There is a misconception that Apple’s AirPods should only be used with iPhones. Some believe AirPods lose too many features when paired with a non-iPhone to be worth it, while some mistakenly believe AirPods won’t work with an Android device at all.
I can confirm that is not the case as I have been using the AirPods Max for over a year and they are usually paired with an Android smartphone. The same goes for the new AirPods Pro 2: I’ve been using this one for the past two weeks, but only the first half of that period was paired with an iPhone. The rest of the time it is linked to one of the Xiaomi 12S Ultra or a Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4. And for me personally the experience was fine. Indeed, some features are lost when I use AirPods with an Android, but most of them don’t bother me much. Your mileage may vary.
Pairing an AirPods Pro 2 (or any AirPods) with an Android
One immediate benefit that you lose when using the AirPods Pro 2 (or any AirPods) with an Android device is that you lose the somewhat seamless one-tap pairing process that you get within the Apple ecosystem. When using an iPhone and a new (or previously unpaired to your device) set of AirPods Pro 2 is nearby, as soon as the lid of the AirPods case is opened, your iPhone should get a pop-up card asking or you pair. One tap to confirm and the AirPods Pro 2 is paired not only with your iPhone, but with any other iOS device you have using the same Apple ID.
You can’t do that with an Android device. To pair an Airpods with an Android smartphone:
- You have to manually long press the small button on the back of the AirPods Pro 2 case and wait for the case indicator light to blink white, which means the AirPods Pro 2 is now in pairing mode.
- Go to your Android device’s Bluetooth settings
- Find the listed AirPods and tap to pair.
- A pop-up window will then appear asking you to grant the AirPods Pro access to your contacts and call history.
So instead of a one-tap process that takes half a second, pairing an AirPods Pro 2 with an Android device becomes a 10-second multi-step process. The good news is that you only have to do this once. After that, the AirPods Pro 2 will automatically connect to your Android device as soon as you take them out of the case.
I’ve used the AirPods Pro 2 with the Xiaomi 12S Ultra, Galaxy Z Fold 4, and Xiaomi 12T Pro, and before that, I’d used my AirPods Max with at least a dozen Android devices from brands ranging from Google to Huawei, and I’ve never had issues with audio playback or audio quality. I’m not an audiophile, but the sound coming out of the AirPods Pro 2 sounds identical whether I’m paired with an Apple or Samsung device.
The basic basic functionality of AirPods Pro 2 works fine for me on Android devices, including switching from ANC to transparency mode via a long press on the AirPods stem or adjusting the volume with swipes. If your Android phone supports it, you can even access Google Assistant via the voice command “Hey Google”. I could do this just fine on an international version of the Xiaomi 12T Pro.
What functions do you lose when you pair an AirPods Pro 2 with an Android device?
As mentioned before, you will lose the seamless pairing with one tap during the initial pairing process. That’s just a one-time little hassle that doesn’t really matter to anyone. But other features have been lost that may be of interest to you. These are:
- Automatic ear detection
- Spatial audio
- AirPods Control Customization
- Apple Find My Network
Automatic ear detection
Automatic ear detection is a feature most should be familiar with: The AirPods Pro 2 (and all previous AirPods) use a proximity sensor to detect when the earbuds are removed from your ear, and automatically pause music or video when you put the AirPods on. I can see this is a very useful feature for many people, but it’s not for me. I often play with my earbuds when they’re in my ear, and I don’t like the music stopping every time I move them for even a split second.
Spatial audio is when the AirPods Pro 2 tracks your head movements and adjusts the audio output to simulate the effect of a 360-degree listening experience. For example, turn your head to the right and the sound from the left side would become stronger because your left ear is more “exposed” to the music “in front of you”. The AirPods Pro 2 also offers personalized spatial audio, with the iPhone using its TrueDepth camera system to scan your ear canal for a “more personalized sound.” I don’t really hear the difference, to be honest before and post the ear scan.
Spatial audio isn’t a must-have feature, and it’s not for everyone, but it can add to the music experience. I like to use it when I’m in a room, but not so much when I’m walking around town.
AirPods Control Optimization
The third feature that will be lost is the ability to customize AirPods controls. If you’re paired with an iPhone, you can jump into the settings and change what, for example, a long press on the stem does. I assigned the left long press to Siri while holding the right long press to toggle between ANC or transparency mode. I can also add a neutral listening mode without ANC or transparency.
The latter might be important to most people: The AirPods Pro 2 can connect to Apple’s Find My network, meaning if you allow it, you can track their location if they’re misplaced. You can even set alerts to appear on your iPhone when your AirPods Pro 2 is too far from your phone.
Should you buy an AirPods Pro 2 if you don’t have an Apple device at all?
As I mentioned at the beginning, these lost features when the AirPods are paired with Android devices are not deal breakers for me, hence I have been using the AirPods Max and recently AirPods Pro 2 with Android devices for a year with no complaints. However, I am a unique case as I own multiple Apple devices including a MacBook Pro, iPad Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max along with several Android phones. So while my AirPods are used with Android devices when I’m on the road, I enjoy the seamless connectivity of AirPods and Apple when I’m working from home on a MacBook.
In the end, I’d put it this way: don’t go out of your way to buy AirPods Pro 2 if you’re a full-time Android user who doesn’t own any Apple devices. But if you’re an Android user with an iPad or Mac at home, or if you’re an Android user who’s gotten or received a pair of AirPods, give them a try. They’re still good earbuds, but not the best choice for just looking outside the Apple ecosystem. You can pick up another one instead recommended earbuds for use on Android.