When the first generation of Apple AirPods came out I had mixed feelings about them, so I was excited to find out what has changed and improved in the next generation.
When I received the box, the AirPods 2 looked identical to the old ones. This means that they have the same fit, sound quality and design. But I won't be talking about any of that today - I want to focus on what is new. If you're curious, see our review of the old AirPods 1 here.
The new changes can be broken down into four categories.
The biggest update to the AirPods 2 that will make an impact on daily use is the wireless charging. The AirPods 2 come with a wireless charging case. The case uses the standard Qi charging that the iPhone uses. This means if you have a wireless charging pad that you use for your iPhone or Apple Watch, you can just throw the case on it and charge your AirPods.
When placed on a charging pad, the little light on the front of the box turns on. This light turns off after a few seconds but the AirPods will still be charging. I didn't know this at first and thought that my charging pad was broken.
It's worth mentioning that while wireless charging is convenient, it's significantly slower to charge the AirPods.
The AirPods 2 are also sold with a regular case at the same price at the AirPods 1.
Faster switching between devices:
One thing that Apple improved in the AirPods 2 is the speed at which you can switch between devices. If you have a MacBook, an iPhone and an iPad, you can now switch between the devices two times faster than you could when using the older AirPods. Even though I know it's technically faster, it never really feels that way. To be fair, I didn't think the original AirPods were slow to switch anyway.
As a consumer, I appreciate that I can set up the AirPods 2 in my iCloud account to make them connect to all the devices I use. It's a very handy and well thought-out feature.
The AirPods 2 are powered by Apple's H1 headphone chip that combines the power-efficient wireless technology with Apple's audio architecture. This allows for a faster and more stable wireless connection.
Better battery life for talk time:
While the AirPods 2's battery life for music and audio playback is still the same at five hours between charges, that's still considered to be the top of the range for wireless earbuds.
The new H1 chip improves the battery life on calls. This means that your AirPods will not die in the middle of that very important business call.
"Hey Siri" function:
The fourth and one of the most important additions to the new generation of AirPods is the “Hey Siri” function. Also powered by the Apple H1 chip, this feature is what truly makes the AirPods into a hands free, wireless experience. By using this function, Siri can now change your song, adjust your volume and call one of your contacts.
As exciting as this feature is, Siri is still Siri. There is some lag between the command “Hey Siri” and the response. This means that most of us will just reach for the phone and switch a song, as that would be the faster option.
While they're still not great for noise blocking, the new AirPods 2 are exactly as advertised. They're stylish earbuds that allow you to answer phone calls quickly and hands free, listen to music on your phone and communicate with Siri, all while fitting in a compact wireless charging case that's great for travelling.