Which to buy: AirPods, AirPods 2, or AirPods 2 with the wireless charging case

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in iPhone
It's been about a month since Apple released these brand new AirPods. That means there are now three different options to choose from. AppleInsider helps you decide which route to go.

AirPods 2 perched on the original AirPods
AirPods 2 perched on the original AirPods

A trio of options

Let's get these three options out of the way first before we get into any more of the technical stuff. Currently, there are three different options to choose from. There are the original AirPods which sell for $140 to $150, the new AirPods second generation without wireless charging at $159, and the new AirPods second generation with wireless charging at $199.






That's a lot of money for a pair of earphones. Yes, there are far more expensive earphones out there in the market but those other earphones are also not as small and convenient as Apple's AirPods. That's why they've gathered such an adoring fan base over the years.

These new AirPods haven't changed much from its predecessor. It physically looks and feels the same on hand. The satisfying *click* when opening the case is still here despite the very small, and unnoticeable hinge redesign. And the way it charges inside the case is exactly the same.

Before we get into what does separate these out, let's look again at the originals.

AirPods
AirPods


The still somewhat expensive AirPods first gen some people would say are just average sounding earphones, and while they're right, it's really not all that bad from a truly wireless earphones standpoint. Sound quality is decent, there's plenty of bass here and it's not overdone, mids and highs are just ok, although not the worst in the market. AirPods was one of the very first truly wireless earphones that didn't have a huge clunky case, a design that didn't make you look like a robot and it's also the first pair of Bluetooth earphones that made connecting to a device so seamless thanks to that W1 chip. That alone made the AirPods such an iconic piece of tech. A simple and seamless way to connect to an Apple device.

With the second-generation AirPods, we get all of that, and a little bit more. Apple mentioned on their website "powered by the all-new Apple H1 headphone chip, AirPods deliver a faster and more stable wireless connection to your devices -- up to 2x faster when switching between active devices, and a 1.5x faster connection time for phone calls. The H1 chip also drives voice-enabled Siri access and delivers up to 30 percent lower gaming latency so whether you're playing games, listening to music, or enjoying podcasts, you'll experience higher-quality sound."

AirPods Second Generation (left) and original AirPods (right)
AirPods Second Generation (left) and original AirPods (right)


Those differences add up to a winning experience, as we explored in our full review.

What all of that means in the real world is that you should notice the new AirPods connect to your iPhone, Mac or other iOS devices a lot quicker and you should also see less latency between audio and the visuals you're seeing on screen. You also now have access to Siri hands-free by saying "Hey Siri" and you can ask her to do the normal actions. All of that is thanks to the new H1 chip found on the new AirPods 2. You'll also get longer battery life when taking phone calls, but that's pretty much it in the battery department.

When it comes to sound quality, we haven't noticed a huge difference in quality between the first generation AirPods and the newer AirPods 2. This could all just be a placebo effect, but we did notice a very slight, and I mean really small difference in clarity on the newer pair. But it's nothing that you'll really notice day to day. This difference could also disappear as the drivers are broken in.

Which to choose

Those are the main differences between the two. But which one should you pick up if you're a first-time buyer? With three different options to choose from, it's pretty hard to say what you're looking for. With the $199 AirPods second generation, you get wireless charging, which if you haven't fully adapted to the wireless charging life, it's a game changer. But if wireless charging isn't your method-of-choice and prefer to top off using Lightning, then there's the $159 version is what you should look into, and if you ever change your mind about wireless charging, Apple sells just the wireless charging case for $79.

AirPods Second Generation (left) and original AirPods (right)
AirPods Second Generation (left) and original AirPods (right)


That pretty much leaves the original AirPods out of consideration unless you find them clearanced out well below that $159 price point or used on eBay for a decent savings. Still retailing at up to $150, it isn't worth the $10 discount to miss out on the better features of the second generation.

