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.
Dual beam-forming microphones, dual optical sensors, accelerometer
Qi (Wireless Charging Case)
|Current firmware||2A364 G2 (September, 2019)|
0.65 x 0.71 x 1.59 in
(16.5 x 18.0 x 40.5 mm)
1.74 x 0.84 x 2.11 in
(44.3 x 21.3 x 53.5 mm)
0.14 ounces (4 g)
1.34 ounces (38 g)
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.
AirPods were announced on September 7, 2016 at an Apple Special Event alongside the iPhone 7 and Apple Watch Series 2. Apple originally planned to release the AirPods in late October, but the company delayed the release date. On December 13, 2016, Apple released the AirPods to be ordered online. They were available at Apple Stores, Apple Authorized Resellers, and select carriers on December 20.
On announcement day, AirPods were compared to Apple's previously existing EarPods (2012–present), with The Verge noting "They look... just like the old EarPods, with the wires cut off." Initially mocked by many for its unfamiliar design (including CNN asking "Would people actually wear these?" in 2016), its popularity grew rapidly over the years and was voted the most popular "hearable" brand of 2019.
Each AirPod weighs 0.14 oz (4 g), and its charging case weighs 1.34 oz (38 g). It holds a charge for about five hours, while charging the AirPods for 15 minutes in the case gives 3 hours of listening time. The charging case can charge the AirPods for a total of 24 hours of total usage. During a teardown, each AirPod was found to contain a 93 milliwatt hour battery in its stem, while the charging case was found to contain a 1.52 watt hour or 398 mAh at 3.81 V battery.
AirPods include the proprietary Apple W1 SoC, whose additional connectivity functions require devices running iOS 10, macOS Sierra, watchOS 3, or later. They can also function as standard Bluetooth headphones when connected to any device that supports Bluetooth 4.0 or higher, including Android devices.
2nd generation AirPods include an H1 processor which supports hands-free "Hey Siri", Bluetooth 5 connectivity and Apple claims 50% more talk time and faster device connection times. 2nd generation AirPods can be purchased with the same charging case as the 1st generation, or for an additional $40 with the Wireless Charging Case, which can be used with Qi chargers. The Wireless Charging Case can be purchased separately for $79 and is compatible with 1st generation AirPods.
AirPods are compatible with any device that supports Bluetooth 4.0 or higher, including Android devices, although certain features such as automatic switching between devices are only available on Apple devices using iCloud. AirPods have full functionality with the following devices:
- iPhone 5 or newer, running iOS 10 or later
- iPod Touch 6th generation or newer, running iOS 10 or later
- 2013 iPads (Air, Mini 2) or newer, running iOS 10 or later
- Macs running macOS Sierra or later
- Apple TV 4th generation or newer
- Apple Watch models running watchOS 3 or later
The 2nd generation AirPods are compatible with devices running iOS 12.2 or later, macOS 10.14.4 or later, or watchOS 5.2 or later.
Apple has a program to service batteries and purchase replacement individual AirPods and charging cases.
AirPods contain upgradeable firmware. Its original firmware was 3.3.1. In February 2017, Apple released 3.5.1, 3.7.2 in May 2017, and then 6.3.2 after on March 26, 2019. Latest firmware is 1A691 (G2). AirPods automatically sync through Apple's iCloud service allowing users to switch audio sources to other supported devices connected by the same Apple ID.
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.
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The latest AirPods firmware version [as of January 2018] is 3.7.2.
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One microphone is on the outside of the casing, below the acoustic port, and one at the bottom of the stem.
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- Your AirPods Will Die Soon: The surprisingly short life of new electronic devices. The Atlantic. 21 March 2019.
- Here's why your AirPods battery life is getting worse, and what you can do about it. Apple Insider. 11 March 2019.