AirPods 2 analysis
It’s impossible to talk about AirPods without sharing any personal experience with them. The presentation of the original model in the keynote of September 2016 presented us with a product that seemed to be taken from a sci-fi film, so much so that when I wrote its analysis I put exactly that same title.
When the keynote was over, I had the opportunity to try them out in the demo zone that Apple made available to the press at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium (Apple Park would officially open a year later). That room was big but there were a lot of media people with a lot of ambient noise. I told the Apple person who was doing the demo to us that I’d like to try them but understand that with that noise I wouldn’t appreciate them well. He just said, «Try them. Seriously.»
They had no noise cancellation but sincerely, I was impressed by the power of the sound and how well it stood out amid the tumult of the crowd. I also remember that I found it strange to wear headphones like the traditional iPod without cable, and how quickly the music began to play when interacting with the iPhone interface.
About a couple of months later I already had the analytics unit at home, and I remember trying them out for the first time with Matt Simons’ Catch & Release. When i put them on, I don’t know if carried by the magic of the song, the feeling of freedom to put on these fully wireless headphones for the first time or the sound quality… I just closed my eyes and really enjoyed the music. The product disappeared, and then I realized that that product was going to be an absolute success for the company.
-The real magic of the AirPods was the connectivity and sound quality: on the AirPods 2 the feeling is enhanced-
A design turned into an icon
Today we think of AirPods as a clear success story and one of the best new Apple products of recent years – I definitely think about it. But when they reached the audience, no one doubts that they were «very rare.» I’m sure it happened to you too, but wearing them when no one knew them attracted many looks and some other question: the way was recognized but that seemed like a joke.
When sales began to catapult and become more popular, the feeling of getting something «weird» in the ear was normalized. Today, almost three years after the launch of the first model, it is absolutely common to see them on the street, on the subway or even in some presentation journalist who uses them for their live connections. In fact, they have become an icon if we talk about wireless headphones, as the iPod or iPhone once did – and that says a lot about a product that didn’t have it easy in its first generation.
-The design of the AirPods has finally become an icon, as in its day was the iPod or iPhone-
In fact, I’ve always found it curious how a product has so laged even on devices outside the Apple ecosystem. If we used the products of the brand we had the synchronization with the W1 chip of the original AirPods, using iCloud to link them instantly with any of our devices… However, people even with Android buy them and marvel at ease of use and convenience, connecting them via Bluetooth. I recommend them in the same way even if you don’t have an iPhone: they are a real Trojan horse for the brand – again as was the iPod at the time – that can focus attention on other products of the brand for those who had never paid attention to it.
AirPods 2, changes are not visible but noticeable
At a quick glance it is very difficult to differentiate a few AirPods 2 (we will call them for convenience) from airpods 1, at the level of exterior design. Perhaps one of the most important parts of a wireless headset is autonomia.
From this improvement in autonomy, we draw the following conclusions that we already advance when we talk about the great novelty of these AirPods 2: the H1 chip that governs everything. Well, more of «the chips» as we have one in each earpiece. This management achieves, in this generation:
- 7 more hours of battery conversation and 100% charge case. More than 50% additional.
- 1 hour more conversation per headset. An additional 50%.
- 1 hour more talk with a quick charge of 15 minutes. 100% extra.
It’s a significant improvement that will improve our everyday usage, especially while alternating phone conversations with music listening without charging your headphones. It’s the first appreciable change, but there are certainly many more than they seem.
The design of the AirPods 2 is practically identical to the previous generation, except for the hinge of the charging box (now it is more matte and less metallic) and the LED indicator that in the case of the wireless charging dock is now outside. The design of the AirPods 2 is practically identical to the previous generation, except for the hinge of the charging box (now it is more matte and less metallic) and the LED indicator that in the case of the wireless charging dock is now outside. And that, even with the original design, is a great internal change that will make it easier for us to charge the device. And that, even with the original design, is a great internal change that will make it easier for us to charge the device.
