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AirPods vs AirPods 2: What’s new?

We compare Apple's original wireless earbuds with their brand-new successors

Apple’s AirPods were considered a bit of a laughing stock when they were released back in December 2016. Many compared them to oversized earrings, and the general consensus was that you’d almost certainly lose your new earbuds before you even got the chance to use them.

Since then, however, Apple’s own earbuds have been seriously successful. So much so that a follow-up to the originals quickly became something of an inevitability. On 20 March 2019, Apple gave us just that, accompanied by a statement that read “the world’s best wireless headphones just got even better”.

It’s a bold claim, but how do AirPods 2 (that’s what we’re calling them for the sake of this article) really compare to the originals? Read on for our full comparison of price, design, features and more.

AirPods vs AirPods 2: Price

The original AirPods started at £159, which was understandably considered very steep at a time when a pair of regular Apple headphones would set you back around £30.

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Although Apple itself has stopped stocking them, we’d expect their price at third-party retailers to plummet as a result of their successors’ release.

AirPods 2, despite boasting some extra features (more on that below), will also set you back £159, or £199 if you’d like to upgrade to a wireless charging case.

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For reference, Samsung’s brand-new Galaxy Buds are slightly cheaper at £139, but top-of-the-range wireless earbuds such as Sennheiser’s Momentum True Wireless cost closer to £300.

AirPods vs AirPods 2: Design

Aesthetically, there’s almost no difference whatsoever between AirPods and AirPods 2. However, that might not be such a bad thing.

Rumours were abound that Apple may roll out the new earbuds in a range of colours, but we just can’t imagine them looking good in any other colour than trademark white.

There were also fears that longer battery life might lead to a more cumbersome charging case but, although we haven’t yet gotten our hands on AirPods 2, these don’t seem to have materialised.

So, the news in this respect is that there isn’t any news. The same wide eartips, chunky stem and dental-floss style charging case that defined the look of the originals still feature on AirPods 2.

AirPods vs AirPods 2: Features

The original AirPods do everything you would expect of a pair of true wireless earbuds. Pair them with your smartphone or other device and you can listen to music via Bluetooth, controlling playback and volume via controls on the buds themselves.

AirPods 2 take this relatively simple concept a step further, adding a few handy features into the mix.

The first of these is that you can now access Siri via your earbuds simply by saying “Hey Siri”. This means you can get information delivered straight your ears without having to fiddle around with your smartphone.

Battery life has also been significantly improved, at least according to Apple. The company states that the new buds will give you 50% extra talk time compared to the original AirPods. That’s only an hour, but should lead to significantly increased audio-playback times as well.

Most notably, the AirPods 2 also feature wireless charging. The wireless charging case is compatible with any Qi charging mat, although it should be noted that this will cost you an extra £40 (or £80 when the case is purchased on its own).

All these improvements are possible thanks to the brand-new H1 chip, which Apple has designed specifically for use inside the AirPods 2. Apple says the new chip will improve connectivity and speed up pairing times, as well as improving battery life.

AirPods vs AirPods 2: Performance

Wireless earbuds tend to take a fair bit of stick when it comes to performance. Although the original AirPods fit snugly in the air and generally felt quite comfortable, they left quite a bit to be desired in terms of audio quality.

As mentioned, we haven’t yet had a chance to review AirPods 2, but the fact that Apple hasn’t boasted about significant improvements to the audio experience doesn’t fill us with hope in this respect. We’re predicting that AirPods 2 will perform similarly well to their predecessors in terms of performance.

Be sure to stay tuned to Expert Reviews for a full lowdown of AirPods 2’s performance as and when they arrive at our office.

READ NEXT: Our pick of the best true wireless earbuds you can buy

AirPods vs AirPods 2: Verdict

The AirPods 2 have been a long time coming, and it seems that Apple has made some significant and useful improvements in the areas of battery life, wireless charging and voice activation.

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We’re not holding out hope for an improvement in audio performance but, fingers crossed, AirPods 2 will deliver more at the same price as their predecessors.

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