and sometimes other stuff


Thoughts by Josef Richter
ux/ui designer

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AirPods Case design flaw?

I recently got the new AirPods (2019). It’s a great product – as a frequent traveller, untangling headphones’ cords was a regular struggle for me. I can’t comment on sound quality, I use them mostly for phone calls or watching videos and I’m not into music much, so I really don’t know. For me they’re fine.

However, I am puzzled by the case design. It seems to me, that there’s a fundamental flaw – the pods are simply rotated incorrectly :D When you first open the box, it’s not immediately apparent which one is which – try testing this by giving them to someone who doesn’t know them. Some people simply won’t immediately realize that “logically” the left one if on the left and right one is on the right – I think it’s because their rotated position in the box will simply confuse you.

The other thing is they’re kinda difficult to pull out, especially with sweaty slippery fingers. And once you do, you need to readjust your grip and rotate them, in order to put them in your ear – this is a kind of trickery that actually requires a little bit of training to master. Which is a massive problem when you’re walking, for example.

This would be the correct position in the case, I guess :-)

This would be the correct position in the case, I guess :-)

The same problem manifests itself when you pull them out of your ear – you hold them in the same position as they were in your ear, with the “speaker” part pointing forward, slightly inside. But then, when putting them in the box, you again need to rotate them almost 180 degrees.

It’s a tiny detail, but unless there’s something wrong with me, my hands, and everybody around me, it seems like a surprising oversight and design flaw.

See the video, while waiting for 3rd generation :-)

EDIT: After two weeks of usage, I realized there’s one more flaw that actually grinds my gears the most: the case is all round, so there’s no way to put it on your desk in some standing position. And when it’s open, you cannot put it on the table “on its back” because it closes (spring not strong enough to keep it open). In other words, you always need BOTH HANDS to “operate” AirPods – one hand to hold the case and the other to do the above magic tricks…

This is a massive problem, when e.g. walking through a crowded airport hall – you always need to step aside and stand still for a bit, to handle your AirPods.