Wireless charging of AirPods 2 is compatible with any charger that uses the Qi standard on the market, as is the case with iPhones starting with iPhone X. You don’t need to use Apple’s defunct AirPower – I’ve seen some reviews thinking it was only compatible with it – the same base we charged the phone with will help us to charge the case (in about three hours, since the charge is at 5V). This is sincerely especially convenient if we already use any of these bases at home or in the office.
We can buy these AirPods 2 with this wireless charging case for 229euros, or with one with the only wired charge for 50 o less, 179. The differences between the two models is only the charging system, the functionality and the other features are identical since the main hardware resides on each headset. There is also the option to purchase the wireless charging case only for 89 euros, and it is also compatible with the original AirPods. In my opinion, whenever possible we should have the wireless charging model since in the future we will see many more charging options of this type (even in furniture or cars that already bring it incorporated) using the same Qi standard that airPods have.
The H1 chip is the beginning of something important
It’s imperceptible if we’re just talking about exterior design, but the interior of these new AirPods 2 has changed almost completely. Not only to adapt in your case wireless charging, also to house in each earphone something that will be the beginning of something very important for the family of wireless apple phones: the H1 chip. This chip is primarily responsible for the end of our «Hey, Siri» in this new generation, maintaining the same design… as Apple advanced us in the keynote.
The H1 is the first chip designed by Apple exclusively to manage wireless headphones (the H comes from «Headphone») and is especially important because it is responsible for controlling all hardware subsystems containing the energy consumption. Accelerometers, proximity sensors, volume… the H1 orchestrates the flow of energy between them maintaining battery preservation, so in the same space of the previous generation we now have more capacity. The combination of hardware + software from Apple, is certainly this.
He is also responsible for sampling the microphones of the headphones in a contained way in accordance with the Oye, Siri, without that impacting as you see on the drums. There’s also no need for any configuration for this: AirPods 2 will use the initialization data we set up Siri on iPhone to stay alert to our commands.
-The real star in the AirPods 2 is the H1 chip, designed by Apple exclusively to manage the performance of wireless headphones-
As a technology, Apple’s interest in this as it is to create this chip specifically indicates that the brand will bet heavily on evolving these features in the future. There is also a moderate improvement in sound, no doubt boosted by the H1, especially in powerful basses and more defined treble. We still don’t have total sound cancellation – perhaps because of the «outside» design of the headphones – but in voice calls I’ve noticed that the H1 also improves the separation of external noise from the voice of the call.
Day-to-day with AirPods 2
With this new generation, AirPods 2 are further enhanced in a round product at a very good price – just look at the price difference with some of its competition, being a major leap through the internal redesign. Another much improved point is the low latency – the response time between the iPhone and the headset is invaluable – and the speed of connections to the devices. Virtually one second and we’re connected, from our main device or any of the ones we have in our iCloud cloud.
A recurring question is also whether AirPods can be used for sports. I use the originals to do sports from the first month, even going for a run or training with them in the gym. Here it already depends on the shape of your ear canal to prevent them from falling or not. In my case, I’ve never dropped any.
If you need any extra support, you can find very inexpensive adapters that will hold the AirPods in our ear more firmly. The sound quality while i do sport is for me something that I can no longer do without in my workouts: my advice, when you return home, pass a cotton impregnated in a little alcohol to clean them, not with water. I’ve kept them pristine for almost three years like this.
In my opinion these AirPods should be almost safe to buy even if we don’t have an Apple product to connect it to. If we are also users of the ecosystem, they are essential: we will have the advantages of using the Apple Watch as a visual interface for them, or Siri to turn the volume up or down (which Apple should consider with some combo of touches from software in some moment).
Everything to get those subway transits, air travel or those moments where we don’t want to hear anything else, disappear and there is only good music, or the voice that we want to hear on the other side. Finally, this is no longer science fiction, even if we still feel it.