Where to buy

First-generation AirPods are currently on sale for $147 at Amazon, while second-generation AirPods are shipping now at Walmart with free 2-day shipping. Those who prefer to shop on Amazon can also backorder a pair of the latest AirPods with a short wait. For up-to-date prices and product availability, be sure to check out our AirPods Price Guide, which is updated throughout the day.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 26
    Just an FYI for anyone who doesn’t know about wireless charging.
    You will need a wireless charging pad to wirelessly charge your AirPods.
    I know it sounds like that is common knowledge, but I have spoken to many people who think it comes in the box with the AirPods. 
    n2itivguyGeorgeBMacjeffythequicksapporobabyrtrns
  • Reply 2 of 26
    matrix077matrix077 Posts: 602member
    Too late. Already ordered AirPod2 with wireless charging case. Not too impressed with wireless charging on my X so far. It’s just too slow compared to my USB-C charging brick but have it and didn’t use is better than want to use it but didn’t have.
  • Reply 3 of 26
    I accidentally broke my AirPods, so I got the AirPods 2. I personally don’t care about wireless charging, so I got the one without the wireless charging case. I can tell that it connects faster and the battery lasts longer, but that’s really the only differences. I still think it’s better to buy the second generation if you’re in the market for AirPods, but I personally wouldn’t recommend upgrading unless you’re having battery issues. 
    GeorgeBMac
  • Reply 4 of 26
    In addition to Amazon and Walmart, you can also buy them at the online Apple Store and in the stick and moral Apple stores.
  • Reply 5 of 26
    apple ][apple ][ Posts: 8,428member
    matrix077 said:
    Not too impressed with wireless charging on my X so far. It’s just too slow compared to my USB-C charging brick
    That seems to be the case with wireless charging in general.

    It seems like people sacrifice speed for a minor convenience.

    I'll choose the speed, thank you very much, and I also don't have any huge issues or any problems plugging one cable into something.


    edited April 14 flyingdpmatrix077
  • Reply 6 of 26
    bonobobbonobob Posts: 160member
    Which to buy?  None of the above.  I'm waiting for the Powerbeats Pro.  All the benefits of the AirPods, plus an ear loop to keep it in place.
    stanhopekruegdudesapporobabyrtrns
  • Reply 7 of 26
    stanhopestanhope Posts: 148member
    bonobob said:
    Which to buy?  None of the above.  I'm waiting for the Powerbeats Pro.  All the benefits of the AirPods, plus an ear loop to keep it in place.

  • Reply 8 of 26
    stanhopestanhope Posts: 148member
    And much much better bass
  • Reply 9 of 26
    steven n.steven n. Posts: 1,108member
    apple ][ said:
    matrix077 said:
    Not too impressed with wireless charging on my X so far. It’s just too slow compared to my USB-C charging brick
    That seems to be the case with wireless charging in general.

    It seems like people sacrifice speed for a minor convenience.

    I'll choose the speed, thank you very much, and I also don't have any huge issues or any problems plugging one cable into something.


    I disagree about the minor inconvenience part. Strongly. 

    I have the Logitech wireless charging dock for my X and simply love it. It is many times easier than a plugged connection and holds it at about a  70° angle making it perfect for debugging and unlocking with FaceID. At the phone is simply "charged" by magic all the time.

    so it is slower. It doesn’t impact me at all since the phone is almost always charged. 
  • Reply 10 of 26
    anomeanome Posts: 1,256member

    Have to say mine are showing a vast improvement over my AirPods 1. Not sure if the clarity is due to a better design, or just comparison to the degradation over time of the old ones.

    Not having AirPower does kind of make me wonder if I should have just bought the non-wireless case, but I'll wait and see how it goes with the third party one I ordered.

    n2itivguy
  • Reply 11 of 26
    macxpressmacxpress Posts: 4,786member
    Since AirPower isn't available I don't know why anyone would spend extra money for wireless charging. 
    chemengin
  • Reply 12 of 26
    I am still enjoying my audiophile dual driver Sennheiser from the 1980's, and never had to worry about connectivity, batteries or charging. Has Apple decided they will only offer headphones as a 'consumable'...?  How sustainable is that?
    edited April 14 gatorguy
  • Reply 13 of 26
    matrix077matrix077 Posts: 602member
    steven n. said:
    apple ][ said:
    matrix077 said:
    Not too impressed with wireless charging on my X so far. It’s just too slow compared to my USB-C charging brick
    That seems to be the case with wireless charging in general.

    It seems like people sacrifice speed for a minor convenience.

    I'll choose the speed, thank you very much, and I also don't have any huge issues or any problems plugging one cable into something.


    I disagree about the minor inconvenience part. Strongly. 

