I live in a four-iPhone family, with a fifth on the way, that is
ruled by a consistent theme: Everyone is always losing and
destroying their earbuds. Well, all except for me. I don't lose or destroy mine, I just
give them to someone who has and replace them with inexpensive
SkullCandy earbuds that I buy two or three at a time to have a
reserve for when a family member comes to me with a tales of loss
This experience leads me to be beyond skeptical of Apple's new
EarPod design for the iPhone 7, with its elimination of the
traditional headphone jack and connector, and the new Bluetooth
AirPods, which have already been widely ridiculed for getting
lost before they've even shipped.
We already know that the Apple Lightning charger design is awful.
We're lucky to get a few months out of the Apple units before the
cords fail. Over the past few years, I think we've spent at least
a new iPhone on dozens of charger replacements. And that's after
we squeeze a few extra weeks out by using electrical tape to
make a temporary repair.
So with the iPhone 7, I'm looking forward to not just constant
charger replacements, but EarPod replacements as well — EarPods
destroyed and useless for a new but not unfamiliar reason. I'm
also wondering what will happen with the charge port as it goes
from accepting a charger a few times a day to having EarPods
incessantly plugged in and unplugged.
The pain of EarPod replacement isn't that bad — they only cost
about $30. The pain of AirPod replacement is going to be far
worse, even if a single lost AirPod can be replaced for less than
the $159 sticker price.
What are earbuds for?
And about that sticker price. I understand, thanks to Jonny Ive's video
presentation on the Apple website, that AirPods are meant to
be what I'll call a "nodal" device: Another link the the chain of
Apple devices being used — iPhone, Apple Watch, AirPods, all
operating in wireless unity.
But despite the fact that you can tap your AirPods to trigger
Siri, all "Star Trek" style (And who wouldn't want to be seen
doing that in public?), it seems to me that most
folks use their EarPods to perform two main tasks: make
calls and listen to music.
I've always thought the call quality on iPhones is mediocre,
headphones or not, so let's not worry about that.
But the sound quality is an issue, and I always figured it was
one of the reasons Apple bought Beats — to capture revenue from
those customers who aren't satisfied with Apple EarPods. However,
the new AirPods, given their price, ought to improve Apple's own
reputation on this front.
Obviously, nobody has yet given the AirPods a thorough listen. So
perhaps we should give Ive the benefit of the doubt when he
declares that they sounds splendid. For the price, they really
should sound pretty good.
But I doubt it, mainly because I've been shopping for a pair of
new earbuds in that price range, and I wouldn't touch Bluetooth
with a 10-foot iPhone 7 traditional headphone-jack dongle
adapter. And I don't have to. I have no intention of buying an
iPhone 7 or Bluetooth anything on the earbuds score. I'm probably
going to upgrade my old iPhone 5 to a 6 and get a pair of
Grado iGe earbuds.
Other members of my iPhone clan are likely to advocate for
different setups entailing Apple products. I can already see the
grief looming. And I'm really not happy about it.