Apple's AirPods 2 -- One month later

Posted:
in General Discussion
The AirPods are a now-iconic piece of tech that finally received a long-awaited update just weeks ago. AppleInsider has now spent a month jamming out to Apple's wireless earbuds, to see if the upgrade truly was worth the wait.

Second Generation AirPods
Second Generation AirPods

Goodbye W1, and welcome H1 chip

While there weren't any external design changes with AirPods themselves, the internals got a spec bump. According to Apple, AirPods 2 deliver a faster and more stable wireless connection, which means it's now up to twice as fast when switching between active devices, one and a half times faster connections for phone calls, and 30% lower gaming latency -- all thanks to the new H1 chip, replacing the W1 in the first generation. Not only does the H1 improve connection performance, but it will also now allow you to summon Siri hands-free with "Hey Siri."

In our testing, the second gen delivers when it comes to speediness. Switching between our iPad Pro, iPhone, and Mac still isn't instantaneous, but it is far quicker than it was.






In the last month, we've spent dozens if not hundreds of hours watching YouTube videos and a few shows on Hulu with our AirPods paired to our MacBook Pro or iPad Pro as well as streaming via Apple Music. The sound quality is clear, full, detailed enough and there's plenty of bass. Since AirPods aren't in-ear buds like the Galaxy Buds, it doesn't block any outside noise. This is good for situational awareness, but it can be annoying when we're traveling on a plane.

Longer calls, but same battery life

Battery life was a little bit better compared to our first-generation AirPods, but we've also had these original AirPods for over a year now. you can count on four and a half hours of continuous listening, and will sometimes get more.

The new wireless charging case has arrived too, and it's one less cable for us to look for and use when we need to power up our AirPods' case. It's convenient to have wireless charging, but that convenience also costs $79 separately if you have the first generation AirPods, or just bought the AirPods 2 without the wireless charging case, so that's ultimately up to you whether you think that's worth it or not.

For us, though, the wireless case is 100% worth it. The fact that we can just set our AirPods on our wireless charger overnight and have it ready in the morning without the need to plug it in or look for a charger is very nice.

Second Generation AirPods
Second Generation AirPods


Since the physical appearance of the AirPods didn't change at all, the AirPods still feel the same in our ears as the first version. AirPods still aren't waterproof, so don't even try to submerge these in water. Maybe check out the new PowerBeats Pro if you want something more water resistant.

But, with the H1, you now have the ability to toggle Siri hands-free using your AirPods by saying "Hey Siri." You don't need to pull out your phone to activate it, just say the command and it'll do it hands-free. It's great if you want to call someone quickly, but even better if you use Apple Music to request any song in your library and have it play right away.

With Siri hands-free, we've spent a lot more time using Siri than we did before.

Second Generation AirPods
Second Generation AirPods

It's an "S" upgrade

Think of it this way -- the AirPods 2 is like an S upgrade for iPhone. The overall design hasn't changed, and there are minor internal changes. If you're okay with the first generation AirPods and you don't need the "Hey Siri" function or a faster connection, but still want that wireless charging capability, save your money. Buy the $79 wireless charging case and wait for the next generation of AirPods which will hopefully introduce more new features, a different design that'll fit more people's ears, and a variety of different colors.

We're just not quite sure when that's going to be. Maybe at the end of the year, and maybe not, given that since launch, the AirPods are selling just as fast as Apple can make them -- and the new AirPods are the same in that regard.

Where to buy

First-generation AirPods are currently on sale for $147 at Amazon, while second-generation AirPods are on backorder with a short wait at Amazon. 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 24
    I have the new version of the AirPods and they are my first pair. Overall, they are good as long as the environment around you is relatively quiet and/or what you're listening to is of a low volume (for example, some classical music- which I listen to a lot). Using them in my gym, I often will hear the music from the gym's PA system over what's playing on my iPhone. My old noise cancelling earphones that were able to block even the noise of a NYC subway are still in my daypack because the subway just laughs at AirPods. So I like my AirPods but really wish that noise cancellation was a feature. I really didn't feel like waiting another eight or nine months for the chance that AirPod 3 would come out with that feature.
    spock1234
  • Reply 2 of 24
    MplsPMplsP Posts: 1,560member
    So why did they name the chip 'H1' instead of 'W2?' Were they worried about being associated with the IRS?
    spock1234
  • Reply 3 of 24
    tjwolftjwolf Posts: 292member
    I've had both generation AirPods.  I don't try to connect my AirPods to many different devices, but any improvement in connecting to my iPhone is negligible - the first pair connected almost instantaneously and the new ones do as well.  The only real notable new feature AFAIC is the addition of "Hey Siri".  Not having to double-tap the AirPods to give commands is surprisingly useful (e.g. when you're hands are full/busy).  And there's room for improvement in this very area: after you say 'hey Siri', there's no immediate feedback that you were heard (as there was when you double-tapped) - if you wait a second or two, Siri will eventually say "Mhm?" or "How can I help?".  But since Siri's volume is also noticeably lower than whatever you're listening to, sometimes you don't hear the "Mhm?" - especially when in a noisy environment - and you end up repeating your command, louder.
    spock1234
  • Reply 4 of 24
    AppleishAppleish Posts: 130member
    1.5, not 2. Apple doesn't call it 2. Only tech bloggers do.
    edited April 26
  • Reply 5 of 24
    kruegdudekruegdude Posts: 340member
    MplsP said:
    So why did they name the chip 'H1' instead of 'W2?' Were they worried about being associated with the IRS?
    I think the consensus was it stood for headphones. 

