New and improved

AirPods 2 with Charging Case (or wireless Charging Case)

Second Generation AirPods

The original

AirPods with Charging Case

First-generation AirPods

Apple's second-generation AirPods are a slight improvement over the first-gen with better audio and voice quality, longer talk time, and support for voice-activated Siri.

From $159 at Apple


  • Voice-activated and double-tap to Siri
  • Same price as first-gen
  • Better audio and voice
  • 2X faster switching between devices
  • Additional hour of talk time
  • 30% lower latency


  • Same ear pod design
  • Doesn't come in new colors

Apple's first-generation AirPods perfected automatic connection to any Apple device you're signed in with your Apple ID. Switching between devices is automagical.

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  • Connects to all devices signed in to iCloud automatically
  • Simple setup built into iOS
  • Double-tap for Siri
  • 24 hours of battery life with Charging Case
  • 15-minutes in case equals 3 hours listening
  • Compatible with wireless Charging Case


  • No voice-activated Siri
  • Shorter talk time battery
  • Only available to buy used

When it comes to AirPods 2 vs AirPods, as we said in our AirPods 2 review, the differences are small and, in some ways, not different at all (the color and style, for example). Because of the minor upgrade, it becomes even more challenging to decide what to buy. Should you upgrade from Gen 1? Should you get the wireless Charging Case? Let's break down the AirPods 2 vs AirPods battle right now.

AirPods 2 vs. AirPods: The specs

AirPods 1 AirPods 2
Battery life (talk) 2 hours 3 hours
battery life (music) 5 hours 5 hours
Chipset W1 H1
Bluetooth version 4.2 5.0
Siri connection double-tap to activate Voice-activated or double-tap
Wireless charging with additional wireless Charging Case purchase with wireless Charging Case
iOS system requirements iOS 10 or later iOS 12.2 or later
watchOS system requirements watchOS 3 or later watchOS 5.2 or later
macOS system requirements macOS High Sierra or later macOS 10.14.4 or later
Apple TV support Yes Yes

AirPods 2 vs AirPods: Should you upgrade from first-gen?

AirPods with Wireless Charging Case and iPhone in the backgroundSource: Joseph Keller/iMore

The short answer here is no. Keep reading if you want to know about how I feel, though.

The biggest updates for AirPods 2 vs AirPods are the H1 chipset (which has a few benefits), longer talk time, and support for voice-activated Siri. The changes are not that significant. Not enough, at least, for me to recommend you upgrade from your first-generation AirPods.

Plus, Apple didn't change the look of AirPods at all from the first generation to the second. They have the same speaker placement, which doesn't necessarily work with all ears, and still only come in white. If you're hoping to show off how much cooler you are than everyone else with the latest AirPods, no one's going to be able to tell the difference. But you could get some cool AirPods cases to add some style and flair to either generation of AirPods if you want. If you don't necessarily care that you have the real thing or not, you could even go the route of knockoff AirPods — most people won't be able to tell the difference, and you can save some dough in the process.

With that being said, here are a few things for you to consider before making your final decision.

The H1 chip is a significant improvement over the W1

The "W" series of chipsets focuses on Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connecting and is used in various wireless headphones, like Beats, as well as the Apple Watch line.

The brand new "H" series is Apple's headphones focused chipset. It's designed to provide faster connectivity, higher-quality audio, and lower latency for such things as gaming.

The H1 chip improves upon the W1 chip in the following ways:

  • Up to 50% More talk time
  • 2X faster switching between devices
  • Faster connection to phone calls
  • Stronger connectivity
  • 30% lower latency for gaming
  • Support for voice-activated Siri

If the bane of your existence is that it can take too long to switch your AirPods from your iPhone to your Mac, or if you accidentally curse at your boss because you're in a rage because your AirPods didn't switch fast enough from listening to music or answering the phone, the upgrade starts to look much more appealing.

If you've tried playing Fortnight on your iPhone with AirPods and threw them in the trash because the lag time was atrocious, you should think about upgrading from the first-generation to the second-generation AirPods.

