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Airpods 2 with Android (10 months later)

Before buying the Airpods I read a lot of reviews and saw many videos on Youtube on how they would have behaved with Android.

After using them for 10 months with a Sony XZ1, I decided to write this review to answer all the questions I asked myself before buying them.

I have tested the Airpods with my Sony XZ1 smartphone

THE AIRPODS 2

I don’t want to waste too much time explaining how they are made because there are already a lot of reviews on the internet. I only tell you a few things that I think can be interesting.

Airpods 1 vs Airpods 2

I compared my sister’s Airpods 1 to Airpods 2. The headphones are indistinguishable, I read on the net that some reviewers found some differences between one and the other. I consider myself an average user (not a sound expert), I found them identical.

I confirm that the case is also identical. There is the same identification code “A1602” that you can read inside. The battery capacity is 398mAh.

You can use a case for Airpods 1 also for Airpods 2 and vice versa.

The only difference is that they have changed the printing of the codes inside the headphones, this is the only way to distinguish the older cases from newer ones.

Standard case vs Wireless case

My Airpods 2 is the version with the case without wireless charging (price in Italy € 179), the wireless version costs € 229.

To remove any doubt, the headphones are identical both in the € 179 version and in the € 229 version. Only the case is different (wired or wireless).

Distinguishing the cases is easy: the basic case of the AirPods has the internal notification LED, while the wireless ones have the external LED.

Autonomy and recharge

I timed the battery life of the AirPods before doing this (10 months old): 4 hours and 5 minutes listening to Spotify (half volume), including a 5 minutes call.

From this point of view, I’m satisfied. Frankly, in 10 months I have never found myself in the situation of wanting more headphones autonomy.

With the case, you can recharge them 4 times (I have not tested this value, but I have seen that the battery of the Airpods is 92mAh and the case capacity is 398 mAh ).

With my use, I reload them once every 5-7 days. As I said I have the non-wireless version, so I recharge them with the wire (lightning cable ). From my point of view, given the high autonomy, I don’t think it’s worth spending 50 € more to have the wireless case. It is not an object that recharges every day like the smartphone. 

THE USE WITH AN ANDROID SMARTPHONE

Let’s start with the first consideration.

I usually use every day a Sony XZ1 smartphone (charging with USB-C), a Thinkpad X1 carbon 6th (charging with USB-C), and an iPad 2018 (charging with Apple Lightning).

It wouldn’t have been bad to have all the devices with USB-C, to carry a single cable on the road. I know that many people are careful about this, then I would like to point out the problem.

Pairing with an Android device

Let’s start with a premise. The Airpods behave like any Bluetooth headphones when used with Android. However, on some Android devices, there are some problems.

Low audio

I have this problem with my Sony XZ1. I guess it is a recurring one because I read online that many Android users are complaining about it.

The headphones connect without problems, but the capsule volume is very low. How low? You won’t be able to hear anything if you use them on the subway, in the car, in the gym, or even on a bicycle.

It is a software problem and to solve it there is this procedure that I found on Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cyNryiXFqtI

It should solve the problem for most Android phones. If it doesn’t go search the internet if your model has some different procedure.

Once you solved it, you should not have this problem anymore. It happened only once to me that after six months the volume had returned low. I did the same procedure again and worked.

Obviously, if you reset the phone, you’ll have to do it again.

Let’s analyze the other function of Airpods on an Android phone

Charge animation => not working (de facto)

The famous Apple animation, which shows the charging status of the headphones and case, does not work on Android.

This is the famous Apple animation!

If you want it, you have to download apps on the Google Play Store that “imitate” the Apple graphics.

I have tried: AirDroid, AndroPods, and AirBattery. But there are many more on the Google Play Store.

Do they work? Yes and no.

Yes, because the animation actually appears.

No, because despite the various adjustments I made, the animation has a lot of lag. Sometimes it happens that it doesn’t open, sometimes it opens late in a very annoying way (for example, you started using another app and the animation opens).

Also, if you do not purchase the premium versions (which cost very little: 1-2 €) you will have annoying advertising.

