Gadgets for humans

Apple’s new AirPods include wireless charging, Siri, and a fancy new chip

But! No! Real! Mention! Of! Audio! Improvements!

airpods moses burning bush
Price $ 199 ProductAirPods (2nd Gen) by Apple

They’re here! Apple has just announced its new AirPods, and they’re on sale now.

We’ve discussed the merits (and pitfalls) of Apple’s popular wireless earbuds before, and this update is definitely a Good Thing. The company put its new H1 chip into the earbuds, which will deliver faster device connections, and an extra hour of talk time – a 50-percent improvement over the previous model’s performance.

Another thing Apple has done with the H1 chip is to implement “Hey Siri.” Say this, and you activate the voice assistant, which you can then use to do things like change songs or make a call. I can imagine this being useful for a lot of folks.

On top of this, you can buy the new AirPods with a wireless charging case, meaning no more pesky cables. The case supports the Qi standard of charging, so it should work with most of the wireless chargers out there. This inclusion puts more weight behind rumors that Apple will release its oft-discussed AirPower wireless charging mat at its March 25 event.

I’m also a fan of the LED light on the front of the new AirPods case. This shows the device’s charge status, which, friends, will save you from taking them to the gym or on a night out without a full battery.

You can see the new LED light on the front, right there.

The one thing that isn’t mentioned much by Apple though is sound. While it says the “H1 chip features custom audio architecture to create a revolutionary audio experience,” there’s no more info on actual improvements.

Cost-wise, the AirPods with the standard charging case will cost $159. If you’d like the pair with the wireless charging case, that’ll set you back $199. If you own an old set of AirPods, Apple has helpfully given you the option to buy the wireless charging case by itself, as they’ll still fit in the capsule. This costs $79.

But, what if you hate AirPods, but love wireless earbuds and want something different? Well, we’ve got a few recommendations.

  • For the budget conscious: the Soundcore Liberty Lite are a great pair of wireless earbuds and only cost $60
  • For a direct AirPods competitor: the Jabra Elite 65t cost about the same as the AirPods, include Alexa support, and are just a wonderful pair of headphones
  • For someone wanting more: the Master & Dynamic MW07 are almost double the price of the standard AirPods, but damn they feel good and sound great

Most of these improvements seem like a positive step for AirPods, but the lack of detail on audio improvements is… worrying. Still, guess we’ll have to try them and find out.


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Published March 20, 2019 — 14:06 UTC

Price $ 199 ProductAirPods (2nd Gen) by Apple