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Apple's AirPods may be the best Bluetooth earbuds for Android

I picked up a pair of AirPods last week, and have been using them with my iPhone, Mac and other Apple devices. The experience is fantastic — seamless, even — and the sound isn't half bad, either. When you first open the dental floss-like lid and place an iPhone nearby, the two gadgets talk to one another, and a little window pops up on the iPhone's screen to begin pairing.

But, not being an active iPhone user, the experience was short-lived. I turned to my LG V20 and asked, "Are you willing to behave the same way?" I placed the AirPods nearby, opened the dental floss lid, and nada. (Strain your credulity for just a moment, please.) But unlike the vast majority of Apple's Lightning-specific accessories, the AirPods use a common standard, Bluetooth, to actually pair with devices and play music on them. So, knowing that this was a possibility on Android, I set out to test the universality of Apple's latest sales phenom.

The pairing process

AirPods pair to an Android phone like any other Bluetooth device: relatively clumsily, and through the settings. Opening the lid and holding down on the earbud case's single button, the system is placed into pairing mode when the LED turns white. It should then show up in the phone's Bluetooth menu.

I did this reliably — more so than with most other Bluetooth headphones — a dozen or so times with various Android products, from phones to tablets, and the AirPods were found and connected quickly every time. It's unclear how much juice Apple's W1 chip gives to non-iDevices, but if nothing else it seems to be pointing things in the right direction.

Using them

Say what you will about the AirPods' design, but you really shouldn't dismiss them until you have them in your ears, jamming away untethered while you walk around the house or run errands. I've had the displeasure of using Bluetooth headphones that had one or more damning flaws, from discomfort to poor battery life, and the only thing I'd say about the AirPods is that they look a little funny, and take some time getting used to.

Once paired to any Android phone the experience was superb.

But once paired to any Android phone — I mainly used them with the LG V20 and Google Pixel — the experience was superb. Pairing, as said, was reliable, and I have yet to experience a lost connection. Even better, I've found them to be far more trustworthy over long distances than most other Bluetooth headphones; I've climbed stairs, closed doors, and even gone outside, all with my phone sitting two or more dozen feet away with no skips. Your mileage may vary, but these are the most problem-free Bluetooth headphones I've used to date, and if Apple's name wasn't on the box it would be a must-buy for many Android users.

The accelerometer in each of the AirPods also works as a gesture tool on Android. When paired with the iPhone, a double-tap on the side of either earbud activates Siri; on Android, the gesture functions as a play/pause button which, I'd argue, is far more useful. And it works, every time. (Not unlike how the Samsung Gear IconX earbuds work, in fact.)

The AirPods' case provides around 24-hours of additional battery life to the five hours inside the AirPods themselves. And though it may seem annoying having to carry around a second thing to keep the earbuds going, in practice it means they last longer, and are more easily charged, than any Micro-USB-based Bluetooth headphones I've owned to date. That you can pop them into the case for 10 minutes and gain an extra couple of hours of uptime is an added bonus. And while the case itself charges using Lightning, if you have an iPhone or iPad in your house, you can easily charge these, and there's an extra cable in the box. All you need is a USB-A port.

Sound quality

Here's where things get a bit muddy, for lack of a better pun. AirPods sound a lot like EarPods, Apple's in-the-box wired headphones. And while there's a bit more oomph to the bass line and a slightly more even sound at the high-end, this is by no means an audiophile experience. That Apple discourages the use of seal-tightening ear tips makes it even harder to find an ideal placement, and while I have been lucky enough to find a position where the AirPods fit nicely and sound full, other people may not be as lucky.

Is this $160 sound? Definitely not. At best, it's $100 sound. But that doesn't mean it's not worth buying.

Should you buy AirPods with an Android phone?

Yes, you pay an Apple tax, and I too balked at the $159 price, but even as an Android user I feel comfortable recommending them.

There are plenty of great Android-compatible Bluetooth headphones that are both cheaper and sound better than the Apple AirPods. But there are none that I want to walk around in my ears with as consistently, and that leads to me listening to more music for longer. Unlike other in-ear Bluetooth earphones, AirPods are comfortable enough for me to wear for hours with no discomfort, and sound good enough that I'm happy to do so. They're great for phone calls, too, and I've yet to receive complaints about sound quality from people on the other end of the line.

