I use headphones with my iPhone a lot. Mainly I listen to podcasts and I listen to a lot of them. And when I say a lot I mean it. To the extent that regular wired headphones would rarely last me for more than 6 months. Of course, that all is predicated on the pattern and, shall I say, environment of my use of the headphones. Most of the time I have my iPhone in the left pocket of my jeans. The wire then goes from the pocket underneath my shirt to earpieces that are either in my ears or hanging on the wires.
With all that I would listen to podcasts while walking, sitting, standing, skating, riding a bike or a train and so on. Always with my phone in my pocket and headphones connected to it. I prefer the headphones to be light and to allow me to be at least partially aware of my surroundings. Therefore all of the headphones I used were earbuds and in all those years I’ve gone through fair share of them. In recent times they were mostly Apple’s EarPods and Panasonic RP-TCM125 ErgoFits (recommended by The Wirecutter). Knowing that headphones will only serve me as long, I did not even bother with anything fancy. If I recall correctly, the longest I had headphones in service was my first pair of TCM125, which lasted for about 10 months. The anti-record goes to noname earbuds, which gave up after just 3 weeks.
All the headphone failures were wires broken here or there because of the way I used then. You can imagine my excitement, when I finally got my hands on a pair of Apple AirPods. I’ve now spent more than two weeks with AirPods in my usual work-life balancing mode. So I’m ready to share my impressions.
As always, there good things and there bad things. (Remember, I’m talking about my experiences in how I use headphones.)
Things I like
No wires is great! (Who would have thought!) I don’t have to wire/re-wire myself each time I change clothes and can continue listening while doing that.
When at home I do not have to have the phone on me to listen to podcasts. With the caveat that I have to strategically place the iPhone to make sure Bluetooth "covers" my entire apartment.
This one may seem weird, but with AirPods it became easier for me to spontaneously watch a YouTube video. With headphones wire running under my shirt I had to either tolerate an awkward pose trying to place the iPhone such that I can see the video and still have headphones connected, or unwire myself (and then re-wire after watching the video), which is also awkward.
Switching the AirPods between the iPhone, iPad and MacBook is no more difficult that connecting/dis-connecting via the 3.5mm jack.
Things I don’t like
Surprisingly, the lack of wires also makes certain things less convenient for me.
It is really difficult to put AirPods away, when I suddenly need to talk to other people. Before I would just quickly pull the earpieces from the ears and let them hang on their wires. AirPods need either a safe pocket, which I don’t think I have, or both hands to put them into the case.
Putting AirPods on is also a problem. With headphones hanging under my chin they were always fractions of the second away from being used when, for example, a call comes in. With AirPods I either have to have them in all the time, which I don’t like, or forego using them in certain situations. Forget about taking a call, when you are driving and AirPods are in the case in your pocket.
I realize that both of these issues come from my feeling uncomfortable having earpieces in when I’m not using them and when I talk with other people. But this is the way I am.
Curiously enough, I still feel anxiety when I lean over something that can cause a loss or irreversible damage to AirPods if they fall out – think of a balcony on a high floor or a sink in the bathroom.
The only thing I use Siri for is making calls. With wired headphones I would long-press the mic button, wait for Siri’s “I’m ready” tone, say “Call Sasha” and wait while the call to my wife is connected.
Currently double-tap on my AirPods is set to play/pause for both of them1. This is because from the “wired days” I’m used to pausing podcasts with mic button before I remove the earpieces. I understand that with ear detection (what a name for a feature!) I do not have to pause the playback myself, but it will take some getting used to. Anyway, in my current configuration there is no good way to activate Siri other than yell “Hey Siri!” and hope that it will hear me on the phone in my pocket2. I think it has worked once. But, you know, as I’m writing this I’m thinking that I should go and make double-tap activate Siri and leave my wired past behind.
Overall, I’m quite happy with my new headphones situation. I only hope in my new AirPods there is no analogue of wire that will break in 6 months 🙈
1 I sometimes use only one earpiece and having different setting for L and R would be impractical.