Apple is at its best when it takes something that people find fiddly or annoying and then makes it effortless. And the new iPhone headphones or AirPods pro are a perfect example of this. iPhone headphones are not the first wireless earbuds with noise cancellation, and they’re not the best sounding wireless earbuds you can buy, but they do sound good and they’re just so easy that it’s just hard to go back to anything else.
The original iPhone headphones
had been a smash success and it’s not because Apple invented the first truly wireless
earbuds. Apple just solved a lot of the annoyances of wireless earbuds and made
iPhone headphones pair with
your iPhone just by opening the case next to it. The connection is rock solid.
They turn on and connect when you take them out of the case and they turn off
when you put them back, the case is tiny enough to fit in any pocket.
And it opens and closes with a
satisfying magnetic snap. And the earbuds fall right into place. So what does
Apple do for an Encore? They tweaked the design, improved sound quality at
active noise cancellation and call them the AirPods pro. They are absolutely
peak Apple, definitely not a new invention, and they don’t outperform the best
iPhone headphones are so
thoughtfully designed and so effortless and easy. That’s just kind of annoying
to go back to using anything else.
Case of iPhone Headphones
It’s a shorter, wider version
of the case for the regular AirPods and it includes wireless charging. Unlike
regular iPhone headphones, there’s no way to buy a non-wireless charging case.
The case of iPhone headphones
is just slightly bigger overall and just as easy to slip into any pocket. It
snaps open and shut with that same satisfying magnetic latch and the earbuds
drop right into the fitted slots. I don’t know why Apple’s competitors haven’t
been able to replicate this experience, but it’s awesome though.
Apple has been able to create iPhone
headphones with noise cancellation and silicone tips without sacrificing the ultra-compact,
easy to use nature of the case. The earbuds themselves look familiar, but
tweet, they’re clearly AirPods and for better or worse, they only come in
glossy white. I really want colors, but Apple seems to have decided that iPhone
headphones are glossy white.
The stems are shorter now,
which I really appreciate, but the big obvious difference is the silicone tips
on the front. Anyone who has used a bunch of different wireless earbuds will
tell you that rubberized or foam tips create a seal that helps improve base
response and blocks outside noise.
Apple gives you three pairs of
tips, small, medium, and large, and there’s even a little fit test feature in
settings to help make sure you get a good seal.
I had no problem passing that
test with both the medium and small tips, but the small ones are a lot more
comfortable for me. So you should try out the different sizes.
Apple talks a big game about
the improved sound quality of the iPhone headphones, and it definitely is
better, but these are still far from pro quality.
For starters, to seal from the
silicone tips means you get decent base response. Without making the high end
all money, but iPhone headphones are definitely not the best sounding wireless
earbuds I’ve heard.
They don’t hold a candle to
something like the MWO7’s from master and dynamic. The base isn’t quite as
punchy as I’d like and the highest don’t have that sharp, crisp sound that
makes cymbal sound great.
These are pro earbuds only in
the sense that they’re the best version that Apple offers. Actual audio
professionals would never use these for production work.
Still, they iPhone headphones
pro sound good enough and quite a bit better than regular AirPods. Whether you
listen to hip hop, RNB, classical rock, pop, podcasts, whatever, everything
sounds appropriately balanced.
Apple is not the first to do
this in wireless earbuds. Sony’s got a couple of models that do it, but Apple’s
implementation isn’t half bad at all. The iPhone headphones do an excellent job
at eliminating the noises that most active noise cancellation systems excel at.
That’s mid to low frequency
continuous noise like air conditioners, dishwashers, trains, traffic and
airplane noise. It struggles a bit on the less regular high frequency sounds
like kids screaming or certain kinds of power tools. A good pair of over the
ear noise cancellation headphones from Sony or Bose will do a better job of
eliminating background sound.
But for any ear wireless
earbuds, Apple’s done a fairly impressive job. There’s no adjustment for the
noise cancellation strength, unlike most other headphones. Instead iPhone
headphones continuously adjust their sound 200 times a second. I was worried
about this autoadjusting thing, but it really works great and just makes iPhone
headphones that much easier to use.
