One of the most widely anticipated features of the new iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus is a missing feature: the headphone jack. Apple’s new phones are the company’s first without 3.5mm audio jacks. Instead, the company offers two options for folks that want to use headphones: plug them into the same lightning port that you use to charge the phone, or use wireless headphones.
Apple’s new iPhones come with a pair of EarPods that connect to the lightning port, as well as a 3.5mm adapter that lets you use any standard headphones.
But the company is also introducing a new set of cord-free, wireless earbuds called AirPods. They’ll be available in late October for $159.
The AirPods offer up to 5 hours of battery life and come with a charging case that has a built-in battery that allows you to get up to 24 hours of power on the go. You can charge both the AirPods and the case at the same time.
A new Apple W1 chip powers a couple of interesting features: the AirPods will only play audio when they’re in your ears, and you can pair them with an iPhone just by bringing them near the phone and tapping a button that will pop up on the phone.
Once a set of AirPods are paired with an iPhone, they’ll also automatically work with an Apple Watch, if you have one, and should automatically detect which device you want to use them with. And thanks to iCloud synchronization, you should also be able to use AirPods with a Mac or iPad after syncing them with an iPhone (without going through a separate setup process).
Apple isn’t the first company to develop wireless, core-free earbuds. Bragi, Samsung, and others also offer earbuds that don’t have any cables at all. But the AirPods will be among the most affordable options when they launch.
Unfortunately, like many Apple products, they probably won’t work with non-Apple phones, tablets, or PCs.
Update: Apple says you can use the AirPods with third-party hardware. They’ll act as normal Bluetooth earbuds, but you won’t be able to pair them with a phone just by bringing them close to it, and pairing with your phone won’t automatically let you use the AirPods with your tablet, laptop, or other devices.
Beats Audio, which is now owned by Apple, will also launch three new styles of headphones and earbuds powered by the W1 chip.