Usually, when you’re talking about Formula 1 cars, faster and longer lasting are great adjectives to have while describing a new car. When the same adjective is put into the context of the new Apple AirPods, then one ends up with a more nuanced end result which is equally charming. AirPods, when they launched in 2016, were polarising, they’ve quickly become the most ubiquitous wireless earphones on the planet. That’s there with any new product category Apple enters usually, but the AirPods have also become a cultural phenomenon thanks to their singular success despite the polarising opinion. These new AirPods actually aesthetically change little but Apple touts some big upgrades internally marking out almost an “S” cycle of a product. At the heart of this upgrade is the H1 chip that powers the experience and also the new wireless case which Apple has released for wireless charging aficionados.
- The battery life on these new AirPods is astoundingly good for a product so compact. In my usage I could easily use them for a full day on single charge, though with some support, from the charging case. As my usage is heavy on streaming music when on the go and having numerous calls, Apple’s claim of 50% more battery life was literally god sent. I was consistently clocking around 10 hours of use.
- The call quality is a leap from the previous AirPods something which Apple aimed to improve with these new buds. The quality of calls, frankly, is just superlative. Particularly, the beam forming microphones work their magic and this is superb for doing ling drawn con-calls over the Internet even when is hamstrung in loud ambiences.
- Finally, Apple has added support for the “Hey Siri” voice command which has been enabled by the new H1 chip. If you use Siri a lot which is likely if you’re using a lot of Apple hardware, this will come in handy. Honestly, it used to be quite ungainly to summon the phone for Siri while the AirPods were on.
- As AirPods have become iconic for their design language, in a way, it is good that Apple hasn’t changed the design a lot as they are a calling sign for the premium status symbol, Apple products stand for, particularly in a market like India. More so, there is a certain brilliance to their design as they manage such a standardised fit for so many people while being so subtle and light.
- The wireless case is neat. Not only Apple has improved the way the notification light, it is also handy for someone who is used to using Qi enabled wireless charging pads. This is a convenient way to charge both the AirPods and the case. Other than that you can charge them through the lightning connector which is still there and is the fastest way to charge the AirPods.
- If you’re using Apple products like the iPhone, iPad, MacBook and Apple Watch, then switching has becoming lighting fast and so has latency dropped for video streams and gaming. It is shockingly incredible at how fast these new AirPods are at syncing with Apple products.
- While the AirPods are already the best sounding wireless earphones of their kind, for the type of money Apple charges, the music aficionado wants more. I’d like a thumpier low-end for electronic music and more silken highs for stone cold blues. Apple could learn a thing or two from its team at Beats for the AirPods, but perhaps next time.
- Design tweaks would have been appreciated as their singular design is a source of anxiety for a person like me especially on flights as I lost one of my AirPods a couple of years ago while having them on and dosing off. Some folks also cringe at the long stem which is the hub for the beam forming microphones so perhaps a new colour would’ve tempered their critique, apart from the fact that a darker shade would mask all the ear wax they collect.
- Android users are better off this time around because of the addition of Bluetooth 5.0, but make no mistake, AirPods will make Android users feel like second class citizens. Between syncing and sound quality, both AirPods just work better on Apple devices, but that’s not to say they are bad on Android, on the contrary they are quite good.
- One last quibble is that the lightning connector is still being used which is puzzling since Apple is using the faster USB type C standard for the iPad Pro and MacBooks. This also is a sign that maybe the 2019 iPhones will retain lightning which can’t be good news for many.
At the end of the day, the new AirPods are a solid upgrade over the previous ones which makes them close to perfect. That being said, they only make more sense for AirPods users who have been yearning for better battery life mostly if upgrading from the first generation ones. Other than that, if you’re in the market for something hip, functional and wireless that “just works” in typical Apple fashion, there is just nothing as good as them – providing the ultimate balance between sound quality, portability, longevity and ease of use, while now marrying the “questionable” smarts of Siri. So yes, faster and longer works for the second generation AirPods.