Just turn active noise
cancellation on and go. In any case between the silicone tips and the noise cancellation,
most background noise maybe not completely eliminated, but at least brought way
down to a level you can easily ignore.
This means you don’t have to
crank your music way up in order to hear it clearly. When I use iPhone
headphones at my desk or walking around my neighborhood in the suburbs, they
isolate me so well that I just sort of drift off into my own little world,
focused entirely on the music.
If you’ve never used a good
pair of noise cancellation headphones before, that feeling is sort of magical.
Of course, eliminating all that background noise can be dangerous in some
situations, and that’s where transparency mode comes in.
All modern noise cancellation
headphones had something. They leave the noise cancellation on, but use the
microphones to pipe in some outside noise focusing on the frequency ranges you
need to hear like cars and human voices.
Apple’s transparency mode is one of the best I’ve ever heard. On other headphones, this feature tends to make everything sound distant and fake while your own voice is loud and inside your head.
On the iPhone headphones, it
sounds really natural and makes it really easy to hold a conversation with
It’s not at all annoying to leave
it enabled when you go for a walk or a bike ride, and that’s not something that
I can say about most noise cancellation headphones.
Apple gives you lots of ways to
toggle between the noise cancellation on, transparency mode and noise cancellation
You can go to Bluetooth
settings or the volume control and control center, or even just ask Siri and
yes, iPhone headphones work with Siri totally hands-free, just like the second
generation AirPods and the power beats pro, but the AirPods pro also have new
controls on the earbuds instead of tapping them like the old iPhone headphones.
You squeeze the STEM once we
used to play or pause two to skip forward three to skip back or a long squeeze
to toggle noise-cancellation. If you want, you can change the long squeeze to
trigger Siri instead, and you can even have different settings for the left and
The squeezing thing is a little
weird. It’s not a button. It doesn’t move at all. It just sends us pressure. So
you have to pinch the STEM. It took a little getting used to, but now I find it
easier than tapping on the regular AirPods. It doesn’t make the earbuds fall
out of my ears like the tapping sometimes does.
And I can do it when I’m
working in the yard with gloves on. It’s a gratuitous and totally Apple thing,
but they made the speakers and met a little click sound in just that your buds
So it kind of feels like
clicking a button, even though there’s no button. The real genius of the iPhone
headphones AirPods pro, the reason you’re gonna want these over some other wireless
earbuds that might sound better or had better noise cancellation, is that
they’re just so damn comfortable.
They’re so light and fit so
well that it’s easy to forget you have iPhone earpods in at all. Regular
AirPods are too easy to jostle out of place, so even if they wouldn’t fall out,
I had to occasionally adjust them. iPhone headphones pro stay put even when
going for a run in a way that the regular AirPods would fall out of alignment
or fall out of my ear entirely.
It’s the better balance from the
shorter stem and the silicone tips that keep everything in place. So just like
regular airpods, AirPods pro are easier to set up than any other wireless
headphones, have a super small case that’s delightful to use.
They maintain a rock solid
connection. Pause automatically when you take them out of your ears, turn off
automatically when you put them in their case.
Airpods Pro is easiest wireless
headphones and iPhone user can get. Only on top of all that, iPhone headphones
are super comfortable. Stay in your ears better, sound a lot better, and have
pretty good active noise cancellation with an excellent transparency mode.
The only real downside is
battery life, which is just, okay. iPhone headphones wireless are basically the
same as a regular AirPods around five hours without noise cancellation and four
and a half with noise cancellation.
The case holds 24 hours’ worth
of charge time and can recharge your earbuds pretty quickly
Apple headphones Price
At $234 they cost $50 more than
the regular AirPods with the wireless charging case or $90 more than with the
regular charging case.
The improvements are more than justify the price difference. There’s basically no reason anyone shouldn’t buy regular AirPods unless you just want a less expensive thing.
You can quickly pop into your
ear to take phone calls. The iPhone headphones aren’t a perfect example of what
Apple does best.
They take cutting edge
technology and make something that may not quite outperform its rivals, but
it’s just easier and more delightful to use while still performing pretty well.
IPhone earphones original are probably going to be another huge hit, and deservedly
so, but at this price, just wish they sounded tiny bit better.