AirPods get an Update

Eli Wagner bumping music through the original AirPods

Eli Wagner bumping music through the original AirPods

AirPods are an extremely popular product especially among high school and college students. When you’re walking through the hallways between classes, chances are, you’ll see at least one person with AirPods on. 

AirPods are one of Apple’s bestselling products in the last few years and recently got an upgrade. This is the first update that they’ve received since their release in 2016. While the new features on the “AirPods 2” are significant, you might be more surprised with what Apple hasn’t changed rather than what’s new.  

Note: Apple still calls the new model “AirPods” but, to avoid confusion I’ll refer to them as “AirPod’s 2” 

As far as design, nothing has really changed between the original AirPods and AirPods 2, which is somewhat surprising. After waiting more than 2 years, customers expected new colors to choose from, or for Apple to release a black option. Apple sticking with white could be a marketing move for brand recognition. Apple wants people see white, cordless earbuds and immediately know they’re Apple AirPods.   

The only visible difference for the AirPods 2 is a small light on the front of the new wireless charging case to indicate that it's being charged. The new wireless charging case now weighs 40 grams compared to the original case’s 38 grams, but that’s not a noticeable difference. As far as the AirPods themselves, absolutely nothing has changed in the looks department. So, if you hated how the original AirPods looked, don’t get excited for AirPods 2.  

The good news for Apple fans is that AirPods 2 did get significant upgrades in performance. AirPods 2 has Apple’s new H1 chip to replace the W1 chip that was featured in the OG AirPods. The H1 chip is a lot more efficient than the older W1. The new chip allows AirPods 2 to pair faster with devices, have 30% lower latency (the delay between video and sound), switch devices twice as fast, and boost talk time by 50%. The H1 chip also allows for a more stable connection, although it probably isn’t noticeable.

While all that is great, the H1 chip’s headline feature is “custom audio architecture”. This means AirPods 2 are voice activated by saying “Hey, Siri”. This allows you to make calls, switch songs, adjust the volume, get directions, and answer questions with only the sound of your voice.  

Unfortunately, AirPods 2 don’t have any sound quality improvements over the original but, AirPods already have pretty good sound quality. This probably isn’t an issue for the average person, however if you’re really in to sound performance enhancements, then the AirPods 2 might not be for you.  

Andrew Marek, a sophomore at Moeller and AirPods user, sat down with me to discuss whether he thinks the AirPods 2 are worth upgrading to. He said, “I don’t think it’s worth it to upgrade because the only new features that matter are the extra battery life and faster connection time.” So, if you’re willing to spend the $199 price tag, and you don’t have AirPods already, the convenience and new features of AirPods 2 are worth the price.

Jack Sullivan