AirPods 2: Everything You Need to Know
Apple in March 2019 overhauled the AirPods and introduced the first AirPods update with a handful of useful new features that make the Apple-designed earbuds better than ever. The AirPods 2 support hands-free "Hey Siri" functionality, allowing users to control volume and swap songs through voice commands, so there's no longer a need to tap on the AirPods with a finger to activate Siri.
The updated AirPods are equipped with an updated H1 chip, which replaces the W1 chip and brings connectivity improvements. AirPods connect more quickly to your devices for an even more hassle-free experience, and switching between devices while listening to music is now two times faster. The H1 chip in the second-generation AirPods supports Bluetooth 5.0, which should bring better range.
AirPods pair up with iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Apple Watch, Apple TV, and Mac, and thanks to the H1 chip, you can easily switch between Apple devices. AirPods also pair with Android phones and other Bluetooth-enabled devices using traditional Bluetooth pairing methods.
Apple's AirPods 2 come with an optional Wireless Charging Case that enables Qi-based wireless charging. You can get the updated AirPods without the charging case for $159, with the Charging Case for $199, or you can buy just the Charging Case for your existing AirPods for $79.
There have been no design changes to the AirPods, so they continue to look similar to the standard Apple EarPods but without the cord. AirPods are completely wire-free, and continue to be available only in white with no other color options available.
AirPods offer up to five hours of battery life when listening to music, and the case provides an additional 24 hours of battery life. The new AirPods are more efficient with the H1 chip and talk time has increased from two hours to three hours.
When you open up the Charging Case, the AirPods inside connect to your device automatically, and using built-in sensors and an accelerometer, the AirPods can detect when you put them in your ears or take them out, playing and pausing audio accordingly.
Beamforming microphones enable clear, crisp calls, and there are tap gestures built in for changing tracks, changing volume, and activating Siri if you don't want to use the Hey Siri feature. A separate voice accelerometer kicks in when you're speaking to block out ambient sound.
You can use both AirPods at once or just one if you want to keep an ear free to listen to the environment around you, and Apple designed the AirPods to offer high-quality AAC audio that sounds great with everything from songs to podcasts.
The second-generation AirPods refresh lacks some of the features that were rumored, such a a new color, but the H1 chip for improved connectivity and device switching times, the extra hour of talk time, the "Hey Siri" functionality, and the Wireless Charging Case make this a solid update. Some of the previously rumored features could come in another update that's in the works and set to launch in 2020.
With the launch of the second-generation AirPods, Apple has discontinued the first-generation AirPods. As of October 2019, Apple also sells the AirPods 2 alongside the AirPods Pro, a higher-end $249 version of the AirPods with Active Noise Cancellation and a new design with silicone ear tips.