A better phone call experience

Thanks to the H1 chip, comparing AirPods 2 vs AirPods has longer support for talk time than its predecessor. Apple notes up to 50% more, though lists talk time as three hours (AirPods 1 has two hours of talk time).

The H1 chip also improves how fast you connect to an incoming phone call from listening to some other form of audio, like music or videos, up to 1.5 times faster. This may seem like a small improvement, but if you usually find yourself saying, "Hello? Hello? Hello?" every time you answer the phone, you can cut out one-and-a-half of those hellos with AirPods 2.

Apple also improved the audio and voice quality of the second-generation AirPods. Not only will you be able to hear your phone conversations better, but you'll also sound better to people you're on the phone with.

Siri voice-activation vs double-tap activation

To activate Siri on the first-generation AirPods, you'd double-tap either the left or right bud. It takes a couple of seconds to activate, but when it does, you can ask Siri for help in a wide variety of ways, including adjusting the volume and controlling playback.

Unfortunately, it's quite easy to accidentally double-tap the earbud just while you're adjusting positioning. Plus, it's hard to remember which bud you assigned Siri to (if you've assigned the other to something else, like Play/Pause).

I ended up disabling double-tap for Siri on my AirPods because I found the experience to be too annoying.

With AirPods 2, you can activate Siri with your voice. Just like you would with your iPhone, Apple Watch, and HomePod, saying "Hey, Siri" will get the virtual assistant's attention.

This is more convenient for several reasons, not the least of which being that you can disable double-tap to activate Siri and still be able to use it.

Though I still don't think this feature is enough to upgrade from AirPods 1, this might be a significant feature for some. People with disabilities, for example, could benefit greatly from being able to activate Siri without needing to reach up and double-tap a bud.

Should you buy AirPods 2 with a wireless Charging Case?

AirPods 2 with charging caseSource: iMore

If you've never bought a pair of AirPods, and you're ready to make the jump, it's a no-brainer that you should get the second-generation model over the first.

However, the next question is whether you should spend an additional 40 dollars and upgrade to the AirPods 2 with a wireless Charging Case.

Do you own a wireless charging pad? If so, this might be a worthwhile upgrade. I love being able to just set my iPhone on a charging pad like I'm setting it on any old table. I can pick it up and set it down as often as I like, and it will always charge up when it's on the pad. Charging your AirPods can be done the same way with the Wireless Charging Case. Drop it on the pad when you get home from work, and it'll be juiced up by the time you head out for a workout.

Buying AirPods 2 with the wireless Charging Case also saves you $40 if you ever decide you want a wireless Charging Case in the future. As an upgrade to the existing AirPods 2, you're paying $199, whereas buying the standard AirPods 2 for $159 and then getting a separate wireless Charging Case later costs you $238 when all is said and done.

Should you buy just the Wireless Charging Case for your AirPods 1?

Apple sells the wireless Charging Case separately, and it's compatible with both the first and second-generation AirPods. So, you can join the new hotness craze without having to go all-in on a new pair of AirPods. But should you?

At as much as 80 dollars, you're spending a pretty penny just to have wireless charging, especially when you consider the fact that you can buy other wireless charging cases, like the BIEZIAYA Charging Case for a lot less.

Consider how often you charge your Charging Case, too. I usually only have to recharge the case about once per week (even less if I don't use the AirPods every day). Since you don't have to charge up your Charging Case every day, do you really need the convenience of wireless charging?

If you aren't impressed with either the first-generation or second-generation AirPods because the price is just too high. You may want to consider our favorite fake AirPods. They look like the real thing but don't cost as much.


Second Generation AirPods

Apple AirPods 2

If you're buying AirPods for the first time, the second-generation is a no-brainer. It's got better quality and connectivity, voice-activated Siri support, and costs the same as the first-generation AirPods.

Wireless for all

Wireless Charging Case for AirPods

Apple Wireless Charging Case for AirPods

If you already own the first-generation AirPods, you can still be part of the cool kids club with the wireless Charging Case. It supports both first and second-generation AirPods.

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