The AirPods and some Beats earbuds and headphones are equipped with Apple W1 chip. This is an in-house developed chip for audio products with which you can easily connect your iPhone, iPad, and Mac. In addition, the W1 chip has even more advantages and in this article, you can read all about it.
Everything about the Apple W1 chip
The AirPods have Apple’s W1 chip, with which you can easily connect your iPhone and other devices. However, you do not need AirPods to take advantage of the benefits, because the W1 chip is also included in all sorts of other products such as Beats earbuds. You can read below why you would like to have earphones or headphones with an Apple W1 chip.
- Which products?
- What is the Apple W1 chip?
- Why W1 chip?
- Sensors that control the Apple W1 chip
- Benefits W1
Apple W1 chip in which products?
The W1 chip can only be found in products from Apple itself. This concerns the following audio products:
- Apple AirPods ( approx. 180 euros )
- Apple HomePod ( approx. 350 euros at Apple Germany)
- Beats X ( approx. 120 euros )
- Beats Studio 3 ( approx. 350 euros )
- Beats Solo3 Wireless ( approx. 300 euros )
- Beats PowerBeats3 Wireless ( approx. 200 euros )
What is the Apple W1 chip?
Apple makes its own chips for the iPhone, Apple Watch and other products. Apple has developed the W1 chip, especially for (wireless) earbuds. This is its own system-in-package chip, in which multiple components are combined. The W1 chip controls the pairing and power management of the earphones, making them last longer and automatically connect to all devices you are logged in with the same Apple ID. Moreover, the connection is very reliable, which means less interference.
With the W1 chip for earphones and headphones, Apple immediately resolves three major frustrations around wireless audio products. Moreover, the W1 chip makes all kinds of extra functions possible.
Why earphones with a W1 chip?
The AirPods and other audio products have a number of useful functions thanks to the W1 chip:
- The AirPods know if the earbuds are in your ear. They automatically pause the music as soon as you take it out.
- The AirPods know when you talk. They then switch on the microphone to be able to dictate, for example.
- AirPods can filter the background noise when you talk, making your voice more audible.
- If you tap the AirPods twice, you switch on Siri. You can then order the sound volume to be adjusted.
- You can pair the AirPods with multiple devices. Open the AirPods storage box and they will automatically pair with the device you are currently using.
These sensors control the Apple W1 chip
The Apple W1 chip is Apple’s first wireless chip for earbuds. This chip controls a number of sensors that are present in the AirPods:
- Movement sensors: these determine whether the earplug is in use.
- Infrared sensors: these are the small dots on either side of the speaker port that determine whether the earplug is in your ear.
- Speech accelerometer: these sensors recognize when you talk.
Advantages of the W1 chip
If you look at the benefits of the W1 chip, there are three that stand out immediately and which we will discuss in more detail below: a better battery life, easier coupling, and a more stable connection.
# 1 Better battery life
There are several reasons why the battery life of earphones with a W1 chip is much better. First, there are sensors that determine whether the earplugs are in your ear. As soon as you stop listening, the AirPods switch off and go into energy-saving mode. It can therefore never happen that the music continues to play unexpectedly.
In addition, the W1 chip provides improved efficiency, making your earphones more energy efficient. This can be seen in the Beats Solo 3, for example, which has a battery life of 40 hours, while its predecessor had a battery life of 12 hours. This is not only due to the W1 chip but also to other improvements.
# 2 Easy pairing
Apple has scrapped the 3.5mm headphone jack in many devices and would prefer that we all switch to wireless earbuds. But then linking to your devices must be made a lot easier. This is the case with earphones with a W1 chip: pairing is effortless and automatic. So you no longer have to look up your Bluetooth earphones in the settings or enter a numeric code. Once you have paired your earphones with a device for the first time, they will also connect to all other devices that you are logged in with the same iCloud account. So you can easily switch between AirPods in the car, Beats earphones during exercise, Apple Watch when you are in bed and the iMac when you sit behind your desk.
All you have to do is open the storage box and take out the ears. The link is then made automatically.
# 3 Stable connection
The connection of the AirPods is more stable than with other headphones. With normal Bluetooth earbuds, the connection becomes worse the farther away you are from the iPhone, for example when you walk away to grab a cup of coffee. This should not be the case with earphones with a W1 chip, but you can also experience a bit of stuttering even at greater distances.
The stability could have to do with two aspects: Bluetooth 5 and Class 1 Bluetooth.
# 3.1 Greater reach thanks to Bluetooth 5
It is speculated that Apple would use the Bluetooth 5 protocol, with a greater range and a greater bandwidth. This would greatly improve audio quality. However, Apple has not said anything about it yet and to really benefit from it, the iPhone 7 should also have Bluetooth 5. However, the website mentions 4.2.
# 3.2 More power thanks to Class 1 Bluetooth
Another aspect that could make the connection more stable is the switch to Class 1 Bluetooth. For the Beats Solo3 ( in the Apple Store for € 299.99 ) Class 1 has already been chosen, whereas previously Class 2 was more common. By the way, this is about the maximum power class, not the Bluetooth device class.
|Class 1||100mW (20dBm)||100 meter|
|Class 2||2.5mW (4dBm)||10 meters|
|Class 3||1mW (0dBm)||1 meter|
Class 3 Bluetooth is almost non-existent, so you don’t have to pay attention to that. To benefit from the greater reach of Class 1, you must have a Class 1 device on both sides; only then the range is 100 meters. If one of the two devices is Class 2, the range is only 10 meters. Unfortunately, Apple says nothing about it on the iPhone 7 web page. There is, therefore, no definitive confirmation that the iPhone 7 supports Class 1, but it would be logical.
Moreover, it is extra nice that the battery life of the Beats Solo3 has improved so much, while Class 1 Bluetooth uses much more energy (as you can see in the table above).
Disadvantages of earphones with W1 chip?
As far as we know, there are actually no drawbacks when you buy earphones with an Apple W1 chip (except for the higher price). The AirPods can still connect to other smartphones, tablets, and computers because they also work with the standard Bluetooth connection. When used with a suitable Apple device, you benefit from the W1 functions and with other devices, you have the normal Bluetooth connection. However, you could see the limited supply as a disadvantage. Apple does not seem to intend to make the Apple W1 chip available to other manufacturers and that means that you are currently stuck with Apple’s own AirPods and the three Beats products.
There may also be disadvantages if you share earplugs with several people, for example with your partner. But we wonder if that happens often.
Are you looking for AirPods alternatives, such as the Beats earbuds? Then have a look at the round-up below.