Yes, you pay an Apple tax, and I too balked at the $159 price, but even as an Android user I feel comfortable recommending them. AirPods are even more useful if you use a Mac, since the included W1 chip — the thing that makes it super easy to pair with an iPhone — also works with Apple's laptops, so it's easy to switch between phone and computer in a snap, if necessary.

I don't imagine I'll have much luck convincing the hardcore Android stalwart to buy a pair of AirPods — the product exudes "Appleness" in every atom — but Apple did so many things right with this product that I have to try.

See at Apple (opens in new tab)

Daniel Bader was a former Android Central Editor-in-Chief and Executive Editor for iMore and Windows Central. 

  • Nah, thanks.
  • For the price no way. Not to mention the fact that they aren't repairable or recyclable. You'd be better off with a pair of jlabs if you want bluetooth headphones.
  • You're gonna get banned from the internet. You started your comment with "for the price" and you weren't talking about the Pixel. That sort of thing is frowned upon.
  • I'll see after ces
  • Give me a break. I wouldn't touch these ridiculous things, ever. What a ripoff, and just asking to be lost... But guess what, you can buy a replacement from Apple for only like $70! What a deal.
    I can't wait until the Apple craze is done and over with, and people are brainwashed over something else
  • With their ridiculous ecosystem, they'll never stop being brainwashed.
  • How is this asking to get lost. Ive had the gesr iconx and ive never came close to losing them. Go to the gym put them on get back home leave the case near my pc. same routine 4 times a week
  • The "Apple craze" as you put it, has probably been going on for as long as you've been alive. Maybe there is something to what they do, no? Are you gonna sit there and tell us that what Apple is doing with the W1 chip isn't compelling? Maybe you don't want to spend $160 on them, but it's still a nice product.
  • You are all brainwashed, you just use a different brand of soap.
  • People love throwing their money in the Apple dumpster.
  • I mean let's not get carried away here ... you DO get something in return for your money.
  • You do. You get garbage. Which is the reason for the dumpster analogy.
  • You get glue and misaligned plastic parts based on a number of reviews i have seen.
  • Yes... you get wireless buds that don't sound any better than most $20-$30 wired buds. Hardly a recommend.
  • Yep inferior and overpriced crap like all Apple's products. And like the Android OS and phones those ****** air pods don't compare to vastly superior and cheaper options.
  • So you have a phone with a 32 bit dac and you are using apple's airpods with it. Makes sense
  • +1
  • +1
  • Bader isn't a qualified reviewer first. He's here at ac to increase revenue. Not interested in providing Android news. The motto is, "Get clicks!" What better way than to post something like this on an Android site? The articles have fallen waaay off, look at the various responses/comments in other articles. *Yawn* No way Bader is an Android guy... might be familiar, but is a closet apple guy at best. He probably calls rooting, jailbreaking. That's fine... but not for an editor of an Android site. My guess is that most of these guys are going to jump ship after their subpar journalism catches up with them and leave Jerry holding the bag. That might be as bad a prediction as martonick's "the sky is falling on the Samsung Note brand," garbage. But I'll own it if I'm wrong.
  • Geez...such venom. Glad I have a job that keeps me busy so I don't have enough time to wallow in silly nonsense like this.
  • Lol, venom? Sounds kind of sheltered. Like maybe your job is that your mom pays you to polish all of your participation trophies. It is, after all, Saturday morning *wink*
  • I don't think I've ever seen you post anything that isn't just being a complete and total dick. To either other posters, the writers. I almost feel bad, some life you have to be stuck in to just constantly be an ass.
  • Aww, thankfully, you can have your opinion. Actually, I have given polite greetings and salutations. I understand, though, how you can feel this way. Accuracy and truthfulness with a little sarcasm at times in the comments section doesn't make for a lot of friends with folks like you. Oh well, don't let me keep you up at night pondering my life. I'm loving it :-D
  • Yet you did.
  • Gotta agree at least on some level with this... I can't imagine Rene EVER posting anything on iMore equivalent to something like this recommendation. No way!
  • This is a true statement. This site used to ensure my favorite. Now it's all fluff. Seriously, we all know how bad these earphones are. Yet this article is a thing
