Do AirPods work with Android?

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Apple AirPods are perfect when paired with an iPhone, but what if you have an Android smartphone or tablet? The good news is that all AirPods models offer basic functionality, but you will be missing out on some great features.

Android considers AirPods as standard Bluetooth headphones

All AirPods models work as standard Bluetooth headphones, which can be used by any device with Bluetooth audio functionality. All you have to do to use it wirelessly with your Android smartphone or tablet is pair it manually.

This is slightly different from how pairing works on your iPhone or iPad, where you simply open the AirPods case and tap connect. On your Android device, you’ll need to pair them the usual way.

First, open the AirPods case and press and hold the button on the back until the indicator light flashes white. Now on your Android device, access settings, go to Bluetooth & Device Connection > Bluetooth and make sure Bluetooth is enabled. Now click Pair new device and select your AirPods from the list.

AirPods should now work just like any other pair of Bluetooth headphones you own. If you want to use it with another device, you will need to follow the pairing procedure again.

What AirPods Features Work With Android?

Aside from serving as standard stereo headphones, AirPods Pro models can still use Active Noise Cancellation and Transparency Mode. Toggle between the two works just like on an iPhone: by pressing and holding the stem of either earbud until you hear it ring.

Transparency mode is useful because it allows you to hear the outside world while wearing your AirPods. This means that you don’t have to take out the earpiece to hear what someone is saying, although you may want to pause or lower the music to make things easier. At lower volumes, this is a safety feature as it allows you to listen to music, podcasts, or audiobooks without losing track of the world around you.

In addition to noise cancellation and transparency mode, standard gestures also work. This includes the basic double tap on AirPods (to play or pause music), as well as more in-depth single tap (play/pause), double tap (skip forward), and triple tap (skip backward).

What AirPods Features That Don’t Work With Android?

Many Apple-focused features don’t work on Android, like the expedited setup process when you first connect your headphones to your iPhone. Android devices have to be paired manually, and this also means that Android users miss out on the auto switch feature that makes AirPods so great for Apple users.

If you have an iPhone, iPad, and Mac, your AirPods will automatically switch between devices paired with the same Apple ID. This means that you only have to pair your AirPods with one device. Android users will have to pair their AirPods with each separate device they want to use.

Apple AirPods
apple

Another potentially useful feature that Android users miss is Siri voice assistance. Since Siri is an Apple-only feature, the “Hey, Siri” always listening trigger won’t work here. Out of the box, Android users won’t be able to use their favorite assistant with AirPods (although there are apps that can help with that).

Being able to check your AirPods battery using a widget on iOS makes it easy to know when your headphones need to be charged. Apple also has Siri functionality to handle this, if you want. Like voice assistants, Android users have no way to enable this without the help of additional apps.

Apple’s handy “Find My” app makes it easy to find iPhone, Mac, AirTags, and AirPods. Since the feature depends on the Apple devices that came with it to work, AirPods paired with your Android phone won’t update on the “Find My” network, and therefore can’t be tracked via iCloud.

AirPods Pro Fit test results

AirPods Pro users can use the “Ear Tip Fit Test” within AirPods Pro settings (accessed by tapping the “i” button next to AirPods under Settings > Bluetooth). This checks if your current choice of ear tips (small, medium, or large) fit correctly, but it’s not available on Android. Fortunately, it is very easy to tell if the tips are too big or too small (they may not fit, may fall off, or cause excessive sound leakage).

Another Apple-exclusive feature is the ability to customize the controls on your AirPods. While AirPods by default will play/pause simple double taps and AirPods Pro can use single, double and triple tap gestures; On the iPhone and iPad, it’s possible to do more than that.

Finally, Android users will lose the in-ear detection feature allowing automatic playback and pause of music or streaming when the AirPod is placed or removed from your ear. Fortunately, similar functionality can be achieved using an app.

Some features work with third-party apps

There are quite a few third-party apps for Android that can restore some of these lost functionality. This includes a battery level indicator, in-ear detection, and the ability to operate the voice assistant of your choice while wearing your AirPods.

Assistant player for AirPods on Android
auxiliary operator

These apps include AndroPods, Assistant Trigger (for all three functions), and AirBattery (for battery level). These apps are free but full functionality requires an in-app purchase. Reports on how well these apps work are mixed, so you may want to adjust your expectations if you’re anticipating iPhone compatibility levels.

Other things to consider

When using AirPods with an Android device, the sound quality takes a dive compared to using the same headphones on an iPhone. This is because AirPods rely on the AAC codec, which tends to work better on the iPhone. SoundGuys has an article explaining the ins and outs of this phenomenon, which involves louder noise on Android as well as the platform’s tendency to deprioritize Bluetooth encoding in favor of energy efficiency.

The same issues do not occur on iOS because Apple treats audio streams differently. There are better wireless headphones that use different codecs like SBC and LDAC which are better designed for the Android platform.

Should you buy AirPods for your Android device?

If you have a pair of AirPods that you mainly use with your iPhone, there is no harm in connecting them to your Android device to listen to a podcast or receive a phone call. You can even get away with streaming music if you are not too bothered about the quality of the AAC broadcast.

Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 in their charging case.
Samsung

But you don’t have to go out and buy AirPods specifically for use with your Android device. It’s best to buy something designed with features specific to your device (like the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2, above), or something more affordable. It’s worth checking out ReviewGeek’s review of Google’s Pixel Buds A-Series, which are just $99.

Aside from streaming quality issues, you lose out on the features used to justify Apple’s premium price point. On the iPhone AirPods and AirPods Pro it delivers good sound quality, but all the other features like the ability to seamlessly switch devices and get Siri to set up in a few seconds make it a worthwhile investment.

Wireless headphones for Android

There are a bunch of headphones at different prices for Android users who want decent wireless sound. For something similar to AirPods Pro (our top-rated earbuds for iPhone), look to the Sony WF-1000XM4 which has best-in-class noise cancellation and LDAC support.

Best wireless noise canceling headphones

Sony WF-1000XM4

Enjoy multiple sound modes and comfortable polyurethane tips that mold to your ear canal for a better seal.

Instead of buying AirPods to use with Android, check out our Best Wireless Earbuds roundup instead. You can save some money on cheaper headphones with a similar feature set, or spend a little more to get some headphones that get the most out of your smartphone of choice.

Related: Best wireless earbuds of 2022

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