The minute it was announced that the AirPods 2 went on sale, I went to the Apple online store and ordered a pair. The purchase was a no-brainer as I really enjoyed the first generation of the earbuds and felt the upgrade would be even better.
As with the first ones, I — to paraphrase Sally Field — really, really like them. Ti is despite the fact that they fall out of my ears when I run. I know that Apple says the AirPods stay in place while running; however, twice I’ve gone for a run with the wireless earphones and twice they began to slip out less than a mile into my six-mile run. I could have securely pushed ‘em back in repeatedly during my jaunt, but there’s no way I’m taking a chance on losing a pricey Apple product.
However, during brisk walks and other activities, the AirPods 2 stay in place just fine. So here’s what I recommend: use them with your Apple devices while walking, working, or lounging and get a $9.99 Spigen AirPods Strap to keep them from getting lost while running.
Other than this, I found a lot to love with the AirPods. They’re as easy as possible to use. Once set up, you can listen to music (or movies, TV shows, or podcasts) and use Siri. The AirPods come in a cool charging case (actually, there are two choice; more on that in a moment). Flip open the case (which is small enough to slip into your pocket), hold it close to your iPhone, and the AirPods pair instantly. They're then immediately available to use with your iPad, iPod touch, and Apple Watch, as well as any devices signed into your iCloud account.
There are no switches or buttons. None. Nada. This means, for better or worse, you have to use Siri to increase or decrease volume, skip to the next track in a playlist or an album, etc. However, with the new AirPods, there’s the convenience of “Hey, Siri,” which was lacking in the first model. You can change songs, make a call, adjust the volume or get directions simply by saying, “Hey Siri” — although if you’re in the vicinity of other Apple products that support this feature, it’s sometimes uncertain which one will “answer” you.
Speaking of Apple devices, AirPods work just fine with Macs, though you will have to select them from the Sound output menu. They don’t immediately disengage from a nearby iOS device and “jump” to your Mac.
Advanced sensors know when you’re listening and automatically play and pause your music when you remove the AirPods. That’s another convenient feature. An additional accelerometer in each AirPod detects when you’re speaking, enabling a pair of beam-forming microphones to focus on the sound of your voice, filtering out external noise.
The AirPods have a strong, consistent Bluetooth signal. With them paired with my iPhone, I’ve roamed from my office to the upstairs bedroom and out to the sunroom and had a clean, clear connection the entire time.
In addition to the hands-free “Hey, Siri” feature, the AirPods 2 sport the Apple-designed H1 chip. Developed specifically for headphones, delivers performance efficiencies, faster connect times, and more talk time. The chip also provides improved synchronization.
The H1 allows AirPods to deliver up to 50% more talk time compared to first generation AirPods. Also, the new earbuds will last for five hours of music and three hours of talk time; that’s an hour longer than the first version.
As for sound quality, the first gen AirPods offer solid audio, especially considering their diminutive size, but the sound quality of the upgrade is even better. Bass is surprisingly strong, and overall sound is full, detailed, and crisp.
I find the AirPods 2 to be comfortable, though I wouldn't want to wear ‘em for hours on end. The comfort level will vary a lot from person to person. Also, when the buds connect to a device, they make a “bonk” sound that may annoy some folks.
The microphone on the AirPods is fine for phone calls and using Siri. For other uses, it’s mediocre. I used the mic to make a Voice Memo, but it came out slightly distorted and “tinny.”
The new AirPods come with either the standard charging case for $159 or the new Wireless Charging Case for $199. Each case holds additional charges for more than 24 hours of total listening time.
The Wireless Charging Case works with Qi-compatible charging solutions. An LED light indicator located on the front of the case conveniently shows the charge status with just a glance. Existing AirPods customers can purchase the standalone Wireless Charging Case for $79.
Speaking of wireless charging, hey, Apple, where is our AirPower charger?
Apple World Today Rating (out of 5 stars): ★★★★★