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Apple’s new AirPods 2: Review & comparison

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Erin L

Erin L

Apple Airpods 2, review, whats new, trade

Earlier this year, Apple’s AirPods 2 was released. These sleek earphones promise to offer you a whole new listening experience, but are the new Airpods worth swapping for your original AirPods, or something else? I had a chance to spend a few weeks at home and on the road with these truly wireless earbuds and this is what I found.

Apple new AirPods 2 review

Apple AirPods 2 are designed to be used mainly with Apple products, including your iPhone, Apple Watch, iPad, or Mac.

Setting up Apple Airpods 2

Getting these headphones set up is incredibly easy. Once charged, open them up; a small window will pop up on your iPhone. Tap to connect and that’s it. When you open them up and put them on, they’ll automatically connect to the last device paired. No heading to settings and reconnecting required.

Using Apple Airpods 2

Apple Airpods 2, review, whats new, trade

These headphones are made to produce a seamless Apple experience. Open the case and put them in your ears. You’ll hear a short sound that confirms the connection. You also don’t need to fumble for an on and off switch, or the pause button when you take them out of your ears. If they’re in your ears, they’re always on and always connected.

Thanks to the new Apple H1 headphone chip complete with optical sensors and motion accelerometers, they can detect when you take them out of your ears to pause your audio automatically and resume the audio once you put them back in. I definitely found this worked amazingly well each time, and it was nice, particularly on an airplane when someone like the flight attendant was talking while I was watching TV.

If you choose to use only one earbud, the AirPods 2 can detect that as well and will readjust the sound to give you the best listening and talking experience using only one earbud.

Looking for the volume button? No need. With the AirPod 2, you can ask Siri to do it for you. Just say, ‘Hey Siri, turn it down’, and you never need to take your phone out. A double-tap on each earbud can be configured to skip tracks or play/pause, or even summon Siri.

Charging and battery life: new AirPods

Apple Airpods 2, review, whats new, trade

Of course, the AirPods 2 storage and carrying case doubles as a charger, allowing you to charge on the go, but it can also give you several hours of charge in just 15 minutes. For full charges, you can plug it in using the dedicated lightning plug.

You can also charge your Wireless Charging Case with a Qi-certified charging mat . Be sure to place your case on the charger with the status light facing up and with the lid closed. The status light should show the current charge level for 8 seconds.

Here’s the battery life you can expect with AirPods (2nd generation):

  • With multiple charges in your case, you get more than 24 hours of listening time,1 or up to 18 hours of talk time.
  • Your AirPods can get up to 5 hours of listening time or 3 hours of talk time on a single charge.
  • If you charge your AirPods for 15 minutes in your case, you get up to 3 hours of listening time or up to 2 hours of talk time.

You can check the charge status of your AirPods with charging case with your iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, or Mac.

On your iOS device

On your iPhone, open your case lid with your AirPods inside and hold your case close to your device. Wait a few seconds to see the charge status of your AirPods with charging case.

You can also check the charge status of your AirPods with charging case with the Batteries widget on your iOS device. The charge for your case appears only when at least one AirPod is in the case. To access it, swipe to the right from your home screen.

On your Mac

  1. Open the lid or take your AirPods out of the case.
  2. Click the  menu in the menu bar.
  3. Hover the pointer over your AirPods with charging case in the menu.

Connecting AirPods to more than one Apple Device

AirPods can be used with multiple devices, including iPhone, iPad and Mac computers, BUT, you can only have them connected to one device at a time. This is a huge oversign, in my opinion. There have been headphones out there for years that will stay linked to multiple devices, like your phone and tablet and computer all at once. With Airpods 2, you need to physically switch between devices.

AirPods will connect to your iPhone and Apple Watch at the same time. Sound automatically switches between them.

If you want to swap to another Apple device, follow these steps to use your AirPods to play audio from a different device or to switch the audio to different headphones or speakers.

On your iOS device

  1. Open Control Center.
  2. Press deeply or touch and hold the audio card in the upper-right corner of Control Center to control audio.
  3. Tap , then choose the device you want from the list.

On your Mac

Click the volume control  in the menu bar and choose your AirPods or other speakers under Output Device.

