One of the biggest outrages of 2016 wasn’t the shock election win of Donald Trump; it was the shock decision by Apple to remove the headphone jack from their new iPhone 7 devices. Justified by the tech giant as a push toward wireless technology, users still wanting to listen via archaic wired headphones would be forced to use one of Apple’s proprietary lighting connectors. It was an unpopular choice that was invariably described as “user-hostile and stupid,” and a decision made for “terrible reasons.”
However, redemption might be in store. Apple’s official AirPod wireless headphones were initially meant to accompany the release of the iPhone 7 back in September, though months of delays mean they’re arriving only in time for Christmas. Described by Apple as a listening experience that has been “finally untangled,” the buds look identical to the ubiquitous white EarPods that have shipped with Apple devices for years—except, of course, without a cable connecting the left and right earbuds.
Available for $159 in retail stores next week, the AirPods represent the first device from Apple to support its new W1 chip, technology that uses sensors to detect when one or both pods are in a listener’s ears, routing audio accordingly. They’re fitted with a microphone for making calls and are packaged with a charging case that also functions as a pocketable storage unit and battery booster, adding three hours to the standard five-hour battery life.
“OK, AirPods look ridiculous,” CNET confirmed in its review rundown this week. “I don’t know why Apple put that weird tail on them, except maybe for an antenna, or to make the microphones better… Even after months getting used to them, they seem weird.”
Nonetheless, the AirPods have been getting some good reviews and positive responses, with Rolling Stone making a case for them this week and describing them as “pretty f**king cool.”
“The AirPods by far clock the quickest time from out of the box to fully functioning of any [Bluetooth] device we’ve ever used,” Rolling Stone writes, advocating their wireless efficiency.
“Immediately you can start playing music from your phone, and low [sic] and behold it sounds excellent—crisp and clear with a wide audio range that leans towards the treble end but has adequate bass (for a tiny earbud).”
Rolling Stone also emphasizes the cool factor of the artificial intelligence engineered inside the buds, which are compatible from the ground up with Siri voice assistance.
“Instead of grabbing your phone to chat with the virtual assistant you simply double-tap on the outside of either AirPod and you summon her powers.”
Do you think the AirPods justify killing the beloved headphone jack? Watch another review rundown below, courtesy of TechCrunch.