I’ve used Apple’s
First generation AirPods
since the fall of 2017. About four months ago, in June of 2019, I spotted a good deal and upgraded to the
As far as the sound quality is concern, I knew there wouldn’t be any different, but I was intrigued by other features. I wanted the hands-free “ Hey Siri” support, less latency, quicker connection,
and the automatic speaking of new messages.
Now I’m here, ready to address the big question: is it worth upgrading too
?To make things a little easier, I’m going to call the two models AirPods 1 and AirPods
2 from time to time.
AirPods 1 and AirPods 2 Similarities
First, let’s review what didn’t change between the two models. Here is everything I can think of that is identical, or almost identical, so isn’t worth considering
if you’re trying to decide whether to upgrade.
- The two models sound identical to my ear. I’m no audio junkie, but I can usually pick out differences between headsets’ sound signatures. I can’t tell
any difference here.
- The physical shape, of both the case and the actual earbuds, is similar. In fact, I’ve seen ads for AirPods cases that work with both generations. This
also means the fit is unchanged, so if the first AirPods didn’t fit your ears well, neither will the new ones.
- Battery life is the same: five hours per charge, with the case providing nearly five recharges. In practice, I had to charge my
about once every five days, and that hasn’t changed with my
2nd generation AirPods
- AirPods 1 came in white, and only white. AirPods 2 is the same, being offered in the same white as the first generation, and that’s it. If you want colors,
you’ll have to turn to third parties, regardless of which generation you choose.
- Both generations support only double taps for controls. The new ones don’t offer triple taps, or any other new control mechanisms.
- Core features are the same. They power on and connect when you put them in your ears, they pause your audio if you take one out, they stop it and shut
off when you take both out. Pairing, battery checking, even using iOS to locate them are all unchanged.
The only minor difference in the two cases is where the LED is. On AirPods 1, it is inside the case, between the earbuds themselves. On AirPods 2, it is
on the outside of the case’s front, just below the lid, so it can be seen more easily.
So Why Upgrade to AirPods 2nd Generation?
With all the similarities, it’s fair to ask why anyone would upgrade. Below, I’ll touch on each new feature, and what I think of it, having now used it
for two months.
If you pay a little more , you can get AirPods 2 with a QI-compatible case. You can then place the case on any QI pad, and it’ll charge right away.
I opted for this model, though I don’t currently have any QI products. I did so for two reasons: I’m likely to get wireless charging pads in the near future,
And I’ll be able to charge my devices wirelessly instead of just plugging that wire into the Lightning port. I’ll no longer need to find someone with a Lightning cable, just
someone with the more ubiquitous QI charging technology.
It’s worth mentioning that you don’t need new AirPods to take advantage of this. You can buy just the wireless charging case separately for $79, and use them with the your first generation AirPods
the new AirPods boast 30 percent less gaming latency.
This is done by measuring the time from iPhone screen tap to audio played in AirPods.” That’s good news for musicians, too. Imagine playing an on-screen piano, and
having a delay between tapping a key and hearing the sound. Maybe the delay is now small enough to bear. I’ve heard people say this is true, but I haven’t really found it. Not to say that
AirPods are slow, because they’re not at all. They respond faster than the Aftershokz Trekz I use as my other set of wireless headphones. But the difference
between the two AirPods models is hard for me to detect. If I were to upgrade based on latency alone, it wouldn’t be a big conviction to make me purchase
Apple says the new H1 chip in AirPods 2 makes switching between active devices faster. This means, when switching from, say, iPhone
to Apple Watch, I should find less of a delay.
If I just use my AirPods with one device, connection proves almost instantaneous. But when I switch from iPhone to iPad or Apple Watch, there’s a
Significant lag. I never measure it, but it seems like anything up to 10 seconds. And in some cases the connection is unsuccessful and you must try again. Second-gen AirPods
cut this time in half. This is the one feature that really tempts me, but I’m still not interested in re-buying something that is working just perfectly.
