If you follow me on Twitter, you are probably aware I have been waiting for a long time for Apple to release the new versions of its AirPods. The company finally launched those this month, and I was quick to pre-order one. Apple shipped my new AirPods 2 just yesterday, and I have been using it for the last day. Here are some of my thoughts.
I haven’t used the original AirPods at all, but I have been using wireless headphones for a while. Coming to AirPods 2, the wireless experience wasn’t really all that new for me. What was new, however, was the convenience of the AirPods.
Connecting to the AirPods is incredibly quick and easy, especially since I have an iPhone and a Mac. And with the new H1 chip on the AirPods 2, the connectivity seems way faster too. I have compared the connectivity performance of my AirPods 2 with a friend’s original AirPods, and mine was slightly quicker to connect. And that’s not a big deal, but the new H1 makes it so switching between different devices is quicker, and that’s where the notable difference is. That obviously doesn’t really work when you are connecting to a non-Apple device, so when I am switching between my Windows 10 machine and my iPhone, the experience is a bit iffy for sure.
AirPods 2 also brings Hey Siri, and that’s one of the more exciting features in this year’s update. Hey Siri lets you activate Siri with your voice without having to double tap on your AirPods, and it works really well. Siri is quick to detect the hotword and start answering your questions on the AirPods 2, but it is a little confusing at first. There isn’t really any real indication of when Siri is actually listening to you, but that’s a learning curve that you can get over pretty easily.
What is weird, however, is actually talking to Siri in public. When I am listening to music and I can’t really hear my own voice, I was worried I would say “Hey Siri” out loud in public and everyone would look at me like a weirdo. And to be honest, I just tried to get Siri to activate with a quiet voice at first and getting louder slowly to finally get Siri to listen to me. Again, it’s a learning curve that you get used to quickly.
In terms of performance, Siri on the AirPods 2 work just fine, and it’s very quick to respond as well. And the fact that you don’t have to take your phone out of your pocket is very convinient, especially if you are in a really packed train, for example.
Wireless Charging is a big part of the AirPods 2, by the way. Apple is actually selling two different variants of the AirPods 2 — one with a regular charging case for $159, and another with a wireless charging case for $199. I went for the wireless charging case one because I may get an AirPower in the future (if that actually makes it out of Apple HQs), but I don’t actually have a wireless charger right now. But here is the thing: one of my friends had a Galaxy S10, and because that phone has the new Wireless PowerShare feature, I was able to charge my AirPods simply by placing it on the S10. And it was…pretty cool. This is Samsung innovating here, just to be clear. Apple will obviously copy PowerShare on the future iPhones, so I am glad I got the $199 AirPods 2 instead of the regular one.
Sound quality wise, the AirPods 2 sounds just fine. It sounds identical to the original AirPods and the sound quality isn’t anything out of this world. It’s not really “great” for $199 headphones, but it does the job. I mean, if you aren’t an audio nerd like me, these things will sound just fine.
I also haven’t had a long enough time with the new AirPods to comment on the battery life, which Apple says has improved with this year’s update. But the fact that I have listened to music nonstop for hours without running out of battery is probably a good indication of the battery life.
And as a new AirPods user, I love some of the classic AirPods features like all the gesture-based controls. Tapping on the AirPods to play/pause playback or play the next track is really cool, and being able to automatically pause playback when you take off one of the AirPods is actually very handy.
But because my previous wireless headphones actually had a wire, the new AirPods felt a bit weird when taking off. I always found myself trying to take it off by pulling the wire, but that obviously doesn’t exist here. I also found the AirPods a little clumsy when taking them out the AirPods case and putting them back in, though these are probably things I will get used to as I use these more.
Either way, I actually really like the new AirPods. I have wanted to get one for a really long time, so I am pretty happy with these. There are some things I would like Apple to improve with a future version though, which obviously includes the sound quality, and improved design (especially for the charging case which I think is a little big).