  • You have no idea of the quality of these headphones because you have never used them. You, and people like you, hated them as soon as they were labeled as an Apple product. You and your fanbois swear you won't touch an Apple product, yet you pass yourselves off as some expert on all things Apple. You ad no value with your uneducated comments other than to just get your adolescent fanboi friends all in a tizzy and smug.
  • at $219 CAD ... I'll pass.
  • Yeah that's pretty rough.
  • And Daniel is Canadian. How can these possibly be a good buy? Unless you HAD to use buds. Because otherwise?? They are LOADS of over the ear bluetooth headphones that sound WAY better for half the price.
  • Loads of BT earbuds too. Never trust an Apple shareholder when they strongly recommend a polarizing product.
  • Where's your outrage over cost/worth on these airpods? Not on the same level as the Gear S3 Frontier?
  • Thanks for this, Daniel! As you say, it's a hard sell for Android users, but I've been curious how well the Airpods would work with non-Apple devices. In particular, I wasn't clear how well the audio would sync between the left and right, since they're working independently of each other. I have Earins that I got via the Kickstarter campaign, and they've met my expectations for a first-gen product. They drop out from time to time, but not so much that it annoys me. If they break down, I'd consider the Airpods as I really like the wire-free experience. But I'd more likely opt for something that's sub-$100 and live with the wires. That being said, I don't consider the $159 price tag unreasonable, given the prices of competing wire-free earbuds and the fact that this is Apple we're talking about.
  • I've used them fine with the Pixel XL for a couple of months. Like Daniel said, they're just BT headphones, but the small size makes them great for everything from hiking to driving. The sync has been great. I've not once found either side to be off at all. The price tag is for the W1 chipset (which is what makes that sync work) and all the sensors crammed into the pods. It'll come down eventually. Using AirPods on Android is no weirder for me than using Gmail on an iPhone. If it works, and you like it, enjoy.
  • Does the "taking out of ear to stop playback" functionality work on Android?
  • No. Tap to play pause does though.
  • It's illegal to drive with earbuds
  • Yep.
  • Not where I live, I only wear one, I don't listen to music, and they're not noise canceling.
  • Please do NOT drive with ANY earpods, headphones, etc. It's very unsafe, and also illegal. EDIT: Not illegal everywhere, but certainly in some locations.
  • The people that drive with earbuds are like people who text. They just don't give a darnn that they could get into an accident and kill or disable someone. Then when it happens... It's oh I'm sorry.... I didn't mean for it to happen.
  • Why would you use these when driving that's a driving hazard(at least in Texas it is )
  • It's a hazard everywhere but might not be illegal everywhere.
  • I think Rene is saying that he uses one Airpod as a bluetooth headset, which is pretty much what it is.
  • Imo, that's brilliant!
  • Why wouldn't you? Since when has a headset been distracting? If you're so scared then stay off the road.
  • It's dangerous (and often illegal) to have headphones or earplugs on when driving, because it's much harder to hear noises horns, emergency sirens, and other important noises when your ears are covered. I'd extend that concern to cyclists with noise-isolating headphones. It's less about the music being distracting, and more about your sense of hearing being significantly less effective. It's fair to say that a bluetooth headset also hampers your hearing on one side, which would cause you to lose reaction time if that's the side from which the sirens/horns originate.
  • Is this $160 sound? Definitely not. At best, it's $100 sound. But that doesn't mean it's not worth buying. ^^ Actually yes, it does mean they aren't worth buying. You're literally paying extra for features you're not going to use. I think you need to try more headphones out in general. Both to get an idea of what good sound is and what other BT headphones have to offer. I had a set of Beats Solo3. 40 hours of battery life out of a micro-USB port (that's more than the 24 hours you get out of the lightning powered AirPods, AND it's continuous use). I'm also fairly confident that they sound worlds better than AirPods. Are they perfect? No, but they at least make themselves appear to be worth the money.
  • Anyone trying to argue fidelity when it comes to audio, especially against apple, that owns beats, is without any leg to stand on.
  • I don't understand. Are you saying that Apple is the be-all end-all of fidelity? Or are you just questioning my use of the Solo3 as a good example of what a BT headset can offer? Apple is not he authority in fidelity. The Solo3 aren't either, but they make a good case for justifying their price. Better battery life, sound quality that is not offensive like earlier Beats, and full functionality with both Android and iOS. I didn't want to use any sort of "neckband" style buds since those can be even more burdensome than on-ear when it comes to actually using them. Maybe the AirPods are the best completely wireless buds, but they are not "must buy" BT headphones compared to other options available.
