AirPods 2 vs. original AirPods: What’s changed with Apple’s earbuds?

AirPods 2 vs. original AirPods: What’s changed with Apple’s earbuds?

Apple now has several AirPods to choose from, including the second generation AirPods (or AirPods 2) and the AirPods Pro, both released in 2019. If you have a pair of original Apple wireless earbuds, you may be wondering if you should upgrade to AirPods 2. Here is a breakdown of the differences between the latest AirPods and the first generation models.

Do you want to improve your wireless earbuds? Find out if it’s worth taking a look at Apple AirPods Pro with noise cancellation or PowerBeats Pro.

New AirPods versus old AirPods

New AirPods First generation AirPods

Wireless charging

Yes (with radio case)

Yes (downward compatible with new housing)




Battery life (music playback)

5 hours

5 hours

Battery life (talk time)

3 hours

2 hours

Battery life (charging case)

24 hours

24 hours


Language activated

Touch activated

Óscar Gutierrez / CNET

The second generation AirPods look pretty much the same as the originals. However, they do offer some incremental updates, including the option to purchase them with a wireless charging case for $ 199 (£ 199, AU $ 319). You’ll also get an upgrade with Apple’s H1 chip, which promises faster connection times to start with.

You can also use your voice to call Siri instead of tapping the AirPod, which you can use to adjust the volume or make a call hands-free. Like the original AirPods, they have sensors that detect when the pod is in your ear. Music sounds similar on both models, although according to Apple the AirPods 2 have a custom audio architecture that offers better sound quality thanks to the new H1 chip.

This chip also provides a more stable connection to your device than the original AirPods, and faster switching between active devices like that iPhone, iPad or Apple Watch.

They cost the same price of USD 159 (GBP 159, AU $ 249) as the first generation AirPods. However, you also have the option of buying them with the wireless charging case, as already mentioned. All cases (wireless charging or not) can still be charged via Lightning.

Read our Apple AirPods 2019 review.

Angela Lang / CNET

The original AirPods, which were first released in 2016, look exactly the same as the second generation models. They also have the exact fit they have in your ear, not the AirPods Pro’s in-ear design with interchangeable tips.

Due to their open design, the original AirPods and AirPods 2 allow outside noise. This means that you may need to turn up the volume to listen to music, calls, or podcasts when you are in a noisy environment. However, this helps you to perceive your surroundings better.

While the original AirPods are no longer directly available from Apple, you may be able to find them at other retailers for far less than the original price of $ 159 (£ 159, AU $ 249). They’re also backward compatible with the AirPods wireless charging case, so you can make your older earbuds look a little newer for $ 79.

Read our Apple AirPods review.

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AirPods 2 vs. AirPods: what’s the difference?


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