The new AirPods look and sound familiar, but have little more tricks.
Of the many cool products that Apple unveiled earlier this year, none have been more grately anticipated than the
The second generation AirPods look so identical to the first-generation version announced almost three years ago that they are almost indistinguishable. The design,
fit, and sound quality are exactly the same as the
Wearing the new AirPods
isn’t any more of a flex
than the first-generation because nobody seeing you will be able to tell the difference.
But there are a couple of improvements here — some outstanding, some less so — that make the new AirPods even great than the previous model. Apple hasn’t solved many of the
long-lasting complaints leveled at the AirPods, such as their fit and ability to work in noisy surroundings, but it has added some things that improve
the experience, without much ulteration.
With AirPods Pro, Apple may have solved a major wireless earbuds design flaw. The newly designed, noise-canceling AirPods might also stay in your ears now. AirPods Pro features active noise cancellation, water and sweat-resistant, an all new lightweight in-ear design, as well as a transparency mode to keep you aware of the world around you. You can read more about AirPods Pro
- Outstanding wireless performance and reliability
- Great ease of use and setup
- Improved battery life
- Can effortlessly recharge battery case with wireless mat
- Won’t stay in everyone’s ears
- “Hey Siri” voice response is sluggish
- Doesn’t block outside noise well
- Cannot connect to two devices simultaneously
- What is weird, is actually talking to Siri in public. When I am listening to music and I can’t really hear my own voice, I was worried I would say “Hey Siri” out loud in public and everyone would look at me like a weirdo. And to be honest, I just tried to get Siri to activate with a quiet voice at first and getting louder slowly to finally get Siri to listen to me. Again, it’s a learning curve that you get used to quickly.
The major adjustment from the first-generation AirPods is the ability to recharge the case on a wireless pad. The second-gen AirPods are either sold
with the new wireless charging case for $199 or with the standard case for the same $159 as before. In case you have the first-gen AirPods and would like to buy the wireless charging case, you can purchase it separately for $79 and it will work just the same as it does with the new AirPods.
The wireless charging case uses the Qi standard — just like the iPhone and most Android devices on the market — so, you can use the same charging pad
as your phone to charge your AirPods case. Put the case on the charger and the little charging light on the front of the case will turn orange and begin
charging. The light will go off after a few seconds, but the case will still be getting the juice as long as it’s resting on the mat.
THE NEW WIRELESS CHARGING functionality IS CONVENIENT, BUT THEN SLUGGISH
Charging the case wirelessly is slow — Apple indicates the case charges at 5 watts, which is slower than the iPhone is able to, and it can take up to
three and a half hours to completely fill up the case wirelessly, compared to the roughly two hours it takes over the Lightning cable, which is also an option
on the new case. Also, if you’re using a stand-style charger for your phone, that perhaps won’t work because the coils won’t line up — as desire
using a flat pad charger for the AirPods. I tried charging the case on a few flat pads I have at home and had no problems charging with any of
If you’re the kind of person that puts your AirPods case in another case, wireless charging should still work, but perhaps the
indicator light will not show at all. Finally, if you have Samsung’s Galaxy S10 or a recent Huawei flagship phone, you can use your Android device to wirelessly charge
your AirPods, which is never not funny. And yes, you can use the new AirPods with an Android device and they will work perfectly with it as the first-generation
models. The main functionality you’ll lose are the double-tap controls and the ability to automatically pause music when you take off an AirPod from one of your ear, though
can be enabled with a third-party app.
Generally, the wireless charging ability is a pleasant convenience, however, it doesn’t drastically change the AirPods experience. If you’re already charging your
phone on a wireless pad or have one that can charge multiple devices simultaneously (but sadly, isn’t Apple’s
it’s pleasant to be able to charge your AirPods case in the same manner.
The other great thing with the AirPods is the new H1 chip that replaces the W1 chip of the first generation AirPods. Apple states the H1 chip has been explicitly designed
for headphones and facilitates most of the AirPods’ new features, such as faster switching between devices; always-listening, hands-free Siri access; improved
call quality in windy environments; lower latency when playing games; and longer battery life for calls.