Apple Airpods 2, review, whats new, trade

Can I use AirPods with non-Apple or Android devices?

In short, yes. They’ll work  with just about anything.

You won’t get all the included features that you would with an Apple device. Obvioulsy the automatic battery indicator for the AirPods won’t display on your Android phone, and Siri won’t respond to your requests.  On your Android device, go to Settings > Connections/Connected Devices > Bluetooth and make sure Bluetooth is on. Then open the AirPods case, tap the white button on the back and hold the case near your Android phone or tablet. Your AirPods should pop up on the onscreen list of connected devices. Tap the AirPods name on the screen to connect.

Sound quality: Apple AirPods 2

I will admit I have a love hate relationship with these headphones. I love how easy they are to use, the seamless interface between the phone and the headphones, the automatic connection and even the looks. What I don’t care for one bit, is the fit. I’ve always disliked the fit of Apple headphones, whether it was the wired versions or these wireless ones. Though the earbuds themselves are deliciously smooth I find them quite slippery to pull from the case and to insert. The loose fit, where they just feel like they’re hanging in your ear concha feels so insecure, I often finding myself checking that they’re still there. I’m also always adjusting the angle of the AirPods to get the sound piped more directly into my ear.

Apple Airpods 2, review, whats new, trade

Why am I spending so much time talking about the fit and shape? Because of the way these are shaped, their small size, and the fact they lack any kind of ear tips, fins or any other way to create a secure fit and offer some sound isolation, I find them hard to listen to. On a recent airplane trip it was a nightmare. I had two very young girls beside me and their constant chatter bled in around my Apple TV audio. It was so bad I swapped to a noise isolating pair of Sennheisers instead to block them out.

The shape of these leads to a substantial of noise bleed, which makes it difficult to get a true sound picture. Sitting at home or somewhere quiet, yes, they sound truly fantastic. Clear, very well balanced, great bass quality and overall just really, really great. You get a lot of sound detail and subtlety.

But working in my home office with the Roomba vacuum running in the next room? On a loud airplane with chatty seatmetes? Uh uh. Walking home from work in a high traffic area? They need to be cranked.

Now, I’m going to point out that headphones are a very personal preference. What one person loves when it comes to fit and sound quality, is another’s nightmare of discomfort. In most cases, the other great things about these AirPods 2 headphones leads me to choose them over others. But when I need to focus on something I’m listening to or watching, or I need something to isolate outside sounds and teenage girl chatter, I will go to something like Samsung Galaxy Buds or Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless

Call quality

With all the bells and whistles built in to this device, you’d expect the call quality to be good, and it is. While other truly wireless headphones can be staticy and hard for others to hear, the AirPods 2 deliver clear, reliable call quality. I’m consistently pleased about how good they sound and how easy it is to pick up a call on the Airpods.

Original AirPods vs. new AirPods 2

Wondering what the  main differences are between the original AirPods and the new Airpod 2?

  • AirPods 2 have an updated sensor chip for improved stop and starting and one-bud adjustments.
  • Increased talk time thanks to improved battery life
  • Voice-activated with Siri, rather than touch activated

With regards to the look, sound quality, overall battery life (of both the buds and the charging case), they are identical for both models.

Apple Airpods 2, review, whats new, trade

Overall Review: Apple AirPods 2

The AirPods 2 have some improvements in technology, integration, and ease of use that was lacking in the original model. The significance of these updates depends on the person who uses them. The most outstanding features include the update to Qi wireless charging and Siri integration.

It is important to note that the AirPods 2 come along at no small price. In the Apple store, the listed price is $269

In short, if you already have the original AirPods, you aren’t missing much if you don’t upgrade. If you are already a fan of Apple’s wired headphone design, you’ll be happy with an upgrade to Airpods 2. If you also love the seamless Apple experience across devices, you’ll love these.

If you’re looking for big leaps in technology and user experience, my advice is to wait.

 

Erin L

Erin L

I'm a journalist, tech blogger, writer, TV producer, silversmith& jewelry designer, foodie and world traveler. I blog, write for publications, and supply freelance writing services to Calgary, and the world.

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