Opinion

AirPods Degradation

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You've probably noticed the newest status symbol, prominent on social media, people talking with them in, talking about how they just got some, or how they lost one of them…I'm referring to Apple AirPods of course.

It's funny, when first announced everyone talked shit and said AirPods looked stupid and wouldn't amount to anything. Two years later, Apple released a second generation and have struggled to keep up with demand from the very beginning. They are that popular. The world of minimal wires is here. This streamlined new world comes with some caveats though.

Degradation

There is something that doesn't seem to get much attention, that being the battery degradation. After about 2 years, my AirPods die really fast. When talking on the phone, they last about 20 minutes and just die (they don't even play the warning tone). General music listening is about an hour now, (down from the 5 hours they lasted when new). With this experience, I've grown reluctant to purchase future generations of AirPods.

To those considering purchasing first generation AirPods on sites like eBay, be wary. Yes you will most likely receive authentic AirPods, but they could potentially be degraded and ultimately an underwelming experience and waste of money.

Is This All In The Plan?

Buried deep on Apples website is information pertaining to upgrade cycles. They believe the ideal upgrade cycle for the iPhone is 2 years. However, iPhones last a lot longer than 2 years. That became apparent in 2018 when Apple stopped disclosing iPhone sales numbers…meaning the smartphone market is saturated and people don't upgrade every 1-2 years. The only way around that would be to manufacture iPhones that aren't usable after 2 years.

The AirPods 2 year life span could be purposeful to get customers to keep upgrading. The abrupt dying experienced with mine could also be a software tactic. Which isn't out of the realm of possibility; Apple did come under fire for slowing iPhones on purpose in 2018.

Are They Worth The Cost?

I don't think anyone really considers the battery situation when they buy them. When I got my AirPods, one of the first questions which went through my mind was "I wonder how the batteries will hold up". This was as I was examining the size and compactness. The answer to my question: about 2 years. Is a wireless audio lifestyle worth $149.50 per year? It's ultimately up to you. I will probably buy a second generation pair mainly because I've grown accustomed to the wireless headphones life. Wired EarPods are now a hassle.

The Risk of Using Cheap Tech Accessories

The Risk of using cheap tech accessories

There is certainly no shortage of accessory options for your devices. You can get wall chargers, car chargers, and cables for dirt cheap; how can you resist saving a lot compared to the same accessories sold by the device manufacturer. This desire to save could bring on costly risks though. Costs like having to completely replace your device, or other belongings.

So what chargers are bad?

In my opinion, you should avoid the cheap chargers or cords manufactured by brands you’ve never heard of. This consists mostly of products on amazon, in drug stores, gas stations, etc. Anywhere that tech accessories are displayed for the purpose of impulse purchases. There is no brand trust with those products, just a low purchase price. Belkin, Apple, etc have a lot more riding on their reputation for reliable device accessories than some random company from China.

So what exactly can happen if I use a cheapo charger from Walgreens?

First and for-most, you could damage your device. I've seen this happen to my step father who used a cheap gas station car charger and fried his iPhone, and had to by a whole new phone. These cheap charger and cable manufactures use cheap materials and leave out technology which helps provide a steady stream of power to your device.

Secondly, you could be injured by these products. There are plenty of cases involving people using cheap accessories that have been electrocuted…to death. Some had the headphones melt into their ears. This article from Vice is a good example.

Third, but equally as bad as the previous two is the possibility of damage to your home. A wall charger that experiences a spike in electricity could melt or catch fire.

Just because I use a reputable brand doesn't mean I'm 100% safe…

This is true. You aren't 100% safe using any charger. There have been cases where Apple's own wall chargers have short circuited and caught fire. The biggest difference though is because Apple has a reputation to protect, they will likely cover damages and/or replace the malfunctioning product. The little no name company from china will definitely not do that. All they would have to do is retire their current name and re-open as a new company and continue their sales.

Conclusion

Not all charging devices are created equal. Though the price may not be as desirable, buying charging accessories direct from the device manufacturer or a long time 3rd party company is a better choice. Should something malfunction, they will be more likely to make things right.

I'm not waiting for the iPhone X

When iPhone X was revealed, like many, I said "thats the iPhone I'm getting". A large number of people are holding out for it. I was with them until I started to question why. I really started questioning the wait when the predicted amount of handsets that would be available was low and only got lower as weeks went on. Apple's manufacturers are having difficulties building components for Face ID in a fast enough manor. So I decided not to wait after considering a few factors. 

Nearly Everything Is The Same

The specs of both iPhone 8 and X are nearly identical. The Plus even gets the fancy new portrait lighting software and wireless charging. So why wait for something that you can get now? Next years iPhone will have the same exterior as iPhone X. Not to mention that the S models always seem to be better anyway. One can argue that Face ID is reason to wait, except...

Face ID Isn’t Going Anywhere

Apple killed Touch ID with iPhone X and introduced facial recognition instead. Called Face ID. Is it cool? Hell yes. Is it worth waiting for? No. It’ll be on next years iPhone. It’ll be better and faster than on iPhone X. Besides, I would imagine that there might be a few kinks to work out before it works as advertised. 

AT&T NEXT Every Year

I have AT&T NEXT Every Year. So I get a new phone… every year. Whatever phone I get, I get a new one next year. Which makes waiting for a phone sort of pointless, I can the iPhone XS.

Waiting Throws Off Next Years Upgrade

With AT&T Next Every Year, after paying for a phone for 12 months, you can trade it in. If I waited for iPhone X, I could potentially receive it in January or February. Which means I’d have to wait 12 months from then to get a new phone. I'd have to wait until 2019 to get the 2018 phone. Or I could pay a few hundred dollars extra and upgrade early. Which isn’t worth it.