left one or the right. So, let’s say, if your truly wireless earphones allow you to only use the right earphone individually, you can’t jump over to the left one at all if the battery runs out on the right one. You have to put it back in the case, wait for the right earphone to charge and start over again. Truly wireless, yes. Freedom? No.
Speaking of the case, Apple’s charging case just works. Never has it failed me in any way. It says right there on the tin that you shove the AirPods inside and they will start charging. That’s exactly what they do. Competition? Big, chunky, lots of battery life (which is not bad) but with tons of user-experience sacrifices. For example: poor charging connectors in a lot of instances that easily goes loose. Many options even ask you to drop in the earphones in a specific way inside the case in a very careful manner before they even start to charge.
I can burn truly wireless earphones to the ground easily in a lot of ways, but my point here is a simple one: the AirPods is a complete and seamless experience and you have to offer similar experiences if you are going to call your product an ‘AirPods competitor.’ Even though the AirPods have the W1 chip built right in, no one out there has been able to recreate the same experience even on their own platform. From the pairing process to listening and charging, I don’t sense any ‘AirPods competition’ vibes in any of the truly wireless options I’ve tested so far. They’re frustrating to say the least and work best if you are sticking to one device only.
Everything else I wanted to say is summed up nicely in this tweet by Vlad Savov from The Verge:
AirPods in the context of their 2018 competition: everything is bigger, heavier, and more expensive. Two years after their release, competition is still catching up. pic.twitter.com/uDeh6fbmD3
— Vlad Savov (@vladsavov) February 10, 2019
Feeling triggered? Change my mind in the comments section below!