Why Does Everyone Hate AirPods?

There has been a lot of AirPod hate in the media lately. Those little wireless headphones you see sticking out of people’s’ ears?

They are criticized for having an “awful” design, Esquire claimed they are Apple’s biggest mistake and Vice calls them a “tragedy.”

Don’t get me wrong, I also find them ugly. And, like most new tech things, the early adopters are often tech bros who only make AirPods look extra annoying. But a tragedy?

The Popular Mechanics piece focuses on the lack of wire and how that makes them easier to lose and means you can’t hang them from your neck.

Those things might both be true, but headphones in all shapes and forms are easy to lose. I’ve seen plenty of corded headphones laying on the ground and I have lost a pair of wired Bluetooth headphones before. Lots of small things (jewelry, money, ID/public transit/credit cards to name a few) are easy to lose.

The pair I lost I put around my neck and then misplaced when taking off a scarf. If you have them in and need to listen to something you can…take one out and hold it? That doesn’t seem challenging.

If that’s the complaint, phones are easier to misplace than laptops so maybe we shouldn’t have phones?

They do point out that AirPods are only (wholly) compatible with Apple devices which is annoying but the same goes for lots of branded products.

Esquire is also upset at the lack of wire, though I couldn’t find them complaining about it when other companies came out with wire-free headphones. They also point out that you can’t adjust the volume or change tracks on the headphones itself, you need to use the phone to do it. That was how we had to live our lives a few years ago when wired headphones were our only option and everyone managed to survive. Honestly, this might be the most valid feature complaint, but I don’t know that it counts as the biggest mistake. Does anyone remember Ping? Or when U2 was forced upon all iTunes users?

Vice runs this dramatic opening:

“AirPods are a product of the past.

They’re plastic, made of some combination of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, chlorine, and sulfur. They’re tungsten, tin, tantalum, lithium, and cobalt.

The particles that make up these elements were created 13.8 billion years ago, during the Big Bang. Humans extract these elements from the earth, heat them, refine them. As they work, humans breathe in airborne particles, which deposit in their lungs. The materials are shipped from places like Vietnam, South Africa, Kazakhstan, Peru, Mexico, Indonesia, and India, to factories in China. A literal city of workers creates four tiny computing chips and assembles them into a logic board. Sensors, microphones, grilles, and an antenna are glued together and packaged into a white, strange-looking plastic exoskeleton.”

That is literally true of every single electronic device we own.

Vice focuses on the fact that the headphones aren’t rechargeable and will last about 18 months before the battery dies and you can no longer use them. That does seem like a waste until you consider that most headphones last about a year.

“You can get a mid-range, quality pair of headphones for under a hundred dollars that will last a little over a year with good care,” from It Still Works, a website that focuses on how long items generally last.

Most phones are good for two years on average. These things are certainly bad, but I don’t see the same level of vitriol aimed at new iPhones.

The Vice article dedicates a decent chunk of space to the notion that people aren’t listening when they have AirPods in. Which is true of all headphones. And that they are a “conspicuous consumption” product. Which is true of, if not most consumer electronics, then certainly all Apple products.

Haters gonna hate, I guess.