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AirPods 2 vs. AirPods: What's changed with Apple's new earbuds?

If you already have the original AirPods, you may not be missing much.


Apple's new AirPods (or AirPods 2 if you prefer) have arrived, more than two years after the release of the original version. The wireless Bluetooth earbuds don't look any different from the old AirPods and miss out on a couple of our most-wanted updates. However it does compare favorably to the new Powerbeats Pro

Here's a breakdown of the specs between the new AirPods and the first-gen AirPods.

New AirPods vs. old AirPods

New AirPods AirPods
Wireless charging Yes (with wireless case) Yes (backwards compatible with new case)
Chip H1 W1
Battery life (music playback) 5 hours 5 hours
Battery life (talk time) 3 hours 2 hours
Battery life (charging case) 24 hours 24 hours
Siri "Hey Siri" voice activated Touch activated
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Wireless charging case


The new AirPods with Apple's Wireless Charging Case.


The new AirPods offer a wireless charging case, as we expected. You can buy it with the new AirPods themselves ($199, £199, AU$319), or if you'd rather add wireless charging to your first-gen AirPods, you can buy the case separately for $79.

The new AirPods are also available with a standard charging case for $159 (£159, AU$249).

All the cases (wireless charge or not) can still charge via Lightning as well.

The same familiar design

Nothing new here apart from some cosmetic tweaks to the wireless charging case. The charging light is on the front of the case, rather than on the inside, presumably so you can see it easier when the case is lying on a Qi charging pad. The new AirPods are still only available in white.

You get the same touch controls on both so you can play and pause tracks or answer calls from the AirPods. They both also share the same sensors that know when the pod is in your ear.

New H1 chip, changes to Siri

Replacing the W1 chip from the original AirPods, the new AirPods get an upgrade to the H1 chip. Here's a rundown of the main changes it brings to the new AirPods:

  • Faster connection times: Apple says switching between active devices like the iPhone, iPad or Apple Watch is twice as fast. It's 1.5 times faster for phone calls.
  • Hey Siri: You can summon the assistant with your voice rather than tapping on the pod like before. You can make a call or adjust the volume with a Siri command.
  • Lower latency: 30 percent less for gaming.
  • A more stable wireless connection.
  • Custom audio architecture: Apple's AirPod page also says you'll get higher-quality sound from the H1 chip. We won't know for sure if that's a significant jump over the first AirPods until we can listen.

The new AirPods aren't a huge update over the first AirPods and offer some incremental updates including wireless charging. 

Read more: The king of truly wireless earphones is crowned with small enhancements

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Apple AirPods
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