I bought BeatsX right after they were available and this fall I found a good deal and finally got a pair of AirPods. Now that I have both I can write a quick article about the pros and cons, I sometimes find twitter threads about which one to buy and 280 chars aren’t enough, so I’ll past this link next time.
Let me start by saying I like both products, I was happy with my BeatsX before I decided to buy a pair of AirPods and I’m currently using both. I didn’t buy AirPods before as wanted to buy them with a good deal, and finally found it during 2018 Black Friday. I knew back then a new version of AirPods was going to be released sooner or later, I’m writing this post on January 22 and still no new AirPods, so I’m still running the latest and greatest.
Why did I buy a pair of BeatsX to begin with? Back in 2016 I really got into podcasts, my commute was about 40 minutes and I always have a nice walk during my launch break so I basically had almost 2 hours to dedicate to listening to stuff every working day. I do love music, but listening to good music during a commute in a noisy environment isn’t great, I prefer enjoying it at home and thought to myself podcasts would be useful to my career and to my english as well. I started with EarPods, but the cable running all the way down to my jacket’s pocket or to the small back where I put the iPhone was really annoying all the time.
The W1 chip announced in September was interesting indeed, but AirPods were late and quite hard to get so I decided to wait and BeatsX looked promising so I eventually got them.
What was interesting about BeatsX? I pick 3 main reasons:
- W1 chip for easy pairing and seamless integration with all my Apple products
- Lighting port. I have plenty of Lighting cables, so it is much more convenient to charge a pair of earphones with it instead of having a micro or mini USB cable, especially if I’m not at home
- In Ear design. Sound isolation provided by the in ear design would help me during the commute, so it was a pro.
Unlike AirPods it was quite easy to get a pair of BeatsX right after they were launched, the price was lower and they included a code to redeem 3 months of Apple Music, so I got to enjoy the service for 3 more months after the initial free trial.
After many months I can say having a Lighting port is great, and the W1 is really convenient, so reason 1 and reason 2 are still valid. What about In Ear? I used to love it during my subway commute, as I didn’t need to raise the volume in order to hear clearly. Even when I’m at my desk is good to have some isolation, I don’t push them too much into my ears as I want to be able to hear a colleague calling me, but I don’t hear the typical background noise you have in each office with phones ringing, people talking etc.
Sound isolation is the main reason why I’m still using BeatsX when I’m in office and want to concentrate on something with some background music without distractions, or when I watch something like WWDC videos, online courses or conferences. Battery life is good, back when I used only BeatsX I was sometimes able to use them for the entire day without charging, if I didn’t take many phone calls, and before getting home I checked their battery on the iOS widget, even a few minutes charge would help a lot.
So it is a great product, isn’t it?
Well, it still has a cable… and it is really annoying in some situations.
Let’s go back to November, when I started to wear a coat. I bought a new one with a collar that goes way to my chin if I pull up the zip. I don’t need a scarf and that’s great, but having a cable resting on the neck became really inconvenient. During summer I had no jacket and the cable wasn’t a big problem, neither it was with my previous coat, but it started to annoy me pretty soon. That’s when I decided to try AirPods, I figured out no cable, even without sound isolation, would be way better. And I was right.
The cable of my BeatsX was annoying, so I though let’s go for a completely wireless product!
As I did with BeatsX I’ll point out 3 reasons to buy AirPods:
- No more wires! Yes, that’s the main reason to buy this kind of earphones. You feel really free, I know they don’t look cool but I honestly don’t care, and BeatsX with their weird cable weren’t stylish too.
- The charging case. It provides with about 4 charges, I can fit it into my jeans pocket and charging is fast too. And just like BeatsX you can use a Lighting cable, so the same one I use for the iPhone provides charge for the case.
- Better microphone. I was told my voice wasn’t clear at all when making phone calls outdoors with BeatsX, while nobody complains when I’m using AirPods.
So now I’m using AirPods during my commute and every time I take a phone call, while I use BeatsX with my Mac to listen to music and watch videos. I have to say AirPods aren’t great for music, I only seldom listen to songs with them as I don’t enjoy it. I prefer more sound isolation if I’m outdoors, and indoors even if I don’t have background noise I miss basses with AirPods.
But as you know I love podcasts and I take phone calls, so AirPods are great. Battery life is ok, my advice is to put them on the case as soon as possible because they drain power even if they’re not in your ears, so if you forget them on the table you can find them with poor battery after a few hours. What I like about them is the ability to make a phone call with just one, so during long calls when battery life start to be a problem I can take one out, put it on the case for a few minutes then swap them and charge the other one. If you take a lot of calls that’s very handy. The main problem is the lack of isolation, that force me to crank up the volume during my commute. Since wearing AirPods I started using Voice Boost on my favourite podcast app Overcast, and it helps a lot!
So what should you buy?
I’d say AirPods are better unless you really need sound isolation and prefer In Ear earphones. I know some people don’t like EarPods, and if they don’t fit your ears AirPods won’t do. BeatsX have a set of eartips so you can find the right one for your ears, and they come with wingtips as well if you want them to be more stable.
UPDATE: iOS 12.2 beta contains a reference about Hey Siri for AirPods, so the new version should be released in a few months, maybe weeks.
UPDATE2: They finally release the new version of AirPods on March 20th. They contain the new H1 chip for faster setup and better battery life while making calls. The charging case is now Qi compatible but it comes at a €50 premium, or can be bought for €89. I’m sticking with my gen 1 pair of AirPods, but glad there is a new model out.