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I use Airpods with the iPhone SE and I also wear an Apple Watch. The Airpods work extremely well at home, in the office, or whenever I'm just walking. When I'm cycling to work, however, I often get interference in the Bluetooth connection, leading to stuttering music playback.

Subjectively it feels as if this is more frequent at large intersections with lots of traffic and never happens in the park.

What could be the source of the interference?

I imagine that there are many very strong WiFi hotspots in the area, but then I don't really have problems if I'm walking through the city. It seems to be connected to cycling.

  • If you don't hear the car coming up from behind you because the AirPods are too loud, and you get hit, who cares about the interference? Ride without them. This is a public service announcement from smart people everywhere. – IconDaemon Oct 6 '17 at 18:29
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Bluetooth operates in the 2.4GHz band. There are a number of other things that operate in this band:

  • WiFi
  • Wireless cameras
  • Wireless IoT devices
  • Bluetooth locating beacons
  • Cordless phones
  • Microwaves (though I’m fairly certain there’s not a lot of Hot Pocket preparation happening at traffic intersections)

Aside from the increased Bluetooth bandwidth congestion you’re likely to experience in crowded areas, you are also suseptible to bandwidth crowding from all the other potential sources of interference.

From personal experience, when riding the subway in NYC, I found that my Bluetooth headset would occasionally become “static-y” especially around rush hour and clear when the train was empty. A wired headset cured the issue.

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I think it's less likely to be WiFi interference but more from other Bluetooth devices around. I certainly get this when in busy train stations and when a city street is busy with commuters with wireless headphones.

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