There is a misconception that Apple AirPods should only be used with iPhones. Some believe that AirPods lose too much functionality when paired with a non-iPhone to be worth it, while others mistakenly believe that AirPods won’t even work with an Android device at all.
I can attest to the fact that it’s not, as I’ve been using the AirPods Max for over a year, and they’re usually paired with an Android smartphone. The same goes for the new AirPods Pro 2: I’ve been using them for two weeks, but only the first half of that time was paired with an iPhone. The rest of the time it was paired with a Xiaomi 12S Ultra or a Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4. And for me personally, the experience went perfectly. There are indeed some features lost when I use AirPods with an Android, but most of them don’t matter too much to me. Your mileage may vary.
The second-gen AirPods Pro improve in every area that matters
How to Pair AirPods Pro 2 (or Any AirPods) with Android
One immediate benefit you lose when using the AirPods Pro 2 (or any AirPods) with an Android device is that you lose the somewhat seamless one-click pairing process that you get in the Apple ecosystem. When you’re on an iPhone and a new (or previously unpaired) set of AirPods Pro 2 is near, as soon as the AirPods case lid is opened, your iPhone should receive a pop-up card asking if you want pair. One tap to confirm, and the AirPods Pro 2 are not only paired to your iPhone, but also to any other iOS device you own that uses the same Apple ID.
You don’t get this with an Android device. To pair an Airpods with an Android smartphone:
- You need to manually long press the small button on the back of the AirPods Pro 2 case and wait for the case light to flash white, which means the AirPods Pro 2 is now in pairing mode.
- Go to the Bluetooth settings of your Android device
- Find the AirPods listed and tap to pair them.
- A pop-up will then ask you to allow AirPods Pro access to your contacts and call history.
So instead of a one-click 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. Then the AirPods Pro 2 will automatically connect to your Android device as soon as you take them out of the case.
I used the AirPods Pro 2 with the Xiaomi 12S Ultra, Galaxy Z Fold 4, and Xiaomi 12T Pro, and before that I used my AirPods Max with at least a dozen Android devices from brands ranging from Google to Huawei, and I’ve never had a problem with audio playback or audio quality. I’m not an audiophile, but the sound coming from the AirPods Pro 2 seems identical whether I’m paired with an Apple or Samsung device.
The basic fundamental functionality of AirPods Pro 2 works perfectly for me on Android devices, including switching from ANC mode 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 “Hey Google” voice command. I could do it perfectly on an international version of the Xiaomi 12T Pro.
What functionality do you lose when you pair an AirPods Pro 2 with an Android device?
As mentioned, you lose one-click seamless pairing during the first pairing process. It’s just a one-time minor issue that really shouldn’t matter to anyone. But there are other lost features that may interest you. These are:
- Automatic ear detection
- Spatial audio
- Customizing AirPods control
- Apple Find My Network
Automatic ear detection
Automatic ear detection is a feature most should be familiar with: AirPods Pro 2 (and all previous AirPods) use a proximity sensor to detect when the earbuds have been removed from your ear, and automatically pauses the music or video whenever you take out the AirPods. I can see this being a really useful feature for a lot of people, but it’s not for me. I often fiddle with my headphones while they’re in my ear, and I don’t like the music stopping every time I drop them for a split second.
Spatial audio is where the AirPods Pro 2 would follow your head movements and adapt audio playback to simulate the effect of a 360-degree listening experience. Turn your head to the right, for example, and the sound on the left side would get louder because your left ear is more “exposed” to the music “in front of you”. The AirPods Pro 2 also offer personalized spatial sound, with the iPhone using its TrueDepth camera system to scan your ear canal for “more personalized sound”. I can’t really hear the difference, to be honest before and after 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.
Optimized AirPods control
The third lost feature is the ability to customize AirPods controls. If you’re paired with an iPhone, you can go into settings and change what a long press on the stalk does, for example. I assigned the left long press to Siri while holding the right long press toggling between ANC mode or transparency mode. I can also add a neutral listening mode without ANC or transparency.
The last one may be important for most people: the AirPods Pro 2 can connect to Apple’s Find My network, which means that if you allow it, you can track its location if they get misplaced. You can even set up alerts that appear on your iPhone whenever your AirPods Pro 2 are too far from your phone.
Should you buy an AirPods Pro 2 if you don’t own an Apple device at all?
As I mentioned at the beginning, these features lost when AirPods are paired with Android devices are not dealbreakers for me, hence why I use AirPods Max, and recently AirPods Pro 2 , with Android devices for a year without complaints . However, I am a unique case as I own multiple Apple devices including a MacBook Pro, iPad Pro, and iPhone 14 Pro Max, as well as multiple Android phones. So while my AirPods are used with Android devices when I’m on the go, when I’m working from home on a MacBook, I enjoy the seamless connectivity of AirPods and Apple.
Ultimately, I would phrase 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 a single Apple device. But if you’re an Android user with an iPad or Mac at home, or you’re an Android user who got a pair of AirPods, give them a try. They’re still good headphones, but not the best choice to pursue on your own outside of the Apple ecosystem. Instead, you can choose other recommended headphones to use on Android.