    Second place went to Hey Siri. :-)
    spock1234
  • Reply 6 of 24
    MplsP said:
    So why did they name the chip 'H1' instead of 'W2?' Were they worried about being associated with the IRS?
    Because the W2 already exists as part of the S3 SiP in the Apple Watch Series 3. The naming convention appears to be W = for Apple Watch and H = for Apple headphones. While the W1 is inside the first gen AirPods, the H1 is the first chip designed exclusively for use in headphones.
    fastasleepspock1234MplsPhcrefugeen2itivguyllama
  • Reply 7 of 24
    mobirdmobird Posts: 220member
    tjwolf said:
     And there's room for improvement in this very area: after you say 'hey Siri', there's no immediate feedback that you were heard (as there was when you double-tapped) - if you wait a second or two, Siri will eventually say "Mhm?" or "How can I help?".
    I don't own Airpods but do own a pair of Homepods. When I invoke the beloved command "Hey Siri" I continue with the "command" immediately with no pause, meaning there is no wait for an acknowledgement from Siri. You might want to check this method out.
    fastasleepspock1234hcrefugeemuthuk_vanalingamn2itivguybeowulfschmidt
  • Reply 8 of 24
    fastasleepfastasleep Posts: 3,089member
    tjwolf said:
    I've had both generation AirPods.  I don't try to connect my AirPods to many different devices, but any improvement in connecting to my iPhone is negligible - the first pair connected almost instantaneously and the new ones do as well.  The only real notable new feature AFAIC is the addition of "Hey Siri".  Not having to double-tap the AirPods to give commands is surprisingly useful (e.g. when you're hands are full/busy).  And there's room for improvement in this very area: after you say 'hey Siri', there's no immediate feedback that you were heard (as there was when you double-tapped) - if you wait a second or two, Siri will eventually say "Mhm?" or "How can I help?".  But since Siri's volume is also noticeably lower than whatever you're listening to, sometimes you don't hear the "Mhm?" - especially when in a noisy environment - and you end up repeating your command, louder.
    There shouldn't be immediate audio feedback after "Hey Siri", because you shouldn't pause after that to wait for confirmation. You should just say continuously, "Hey, Siri, remind me when I get home to feed the cat". She then says "Okay, I'll remind you". I just wish audio playback wouldn't stop altogether during this process, I'd rather have it do auto-ducking or more gradual fade out/in or something... though I suppose it makes sense for some kinds of audio (podcasts etc) to fully pause.
    spock1234llama
  • Reply 9 of 24
    fastasleepfastasleep Posts: 3,089member

    Appleish said:
    1.5, not 2. Apple doesn't call it 2. Only tech bloggers do.
    Apple doesn't call them 1.5, only blog forum dwellers do.
    n2itivguy
  • Reply 10 of 24
    ChetNYC said:
    I have the new version of the AirPods and they are my first pair. Overall, they are good as long as the environment around you is relatively quiet and/or what you're listening to is of a low volume (for example, some classical music- which I listen to a lot). Using them in my gym, I often will hear the music from the gym's PA system over what's playing on my iPhone. My old noise cancelling earphones that were able to block even the noise of a NYC subway are still in my daypack because the subway just laughs at AirPods. So I like my AirPods but really wish that noise cancellation was a feature. I really didn't feel like waiting another eight or nine months for the chance that AirPod 3 would come out with that feature.
    You might want to check out on PowerBeat Pro. It has NC. 
    ChetNYC
  • Reply 11 of 24
    fastasleepfastasleep Posts: 3,089member
    These are my first AirPods, and have been using them since launch week and switching out from in-ear silicone sleeved V-Moda earbuds. Overall, I'm impressed with the sound, especially when they're firmly and fully seated in the ears. They do loosen up a bit when walking, and have to be pushed back in a bit to get the "full" sound they're capable of. If they could modify the design to have a grippier surface (silicone or maybe matte-textured plastic finish?) so they don't slip out as easily, that'd do a lot for both overall sound and outside noise creeping in. Overall, though, they're great and don't have any solid complaints! 
    n2itivguy
  • Reply 12 of 24
    I’ve still not found any info on the improved latency, especially related to when gaming.  Sad that this article does not address the issue - can someone here who owns the new AirPods comment on their experience with latency while gaming?
  • Reply 13 of 24
    matrix077 said:
    ChetNYC said:
    I have the new version of the AirPods and they are my first pair. Overall, they are good as long as the environment around you is relatively quiet and/or what you're listening to is of a low volume (for example, some classical music- which I listen to a lot). Using them in my gym, I often will hear the music from the gym's PA system over what's playing on my iPhone. My old noise cancelling earphones that were able to block even the noise of a NYC subway are still in my daypack because the subway just laughs at AirPods. So I like my AirPods but really wish that noise cancellation was a feature. I really didn't feel like waiting another eight or nine months for the chance that AirPod 3 would come out with that feature.
    You might want to check out on PowerBeat Pro. It has NC. 
    Actually I don’t think the Pro’s have true NC. They just seal in the ear locking out much of the ambient noise.
    edited April 26 snookie
  • Reply 14 of 24
    geekmeegeekmee Posts: 328member
    How do you improve on a diamond?...incrementally.
  • Reply 15 of 24
    Don't get me wrong - I love the new airpods. However, I find the arguments for wireless charging (both airpods, Iphone etc.) pretty ridiculous. One less cable??? So, how is the wireless charging pad connected to the outlet? The only difference is that for wireless you just put it on top of the pad while for the so called "wired charging" you have to plug the phone or the airpod case in. Big deal... You actually have less on your table for wired charging (just the cable vs. a cable and charging pad). If you travel you need the normal charging setup anyway since I dont assume that many people will bring their charging pad to the car/train/airplane.