    I have the Logitech wireless charging dock for my X and simply love it. It is many times easier than a plugged connection and holds it at about a  70° angle making it perfect for debugging and unlocking with FaceID. At the phone is simply "charged" by magic all the time.

    so it is slower. It doesn’t impact me at all since the phone is almost always charged. 
    I don’t know what magic you do but plugging in is like just a split second difference to me. That split second is not worth the mat cost and wasted electric energy IMO. Plus you can not use your phone while charging. 
    bonobobmike1
  • Reply 14 of 26
    crowleycrowley Posts: 5,771member
    steven n. said:
    apple ][ said:
    matrix077 said:
    Not too impressed with wireless charging on my X so far. It’s just too slow compared to my USB-C charging brick
    That seems to be the case with wireless charging in general.

    It seems like people sacrifice speed for a minor convenience.

    I'll choose the speed, thank you very much, and I also don't have any huge issues or any problems plugging one cable into something.


    I disagree about the minor inconvenience part. Strongly. 

    I have the Logitech wireless charging dock for my X and simply love it. It is many times easier than a plugged connection and holds it at about a  70° angle making it perfect for debugging and unlocking with FaceID. At the phone is simply "charged" by magic all the time.

    so it is slower. It doesn’t impact me at all since the phone is almost always charged. 
    'debugging'?  What debugging are you doing?
  • Reply 15 of 26
    elijahgelijahg Posts: 816member
    crowley said:
    steven n. said:
    apple ][ said:
    matrix077 said:
    Not too impressed with wireless charging on my X so far. It’s just too slow compared to my USB-C charging brick
    That seems to be the case with wireless charging in general.

    It seems like people sacrifice speed for a minor convenience.

    I'll choose the speed, thank you very much, and I also don't have any huge issues or any problems plugging one cable into something.


    I disagree about the minor inconvenience part. Strongly. 

    I have the Logitech wireless charging dock for my X and simply love it. It is many times easier than a plugged connection and holds it at about a  70° angle making it perfect for debugging and unlocking with FaceID. At the phone is simply "charged" by magic all the time.

    so it is slower. It doesn’t impact me at all since the phone is almost always charged. 
    'debugging'?  What debugging are you doing?
    Debugging an App maybe? That’s what developers do. 
  • Reply 16 of 26
    pigybankpigybank Posts: 158member
    Beats.  The answer is you buy beats.  Wireless Solo3.  The only allure of the AirPods for me is maybe when I go jog, which is never.  I’m fat.  Also AirPower was a huge factor and.... it’s never gonna happen so there’s that.  If Apple manages in the future to come up with an elegant 3 in one wireless charging solution and Earth’s gravity is decreased by 15% thereby making it less strenuous on my ankles for me to run I will reconsider. 
  • Reply 17 of 26
    Costco has the Airpods 1 for $129....in warehouse only...
  • Reply 18 of 26
    mike1mike1 Posts: 1,847member
    "That's a lot of money for a pair of earphones."

    That's a lot of editorializing in a review. I am sure many people to not think $159 is not a lot of money for a high-quality, wireless headphones.
    Everybody has their own value equation. There are hundreds of various headphone models that are a lot more than these. For some, they're worth it. For others not so much.
    StrangeDays
  • Reply 19 of 26
    svanstromsvanstrom Posts: 181member
    bonobob said:
    Which to buy?  None of the above.  I'm waiting for the Powerbeats Pro.  All the benefits of the AirPods, plus an ear loop to keep it in place.
    Honestly, people that actually try the AirPods don't really complain about them not having anything "to keep it in place".

    The few times that I've actually dropped one it's because it's been physically hit by something (like my hand, or me trying to slip in/out of a hoodie with them on).
    GeorgeBMacn2itivguy
  • Reply 20 of 26
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 7,071member
    anome said:

    Have to say mine are showing a vast improvement over my AirPods 1. Not sure if the clarity is due to a better design, or just comparison to the degradation over time of the old ones.

    I thought the same, the new APs seemed 25% louder -- until I cleaned my original APs. I couldn't see it, but there was a layer of wax over the screens. Couldn't even see it (no discoloration) until I used a cleaning toothbrush to knock it away...then the two pairs sounded identical. 

    I sound my original pair on eBay. I expected to get 50 bucks for them, but despite my description describing them as originals and having a degraded battery and needing to replace one pod, people bid them way up. I'm perplexed.

    edited April 15 GeorgeBMac
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