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How to use Apple's AirPods with any Android phone

It's true, you can use Apple's AirPods with Android phones. Here's how.

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Use your AirPods with your Android phone and don't feel guilty about it. 

Jason Cipriani/CNET

Android owners have plenty of options when it comes to wireless earbuds. Google's Pixel Buds 2 and Samsung's latest Galaxy Buds (currently Buds Live) are just a few examples of totally capable wireless earbuds with deep Android integration. However, Apple's AirPods -- be it the standard AirPods, AirPods Pro or the new AirPods Max -- are tempting, even if you use an Android phone. 

So whether you switched from iPhone to Android, received AirPods as a holiday gift by a family member who didn't know any better or simply just want to use Apple's wireless buds -- there's good news: It's totally possible. 

To be clear, you'll lose some of the magical features AirPods are known for. Features like quick pairing and active noise cancellation may work, but probably not, and of course, Siri will be MIA. Nonetheless, AirPods and Android are an unconventional match that's worth investing your time in. Here's what you need to know. 

Read more: The best true wireless earbuds of 2020  

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Pairing your AirPods is just like any other Bluetooth device. 

Screenshots by Jason Cipriani/CNET

Pair AirPods with your Android phone

When pairing AirPods with an Android phone, you won't get the fancy iPhone method of opening the AirPods case and waiting for a prompt to appear and pair the devices. Instead, you'll have to use the tried-and-true method of diving into your device's Bluetooth settings. 

1. Swipe down from the top of your screen to open the quick settings panel, then long-press on the Bluetooth icon.

2. Depending on your phone, you may have to select Add new device or Pair new device.

3. With the AirPods or AirPods Pro in the charging case, open the lid. 

4. On the back of the case is a small button. Press and hold it until the indicator light starts blinking white. If you have AirPods Max, you'll need to take them out of their smart case and then hold in the noise control button until the indicator light on the bottom of the right ear cup blinks white.

5. Your AirPods will then show up in the pairing menu on your Android phone. Select them and follow any prompts on your phone. 

With the AirPods connected to your Android phone, you can use them just as you would any other Bluetooth headphones or earbuds. They'll autoconnect when taken out of the case, and disconnect when you put them back in the case. 

If your Android phone supports reverse wireless charging, you can charge AirPods with a wireless charging case on the back of your phone. They'll also charge wirelessly through any other Qi-supported pad, or through Apple's Lightning cable. 

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There are several third-party apps that add functionality to your AirPods. 

Jason Cipriani/CNET

You're going to miss out on a few features

Naturally, if you aren't using the AirPods with an iPhone or another Apple product, you won't be able to access every feature. 

For example, I can still control my AirPods Pro's playback on an Android phone by squeezing the stem of either earbud. I can even turn noise cancellation on and off with a long squeeze on either stem. Controlling playback on standard AirPods (i.e., not Pro) is also possible with just a tap on either earbud. 

There are even third-party applications that let you view battery levels just by opening the case next to your phone. I use an app called AirBattery and haven't had any issues with it. Plus, it's free. 

One feature you might miss out on is auto-pause and resume when you take an AirPod out and put it back in your ear. It's easily one of my favorite features of AirPods, and one I sorely miss when using them on Android. The third-party app AirBattery supports autopausing as an experimental feature, but it's primarily designed to be used when playing music from Spotify. There's also the giant warning in the app about excessive battery drain when the feature is turned on. 

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You won't get all of the AirPods features when paired with Android, but you do get most of them. 

Óscar Gutiérrez/CNET

Additionally, you won't be able to trigger Google Assistant with the AirPods, like iPhone users can do with Siri -- simply because Apple programmed its earbuds to work with its own voice assistant, not its competitor's. You'll need to start those queries the traditional way, by talking to your phone. 

The AirPods Pro are my favorite wireless earbuds, by a long shot. But there are plenty of worthy competitors available. We have a roundup of AirPods Pro alternatives that cost less, along with some of the best wireless earbuds that are under $100. We also have a running list of the best wireless earbuds you can buy today.