    In my opinion wireless charging is (in many/most) cases just marketing BS to pull some more money out of peoples pocket.

    BTW - I have a wireless charging pad as well but when I thought it through (after spending the money) I thought "What was I thinking"??? ;-)


  • Reply 16 of 24
    spice-boyspice-boy Posts: 892member
    This is a real step backwards for Apple, a company which boast of its "greenness". Do we really need a replacement for the wired air buds with something that has batteries and needs daily recharging? It might be a small thing but small things add up when you have millions of these devices selling each year.
    muthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 17 of 24
    FolioFolio Posts: 599member
    My first Airpods. I thought they'd not live up to the hype. Wrong on me. They are life changers. Doing more exercises for much longer periods (1000 active cal this month average) listening to more books and podcasts. Sometimes just in one ear multitasking. It seems on the city streets (US east coast) they finally outnumber wired headphones. I hope author's forecast of color options comes true, just so we won't look too much like Pod People.
  • Reply 18 of 24
    MplsPMplsP Posts: 1,560member
    MplsP said:
    So why did they name the chip 'H1' instead of 'W2?' Were they worried about being associated with the IRS?
    Because the W2 already exists as part of the S3 SiP in the Apple Watch Series 3. The naming convention appears to be W = for Apple Watch and H = for Apple headphones. While the W1 is inside the first gen AirPods, the H1 is the first chip designed exclusively for use in headphones.
    Thanks for the explanation. 

    I wish Apple would license the BT connectivity of the W/H chips to other manufacturers, although I doubt they will. That's one of the biggest headaches of dealing with bluetooth and part of the reason I prefer wired headphones.
  • Reply 19 of 24
    matrix077 said:
    ChetNYC said:
    I have the new version of the AirPods and they are my first pair. Overall, they are good as long as the environment around you is relatively quiet and/or what you're listening to is of a low volume (for example, some classical music- which I listen to a lot). Using them in my gym, I often will hear the music from the gym's PA system over what's playing on my iPhone. My old noise cancelling earphones that were able to block even the noise of a NYC subway are still in my daypack because the subway just laughs at AirPods. So I like my AirPods but really wish that noise cancellation was a feature. I really didn't feel like waiting another eight or nine months for the chance that AirPod 3 would come out with that feature.
    You might want to check out on PowerBeat Pro. It has NC. 
    I might do that down the road and convince my wife to use the AirPods as NC isn't important for her indoor cycling at home.
  • Reply 20 of 24
    rezwitsrezwits Posts: 623member
    After I got my Watch 4 (with Cellular), I was like YES FINALLY, so I took my AirPods Gen 1, and went for a walk around my neighborhood with no wallet, no money, nothing but SHOES, BOXERS, SHORTS, SHIRT, GLASSES, plus Watch and AirPods Gen 1, NO iPhone.  Light as a feather, I walked out the door put on a Nike Walk, with music loaded and started, this was September 2018:

    NO GO.  The music was chopping up breaking and cutting in and out unless I held my left arm across my chest while I walked, then the music was fine no loss.  BUT WTF?!?!

    So I was like well have to wait till AirPods Gen 2 I guess.

    Long story short!  100% no breakups to problems, phone calls music you name it.  The only problem I had was one time I was going around a corner while talking on the phone, with and Airplane overhead, a trash truck dumping trash, 2 landscapers one weed eating, and one leaf blowing, a dog barking and I am NOT kidding a guy reving a motorcycle engine, my freind couldn't here me talking to him, but I could hear him clearly.  He was like you're breakin up.  But before I hit that corner with like 7 different sounds coming from 7 different distances, it was crazy, we talked for a good 5 minutes.  HAHA, then when I walked away 3 minutes (from that corner) later auido was fine again....

    THEY WORK 100%, with Watch 4 all by themselves for a perfect walk around the block...

    Laters...
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