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Apple AirPods Review. Still Worth it in 2021?


The apparent death of the headphone jack coincided with the release of wireless headphones like the Apple AirPods. Consumers who wanted the latest phones had to take the hit that their current wired headphones would not be compatible. Originally released in December 2016, they have had a refresh since then but is this range still worth buying in 2021? This review of the 2nd generation AirPods will hopefully help you to decide.

Should You Buy It?



  • Good Sound
  • Easy pairing
  • Good Features for Apple


  • Not Great for Android
  • One Size Fits All
  • Limited Music Controls

Tech Specs

  • Bluetooth 5.0
  • H1 Headphone Chip
  • 5hrs listening time
  • 3hrs talk time
  • 24hrs listening time with the case
  • 18hrs talk time with the case
  • QI- certified for wireless charging
  • Siri
AirPods box stood up


The design of the AirPods seems to divide opinion. Some people love them and some people hate them. I personally don’t mind. They aren’t the best looking headphones ever but they also aren’t the worst and it is all personal preference when it comes to headphone design. It can be agreed that the design is very Apple though. If you are wanting to customise them with your favourite colour, you may want to consider something else as the AirPods only come in white, which does stand out. The AirPods look very similar to Apple’s wired headphones they used to include with all their phone devices but with a thin stem that runs down from the bud on the AirPods.

Apple relies on a “one size fits all” approach with the AirPods, as the earbud itself is a fixed size, housed in a white plastic casing. To be honest I haven’t met too many people who have struggled with the fit of the AirPods but its something worth mentioning. The AirPods have never fallen out of my ears, whether that’s whilst out running or training in the gym. You can get accessory kits on Amazon that include silicone ear hooks for extra grip if you require them. Here are some links to good AirPods accessories that I have bought;


Pairing & Battery Life

This is one of the main areas where having an AppleAirPods pop up window on an Apple phone Phone is an advantage. Pairing to your AirPods is seamless to an Apple device. All you have to do it take them out of their case and place them in your ears and you are ready to go your own way. With the power of iCloud, you can also transition between your other Apple devices with the same level of ease. As soon as you lift the lid of the AirPods a pop-up will appear on your connected iPhone and will display the battery percentage of the AirPods case and each earbud.

When it comes to compatible Apple devices if you own anything newer than an iPhone 5s then you should have no issues connecting. If you are pairing to an Android device it won’t be as smooth. Most likely you will have to navigate to the Bluetooth settings and pair to the AirPods. You may have to keep accessing these settings to keep reconnecting as well, which would become tedious quite quickly. 

When the AirPods were released, the 5 hours listening time on a single charge was quite good compared to the competition. However, if you are a heavy user, for example listening to music for the majority of the day you will find yourself dipping them in and out of that case quite often. When you compare the battery life of the AirPods to newly released wireless headphones that’s where the AirPods battery life really does fall short. The Samsung Galaxy Buds provide 13 hours of listening time, plenty of battery life to see you through the day without having to put them back in the case. Granted there was a year between the release of these two headphones, with the AirPods coming first, but it would have been nice to see Apple push the battery life

Sound Quality

You won’t get the same depth to a track as you would with a high end set of wired headphones but the hit you take on the music quality is outweighed by the freedom of having no wires in my opinion. 

One scenario where sound quality dips is when you are using them in a crowded or noisy place. As there is no active noise cancellation in the AirPods you will be able to hear the outside noise. The volume of them does get quite high but won’t drown out that outside noise if it’s overly loud. The AirPods Pro offer noise cancellation so if you are looking for this feature it may be worth looking at them. Here is a review of the AirPods Pro, see what you think of them.  

The mic in the AirPods is pretty good and this makes using them for phone calls super easy. Couple this with the fact they are wireless you really are onto a winner. No longer do you need to wedge your phone between head and ear so you can munch down on your sandwich. Just to disclaim here that the mic isn’t good enough to cover up the fact your mouth would be stuffed full of sandwich so take your bites smartly.

Sound quality is where the AirPods really excel and the old cliche of “you get what you pay for” rings true. If you’re listening to your guilty pleasures or headbanging to some heavy metal, your music will sound good from the AirPods. Lyrics come through clearly and the bass isn’t going to blow your mind but they are perfectly good enough to create a decent listening experience.

AirPods case with the lid open revealing the AirPods


AirPods setting window on an Apple phoneApple users get a more feature-rich experience when using Airpods. It’s been a common theme throughout this review, it’s almost like Apple were trying to encourage people to buy both of their devices to have the best experience, how weird. 

For Apple users, you get the full works. All the sensors and gestures are available for you to set up and use. These include automatic ear detection which transfers your audio between AirPods and iPhone seamlessly. This feature is great if you intend to wear these in the office (post lockdown) and someone wants to talk to you. You can just pull one of the earbuds out your ear and your music will stop. Double-tap features can also be customised. The options are, Siri, skip a track or play/pause.

 For Android users, you can set up double tap features which are good to have but you lose the ability to have one AirPod in and still listen to music. You need to have both AirPods out of the case to listen to music on Android devices. Battery status is another feature that takes a hit when you use AirPods with Android. You can get the “AirBattery” app but it just isn’t as easy as it is on an Apple device. If you are a die-hard Android user I would personally look elsewhere for wireless headphones.


There is a lot to like about the Apple AirPods, definitely if you own an Apple phone. If you own an Android phone look elsewhere in my opinion. You will find better options that integrate with that ecosystem like the Sennheiser CX 400BT, Samsung Galaxy Buds or the Google Pixel Buds. 

Are the Apple AirPods 2nd Gen a good purchase in 2021? Yes if you own an Apple iPhone. If you have a bigger budget and are looking for better sound quality then naturally the AirPods Pro are an option but they will probably set you back £200/$230+. See our review of the AirPods pro here. The original AirPods you can pick up for around £160/$160. 

Obviously, look to get them on sale to get the most for your money. TopCashback is a great site to get money back on purchases you are planning to make regardless. TopCashback offers varied levels of cashback across hundreds of merchants and are worth looking at if you are considering a big tech purchase. If you fancy joining them to make some savings you can use my referral link and you will get a £5 cashback bonus –

Let me know what you think of the Apple AirPods down in the comments below.

Thanks for reading this review. Until next time

Thumbnail Image by Valentin J-W from Pixabay