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Apple AirPods are nowhere near as ridiculous as they look

The internet is unanimous: nooooope. But the AirPods are worth a listen. Seriously.

Scott Stein
I started with CNET reviewing laptops in 2009. Now I explore wearable tech, VR/AR, tablets, gaming and future/emerging trends in our changing world. Other obsessions include magic, immersive theater, puzzles, board games, cooking, improv and the New York Jets. My background includes an MFA in theater which I apply to thinking about immersive experiences of the future.
Scott Stein
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You may have heard: Apple wants you to go wireless with the iPhone 7. The wacky-looking AirPods are its house-brand effort to persuade you.

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The AirPods go on sale in October and will cost $159, £159 or AU$229.

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They come in this dinky case. Just flip the lid up...

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...and brilliantly, the AirPods automatically connect to all Apple devices running iOS 10 or Mac OS Sierra.

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AirPods look ridiculous. I get that. I knew that from the moment I put them on.

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Seriously, they're like hipster vape jewelry.

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But the simplicity of the connection is some impressive secret sauce -- no other Bluetooth headphones can do that, except Apple's new Beats.

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Just place the AirPod case next to the phone and it pairs.

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Even better, the headphones are then paired to all the compatible Apple devices you own via iCloud.

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The buds are no bigger than the Lightning ones you get with the iPhone 7.

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They're not just for iPhones either -- they'll work with any Bluetooth-enabled phone, tablet, computer or other wireless device.

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I paired them with the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge, and they worked fine for music and calls.

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But when used with Apple devices, you get some extra special features, such as auto-pairing and swapping ears.

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Many Android phones have a similar "tap to pair" function. We've rarely seen that work as well as the autopairing on the AirPods, but it's similar in concept.

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They fit just like Apple's free-in-box white earphones. It's one size fits all, and tough luck if they don't. They do at least come with different sizes of tips.

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I jumped around, hopped, tried jogging in place, and they stayed on.

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This really is all you need to do to pair them.

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They charge via this Lightning port in the case.

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You just need to get used to swapping the buds back into the case when you're not using them. And don't expect to listen straight through on, say, an intercontinental flight.

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Besides the AirPods, Apple is making three other headphones equipped with the W1 chip -- the hardware that enables that cool autopairing, and that also helps with low-power battery use.

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Those three Beats models Apple announced are larger and the earbuds aren't independently wireless. But BeatsX (which haven't arrived yet) is almost the same price, and has double the battery life (10 hours vs. 5). Those could be the better choice for workouts.

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This has been an emerging market over the past year, with at least a dozen announced or available wireless options from large manufacturers like Onkyo and Samsung, and smaller startups like Doppler Labs and Bragi.

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Like a little vape pipe. Caution: Do not give these to small children.

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Once paired with one device, the AirPods will work with all of them.

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The microphones in the AirPods don't connect to all apps. I was able to record a voice memo, but I couldn't wear one and shoot a video of myself. That might change by the time they go on sale.

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Five hours of battery life isn't much.

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But I didn't feel like they were about to run out -- they recharge quickly.

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Attempting to style it out. Hey -- if you don't think about what you look like, it's totally fine.

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Where they really come into their own is with the Apple Watch.

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Little. White. Different.

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Not to be confused with medication.

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They do sound good -- I can't yet say they're the best because we're still comparing them with rivals. But they're priced competitively, almost identical to the better "wired wireless" headphones like the BeatsX and Bose SoundSport Wireless.

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With AirPods and iOS 10, if a call comes through, you can answer on either the iPhone or Watch and just start talking. You can use them for running and listen to music. Whatever you need. With the Watch, they're seamless...or, almost seamless.

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Sometimes I would hear a bit of a click, and I realized the AirPods were now paired to my other device.

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Occasionally, I sometimes had to swipe up and pick AirPods like you would select Apple TV in AirPlay. So, not always magical and seamless. But they still felt like the buds Apple should have sold with the Watch all along.

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There aren't many remote controls. You can double-tap on an AirPod to activate Siri, or turn that control into play/pause in AirPod's settings.

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But you can't adjust volume, or do the variety of things you can do with the basic in-line Apple EarPod remote. I kept reaching for my phantom remote all day long, but it wasn't there to help me.

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I put one in my ear and one in someone else's and we listened to music. The earbuds turn on via proximity sensors, and off when you take them out.

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But you can't share a pair for phone calls. I tried, and it always defaulted to just one AirPod, whichever was put in someone's ear first.

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You can use just use one by itself, to take phone calls. Either bud will work the same way, and it'll switch seamlessly if you change earbuds. It's pretty clever. But you can't play music this way: both buds need to be in.

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With one bud -- either one -- you still have a perfectly functional monaural wireless headset for making calls. But that's about it, so don't lose them. This may be a problem.

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They mostly stayed connected, but I still heard audio pops from time to time. Not as many as I usually get with Bluetooth headphones, but they were still there.

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Apple doesn't make any water-resistance claims on these AirPods. They should be fine for workouts, but if it starts to rain, I'd pop them out in a hurry.

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They're on sale sometime in October -- we don't have a firm date yet.

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And they'll set you back $159, £159 or AU$229. Be sure to read our full Apple AirPods review here for all the good, bad and --let's be serious -- weird.

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