  • I was remarking on your use of beats. That said the airpods are indeed the best completely wireless buds out there, out of all 2 that can be purchased. That's the point of this article. There's far better bt buds than beats, and their full headphones are another story entirely.
  • There are more than 2 pairs of completely wireless buds. I think people that hate on Beats (I used to be one of those people) need to give the new stuff a fair shake before writing them off. They are no Sennheiser, but they are not super bass no treble like they used to be either.
  • Could you link some? Genuinely curious. If beats really did get their **** together that's great. But the most accurate thing you've said is that they are indeed no senheiser. My momentum 2s are the best cans I've ever had, and I've used some ridiculous stuff.
  • Bragi has some, and I think one other company who's name is escaping me. For portable I still prefer my V-Moda XS. They have a slight u-shape sound, but the vocals are not muddied by the bass. The Beats Solo3 have a slightly more aggressive u-shape sound. The vocals are not muddied, but they are more recessed than I prefer. If I did not already own the V-Moda I would have kept the Solo3. At home I have the Sennheiser HD650 powered by a Creative Soundblaster X7 Limited Edition. Don't laugh. :P Ignore the name, it's a great product with awesome sound and it does other things that I desired from a desktop DAC/AMP. (Plus I received it as a gift) Eventually I want to get a Schiit Jotenheim to replace it, but that's a little while off.
  • OK I'm going to ask the lot of you to list your wired earbuds and your wireless earbuds that you like. I have had various earbuds around the $100 plus area... And the wired Beats -to me - have a better soundstage than the others that I have tried. So if you would - list what you like.
  • Triple-Fi - they're like $85, can't remember exact model right now Shure SE215 (might be a newer model) HifiMan re400 - might be slightly off on model number You could go higher end with: Etymotic ER4 - they have two models now. I've read good things, but haven't heard them. Any custom fit from UE, Westone, Noble. Noble also makes some universal. I'm not terribly well versed in wireless.
  • I'm pretty sure he meant completely wireless... Not earbuds attached together with a wire in the middle that you hang around your neck, lol!
  • Read his comment again.
  • Samsung Gear IconX Cordfree Fitness Earbuds with Activity Tracker (US Version with Warranty) - Black Fully wireless, HRM and built in 4gb media player.
  • And abysmal battery life
  • Beats sound way better now than their first gen **** ever did. I still would prefer a different brand, but I think the Beats hate isn't as justified anymore.
  • Also, no, the point of the article was to say how much better AirPods are than any other BT bud or headphone available. My point is they're not. Especially on Android where you'd be throwing money away for a feature you can't use.
  • I don't think that was the point of the article at all. I think it was very specifically saying that the AirPods are the best TOTALLY wireless BT buds. And that's mainly because the IconX suck.
  • That distinction was never made. He tried to leave an out at the end though.
  • Do you own the IconX? I do and they are excellent if you do rigorous exercise or run. They absolutely won't fall out even if your benching, doing planks, any exercise. The battery is not good but they easily last for a workout and go back in their capsule and charge enough for a second workout. Posted from my unlocked S7 Active/ Jet black iPhone 7+/ peerless Note 4/ or iPad Pro 12.9
  • My best friend bought them before I made the plunge and let me borrow them for a week. I don't listen to music when I work out because I work out with my girl friend so that'd be awkward. I use buds mainly for commute purposes and so my top priorities for BT are fidelity, fit, charge. They were tinny, had an awkward fit, are very difficult to get good comply tips to work with them, had terrible battery life, and all of that for a lot of money. The pairing process sucks, so does the app required for the "functionality" they offer to even work. Lastly the ability to use them on calls as the mic is a novelty as the call quality is terrible. Just over all an awful experience to me.
  • Beats stink.... You can do better for the money
  • Actually you can do far better for much less money.
  • They don't sound as bad as people are implying.
  • You're right , they're worse.
  • Anyone who thinks Beats sound good does not have a leg to stand on.
  • They sound just as good as the beats bro. It's audio over Bluetooth. The sound isn't good no matter what you use.