Rather than having to double-tap one of the AirPods to launch Siri, you can now say “Hey Siri” to launch it, just like you can on an iPhone or new
Mac. This not only does this provide easier access to Siri, but it also allows me to configure the double-tap gesture to another action, such as play / pause or skipping
But even with the new chip and hands-free ability, there’s still a significant delay from when I say “Hey Siri” to getting a response in my ear. Different
From the iPhone, there’s no bell or ding to indicate that the AirPods actually heard my command, and there’s obviously no visual indicator unless my phone is
out and I’m looking at the screen. As a result, I often end up repeating myself because there is no way to tell if Siri heard my command and is just being slow to
respond, or if my command wasn’t registered at all. It’s a frustrating experience that could be greatly improved with an audible ding to confirm that Siri
heard my command.
Apple says the H1 chip enables the AirPods switch between your devices up to two times faster than before, so if you use an iPhone and an iPad or a Mac, you
can swiftly switch between them. Maybe it is technically faster, but it never feels faster in use because switching devices still requires going into the
Bluetooth settings panel or Control Center on the device I want to switch to, selecting the AirPods, and then still waiting a few beats for them to
THE AIRPODS STILL CANNOT BE CONNECTED TO TWO DEVICES AT THE SAME TIME
I really wish Apple had improved this area. I love how Apple simplifies the process of pairing AirPods to my iCloud account and have them automatically ready
on every device I use, but I also just wish they could be connected to more than one device simultaneously. The Bose QC35s as well as the Sennheiser HD1s, and
many of other Bluetooth headsets are capable of this already. With those other headphones, if I want to switch from my iPhone to my iPad, I simply tab
play on the device I want to use instead of getting my hands dirty with audio source settings. If you are a Mac user, the
makes this a slightly better one-click process with the AirPods and is absolutely worth the $3.
The new chip apparently improves voice quality on calls in windy environments, too, but I haven’t really seen much of a difference in my testing. That
isn’t really a knock — I use the first-gen AirPods for taking calls all the time because they are already outstanding for it. Additionally, I haven’t noticed much
of a difference in latency or lag while playing games or watching video, mostly because I didn’t ever experience significant lag with the previous generation. Of
all the truly wireless headsets I’ve used in years,the first-generation AirPods have the tiniest amount of lag or video syncing issues and the second generation
is just as good.
Finally, the H1 chip also prolongs the battery life for talk time to a claimed three hours, a complete hour more than the first model. The battery life for
Music playback or audio remains at five hours, which, while no longer the longest battery life you can get in a truly wireless headphone, is still
Above average and very good. The charging case extends that to up to 24 hours; a 15-minute charge will offer three hours of listening or two hours
of call time.
Besides that, the new AirPods are still AirPods, which means they are truly great wireless earbuds if they fit in your ears. Apple is quick
to claim how last year the AirPods became the most popular wireless headphones on the market, so they evidently work for so many people. But
they don’t fit everyone
and the new generation doesn’t do anything to solve that. They also aren’t great in noisy environments like a plane or subway car because they don’t
have either passive or active noise cancellation abilities.
Just like I mentioned earlier, the sound quality of the new AirPods is precisely the same as the previous generation, with no material modifications. The sound is clear, full, and surprisingly
detailed, without overwhelming bass or fatiguing highs. The lack of any seal or noise-blocking capacity is annoying especially while I’m on the subway, which
makes the AirPods saturate into my environment, like I’m not even wearing headsets whatsoever.
So should you buy them? If you have the first-gen AirPods and they are still working perfectly, then no, you’re obviously not gaining anything here. If you so desire
wireless charging, you can buy the case separately without having to spend $200 on a whole new set. However, if your first-gen AirPods can hardly hold a juice
any longer because you’ve been using them for a long time, then buying the new AirPods makes sense, since it’s ultimately impossible to repair these or replace the
batteries in them. You’re getting the same basic experience, with little more conveniences. (The fact that a nearly $200 device has a usage lifetime
of less than three years, nonetheless.)
THE NEW AIRPODS ARE JUST AS OUTSTANDING AS THE Previous versions
If you haven’t yet jumped on the AirPods boat and you know they’ll fit in your ears (if the wired EarPods that come with every iPhone fit you, the AirPods
will, fit you as well), they are still among the best truly wireless headphones on the market, with great battery life, solid connectivity, great ease of use, and
pretty good sound quality. They work great for Android users, just like the first model as well. The new wireless charging convenience comes at an higher
price, but for a great number of people, the AirPods are still tough to beat. Read