In Depth

AirPods 2 vs. AirPods: what has changed on Apple’s new wireless earphones?

New and improved earphones get Siri support and upgraded battery life

Apple has released a second-generation version of its wireless AirPods earphones, promising an improved battery and easier access to Siri. 

A new version, commonly referred to as AirPods 2, has been rumoured for well over six months, with many believing they would appear during the iPhone XS, XS Max and XR launch last September.

While the design of the new earphones is identical to that of the original AirPods, which launched at the end of 2016, Apple has made a number of tweaks to the hardware in a bid to improve connectivity and battery performance.

Here’s everything you need to know about Apple’s latest wireless earphones:

Pricing 

Prices for the new AirPods start at £159, which includes the wireless earphones and a standard carry case. The case itself charges the earphones when they’re not in use, but it needs to be plugged in now and again to top up its battery.

The price matches the starting figure of the original AirPods, which have now been discontinued.

For an extra £40, buyers can swap the standard case for one that can be charged wirelessly. This allows users to place the case on a wireless charging pad, whereas the standard model can only be charged with one of Apple’s Lightning cables. 

The wirelessly charged case can be purchased separately, but customers will have to fork out £79 to buy the container if they opt for the standard £159 bundle.  

UK release date

Buyers can pick up the AirPods 2 from Apple’s UK online store today, with deliveries expected to get under way towards the end of next week.  

What’s new on the new AirPods?

Apple is touting a 50% improvement in battery life for calls over the old AirPods, says Forbes. The previous version offered around two hours of battery life while on a call, so it should now be around three hours on the new model. 

Accessing Siri, Apple’s virtual voice assistant, has also been improved, the news site says. Users no longer need to tap the side of the earphones to talk to Siri. Instead, they can simply say “Hey, Siri” before giving the assistant a voice command. 

The new AirPods are equipped with the company’s new H1 processor, which boasts a “1.5x” increase in connectivity speed for phone calls, says tech news site Tom’s Guide. The chip also improves latency, the delay between a user input and the device responding, for video game audio by 30%. 

Verdict

The changes on the new model are hardly “earth-shattering” and the absence of much-requested features, such as noise cancellation and water resistance, will disappoint some Apple fans, says MacRumors

Nevertheless, the upgraded Siri connectivity and the option to wirelessly charge the device’s carry case “are still welcome improvements”, the tech site says. 

Plus, with the new model carrying the same price tag as its predecessor, buyers are getting a noticeable bump in performance and features at no extra cost.

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