The first AirPods had brought something magical to the little world of helmets true wireless, as they weren’t called at the time. Thanks to their house chip, the W1, the AirPods eliminated the pairing difficulties and integrated perfectly into the iOS and macOS world, since you could use, without asking any questions, the headset and its on-board microphone with iPad, iPhone or Mac. A real success, despite some small flaws or obvious points for improvement.
Almost three years later, Apple returns to its work with AirPods (which we will call 2, to distinguish them from their elders). A logical question then arises: do they change everything or, let’s be more realistic, enough to deserve to be taken?
Let those who were waiting for a new design mourn it. Externally, the new AirPods are identical to their predecessors. This has its pros and cons. The advantage is that comfort is always good. Thus, each earpiece weighs no more than a feather (4 g, while the storage and load box reaches 38 g) and slips into most of the pavilions without wanting to leave it untimely – even if you have decided to run. Better still, it can stay there for several hours without bruising you.
On the flip side, logically, we find the same drawbacks, mainly, a very poor isolation from outside noise, which will make listening to a podcast with many spoken interventions in a noisy environment – at least a metro.
Same ergonomics therefore, which interrupts the music when you remove them from your ear, and same sound performance. Our measures are almost identical, not different enough in any case to speak of an obvious development. The differences noted in power – slightly higher for the first generation – may very well be linked to a tiny variation in the position of the headphones in our measurement tool. If only for that, we still can’t recommend it to audiophiles – not to listen to their favorite tunes anyway.
By ear anyway, going from one to the other, whether for music, podcasts or to watch a movie or a series, it was impossible for us to distinguish between the two generations of AirPods. The rendering is very honest, but not extraordinary. It varies enormously depending on the orientation of the earpiece in your ear …
Where are the improvements? The first is the new H1 chip, compatible with Bluetooth 5.0, which therefore replaces the W1. It offers the possibility of invoking Siri without having to double tap the body of the earpiece. A ” Say Siri “ will be enough to wake up the PDA to start music, make a call, or request a route. This is especially handy if you are using AirPods while running and are afraid to dislodge them with an unsafe hand. Another positive side effect, the double tap can be allocated to another action, which prevents Siri from starting up painfully when you readjust the headset.
Especially since it turns out that Siri’s reaction is still a bit slow and frustrating. Slow, because it sometimes takes a second (or more, an eternity for the impatient) before manifesting. Frustrating, because you have to wait for the reaction on the one hand, but also because it often happens that it has to be done repeatedly before Siri realizes that it is his turn. In both cases, we do not know if we have been heard, because there is no small audible alert warning us of the activation of the voice assistant. Ultimately, these little problems do little to encourage you to call Siri.
In addition, the H1 chip is given to ensure further progress. These include better voice quality when calling in complicated environments, especially windy ones. In this case, we did not notice any real change, but the first AirPods, which have accompanied us for almost three years, were already excellent in this area.
Another point of progress announced, the connection from one Apple device to another is given to be twice as fast. Once again, in practice, we haven’t noticed a glaring change from the iPhone to the Watch or from an iPad to a MacBook Pro, for example.
Especially since you always have to go to the iOS Control Center or the macOS Bluetooth menu, to switch from one to the other… Admittedly, AirPods are always among the easiest to use in this area, but it would have been nice if Apple had improved things, to offer what other wireless headsets, in this case, connect to multiple devices simultaneously.
It is possible to use applications on macOS (AirBuddy, for example) to try to catch up, but it is still not perfect and as smooth as we would like. Note in any case that this second generation still works as well on Android, thanks to third-party applications.
Despite these caveats, the pleasure of daily use is still there, the simplicity of configuration also. In this, the magic of AirPods is still in place. So we would have just liked more magic…
And even more wireless…
Like all helmets true wireless coming to nest in a case which also plays the role of charger, the AirPods recharge as soon as they are stored and it is an additional comfort, the certainty of having them always ready to use.
The promise is all the easier now to keep the case of the AirPods 2 benefit from induction charging, thanks to Qi technology. In other words, just place their case on your AirPower – or any other induction charger that has been marketed, it – and the whole recharges. A small diode on the front of the case will then indicate if the assembly is ready. If not very fast, induction charging is practical.
We have measured that with a wireless charger (the Belkin Boost Up Charging Pad 10 W), the case recharges in 5:05 for almost as much headphones autonomy (5:12). These same headphones take 44 minutes to reach 100% charge rate when they are slipped into their home.
It’s up to you to see if this additional comfort is worth 229 euros, which represents an additional cost of fifty euros compared to the AirPods 2 sold with a “classic” case at 179 euros.