AirPods 2 vs AirPods: What’s Different?

Apple has released the long-awaited AirPods 2, updating its completely wireless earbuds. But how different are they? Our AirPods 2 vs AirPods face-off examines how they differ in special features and new tricks, and how they stay the same.

The new AirPods look just like the original, but the new wireless charging case has a slight difference, placing its light up front and not inside. Credit: Tom's Guide

(Image credit: The new AirPods look just like the original, but the new wireless charging case has a slight difference, placing its light up front and not inside. Credit: Tom's Guide)

AirPods 2 vs AirPods Specs


New AirPods
Old AirPods
Price
$159
$159
Wireless Charging Case
Yes ($40 extra)
Only with $79 charging case
Chip
H1
W1
Rated Battery Life
5 Hours (with 50 percent more talk time)
5 Hours

Performance

When comparing AirPods 2 vs Airpods, most of the differences are found under the hood. We never complained about how slow the original AirPods paired with devices, but that didn't stop Apple from adding improvements. Its new H1 chip, which replaces the W1 chip, will allow for twice-as-fast connection times, which Apple touts as a major boon for those "switching between devices."

The H1 chip also provides 1.5x "faster connection time for phone calls" and offers 30 percent less latency in gaming. Apple didn't tout any advances in sound quality, so these AirPods should sound exactly the same as their predecessors, which sounded pretty great.

Apple's also claiming 50 percent more talk time with the new AirPods, though it isn't quoting a different overall battery life, keeping one charge of the buds at 5 hours of life.

MORE: Best Wireless Earbuds 2019: AirPods vs. AirPods Alternatives

Design

Everything is more or less the same here, save for a dot. Yes, there's an LED indicator on the front of the charging case, to indicate the state of the charging process. This takes a few steps out of the two ways you'd check the previous AirPods: either by flicking open their lid or sliding down the Notification Center and swiping sideways to view the battery status widget.

The AirPods themselves are still the same white-and-silver buds, as Apple isn't offering any color options, as much as we wished they would. The new AirPods look to be nearly identical to the originals in terms of weight and dimensions.

Special Features

The biggest differences with the new AirPods are found in Siri and in charging. Now, you don't need to tap twice on an AirPod to activate the digital assistant, you just need to say "Hey Siri." This way you use the AirPods hands-free, which is valuable if you're carrying a beverage or an umbrella, or if you're driving.

Apple's latest AirPods case supports Qi-based wireless charging. Credit: Tom's Guide

(Image credit: Apple's latest AirPods case supports Qi-based wireless charging. Credit: Tom's Guide)

Also, the new AirPods come in two models, one with a standard charging case (which holds 24 hours of juice) and a second with a Qi-based wireless charging case. The latter costs $40 more, for a total price of $199, though owners of 1st Gen AirPods can just buy the wireless charging case on its own, for $79, as it's compatible with the original buds. If you want to get the most out of either pair of buds, be sure to check out our how-to guide

What You Don't Get

If you were hoping for health-tracking tricks or fitness-focused features, Apple didn't add any of those rumored advancements this year, so you'll probably need to wait until 2020 for those.