  • If they only sound marginally better than the included wired headset then no, they don't sound just as good as the Beats. You clearly have a misunderstanding of BT audio. It is not always the limiting factor in sound quality. We could just get all snobby and say that no audio from a phone is actually "good" and that you need to spend $1,000 on a headphone amp and then another $1,000 on headphones before you can even start thinking that you have good sound, but that misses the point entirely. :)
  • Bluetooth 4.2 is completely lossless
  • Beats Solo 3 are incredible. Ok, not for audophiles, but guys just for listening music during commuting or during workouts... with that battery life... wow! I bought them 1 month ago and charged them 2 times. I still cannot believe it has this amazing battery life. To be honest I think Apple W1 chip has been the best innovation of Apple this year.
  • You can't really compare in ear 'phones to headphones. Completely diferent use cases. There are also plenty of better options than Beats Solo 3, imo.
  • Tell that to Daniel. As I said, he needs to get out and try more BT buds and 'phones. There is some very useful information in this article for sure, but parts of it come across as uninformed. What he said: And though it may seem annoying having to carry around a second thing to keep the earbuds going, in practice it means they last longer, and are more easily charged, than any Micro-USB-based Bluetooth headphones I've owned to date. My counterpoint: Beats Solo3 are micro-USB based and have 40 hours of battery life. Never mind the fact that you don't have to bump charge them. One charge = 40 hours. No external battery required. Edit: There are definitely better options than the Solo3, but those are the easiest to use for an example. They also don't suck.
  • I love how you state facts and get downvotes. Didn't realize Android Central was full of Apple fanboys. Maybe time some of us moved on.
  • I haven't used the beats solo 3 headphones, but the beats solo 2 headphones had horrific sound leakage. At like 20% volume in a hallway with several people adding to background noise, people 1-2 feet away sitting next to me could already hear the freaking noise. And if room was quiet? I don't want to even think about that. It was absurd. I returned them and ended up getting the Audio Technica M40xs. Great headphones!
  • I have a pair of the M40x also. Great budget cans.
  • You do realise that Apple owns Beats?
  • That's a bad argument. Sometimes and to some people a $160 earbud that sounds like a $100 earbud is easily worth it, depending on circumstances. Do they fit really well? Do they last long enough? How's the microphone quality? Are you completely sick of buying $50-$100 earbuds that fail hard for other reasons? Your inability to see that other people might have other circumstances and priorities is certainly curious. It's as if you lack any understanding that other people exist and are not you.
  • Tell that to Daniel. He said they don't sound good for the money.
  • I'm not getting why you'd put out that kind of money for ear buds that don't sound awesomely good. I mean, besides they come from Apple. Easy pairing just isn't good enough.
  • Why would you invest $800+ on that GREAT phone, its incredible 32 BIT ESS DAC, and muck it all up with bluetooth?... No thanks.
  • Sometimes you want to go wireless
  • Cause wireless is the future!
  • I paid $20 for a pair of LG Tone Pro's (Model # HBS770) refurbished... and no way in hell would I want to give them up for Apple AirPods... the damn things hurt my ears way too much.
  • The airpods are WAY more comfortable. Probably something to do with the way the wires hold them down. The regular earpods hurt my ears and these don't.
  • Some people hate wearing the dog collar buds more. This is for those people.
  • Great, until you lose one.
  • Or both.
  • I have them I use with my pixel xl. I LOVE them. The sound is way better than my bluebird Bluetooth earbuds. They're more comfortable too. The fact that I can just charge them overnight and get a good few weeks of battery is crazy. I use them an hour a day at the gym. Ignore the fact that they're apple for a minute. Theyre better than those power beats 3 that are $200. These are something you just have to try to see what you're missing. The fact that I can lift for an hour and I don't have to adjust them once was really what made these for me. Even my x3 with some better aftermarket wing tips don't stay in nearly as well. Maybe I'm lucky but I love them.
  • You are lucky, as am I. The Apple earbuds are perfect fits for my ears and rarely fall out. But I still can't justify that price. And I am not about to buy beats either. If these ever price drop I may give them a try though.
  • These are essentially a better version of the Samsung icon for a bit more. Nothing crazy, unless you let the branding cause you to go into a fan boy induced aneurysm.
