Review: Are Second Generation AirPods Really Worth It?

Apple surprised and launched in mid-March what it called the second generation of Airpods its totally wireless headsets that have exploded in popularity in the United States and around the world, leaving the initial strangeness of its design in the past.

This is a normal trend for a product that is so well thought out and deeply functional. As I said in January 2017, in my first generation review, AirPods have been Apple's coolest product in recent years. And I think that remains true.

The question here: is the second generation really worth it? Many who have had contact with the product find it more pertinent to call this a “1.5” version of the original AirPods, and I can't disagree with that much.

Still, in short, what was good just got better.

Video from unboxing and hands-on

If you haven't seen it, we posted a few weeks ago a video of unboxing and hands-on new AirPods on our YouTube channel. Here it is:


For a person who does not know all the details of the product and / or is not very thorough, putting the new AirPods next to the old will say they are identical. And you're almost right.

Externally, there are only three changes in the new AirPods' recharge case: the LED that indicates the state of the battery was once inside the case between the two headphones, and now is on the outside of the case so that it is visible while the case. It's recharging wirelessly (I'll talk more about that below).

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Official image:

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In addition, the hinged lid of the case has changed from a shiny stainless steel to a dull aluminum (probably not to interfere with your electromagnetic coil):

IFixit Disassembled AirPodsFirst generation AirPods left, new right. | Photo: iFixit.

Finally, at the back of the case, the manual pairing knob has “risen” a little and is now centered.

Otherwise, visually, everything is really the same. Absolutely nothing has changed in the shape of the headphones themselves.

Wireless Charging Case

One of the big news of the new AirPods, interestingly, optional. Not only that, but even those who do not want to upgrade to the new generation of headphones can choose to just buy the new case.

Yes, there is a new wireless charging case, compatible with the Qi standard. Apple sells the new generation of AirPods with and without it ($ 40 in the United States and $ 330 in Brazil), and also sells the loose case for $ 80 out there or breathe $ 680 here.

There is not much to talk about here. Apple has installed an electromagnetic coil inside the case, allowing it to be positioned over any Qi charging base to be automatically powered. Hence the need to move the LED to its new position; It's easy to see if the case is really recharging.

Even the wireless recharge case still has the Lightning port on its bottom, meaning you can power it both ways. And yes, although wireless recharging is more practical, it is still considerably slower.

H1 chip and battery

The other big change in second-generation "invisible" AirPods, which certainly makes it difficult for Apple to sell them to those who already have the first ones, for example.

Second generation AirPods diagonally with headphones coming out

The original model had at its core the W1 chip, the same one used for Apple Watch wireless functions. In this new generation, Apple's engineering team worked on a new type of chip fully dedicated to Hand phones, the H1.

With H1, Apple promises faster connection and switching between devices (which, yes, is more sensitive than the software update released for first generation models), higher connection reliability, lower latency (optimal for videos and games) and gains in battery life especially in conversations. The promise of 5h listening to music and even 3h talking to some AirPods, plus the extra 24h provided by the case when 100% recharged.

Apple says that with just 15 minutes of recharging the headphones inside the case, the user gets 3h of battery to listen to music or 2h of talk time. Nevertheless, I still think that recharging the case completely (wired or wireless) could be faster.

“What's up, Siri”

Another good news provided by the H1 chip is the “E a, Siri” command integrated natively with AirPods.

In this new generation, AirPod microphones are all the time waiting for your command to call Siri and ask her for anything like a specific song or band, call some, or change the playback volume.

It's nice that you no longer have to dedicate one of the double-tap commands on the AirPods to Siri, which was a waste.

Woman enjoying the second generation AirPods

In my tests, Siri worked well (within the little we expect from her), but I think the answers might be a little more immediate. The biggest blame is that Siri keeps sending all commands to Apple's servers (it doesn't work without internet), instead of processing them locally on the iPhone.

This is a very negative point of AirPods (both first and second generation models), since if you choose, for example, to run with headphones and Apple Watch without connectivity, you will not even be able to ask Siri volume up.

What hasn't changed

Absolutely nothing has changed in the sound quality of AirPods, which is not necessarily a bad thing. No d to wait for earbuds It is as small and light as a spatial sound and full of bass as we get with circumaural headphones, but in my opinion their level is quite satisfactory.

H1 chip optimizations for using Siri with AirPods have also provided a slight improvement in their microphone quality, but don't even think about using them to record a podcast, for example.

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Official image:

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Setting up and using AirPods is still as easy and intuitive as ever. The popup window that appears on the iPhone when the case open next to it is even faster, and everything is still very good, thanks.

What is still missing

In my first generation review, I mentioned that the design of the AirPods was not “the most beautiful”. From then on, this look certainly solidified, and it no longer causes any strangeness anymore. curious, I now sometimes find it weird when I see someone wearing the (wired) EarPods.

Still, it doesn't mean it's a perfect / everlasting design. It would not be bad for Apple in a future generation, perhaps to diminish the "little leg", offer more colors (at least one black too, as the newly released Powerbeats Pro) and work in a way to make them even more ear-caught ( using a new, less smooth material on the shell, maybe porous like the new Apple Pencil).

A big disappointment of this new generation is the absence of new gestures in the headphones. Okay, Siri can now be all voice-driven, but s; One of the things users most ask for, that some kind of physical volume control on their headsets, hasn't arrived yet. Just don't miss anyone who has an Apple Watch and controls the volume for it; but Apple needs to solve this.

Of course, there are other future enhancements that will be very welcome in the third, fourth or fifth generations onwards, including: higher sound quality with active noise cancellation, super fast recharge (especially of the case), greater “ repairability ”, water resistance, etc.

IFixit Disassembled AirPodsAirFods completely disassembled by iFixit.

And yes: there are rumors that we may see a new generation by the end of this year. To be?

Should I buy?

I usually have a little difficulty answering this question, but this time relatively simple considering first of all, of course, that AirPods remain an expensive product (especially here in Brazil).

If you've never had AirPods or any wireless headsets, go without fear! You are buying an even better product than it already was, in some ways, with absolutely no "buts".

If you already have the first generation AirPods, the only scenario in which I would recommend replacing them with the second generation of your battery is already too worn out with the common use at this point in the championship among those who bought them there in the original release. , two years or more. As you can not change only their battery, enjoy and get the few news of this new model too.

Second Generation AirPods

The new AirPods are now available for purchase in Brazil. Here are the prices:

To those who already have the new AirPods, comment below also what you think of them. 😉