How Apple's Most Unattractive Product Became One Of My Favourites

Amazing what a few small tweaks can do to change one's mind.

In 2016, Apple launched its AirPods to mixed reviews. In theory, the product was revolutionary. Small white earbuds that seamlessly connected with your iPhone. Genius. However, when it came to the crunch, the original Airpods were little better than standard earbuds with the cables chopped off.

And that’s before we mention the elephant in the room salesman on the train: the original Airpods were, in my opinion, the ugliest product Apple ever created. These things are in-ear contraceptive, reserved for car wholesalers and real estate agents. Part Something About Mary and part original Bluetooth headset that would fall out of your ear with the slightest breeze or gym workout. Yep: their advertising with people doing backflips was utter bullshit. The actor’s ears were clearly magnetic or something.

Considering that vitriol, I was shocked when the recent 72 hour trial of the Apple Airpods Pro changed my mind. Here’s how it went down.

Their half-cooked original design has been given a stormtrooper-esque upgrade.

More black. Less white. Less length. Same girth. The Airpods Pro is a more aesthetically pleasing device. Shorter antennas no longer protrude past one’s ear lobe, and the streamlined design makes a real difference to your appearance. It may not look like much, but that’s the point: it makes you feel significantly less self-conscious. I now feel less like a real estate agent and more like a travel blogger or mediocre influencer who takes semi-important calls while powerwalking with my oat milk latte.

No iPhone, no worries.

I’m not an iPhone guy. Google Pixel 4 to be exact. I broke free of the empire’s stranglehold last year and realised switching is no big deal. The good news for those like me is the Airpods Pro work just about as well with the Pixel 4 as they would with an iPhone. Agreed, there’s simpler connectivity with the iPhone, which I miss, but you still get most of the benefits.

Noise-cancelling makes them an in-flight essential.

Now I’ve got over how they look, I’ll be wearing them on my next flight. This means carrying around my bulky Bose headphones may soon be a thing of the past. While the noise cancelling is not as good as the big Bose cans, it’s a worthy alternative for drowning out crying babies and airsick passengers alike. Plus, if you ever need to hear an inflight announcement, this feature can always be turned off.

They’re as losable as ever.

All the benefits notwithstanding, my pet peeve remains. I’ve lost three pairs of the original Airpods to date, and the Airpods Pro will be no different. What’s worse, being a Pixel user, I don’t benefit from Find My Phone. Take it from me: at a punchy AU$399, you’re not going to want to leave them on the bus, plane or cafe table.

The right fit.

Whether you have small ear canals or vacuous ones, Airpods Pro come with detachable inserts. Like most noise-cancelling earbuds, you get a small pack of replaceable rubber inserts. Be warned that these can go walkabout quite easily. So take care, or Apple will charge you a pretty penny for replacements.

New sound, who dis?

It’s safe to say the sound quality has improved a lot thanks to the snug fit of the soft inserts. This means podcasts and music is a more enjoyable affair and something I’ve found myself seeking more often with the Pros.

Not a single connection drop out. 

Having recently taken part in Sydney’s City To Surf I discovered that my Bose Soundsports don’t stay connected all that well. Running 14 kilometres with the sound constantly dropping out is a real pain in the brain. We’ve found the Airpods Pro don’t (so far) have this issue. Yes, even with the Pixel 4. That means they’re runner approved.

They passed the workout test with flying colours.

Whether you’re deadlifting, bench pressing or shadow boxing in the mirror you’ll find the Airpods Pro stay in place much better than the original version. Not only are you assured they won’t fall out, but the noise-cancelling will also drown out local gym heroes’ grunting and swearing. C’mon, more energy.

Lastly, the price. They’re a bit punchy.

You’re buying quality but, as mentioned before, the A$399 price tag means these earbuds are not for everyone.

It would be good to test the Airpods Pro with an iPhone to maximise the functions and see how they perform in their natural habitat. Stay tuned for that.

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