I tried all the three apps for several days, but I deleted them. In the end, they were more annoying than useful.

I tried them again recently (August 2020) before writing this review and I confirm that they have the same issues. I prefer not to know the state of charge, and I recharge the headphones only when necessary.

Touch controls => working

Here is good news. Touch controls also work with Android. To set them you have 2 possibilities:

1) If you have an Apple device, connect it, and set the controls for the Airpods. The controls will remain in memory in the headphones and will work the same way on Android.     

2) Some apps allow you to set these commands. So if you don’t have an iPhone/iPad, download one of these apps and set the controls. It is a paid feature on some apps (like AndroPods), but I’m pretty sure there is something for free on Google Play Store.     

Headphone detection inserted => not working

When you use the Airpods with an Apple device, if you remove a headset, the music/video pauses automatically.

I tried this function with the AirBattery app that I told you before, but it is very bad. There is a 2-3 second lag and sometimes it doesn’t even detect that the headset has been removed.

Take into account that you cannot use this function if you have an Android.

Siri => not working

Siri’s voice commands don’t work with Android.

Audio quality

Given that I am not an audiophile, but a normal user.

I listened to Spotify on the iPad 2018 and Sony XZ1 (Android). In both devices, I have set the maximum audio quality on the Spotify app. In my opinion, the sound is better on my iPad 2018, then Sony XZ1.

It’s not a huge difference, but when I switch between one and the other hearing the same song, I feel that on Android it feels a little worse.

Again the difference is not wide for a medium user, and it is hard to be perceived if you are in a noisy environment (car, bike, metro, etc )

Microphone quality

On this point, I have to say that instead, the quality of the microphone audio is much worse on Android (at least on Sony XZ1) than on Apple devices.

I did several tests, both listening to the audio on call. Both I tried to record audio tracks for a podcast (by using different recording apps).

In all cases, the audio recorded with the Airpods on Sony XZ1 was unusable for an amateur podcast. There is a kind of rumble and an unclear sound. It is fine for a call, but the quality is low. The sound seems disturbed even if you are recording/speaking in a quiet room.

I did the same test by recording a podcast with the same Airpods 2 on my iPad 2018. The sound quality is very good. Not at the level of an external microphone connected to a professional recording device (like Tascam devices). But the result was acceptable for an amateur podcast.

Other issues

I also found other problems in using Airpods 2 with Android.

I list them:

The automatic connection does not always work

On Apple, the Airpods connect immediately as soon as you open the headphone cover. On Android sometimes it happens that they don’t connect, so you have to go to Bluetooth settings and connect them manually.

The microphone does not activate when you are already on a call

It happens to start a call on the phone, and then to switch to headphones.

When I’m doing it with the Airpods and Sony XZ1, headphones connect, and the audio works, but the microphone does not. So, if you want to switch, you have to close the call, disconnect and reconnect the AirPods and then call again.

Would you recommend Airpods for Android users?

They are a great product that I would recommend 100% to anyone who owns an iPhone or iPad.

For those with Android, it is difficult to answer. I hate in-ear headphones, when I purchased the Airpods, the earphones for Android were all in-ear or they were of very low quality (I purchased a pair of bad Bluetooth headsets on Amazon… ). In recent months, new alternatives have also arrived in the Android world, starting with the Huawei Freebuds 3.

Despite the various limitations that I have described I still feel to recommend the Airpods also for those who have an Android phone. In the end, they are excellent headphones, very comfortable. The only heavy limits from my point of view are:

  • the initial setting: it can be a problem for those who do not have a minimum of manual skills with the Android menus.
  • The microphone: the quality is just fine for calls and unusable for recording podcasts or videos, even at an amateur level.

IMPORTANT NOTE

I repeat that my review is based on my experience with my Sony XZ1 in August 2020.

I would not exclude that other Android smartphones should work differently. It is also not excluded that in the future some problems will be solved, or the third-party apps will improve (AirDroid, AndroPods, AirBattery, etc).

Magnus

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