NLT 4 | Apple AirPods


Are the Apple AirPods the next big little thing? Not in a million years, according to your hosts, Tracy Hazzard and Tom Hazzard. This podcast has been all about praising the next little things, but today’s episode is a little different. Learn why the Apple AirPods is a poorly designed product. Learn why it’s not just a microphone problem but an everything problem. Discover why Tracy and Tom have such a distaste for it today!

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Why Apple AirPods Will Never Make Our Headphones Best Of List

We’re going to share with you our thoughts on decidedly a little thing that maybe is a big thing for a lot of people and I’m going to let you know straight away we’re not fans of this little thing.

It’s never going to make the Next Little Thing Hotlist. It’s never going to be in my ears because that’s what it is. We’re going to talking about Apple AirPods. AirPods in general whether they’re aftermarket, somebody else’s brand but the wireless AirPod things that are the big white things that stick out of your ears and hooked to your phone or to your mobile devices.

They connect to your phone or your laptop, any device that has a microphone and input and a speaker output that has Bluetooth capability because they are Bluetooth wireless devices.

They have a microphone in them. It picks up your voices so you can do phone calls with them. You can listen to music. You can do whatever you want with them and people love them. I know there are lots of people who love them. We hate them. We’re designers and we’re big Apple fans.

I felt guilty because my mother gave me a pair for Christmas a couple of years ago. I knew when she gave it to me it was like, “She wasted some money on this.” I knew I wasn’t going to enjoy it. I wasn’t going to use it. I didn’t want it to sit idly by wasting it. I actually gave it to our daughter and who was like, “Are those AirPods? I’ll take them.” She was all over it. Let’s talk about why we don’t like them. Tracy, maybe I’ll start with a couple of my reasons and then you can share a couple of yours. Personally, there’s something about using a wireless device like that. Putting them in my ears, it’s communicating with signals all around my head, through my head. There’s something I don’t like about that.

The Apple AirPods microphone quality is not good and makes you look unprofessional. Share on X

I’m sure a lot of you are going to say, “How old is this guy who is afraid of technology.” I’m not afraid of technology. I’m a CTO at our company and I embrace technology but there is something I don’t like about that conceptually. That’s probably the most minor reason that I’m not a fan. I’m not a fan because of the quality of the microphone. If you’re ever watching TV these days, watched any news shows or opinion shows, they have a panel of people that the screen is split into 3 or 4 people and everybody’s remote at home. Especially over the pandemic, this started in a big way.

They used to have panels of people try to be in the studio. Now everybody’s at home. Inevitably, at least one person on the panel is using AirPods or some other version of them. I don’t care if it’s the Apple product or it’s a third-party aftermarket one. The microphone quality is not good and you can hear it compared to any other people on the panel. It’s in their ear. It’s further away from their mouth, all sorts of things. It may be more well-suited to making phone calls from your phone but for Zoom calls, for broadcast television and for podcasting in particular, which we know a lot about, I would never use them. Tracy, what are some of your pet peeves?

Let me also say that they look stupid. That’s my number one reason. They look stupid on you on camera. You got these white bars sticking out of your ear. You look ridiculous wearing them. They’re sticking out of your ears. It’s terrible looking and to me, I look at that and I go, “Unprofessional.” Immediately that’s what I say. I was like, “This is unprofessional.” Not to mention, what you don’t realize is if you’re a woman, you stick those in your ears and you have hair like I do, they rub against it and they make this annoying rustling sound that’s in the background in the microphone and it sounds terrible. Whether you’re making a phone call or making a recording, it doesn’t matter. There’s a bad sound.

Unless you’ve got your hair back or you’re a guy like you, Tom, with almost no hair near your ears or around your face then what’s happening is that they’re showing. That’s the only thing you can see on people as you’re looking at them. To me, they’re overly flashy, overly priced and not as functional as they should be, not as great quality as they should be for the price. That’s why they don’t make my list of the Next Little Thing. There has to be a great value. Our definitions of the Next Little Thing have to be you’re getting an incredibly great value for the price that you spent and that’s not here. There are wired microphones and headphones that do a better sound than that.

NLT 4 | Apple AirPods

Apple AirPods: AirPods are overly flashy, overly priced, and not as functional as they should be. The quality doesn’t justify the price.


Clearly, much better sound if you use an actual physical wired headset. For me, that’s what I prefer. First of all, I don’t want to have to always carry around that case to charge them. I don’t want them to run out of battery in the middle of a phone call, in the middle of a Zoom call or in the middle of a podcast recording. That would be the worst thing to have to deal with and when you plug into your phone directly with a wired headset, not only is the quality of the microphone better, the quality of what you’re listening to is better. You don’t have to worry about the battery ever running out.

It’s not the battery running out. There are a whole bunch of connection issues I’ve had. I’ve done a lot of interviews and sometimes people will come with them and there’s always this like, “I can’t get it to work. It’s not in the right place.” They don’t even realize that they’re not using the microphone. It’s not connecting properly. They’re using their computer for their voice, it’s a whole hassle and I usually eventually have to convince them to get rid of them and that happens 9 times out of 10 in an interview.

I think we have some particular experiences, use cases and needs as podcasters that maybe a lot of other people don’t. If they’re using him for a phone call or they’re using it to listen to music wirelessly and to not have any wire they’re dealing with then maybe it’s a fine product but that’s not us. The other thing I’d love to see stats on is how many people have misplaced or lost one.

Lost one, lost the recharging place. I heard from a flight attendant about how many they pick up in airplanes every single time and it’s a ridiculous number over time. They could end up with dozens of them at the end of the day. That’s a huge amount of loss.

I’m sure the manufacturers love it because they get to sell more of them. I’m surprised that there hasn’t been also more written about how these little things are a choking hazard for children because they’re definitely too small. If a toddler swallowed that thing, that would be bad.

AirPods are out of balance with their price and the quality of what you receive. Share on X

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had an earring yanked out by toddlers. You can imagine they could easily yank that out of your ear if you’re holding them. Not our favorite. That’s why it’s not going to make the Next Little Thing list. We thought we’d give you something for a change because we’re always raving about products here but occasionally sometimes, when things fall short of making our criteria. Tom and I are designers. I want to remind you of that.

We are designers here. We also have a different standard. We understand how products are made. We understand the value proposition of those products and it’s a lot easier for us to identify something that is out of balance in that. This is definitely one of them. AirPods are out of balance with the price being charged and the quality of what you receive from both a user interface in terms of your use case, the quality of the actual physical microphone and your phone portion.

I think we’ve certainly not made a friend of Apple and maybe some other companies on that one.

We are huge Apple consumers otherwise so they can’t complain because we certainly spent enough money in our lifetime there.

I still spend money there. I got a MacBook. The reality is the point Tracy and I want all of you readers to understand is we’re going to tell you what we think. We’re not going to sugarcoat it. We’re not going to say something is better than we think it is. We’re going to give you an unvarnished opinion based on our experience.

If you’d like to know anything about all the other products that we’ve reviewed here or you’d like to connect to any of them or find out some occasions we have screen shares and videos and other things when we’re reviewing products here, you can go to and check it out. Thanks for reading. We will be back with another Next Little Thing.


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