Rise of the AirPods: true wireless earbuds could be on the verge of taking over

A new report from Qualcomm AptX suggests that we haven't seen the last of the AirPod competitors, and that they might in fact be on the verge of taking over. 

The company's State of Play report is published once a year, and involves surveying 4000 smartphone users worldwide about their audio preferences. 

Of those surveyed, over half (53%) said that they have either already purchased a pair of 'true wireless' headphones or would consider doing so in future, while an even higher percentage (57%) said that they thought the future people would only use these kinds of headphones. 

From wired to wireless to true wireless

Firstly; how depressing must it be for those 4% of people who have no interest in buying wireless headphones and yet think that they'll be the only kind around in the future?!

But more importantly, this shift shows just how quickly wireless headphones have taken over. Until very recently almost all headphones purchased were wired, but now 44% of Americans and 54% of British consumers own a wireless pair of headphones. 

However, most of these wireless headphones still have cables connecting the two earbuds or ear-cups, while in the future it looks like even this small bit of cable looks set to disappear. 

Beyond headphones moving evermore towards true wireless, the report also suggests that headsets will grow more intelligent with the addition of smart assistants, with 67% of Americans and 45% of Brits expressing an interest in internet-connected wireless headsets. 

We weren't particularly fond of the AirPods when we reviewed them for ourselves. Siri just isn't a good enough replacement for an in-line microphone, and the earbuds just didn't feel secure enough in our ears. 

There's also the issue that using a voice assistant while in public is consistently much more embarrassing than using in-line controls.

But that said, wireless earbuds that allow for a combination of touch and voice controls offer the best of both worlds, while also offering complete freedom from cabling. 

Jon Porter

Jon Porter is the ex-Home Technology Writer for TechRadar. He has also previously written for Practical Photoshop, Trusted Reviews, Inside Higher Ed, Al Bawaba, Gizmodo UK, Genetic Literacy Project, Via Satellite, Real Homes and Plant Services Magazine, and you can now find him writing for The Verge.