New AirPods

Updated AirPods are finally available. Announced way back in 2017, alongside the still absent AirPower oval charging mat. Apple says the 2nd generation of AirPods have a new H1 SOC that replaces the W1 chip in the first generation, faster connection times, support the “Hey Siri” wakeword/hotword without having your iPhone out, and have longer battery life but only for “talk time.”

The physical appearance of the AirPods hasn’t changed beyond a new light on the front that is only on the Qi-compatible Wireless case.

I loved the AirPods when I got them, but as a first generation product they’re not without issues. I have a few more issues now than I did two years ago.

  • These days I am frequently wondering if the batteries are wearing down, as all batteries do over time, when I have to plug in the case to charge it more often than I used to.
  • The process of connecting them to a Mac is so poor that various third-party utilities have been made to smooth things over. I use one, it isn’t great, because you have to put both AirPods back in the case and then open the case before the utility will give you a chance to pair them to your Mac.
  • I don’t know if it’s because of the humidity here or what, but the case is also absolutely disgusting on my set. There’s a rim of grossness around the top of the case that is difficult to keep clean.
  • You can use the Find My iPhone app to locate missing AirPods, but only if they’re out of the charging case. They once fell into a little nook in the back of my office chair only to be lost for two months because who would ever think to look there and they were in their case so I couldn’t use the Find My iPhone app to make them make noise.
  • I don’t know how often it is, but I sometimes have issues connecting the AirPods to my iPhone. Sometimes it seems like the entire Bluetooth stack has gone off the deep end and the only way to get them to pair is to turn off Bluetooth and then re-enable it. Which you now have to do in the Settings app because the control-center widget only disables new Bluetooth connections instead of halting the entire stack.
  • Rarely, I hear the “connection ding” alert sound but I have no idea what the AirPods have connected to because the audio I’m trying to listen to comes out of my iPhone’s speakers.
  • Finally, anyone that has ever dropped the AirPods case is happy with how durable it is, but unhappy because it has a tendency to open the lid and eject the AirPods.

The new AirPods could fix many of those issues, but I don’t see any big reason for me to upgrade yet. The only Qi chargers I have access to are at an angle that wouldn’t work with the wireless charging case, which requires more of a lay-down mat. If you haven’t gotten a pair of AirPods yet, there’s no reason to wait, but if you’re considering upgrading I would wait for reviews of the 2nd generation.

The new AirPods come in at two price points. $160 without the Qi compatible charging case, or $200 with the ability to charge on any Qi charging pad. The new wireless charging case is also available separately for $80 and is compatible with the original AirPods.

Author: Jack Slater

A Philadelphian living in Hawaii. You can follow or contact me on Twitter where I'm @TimeDoctor, via the contact page, or via e-mail to zjs@zacharyjackslater.com. Find out more about Nuclear Monster here.

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