The Apple AirPods have led the truly-wireless earphone industry and maintained their crown ever since their release in December 18 2016.
Priced at $199, after two long years, the 2nd generation AirPods have arrived, and they look exactly the same. But it’s what’s inside that counts. The AirPods 2 come with a wireless charging case and a pair of familiar-looking buds that are smarter and faster than its predecessor the AirPods 1, thanks to the new H1 chip. Now you can summon Siri by simply speaking its name, how conveinient.
The new AirPods 2 are technically not water or sweat-resistant and there’s no equalizer or ambient-listening mode. Still, for iOS fans, these are the best wireless earbuds you can buy, as it has gained a comfortable place as one of the best earbuds this year; if not the best.
AirPods 2 Price and Availability
You can get the new AirPods 2 with or without the wireless charging case, or you can purchase the case separately for your Gen 1 AirPods. The AirPods 2 with the wireless charging case costs $199. If you’d rather get a standard case, it’ll cost you $159.
Apple’s design quotient has always been a few notches higher than most other tech companies. Starting from the days of the iPod to the iPhone, Apple has had attempted to give a distinctive look to its products. When it comes to the new AirPods, there is nothing new when compared to the older generation this.
Now, there might be a section of buyers who would be disappointed not to see no new color options in the AirPods 2, but as we all know it is unusual for Apple to take a page out of Samsung’s book an offer multiple colors. It would have been nice if the company made the AirPods 2 truly sweat- and water-resistant. But I doubt the lack of certification will stop these babies from showing up at the gym. For us here at mymediaafrica, we too actually would’ve liked to see it in different colours and maybe Apple might introduce them in the future generation of its wireless airbuds.
So what is different in the design of the AirPods? The change – albeit slight — lies in the charging case . the wireless charging case has a pinhole light indicator at the front which the other variant lacks. the pairing button is at the back as is the lightning port. The hinge is made out of anodised metal whereas the one on the standard case is a simple metal strip.
The new AirPods fit snugly in your ears and are extremely lightweight, never causing any uncomfortable pressure. In terms of comfort, you’ll struggle to find any other wireless earbud to match the AirPods. Once they’re in, they kind of fade into the background, which speaks to their comfort, but also freak me out. You, however, can wear the new AirPods for hours at a stretch and not once feel any sense of fatigue — something that can’t be said about most of the other wireless earbuds. Only the Nokia Wireless Earbuds come close- but still not as good- to the comfort that the Airpods provide.
Connecting the original AirPods to an iPhone was fast . I put this to the test with an iPhone XS Max and found that it took the AirPods2 only 3.2 seconds to connect to the smartphone while the older pair took 5.1 seconds. Like the original AirPods, once the buds are connected, a small widget pops up showing the battery life of the Pods and the charging case.
The extra bit of pick up and go comes from Apple’s new H1 chip, which the company says enables the AirPods 2 to offer longer talk times, greater battery life and device switching that is twice as fast as its predecessor. Switching between the XS Max and the MacBook Pro took the new AirPods 2.8 seconds, while the older model finished in 4.3.
If you own an Android phone, pairing the AirPods 2 will take a little more work, but not much. In order to use the new AirPods with my Samsung Galaxy Note 8 I just needed to press the round button on the back of the charging case. The old AirPods took 4.9 seconds to connect while the new models finished the task in 3.1 seconds. The button can also be used to reset the Bluetooth connection to an iOS device.
But the speed doesn’t stop once you’re connected. The H1 chip is also good for mobile games, cutting audio latency while gaming by 30 percent.
HANDS FREE SIRI
This is the first pair of Pods to feature hands-free Siri. Instead of having to tap out your Siri requests on those long, thin AirPod stems, you can simply say “Hey Siri,” and launch the ubiquitous digital assistant.
Naturally, the feature worked beautifully in the fairly quiet environment of the Tom’s Guide office. But I was really impressed when I uttered the magic words on a New York City street during rush hour with police sirens and horns blaring. I didn’t even have to yell — in fact, I’m pretty sure I mumbled the phrase, but, just like that, my music paused as Siri waited to hear the rest of my command. Of course, “Hey Siri” doesn’t work with Android phones, but for iPhone users, it’s pretty cool. Hands-free Siri is cool but what I really need Apple to work on next is adding adjustable ambient noise, similar to what the Jabra Elite Active 65t offers.
Apple has made a few iterations to the new AirPods but those don’t actually reach the audio quality. This is not to say that the AirPods don’t deliver great audio quality but it it remains as good as the old AirPods. Also the AirPods deliver good audio quality, with a solid soundstage and clean vocals. However, the bass can be a little cold and boomy at times, while the highs can be somewhat recessed but it’s something that serious audiophiles will only notice.
When we listened to Lizzo’s “Tempo” featuring Missy Elliot on the AirPods 2, the deep bass was always at the cusp of overtaking the rest of the track, save for Lizzo and Missy’s bombastic vocals. The electric guitar at the top of the track was scratchier than what we heard with the Jabra Elite Active 65t. And while the bass was definitely aggressive, there wasn’t any crowding, especially on Lizzo’s flute solo toward the end.
We noticed that the higher parts of Kevin Ross’ mostly acapella rendition of “Prototype” were a little stretched on the AirPods, but we heard every piece of the three-part harmony. However, I couldn’t hear the quick piano component of the track as cleanly as I did on the Elite Active 65t. And thanks to the Jabra’ buds wider sound stage, the harmonizing vocals had more room to breathe, making for a warmer presentation
The AirPods 2 delivered a better performance on H.E.R.’s “Focus,” delivering a beautifully delicate harp that was crowded by the big bass, but not so much that the artist’s vulnerable vocal couldn’t shine through. Still, the Elite Active 65ts had more precise lows, which allowed us to hear the percussion better.
BATTERY LIFE AND CALL QUALITY
The new AirPods last for five hours on a single charge quite easily. You won’t need to look for a charging port or th wireless charging case for at least five years. The talk time has improved and it is definately better than that of the original AirPods. Apple said it’s 50 percent more and at mymedia africa we found that to be true. For us, battery has always been a critical factor in any wireless earbud as the need to charge them too frequently becomes very irritating. the new AirPods deliver impressive battery life. The new AirPods come with dual mics and offerbneat call quality. Even in niosy surroundings we and the person on the other end could hear each other quite clearly. airpods offer three hours of talk time which is better than the first generation.
Powered by Bluetooth 5.0 instead of last gen’s 4.2, the new AirPods offer a more stable connection. In terms of range, I managed to leave my phone at my desk and walk to the center of the office — a distance of 50 feet. It’s not surprising as Bluetooth 5.0 promises longer wireless range and improved battery life.
Faster, smarter, longer-lasting, the AirPods 2 are still at the top of the heap for iPhone owners. Apple has given people what they want with wireless charging and a hands-free approach to Siri. And the fact that the buds offer longer talk time and faster pairing are icing on the cake, especially since the old AirPods’ pairing was near instantaneous. For more about how how Apple’s buds compare, check out our AirPods 2 vs AirPods comparison.
However, $199 is a bit pricey for a pair of truly wireless buds, especially when you’ve got the likes of the Samsung Galaxy Buds offering wireless charging for a mere $129. And ounce-for-ounce when it comes to features, the AirPods can’t hold a candle to the $175 Jabra Elite Active 65t with its host of adjustable add-ons.