  • Better for battery life for sure but you are comparing two different products. Icon have fitness tracking capabilities and onboard storage. Comparable?
  • They aren't at all.
  • Comparable in that the Icons are border line beta products. Sure they TRY to do all of that and their effort is valiant, but from a week of personal use I can say that they do all those extras pretty terribly, thus rendering those points useless. In the end the only thing they do decently is audio playback, but with worse battery life and a worse syncing experience. YMMV of course.
  • No thanks. I think they look ridiculous.
  • Because looks is more important than other considerations like ease of use, sound quality, battery life, etc.? The "looks" of tech being priority one for people never ceases to surprise me.
  • Looks like something George Jetson would wear.
  • You obviously aren't an Apple user then. They always go on (ad nauseum) about how "beautiful" their new iMac's are. Or how "magical" their new 3d touch is. Apple pushes aesthetics really hard.
  • Like your avatar?
  • I was thinking that same damn thing haha
  • Daniel lives on both sides of the smartphone fence. So this recommendation doesn't surprise me.
  • Leans firmly towards Apple though as evident in iMore podcasts and articles.
  • And there's nothing wrong with having a preference. Everybody here has one.
  • For the general public, yeah, for an editor of an Android site, no, I want an Android guy
  • I think that's kind of refreshing actually.
  • No one platform has a lock on quality or features.
  • +1.
    To me, it's sad how many seem to believe that it's all or none, when it doesn't hurt to just choose what you think is the best, regardless of "loyalty".
  • This is actually one of the more realistic reviews of this product that I've read. Good information, thanks for the article. I'm especially glad you pointed out that these things are vastly overpriced, too many reviewers seem to gloss over this. I use the LG Tone series headphones and have never had the slightest issue with them, including losing one. Let's see how people like them this time next year, when they've lost one and had to replace it, and when there are tons of better priced similar products on the market.
  • Hell no
  • Thanks, but I'll pass. The design is horrible in my opinion but of course they're by Apple so is not so bad? For that price I'd recommend something better, more sporty looking and nice sound like the JayBird's
  • I'll buy them just so I don't have to buy 3 pairs of earphones every year because the cable goes dodgy or one side of the earphones goes in long run this will save me money
  • Not if you lose one.
  • You can lose anything, that isn't a valid reason not to buy something.
  • Yea but you shouldn't have to worry about headphones/earphones falling out your ear, then having to pay $70 to replace just one. Not to mention these things don't stay in your ear. If they actually stayed or could be adjusted, your argument would have some merit.
  • Well being fit is different per person, your argument is invalid. They could fit me just fine.
  • They fit you and still fall out 50% of the time while being in your ear. Have a seat sir.
  • Mine fit better in my ear than the jaybird x3 with some better wingtips than what came in the box. Each person will have a different experience seriously.
  • Have a seat sir, lol. That will teach me to have an opinion. Again, if it fits in your ear I won't fall out, regardless of what you think.
  • Again, there are several reviews that say otherwise. You can try to justify your purchase but it won't work with me. They won't fit with me and I know many, many other people who have the same sentiment. Enjoy your headphones while they last lol.
  • OK, to put an end to this, your argument is that they will not fit anyone's ears. My argument is that, surprise, people's ears are shaped differently and therefore this will fit some people. And shocker, this is the same with any headphones, wired or not and made by anyone, Apple included. Yet you continue to keep your blinders on simply because of who made these. Enjoy life inside you bubble. Happy New Year!
  • Fit is different for different people. My coworker has a set and he can't make them fall out. If they fall out of your years, you clearly shouldn't buy them though. Have you tried to set yet?
  • The original don't and these are the same, minus a cord. The only difference are the internals. I'd be amazed if people can wear these while working out.
  • Actually, if you actually read a review, these are slightly bigger than the corded ones. Again, the fit is different for different people.
  • It was just a question of time before the mega Apple fan guy I knew back on MobileSyrup found a way to push Apple on this Android site! Well done. You took longer than I thought you would.
  • I can't imagine any headphones worth that price. Maybe I'm not enough of an audiophile but I would never pay that much for headphones.