So I thought I’d spend 30 minutes on a cold and lazy Sunday afternoon in Melbourne doing a little bit of a public service.
I’ve long admired Apple for its vision, its focus on customer experience and its design principles, although since Steve Jobs’ passing, this vision appears to be waning. Tim Cook’s leadership is on par with Steve Ballmer’s at Microsoft — more about optimising the share price in the short term. The Apple Watch and more recently, Apple Airpods, to my mind at least — fell way below the mark.
If you’re contemplating buying a pair, then you might want to consider the following 8 reasons why I think my Apple Airpods suck!
1. For AU$230, the sound quality is on par with the stock Apple headphones you can buy for AU$20. The fact that you can get high quality headphones from legitimate audio electronics companies like Bose for the price of Airpods also makes them pale in comparison.
2. They fall out of my ears which means I need to pay even more to buy eartips. Funnily enough, Apple doesn’t manufacture these because according to them, everybody has the same size ears.
3. Because of said eartips:
a) the ‘tap to summon Siri’ function doesn’t work well
b) the Airpods often don’t detect that they’re in my ears so they don’t turn on
c) the Airpods often don’t detect that they’ve been removed from my ears so they keep playing
4. Because of the eartips, they don’t connect to the charger which means you need to remove the eartips every time you want to charge and put them back on when ready to wear. A minor inconvenience sure but one that, in an age of heightened customer experience expectations, isn’t good enough.
5. There’s no volume control or pause button on the Airpods which means that you either need to pull out your phone (something I’m trying to do less of these days) or talk to Siri in public (still awkward for most). A discreet tap on your standard headphone control is a more elegant solution that didn’t need to go anywhere.
6. Sometimes I don’t get a solid stream to whatever I’m listening to as the Bluetooth signals annoyingly drops in and out (I have an iPhoneX, a 4G connection and live/work in Melbourne’s CBD).
7. They’re easy to lose, although if I lost mine, I probably wouldn’t miss them. In fact, I’ve already got my eye (or ears?) on some competing wireless headphones.
8. The battery life sucks. They’re advertised as having 5 hour battery life (which compared to other headphones on the market, which in some cases have 20+ hours battery life, is not good enough to begin with), but I don’t seem to get any more than 3 hours battery out of my Airpods.
Most of these inconveniences wouldn’t matter but for a price tag of AU$230, I felt compelled to write this article. If it means one less person gets what can be considered nothing less than ripped off then it was worth my time.
It really boggles my mind that a company with a market cap of US$915B and 123,000 employees can get something so simple so wrong, and that year after year, they seem to just keep losing sight of the customer. Don’t even get me started on the removal of headphone jacks, USB jacks and the jungle of adapters that is my desktop.
So if you’ve still got your eyes on a pair, consider yourself warned. Rant over.
PS. Apple fanboys and girls, I welcome your disparaging comments.