After months of speculation, Apple has launched new-and-refreshed AirPods 2 true-wireless headphones, boasting improved battery life, smart Siri assistant functionality and an optional wireless charging case.
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.
New case, new Siri functionality
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 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 2.
As for any difference in 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 play.
The AirPods 2 go on sale from today, priced at $159/£159 with the standard charging case, and $199/£199 with the new Wireless Charging Case bundled in. A standalone Wireless Charging Case can be bought for $79/£79 separately.