The long-awaited AirPods 2 are finally here, and according to Apple, they will deliver “faster connect times, more talk time, and the convenience of hands-free Siri.
The second generation AirPods 2 come with a standard charging case or an optional wireless charging case and are available to order on the Apple website or Apple Store app now, or from physical Apple Stores from at the end of March.
What are they? Apple’s second generation true-wireless earbuds, now complete with wireless charging case options and hands-free Siri voice assistant access.
When are they out? The AirPods 2 are available to buy now from the Apple website, and the Apple Store app from (March 20), and will be available to buy in physical Apple Stores next week.
They follow the roll out of a new iPad Air (2019), iPad mini (2019), and a brand new iMac (2019), so the AirPods 2 represent the latest in a stream of new hardware launches from Apple. This is ahead of what we expect to be the March 25 video streaming launch event, which could to see the long-awaited arrival of a new Apple streaming service to rival Netflix.
We originally expected the AirPods 2 to be significantly different form their predecessors thanks to trademark and Bluetooth SIG filings, but judging from the official press release, this doesn’t seem to be the case. Read on for all the details.
Despite their divisive design, the Apple AirPods sold very well – you just have to jump on public transport and see just how many of them are poking out of music fans’ ears on the way to work to note they’ve overcome any early online ridicule.
At first glance, the new AirPods 2 look very similar to the original Apple AirPods. Again, they’re completely cable-free, drawing battery from a pillbox-like charging case, with stem-like protrusions from the buds. But the next-gen improvements are under the hood.
First up is a newly-designed H1 chip which Apple has built specifically for the headphones. It improves connectivity pairing times, as well as the efficiency of the battery life, which Apple claims will give you 50% more hands-free talk time. The original AirPods offered five hours of use, with a total 24 hours of battery life when taking into consideration their charging case, for comparison.
Beyond battery life, the most significant addition is that of hands-free “Hey Siri” functionality. Pop the AirPods 2 into your ears, and you’ll be able to use the voice assistant command to place calls, change songs and more – basically anything Siri can do, direct from the AirPods 2, without needing to pull your iPhone out.
The AirPods 2 ship with a charging case, though Apple is also introducing a new Wireless Charging Case for the earbuds, using Qi-compatible charging mats to power the case without you having to stick a cable in. This is, presumably, in anticipation of the launch of Apple’s long-awaited Air Power charging mat. The new Wireless Charging Case will also be compatible with the first-generation AirPods.
As for sound quality, Apple has yet to reveal any differences between the generations. We’ll update you on how the AirPods 2 sound once we’ve given them a listen.
Costing And Availability
The AirPods 2 are available now, priced at $159 / £159 / AU$249 / AED679 with the standard charging case, and $199 / £199 / AU$319 / AED829 with the new Wireless Charging Case bundled in.
The Wireless Charging Case can also be bought separately for $79 / £79 / AU$129 / AED329.
If you’re feeling particularly swish, you can add a personal engraving to the cases at checkout on Apple.com.