[Review] AirPods 2 on Android: How Well do They Work?
Apple launched the AirPods back in 2016 and it was one of the first truly wireless pair of earphones. There was absolutely no cables or wires going between both earbuds, unlike popular neckband earphones which made it stand out. However, that does not really mean it was well-received initially. People ridiculed it for looking like a box of dental floss and some pointed out how easy it was to lose them. Two and half years later, multiple well-known brands have tried to replicate the AirPods in an attempt to make the perfect pair of truly wireless earphones, but the AirPods still stands tall as one of the best in the market.
The major reason behind this is how well the AirPods blend into the Apple ecosystem and how convenient they are once you are used to them. The dedicated H1 chip and features like continuity between your iPhone and MacBook have made it an automatic choice for any Apple user looking for a pair of wireless earphones. But, what if you’re on the Android side of things and are looking for a good pair of wireless earphones? Should you still consider the AirPods? I picked up the AirPods 2 with the wireless charging case and I’ve been using it with my OnePlus 7 Pro and a Windows laptop, so let me tell you how my experience has been. Spoiler alert – I love it!
I won’t be diving in too deep in terms of the sound quality and how it compares with other truly wireless earphones in its segment, rather, I would be sharing a general consumer’s perspective on how the AirPods have blended it with my Android device and why I specifically chose the AirPods over several other options.
The primary reason (for me) behind picking up the AirPods was that I absolutely loathe the way in-ear style earphones feel in my ear. They just don’t feel comfortable for long periods of time. Plus, I’m not a huge fan of the isolation they provide. I’m that sort of a person who needs to be able to listen to his surroundings even while listening to music or when on a call, and the AirPods are the perfect choice since they don’t have ear-tips that go all the way into my ear canal, and instead just rest gently in the ear. While some (or maybe most) might have the exact opposite preference, I personally love how you don’t even feel the AirPods in your ears despite prolonged usage. Since the fit isn’t too tight, the AirPods are surely not for all you fitness freaks out there who run or perform rigorous activities.
Minimal Design and Form Factor
The second reason for picking up the AirPods would be the form factor and the minimalist design. I’m a big fan of simplistic design and the AirPods offer just that. That coupled with the extremely compact form factor sealed the deal for me. Oh yeah, not to forget, the closing mechanism for the case is a perfect fidgeting tool so that’s a bonus! I would’ve loved to see a black color variant since the white gets extremely dirty after being in my pocket for just about an hour. Also, since it’s built out of plastic, it collects tons of scratches over time so make sure you get a case for it. While the build quality does seem reassuring, the hinge can at times feel rather loose which is kinda scary given the price you’ve paid. You certainly don’t want a broken case.
Now, coming to the main aspect of the earphones, sound quality. The second-gen AirPods have a very balanced sound signature which means there’s no overpowering bass and the vocals are very clear. Not sure how an audiophile would rate it, but to a general consumer’s ears, the AirPods sound fantastic. And the same can be said about calls too. The quality is great, and you can hear the other party fairly clearly. However, at times, the opposite party complained of overpowering background noise. Not sure if this is specific to using it with an Android device in any way. The AirPods 2 sounds great, but there certainly are better sounding earphones out there especially for the hefty price that you are paying.
How well does it work with Android?
Speaking about using it with an Android device, the pairing process is surprisingly simple. You just need to open the lid of the case and press and hold the button on the back until you see AirPods in your Bluetooth list on your phone. You can then pair it just like any other Bluetooth device. Once paired, you just have to open the case each time you need to use the AirPods and if the Bluetooth on your phone is turned on, it automatically connects and you’re good to go. To disconnect them, all you need to do is put them back in the box. Since there are no physical buttons on the AirPods, the controls are entirely gesture-based and the only ones that work on Android are double-tapping to skip tracks. This gesture can be customized to play/pause music too but the caveat here is that you need an iOS device to be able to do it. I had to visit my friend who has an iPhone XR and configured the left earbud to skip tracks and right earbud to play/pause music.
There are third-party apps on Android that claim to do this, but they are paid, and they only work on the 1st Gen AirPods. Also, removing the AirPods from your ears pauses music on iOS, but that doesn’t work on Android. There’s no way to check the battery levels of the case and the individual AirPods either, so these are some things you need to keep in mind. The AirPods 2 also added support for “Hey Siri” detection, and no doubts for guessing, that too doesn’t work with Android (obviously). So, other than skipping tracks and playing/pausing your music (that too if you know someone with an iPhone), you’ll have to pull your phone out each time you want to vary volume levels or got to the previous track. I didn’t find it to be too much of a hassle, to be frank since I generally use my smartwatch to control music anyway.
Battery life one area where you generally tend to compromise on with truly wireless earphones. The AirPods 2 is certainly not disappointing, but when compared to neckband earphones, the battery will surely seem underwhelming. With the AirPods fully charged, we experienced about 3-4 hours of playback and talk time and putting them back in the case charged the AirPods approximately 6 times during our usage which is impressive. However, coming from the OnePlus Bullets Wireless which offered about 8 hours of battery life and would charge in just about 20 minutes, the AirPods 2 seem like a small step back. Charging the case takes about an hour and a half and charging the AirPods within the case usually takes less than an hour.
Should you Get the AirPods 2 if you’re on Android?
If you’re like me and you strictly DO NOT want a pair of in-ear style earphones, you’re left with very little, or absolutely no other choice. The AirPods 2 feel great, sound good, they’re satisfactory for calls, they last considerably longer, and are super convenient, albeit not as much as when used with an Apple device. However, since there aren’t a lot of differences between the 1st gen AirPods and AirPods 2, you can actually consider getting the 1st gen since you can find better deals on it and they will prove to be better value for money. AirPods on Android? Yeah, they work perfectly fine.