Frantic frenzy over AirPods


Dec. 10, 2019, 11:48 p.m. | By Shruti Chauhan | 10 months, 2 weeks ago

Are the new AirPod Pros worth it?


“Sorry, I can’t hear you I have AirPods in.” Ever since their original release in 2016, AirPods have become a cultural phenomenon: in every crowd, someone is bound to be using them. Bluetooth and wireless headphones have existed for years, but these small and portable white earpieces easily one-up every similar product on the market.

On Oct. 30, Apple released the AirPod Pros, the newest version of the popular earbuds. The public’s reaction was mixed, with the most common responses related to the product’s expensive price ($249), revamped design and added features. Critics went as far as claiming that the AirPod Pros can generate enough radiation to cause cancer among users.

Photo: The new AirPod Pros have silicon tips designed for custom fit and heightened comfort (courtesy of Creative Commons).

AirPods are universally acclaimed. Yet, some of the characteristics of AirPod Pros, most notably the price, are offsetting. Here is a look at several key aspects of the AirPod Pros so you can determine for yourself if they are worth the splurge. 

Features

The first version of AirPods were wireless Bluetooth earbuds. In addition to playing audio, AirPods feature a built-in microphone. This filters out background noise and allows users to take phone calls and talk to Siri, Apple’s assistant. 

The AirPods’ built-in accelerometers and optical sensors can detect taps (e.g. double-tap to pause audio or skip track) and in-ear placement, which enables users to easily pause their music by taking out the one or both earbuds. The music automatically resumes when they are put back in. 

The AirPod Pros include these favorite features as well as several exciting additions. AirPod Pros boast active noise cancellation, which creates an immersive sonic experience. However, this is coupled with users having the option to activate “transparency mode” if they want to be tuned in to their real-world surroundings as well.

Apple also refined the ergonomics of their headphones, implementing a customizable fit in the AirPod Pros. There are three sizes of the flexible silicone tips—small, medium, and large—that click into the base of the AirPod and conform to the user’s ear shape in order to keep the AirPod secure. Additionally, there are vents helping equalize pressure, so users feel almost as if there is nothing in their ears at all.

One slight downside to these improvements is a shorter battery life. The AirPods deliver up to five hours of battery life, with another 19 hours added by the charging case. Due to the noise cancelling feature, the AirPods Pros claim a little less – 4.5 hours – plus the same 19 hours from the charging case. Compared to other earbuds which offer 8-10 hours of life without charging, this is upsetting.

Price

The first-generation AirPods cost approximately $140, but the AirPod Pros hit the market at $249. This drastic price jump makes the newest generation of Apple earbuds far less accessible and potentially not worth the price. 

Senior Eric Feng, an AirPods user, says the AirPod Pros’ price offsets the chance that he will upgrade, but it could be worth it for long-term use. “The AirPods Pros are $249 which is a bump up from $160 but I think that people will get their money’s worth if they keep them for two or three years,” Feng says.

Style

Style is the one aspect Apple has not mastered with their AirPods. With the first generation’s release, critics stated that Apple got lazy and simply just cut the wires off of their classic earphones.

The AirPod Pros also have yielded a plethora of memes regarding their similar appearance to other comical items. They look stupid. They look like blow dryers,sophomore Dulce Vasquez says. They’ve also been compared to the peashooters from Plants vs. Zombies, Snoopy, seahorses, Birdo, Mario, Pingu, Bellsprout from Pokemon and so much more. Efforts to revamp design seem to be lackluster on the whole.

Radiation

The primary concern that potential users have about AirPod Pros is that their placement in the ear canal exposes tissues in the head to high levels of radiofrequency radiation. Extremists cite studies stating that when animals were exposed to this form of radiation, they had increased reproductive, neurological and genetic damage. 

The flaw with this idea is that AirPods alone expose us to radiation. Radiation is everywhere. The only way to stay protected is to distance yourself from technology altogether, which is impossible in this day and age. 

In actuality, there's really no evidence that radio-frequency (RF) radiation can cause brain cancer or tumors in humans. In fact, as stated by the California Department of Public Health, holding a cell phone to your face emits more RF energy than Bluetooth devices like AirPods.

All in all, AirPods are worth it. The sleek earbuds are on trend for any occasion. However, the necessity to blast through your savings to buy AirPod Pros is up to individual debate. The struggle is no doubt deciding for yourself whether the advanced features are truly worth the dramatic price.

Last updated: Dec. 10, 2019, 11:48 p.m.



Shruti Chauhan. Hi, I'm Shruti and I'm a senior at Blair! Apart from writing for SCO, I enjoy playing tennis, biking, and watching Netflix. More »

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Comments


Theodora Scarato — 10 months, 2 weeks ago

Great to see a conversation on the pros and cons. Cell phones were not safety tested before coming on the market. In fact, when a phone is radiation tested touching the body they generally violate US radiation limits. But the law says they do not have to be tested at body contact so technically they are still legal. When Berkeley California passed the Cell Phone Right to Know law, the telecommunications companies sued stating they were violating the companies free speech rights. " Great news! The US Supreme Court just ruled that the Berkeley law stands! If you use Airpods and a cell phone on your lap you are getting several layers of exposure. Scientists recommend reducing exposure as much as possible. Using your phone on speaker reduces exposure- with the phone away from your body. You also can use an airtube headset . Many thanks for this investigation.


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