There’s this a common misconception that AirPods and AirPods Pro don’t work with Android. The fact is that’s completely false—not only do they work with Android, but they’re also my pick for the best true wireless headphones you can get, regardless of what OS you use. That said, there are a few things to consider if you want to use AirPods with your Android phone.
Cool, So What Can You Do With AirPods or AirPods Pro on Android?
Have you ever used wireless headphones with Android? If so, then you already have a good idea of what you can do with AirPods or AirPods Pro. You can listen to music, podcasts, or any other audio. You can even play and pause that audio!
On AirPods, the default setting for double-tap is play/pause for the left Pod and skip track for the right—and they both work perfectly on Android right out of the box. Hell, if you happen to have an iPad (or another iOS device), you can even change the tap behavior and have the settings stick when you connect them to your Android.
Of course, you can use any true wireless headphones and get playback and track control features built-in. But AirPods Pro have the excellent ANC (Active Noise Canceling) and Transparency features that still set them apart from all other headphones on the market. And guess what? Both of those work on Android, too. Simply long-press either bud to switch between the two modes.
I can’t overstate that these two modes are by far the most valuable aspect of AirPods Pro, and if the fact that you have an Android phone has been keeping you from picking up a set of Pros, don’t hesitate. Both of these work exactly the same way they do on the iPhone, and it’s fantastic.
Okay, Right—So What’s Missing on Android?
While some features of the AirPods and AirPods Pro work fine on Android, they don’t all work. For example, if you change your preferred long-press features of AirPods Pro on an iOS or iPadOS device, those features won’t stick when you go back to Android (unlike the double-tap options on AirPods, which will retain the custom features).
But there’s also another feature that many users find value in that doesn’t work at all on Android: Automatic Ear Detection. I personally hate this feature, but I’ve had a good many conversations with users who absolutely love it, so I’d be remiss to ignore its absence on Android. Maybe that’s a dealbreaker for you, but the way I see it, if I’m already reaching up to my ear to take an earbud out, then it’s just as easy to quick-press the stem of the AirPods Pro to pause playback at the same time.
Of course, that’s not as simple on regular AirPods, since pausing on those requires a double-tap. That means you have to double-tap the bud and then remove it, which takes multiple steps. In that case, I can see how simply removing the AirPod from your ear and having it automatically pause is beneficial. But if you’re looking at picking up AirPods Pro, then it’s a non-issue.
Otherwise, you don’t get quick pairing on Android; this feature allows iPhone users to almost instantly pair the AirPods with their iOS device as soon as they open the headphone case. But considering that pairing is a one-time occurrence most of the time, that shouldn’t be a big deal. Since quick pairing is missing, so is the nifty battery notification that shows up on the iOS home screen when you open the AirPods case near the phone. These are all little touches, but they do add up to a meaningful experience.
Sound Quality is Fine, Too
Of course, there’s also the question of sound quality. Some people say that AirPods don’t sound as good on Android because AAC isn’t as efficient on Android as iOS. According to Sound Guys, AAC requires more processing power than other audio codecs, and Android simply doesn’t process it quickly enough, resulting in lower quality output.
But here’s the thing: if you don’t know that, then you don’t know that.
I’ve tested several sets of headphones over the years, and now compare all headphones on iOS and Android when reviewing them. And my ears can barely tell a difference between audio quality between the two operating systems—even with AirPods. They both sound fine! I would be willing to throw some money down on a table that 90 percent of people wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between the two in a blind test. Bet.
So, yeah. AirPods are fine. They sound fine. They work well. They’re great.
Even on Android.