Apple AirPods 2 Review: The good, The Bad, And The Ugly

7 Min Read

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

second-generation AirPods.

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

first generation AirPods

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


The Good

  • Outstanding wireless performance and reliability
  • Great ease of use and setup
  • Improved battery life
  • Can effortlessly recharge battery case with wireless mat

The Bad

  • 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

The ugly

  • 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.


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

cancelled AirPower mat),

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



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

ToothFairy app

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.

Final thoughts

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.)


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

The 17 Best Tips and Tricks For AirPods Pro

Share This Article
GeeksModo Staff is a team of iPhone, iPad, Mac and Apple Watch experts led by Moses Johnson. We're passionate about all things Apple!
Leave a comment