I know that this was in my “things that haven’t changed” section, however, there is one difference I wish to point out. Battery life is better for calls. For music listening, there’s not much difference. Basically, you get five hours with both models. But for making phone calls,
second-gen AirPods offer a significant enhancement. You get 50 percent more talk time. That’s around three hours instead of two. Plus, the case supplies 24
hours of top-up charges to the pods themselves. AirPods 1 last about two hours when being
used to talk. AirPods 2, though, last up to three hours so, if you do talk using AirPods a lot, it is worth thinking about whether an extra hour is worth your money. I just can’t say how accurate that “extra hour” claim
is going to be.
Now we come to the main reason I upgraded. Thanks to the new H1 chip, the tiny AirPods can now keep a microphone on to listen for your Hey Siri command. this is worth the upgrade all on its own.
First, having Hey Siri support is great. I can command Siri to start a workout without having to raise my Apple Watch. I can issue playback commands such as skipping tracks as well as making a call hands-free without
trying to double tap an AirPod. I can tell Siri to send messages, or turn on my air conditioner,
while I’m doing something else. I can even ask Siri if I have new messages, to have them read aloud, then reply should I need to. I know accessing Siri
through AirPods is nothing new, but Hey Siri lets me use the assistant without taking one of my two double tap commands. I can leave those commands set
to pause and fast forward, and still have hands-free access to everything Siri is capable of doing.
I don’t have to keep on asking about new messages every now and then, though, because–as of iOS 13–Siri takes care of that already. When you are using AirPods 2, new messages
can be spoken automatically as they arrive. In case you are listening to music, your audio pauses, Siri announces “new message from name. Message.” Where “name” is the sender’s name if you have
saved it in your contacts, or the email address or phone number if you don’t, and “message” is the actual message you received. Once Siri finishes delivering
the information, your audio continues. You can then use Hey Siri to respond if you want to.
I can’t tell you how useful it is to hear my incoming messages. I know if I have to respond, or if it can wait. I get timely information, like that my ride is
here, with no effort. I don’t need to worry about forgetting to check an incoming message anymore. If I do need to respond, I can do so, all through just with
Hey Siri isn’t flawless, though. The speech recognition isn’t great in loud environments, and Siri does not offer a ding sound to indicate that it is listening, yet,
it’s better than having to juggle things around to pull out my phone, or put down other staff I could be holding on my hands to perform a double tab or raise my Apple Watch. Despite the occasional
difficulty, I’m still happy to have the feature.
Is it Worth the Upgrade?
The new AirPods feel like a lifestyle upgrade as much as anything else. If you use a Qi-wireless charging pad with your iPhone on a daily basis,
at work or at home, getting AirPods with a wireless charging case is perfectly fine. Just like with the previous models, the new AirPods are designed
to live inside Apple’s ecosystem; they only make sense to purchase if you own an iPhone, iPad or Apple Watch.
Siri, however, is what makes the decision quite simple. You can hear incoming messages, and issue commands to Siri hands free by applying a few
Moreover , if you use a double tap controls
to invoke Siri, you are now able to assign other gestures on the place of Siri and get an AirPod control freed up. The convenience of having anytime access to Siri is
big, and if you’re text or iMessages user, the advantage is even bigger.
It’s worth noting that the wireless charging case works perfectly but it won’t charge your AirPods faster. If you’re looking to get a quick charging, you’ll want to find the
nearest Lightning cable. The new AirPods still have the same issues as before: they’re not sweat-resistant or noise-canceling, and they don’t come in a variety of
colors besides white. If the first generation AirPods don’t fit in your earbuds, these won’t either. In case you want better fitting AirPods checkout the new
By far, the new AirPods are still the best all-around true wireless earbuds for iPhone fans.Like the first-generation AirPods, they’re very
easy to pair with any iOS device, and they’re perhaps the most compact and travel-friendly of all true wireless earbuds. The enhancements — better processor,
battery life and connectivity, as well as wireless charging — are all great features, but ultimately, they don’t feel like night-and-day upgrades over the
first-generation AirPods. If you already own the First Generation AirPods, the new models hardly feel necessary, particularly if you can purchase the wireless charging case separately.
But if you’ve lost or broke your original AirPods, or you just never got around to buying the original AirPods, you’ll be more than happy with second-generation AirPods.
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