Home-brand cereal. A RyanAir flight. A white tee from K-Mart. With the soggy exception of cut rate Weet Bix, these items are all fairly intelligent ways of saving money. No one needs to know how much your fibre intake (or Ibiza holiday) really cost, and when you shrug at spilling coffee on your sparkling new crew neck, your Gucci-wearing Barista will be none the wiser that you have another four waiting to go at home.
Suffice to say, knock off products can be great buys (if not investments). However, after purchasing a set of $34 wireless headphones, we give you our full permission to throw this rule out the window and crush it underfoot. That is if another commuter doesn’t do it for you, after seeing your lightweight monstrosities fly out of your ear. Why? Here are six good reasons…
Their Technology Can’t Compete With The Real Deal
Let’s be honest: no wireless headphones are fashionable. At best it makes people assume you are a “chic geek,” at worst an incessant public phone call making salesman. So when you sport such a device, at the very least you want it to be functional, which—unfortunately—the $30 imitation version is not. Notable flaws included: sound quality (good enough to listen to a well recorded podcast, but not enough definition to enjoy the bass in your favourite tunes), charging system (it is such a loose fit it leaves you wondering whether you’ve put it in correctly) and bluetooth range (fine as long as you stay close, but unlike higher end products like AirPods or Bose’s SoundSport offering it can’t cope when you leave your phone on the bench press rack and go and grab a quick drink from the water fountain).
They Are Super Lightweight
Although you might initially assume this is a good thing, once you understand the reason behind it, you soon realise the wafer-like weight of these $30 knock offs is nothing to celebrate. The fact is that this feather weight ‘feature’ is actually the result of a significantly smaller magnet than the one genuine Air Pods contain. Seeing as the size of a speaker’s magnet (the component which translates electrical signal into an audible sound) directly corresponds with the quality of that sound, you would be well advised to steer clear of wireless headphones that feel like they’ve had a helium injection.
The Case Is Far From Pristine….
Not only was this product definitely a knock off; it had the authentic scratches to prove it. Whether this occurred in postage or not, we were not huge fans, to say the least.
They Don’t Sit The Same In Your Ears
Whether they were not allowed to manufacture their product to the exact same specs as Apple due to copyright reasons, or whether they simply failed to replicate the original product to perfection, the fact remains that $30 imitation AirPods are not as comfortable as “real deal” wireless headphones. Our conclusion? Feels about three millimetres too thick. And doesn’t come with multiple size options to suit different ear types.
They Take An Eternity To Arrive
Who knows if this was down to the knock off company we went with, or whether Australia Post had a bad month, but we can’t imagine a legitimate Apple product taking 3-4 weeks to arrive.
They Don’t Make You Look Sexy
Although I was low-key hoping my commute crush would take notice of my new acquisition, our smile of friendly acknowledgement is now a thing of the past. Despite my non existent social skills, I blame the fake AirPods. What’s more: I have proof.
As Silicon Valley takedown artist (and technology reviewer) Chris Messina points out, AirPods are a status symbol, whose value comes from being overpriced: “What Apple has done is produce something that isn’t a technology product, but is, rather, a fashion object—a piece of jewellery, an entertainment product, a status symbol, a genie in a bottle—that drips with sex appeal,” Messina wrote on Medium.
“So, don’t confuse AirPods with just another Bluetooth headset; that’s not what they’re replacing. AirPods offer a new relationship because they’re alluring, sensuous, and sultry: AirPods are sex sticks that fuck your ears.”
By definition, $30 imitation AirPods lack this sex appeal. Our verdict? Don’t waste your money on them. Go full geek chic: or don’t go wireless at all. And next time you see an Instagram add for a dubious product like this, keep scrolling…