Nope, nope, nope... Apple's new headphones are a design disaster
Out of all the rumours preceding the launch of iPhone 7, the one most people were dreading was the removal of the headphone jack.
Possibly the most universal port in the world is being replaced by either a) proprietary technology (Apple’s Lightning port) or b) wireless connection (but try keeping Bluetooth headphones alive for more than five hours!).
As expected, at the overnight launch of iPhone 7, Apple provided a solution to the problem it had created only minute earlier – a solution priced at AU$229.00 (US$179.00) when it hits the stores late in October.
And in keeping with tradition, the Airpod headphones take a bunch of design solutions developed by other manufacturers and bundles them into a pure white package. The only problem being that, on this occasion, the packaging looks ridiculous.
Do these look to you like something Steve Jobs would have let through? The Airpods, to us, look like someone has cut off the wiring from a standard set of ear buds... or they've had another crack at the horrendous bluetooth earpieces preferred by power-wankers in the 2000s.
Apple might (might) have solved the problems around Bluetooth paring through its relentless pursuit of simplicity, but that doesn’t stop you from looking ridiculous.
Here are three alternative to earpods that offer much of the same functionality, all within a more discrete package.
Bragi – from US$129.00
There has been hype around this product for the last 12 months, and now they are finally on the market. There are two tiers – the basic Headphone version for US$129.00, and the Dash for USD$299.00. The Headphone edition features six hours playback, noise cancelling and can take phonecalls from the phone in your pocket.
Elwn – USD$139
A Kickstarter project, the Elwn Fit ear buds promises even more playback – with up to 6.5 hours available on a single charge. With much of the same functionality, the advantage of the Elwn is the option to connect the buds to wires and a battery pack so that you never run out of power. Perfect for long trips!
Fireflies - US$150.00
Another Kickstarter project, albeit one with extraordinary success. Their campaign set out to raise $20,000.00, and is now sitting well over $1.1 million.
While the Fireflies offer much of the same connectivity and battery life of competitors, a nifty addition is a ‘lock wing’ that clips into the cartilage of your ear to ensure an extra snug fit. This looks like a key advantage over the, which look as though they could fall out at any time (particularly with the weighty arms that extend down to the earlobes).
So, plenty of options are avialble other than the unsightly Airpods. Mind you, if there is one thing Apple got right at the launch overnight, it was the release of the 'Jet Black' iPhone 7. That thing is hawt.