Why Android users should better not use AirPods

AirPods are by far the best-selling Bluetooth headphones in the world. One reason is how well they work with an iPhone. With an Android smartphone, things look a bit different.

AirPods are almost a must-buy for iPhone owners. The easy setup and ever-improving features are solid selling points. But are the Apple headphones also worthwhile for users of an Android smartphone? Not really. atechbook explains why Android users should rather reach for other headphones.

Just to make it clear up front. This article is not aimed at those who use both iPhone and Android. In this case, there are hardly any restrictions, since the AirPods can always be connected to the iPhone and updated. This is about using AirPods exclusively with an Android smartphone. The following points show why the AirPods are not worthwhile in this case:

There are no updates

Meanwhile, many manufacturers offer apps for their Bluetooth headphones, via which they provide improvements and new functions in the form of updates, among other things. In Apple’s case, this works via iOS itself, an additional app is not necessary. The company delivers new features and improvements via iOS updates.

For example, the AirPods Pro got 3D audio with iOS 14. Both AirPods and AirPods Pro also improved the automatic switching between devices and optimized charging. With iOS 15, support for the “Where is?” search function and the “Conversation Boost” were added, among other things. All of these things that enhance the quality of the product are not available for AirPods paired with Android smartphones. There are no improvements in stability or new features. So you pay the same price, but ultimately get less performance.

The sound quality is worse

The AirPods (Pro) only support the audio format AAC (Advanced Audio Coding), which provides good audio quality with iPhones. However, the AirPods produce poorer quality with it in combination with Android, as the audio-focused site “Soundguys” writes. Android consequently assigns Bluetooth a lower priority to reduce power consumption. The energy-hungry AAC does not work as well on Android smartphones as it does on iPhones because of this. Technologies like Qualcomm’s energy-efficient “aptX” codec solve this problem for Android smartphones. However, the AirPods do not have any of that. It is therefore advisable to choose Bluetooth headphones that support Qualcomm’s audio codec “aptX” for Android devices.

Other things that do not work with the AirPods and an Android smartphone

Uncomplicated setup

On an iPhone, it is enough to simply open the charging case of the AirPods. This starts the setup process on the iPhone automatically. You can read more about how the setup works on Android below.

Wear detection

When the AirPods are connected to an iPhone, they detect that they are in the ear via a sensor. If you take them out, playback stops automatically. There are now many alternative Bluetooth headphones that support this function with both iPhone and Android smartphone.

Listening with a single AirPod

Connected to an iPhone, you can only listen to music with one of the two AirPods. With Android, both have to be outside the case. This feature is also available on many other wireless earbuds.

Audio Sharing

Since iOS 13, it’s possible to play an audio source on two pairs of AirPods at the same time. For example, you can watch a movie together on the iPad without disturbing other people.

Automatic switching between devices

AirPods can detect when you’re playing music on your iPhone, for example, and then reach for your iPad to watch a movie. They then automatically switch audio sources and play audio from the device you’re using. However, this feature is tied to iCloud, so it only works with iPhone, iPad and Mac. Meanwhile, other headphone models, such as those from Samsung, also supported this feature for Android devices.

Ask Siri

The Apple voice assistant only works on an iPhone. However, there are ways to make Google Assistant work on AirPods on Android with additional apps.

Adjust what tap and press gestures do.

The AirPods and AirPods Pro have touch surfaces that can be used to control playback and launch Siri. It is true that the headphones also support these gestures with Android out of the box. However, unlike with an iPhone, you cannot change what the gestures do.

Show battery level

The iPhone (or iPad) can show exactly how much battery is left in the AirPods and the case. On Android, this feature does not exist by default. However, there are apps in the Google Play Store that can imitate this function.

3D audio (AirPods Pro and AirPods Max only)

The AirPods Pro and Max got the new 3D Audio feature with iOS 14. Combined with their accelerometer and position sensors, the headphones can determine their position relative to the iPhone or iPad. This allows the AirPods to create a three-dimensional sound field where the sound comes from the direction of the iPhone/iPad. This is not possible with Android, and so far there is no comparable competing product that can mimic this feature.

Adaptation to ear shape (AirPods Pro only).

With their built-in microphones, the AirPods Pro can determine if the fit of the silicone attachments is good. If an attachment does not seal well enough, for example, the test can show that. In this case, it is advisable to try other attachments.

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What works at all?

The AirPods offer some advantages even with an Android smartphone. They have a good battery life despite the compact charging case. However, limitations are to be expected here as well, since the built-in H1 chip cannot access all power-saving features with Android. However, users of an Android device will enjoy the H1 in terms of stability and range of the Bluetooth connection. Compared to many other Bluetooth headphones, the connection is very stable, even at longer distances between the headphones and the smartphone.

The double-tap gesture on the AirPods interface works to play and pause. However, the functionality of the double-tap is not changeable. On the AirPods Pro, it is also possible to fast-forward and rewind by squeezing the stem several times. However, alternative functions like calling Siri cannot be set because the menu for that is missing.

Active noise cancelling (ANC) and transparency mode work in the AirPods Pro. However, ANC cannot be turned off. For that, you have to connect the headphones to an iPhone or iPad to set them up. Also, with an Android smartphone, you don’t get access to future updates that can improve ANC and transparency mode.

Setting up AirPods with the Android smartphone

Although we do not recommend using the AirPods with an Android smartphone due to the many restrictions, we would like to point out that it is still possible. Apple even offers a guide specifically for setting up the AirPods on an Android smartphone on its support page.

  1. Go to the Android settings for Bluetooth & device connectionyoukuohao_52f27gfH$32JBluetooth.
  2. Open the charging case with AirPods plugged in.
  3. Press and hold the button on the back of the case until it flashes white.
  4. AirPods should appear in the list of detected devices. Select them to complete the setup.