AirPods might not like busy city streets

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Earphones
Just don't blame Apple for it!
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

AirPods are great. But that doesn’t mean that they’re without their problems as a replacement for your traditional wired headphones.

Some users on Twitter have been observing that their AirPods can be prone to cutting in and out, or occasionally producing static sounds. The reason? Bluetooth interference. This can come from having the signal blocked by physical barriers. It could also be due to using a frequency that’s too overcrowded.

“My airpods are cutting in and out, and my working theory is that so many people on my flight to sf are wearing airpods that there is an unprecedented amount of BT interference,” wrote Dave Gershgorn, a reporter for Quartz.

His message was quickly answered by others, observing similar effects when using their AirPods on airplanes, subway cars, or just busy streets.

As a recent article for CNBC notes, the more widespread wireless devices like AirPods become, the more competition there is for space on a limited number of airwaves. It’s not dissimilar to the concept of competing for space on the street. Drive somewhere where there are few cars and you’re free to take up as much of the road as you like. Drive in the city, and lots of cars means lots of traffic.

Bluetooth devices operate between 2.4 GHz and 2.8 GHz. This means that they’re competing for a small part of the total airwaves with Wi-Fi routers, other headphones, and assorted other devices. Eventually, this could be sorted out by opening up more frequencies for use by the general public.

One of Apple’s most popular devices

With AirPods proving to be one of Apple’s top-selling products of all time, expect this to happen sooner rather than later. According to Above Avalon analyst Neil Cybart, Apple is on track to sell 40 million pairs of AirPods in 2019. This represents almost 90 percent year-over-year growth.

Just be aware of this issue before you go into your local Apple Store demanding a replacement for “faulty” AirPods!