AirPods (2nd-Gen) First Impressions: The Same, but Better

BY Evan Selleck

Published 26 Mar 2019

Earlier this month, Apple introduced the second-generation AirPods. Better battery life (while on the phone), “Hey Siri” support, and a new wireless charging case.

It doesn’t seem to matter what time of day it is. Or what day of the week it is for that matter. The Apple Store is just going to be busy. That was certainly the case today as I walked in, my online order placed and waiting for me. Thankfully it didn’t take long to find someone to help me get my order out to me. I was in and out pretty quickly, which was good because I could see even more people filing in.

A little while later, after fighting ridiculous mid-day traffic, I’m finally able to sit down and dig into the second-generation AirPods. When Apple announced these new truly wireless headphones, with their moderate upgrades compared to the original model, I wasn’t entirely sure I was going to rush out and pick them up. Yes, the batteries in my OG AirPods, and especially the charging case, were starting to get weak in the knees. But did I want to spend $200 for a new pair?

Well, I guess the answer was yes, because as soon as I saw in-store availability was ready I bought mine.

The battery situation with my original AirPods wasn’t dire yet, but it was getting there. I was going to have to upgrade soon, so I figured I might as well. And hey, maybe Apple will actually launch AirPower this week, too, so I can take advantage of this fancy new wireless charging case.

So, here’s what you already know even if you haven’t gone near a pair of 2nd-gen AirPods: They are exactly like the first-generation device, at least in all the ways that you might expect. They fit in the ear the same way. They have the same distinctive stem design. And the charging case is still small. The charging light is, thankfully, moved to the outside, though. That’s a nice change and that’s how it should have been in the first place.

Otherwise, the only other thing I can immediately see as being different is the snap the case makes when it closes. It’s . . . meatier than the original case. But, that may be just how the OG case was when I first opened up the packaging all those months ago and I just can’t remember. Either way, closing this wireless charging case definitely has a more tactile feedback.

The new AirPods fit the same way as the originals did, for better or worse. If the first truly wireless headphones didn’t fit your ears, I don’t imagine these will, either. But how do they sound? Well, they sound the same, too. That’s either going to be a thing you don’t care about or feel is a deal breaker. For me, personally, they do the job and that’s good enough for me.

Oh, that one new feature that we all knew was coming: “Hey Siri” support. I didn’t try it in a loud area, but I can tell you that it works. Well, too. I was able to just speak normally and the digital personal assistant heard me every time, and she’s responsive as well. Just as you’d expect the feature to work (I hope). Will I ever use it? Maybe, when I’m by myself. Being able to quickly turn up or down the volume is great. But I’ve got months of muscle memory to just hit the buttons on the side of my phone through my pocket to overcome.

My first impressions of the new AirPods are exactly what I imagined they would be, considering there weren’t any major changes. I obviously can’t test out Apple’s battery life claims just yet, but I’ll give it a shot this week. For now, I think if you didn’t buy the OG AirPods and you’ve been waiting for a new model, you’ll be just fine picking these up. And if you’ve had your original AirPods since launch and they’re starting to wane on you a bit, an upgrade seems reasonable.

Did you order your second-generation AirPods?