Hey guys Marc here from RTINGS.com and today we’re doing a quick comparison between the Apple AirPods 2, with the wireless charging case, and the original Apple AirPods. The AirPods were somewhat ahead of the curve when they were originally released. They had a more stable connection and fairly decent latency for a truly wireless option, especially when paired to iOS devices. So how does the AirPods 2 compare? And having a somewhat identical design, are the AirPods 2 worth the upgrade? Well in this review we will compare their sound, isolation and leakage, which you will get to hear for yourself later on in the video, as well as their active features and connectivity options. Also We are proud to announce that we’ve reached the 100000 subscribers mark and wanted to thank you for your support.
We strive to help you find the best product for your need so if you feel like we left anything out let us know in the comments or check out our website which has more than 600 in-depth reviews But as always let’s start with what’s in the box As for what’s in the box as usual Apple keeps it fairly simple and don’t have that much content for both headphones. For the AirPods 2 you have a USB to lightning port charging cable, the manuals, the wireless charging case, and the AirPods 2 headphones. Its pretty much the same for the regular AirPods, so USB to Lightning port charging cable, the manuals, the regular charging case but you can get a wireless one if you want to, the AirPods and that’s pretty much it now let’s get the boxes out of the way and compare their design. For their build quality, there’s essentially no difference between the AirPods 2 and the original AirPods. Both headphones have a sleek, uniform design that looks great.
They also come with a compact carrying case, that easily fits in your pockets and protect the earbuds well against damage. The AirPods 2 can be purchased with a case that supports QI wireless charging, which we will talk about in a bit more in detail in the active features section, but you can also get the same wireless charging case for the original AirPods. The 2nd generation AirPods also do not have an official IP rating and do not mention improved sweat or water resistance. So, there’s is practically no difference between the models in terms of build quality. They both still have the somewhat long stalks that stick out of your ears, that could be a bit more susceptible to breaking than some of the more compact and denser truly wireless design we’ve tested like the Jabra Elite Active 65t or BeoPlay E82.0. if you accidentally step on them. However, we’ve had our original AirPods in the office for more than a year and use them daily. They’ve held up quite so we assume the AirPods 2 should be equally durable in the long run. As for comfort here too, nothing has changed. The iconic one-size-fits-all design of the AirPods and AirPods2 is great for some but won’t be the most stable option for everyone. The smooth finish and angled design of the earbuds, combined with their lightweight build, makes them one of the more comfortable truly wireless headphones we’ve tested, if they’re the right fit for your ears. Unfortunately, since they do not come with any tip options or stability fins to adjust their fit for different ear shape and sizes, they won’t be the best fit for everyone. You can purchase third party fins for both the AirPods and AirPods 2 to help make them a bit more stable in your ears if you often work out with headphones. However, these are not included in the box, which is slightly disappointing. Lastly, for their control scheme and here again no significant changes or improvements over the previous iteration. The AirPods 2 have the same control scheme as the original AirPods, which is a bit limited. Your default setup when pairing the headphones for the first time isn’t particularly useful. However, you can button map the double tap functions for each earbud to either trigger voice assistance, play pause, skip or rewind tracks. This means you have to choose between the functions you most need since you won’t be able to map more than 2 functions on each bud and there’s no option for volume controls. This may be a deal breaker for some especially if you do not like to adjust volume levels on your phone or wireless device. The only real difference in the control scheme of the 2ng generation compared the original AirPods is the always-on Hey Siri feature. This means you don’t have to map voice assistance to one of the earbuds and could have both buds set to media control for skipping and rewinding tracks. You can also use the Auto Ear detection to pause and resume your music when you take the AirPods out of your ears. Unfortunately, it still feels like a limited control scheme that we wish had a bit more functionality like triple taps and long presses similar to other truly wireless designs. Overall the AirPods 2 will not be worth the upgrade design-wise since they are pretty much identical to the original AirPods. They have the same build quality, fit and controls. And really the only differences are; The always-on Hey Siri feature of the 2nd gen which is not as useful, and the Qi wireless charging case, which you can always purchase separately for the original AirPods. With that being said let’s compare their sound quality isolation and leakage with sam.
In terms of sound quality, the first and second generation AirPods are basically identical. They lack quite a bit of thump and rumble in the bass range, and are a bit bright in the treble range. So they won’t be great for bass-heavy music, but should do well for other kinds of music. Now before looking at their measurement results, we’re going to play a recording we have done with these headphones, so you can get an idea about how their sound compares for yourself. Just keep in mind that this is a relative comparison, and not an absolute one. So it is good for seeing which headphone has more bass or treble for example, but you won’t be able to judge their actual sound profile. And if you get one of these headphones and listen to the same track that we’ve used here, you most likely won’t hear the same thing. Here, we have the frequency response of the second generation AirPods on the left and the original AirPods on the right.
And as you can see, they measure basically the same. There is quite a bit of lack in the low-bass region, which is due to the open earbud design of these headphones. This means they won’t produce any thump or rumble, which is important if you listen to bass-heavy music.
From mid-bass to mid-mid the response is quite flat and well-balanced, so their bass does have some punch to it and the fundamental frequencies of most instruments, including vocals and leads will be reproduced quite well. However, high-mid and the entire treble range are noticeably overemphasized, making the sound of these headphones rather bright, especially when you consider their lacking low-bass. Overall, they will do well with vocal-centric music, but if you listen to bass-heavy music, these probably aren’t for you. In terms of frequency response consistency, the AirPods are prone to quite a bit of inconsistency in both the bass and treble ranges. So depending on the quality of the fit you can achieve with these headphones their sound profile could range from rather bassy and boomy to quite bright with no bass at all. In our measurements of the second generation AirPods we tried to show their inconsistency in a way that would represent their real-life performance better. But we expect them to perform the same as the first gen AirPods in this test. Now for isolation and leakage, we have also recorded a comparison, which we’re going to play now. First up, is isolation. As you can see the isolation performance of the AirPods is quite poor, which is due to their open earbud design. This means they will let in almost all of the sounds around you, from the bass of the airplane engines, to the sound the air conditioning system and people talking. However, this can be very useful if you want to stay aware of the sounds in your environment, for example when you go for a jog and want to hear the nearby cars. Now let’s listen to the leakage recording. The AirPods leak noticeably more compared to closed-back in-ears, which barely leak.
But they also leak quite a bit less than most over-ear and on-ear headphones. The leakage of the AirPods will be concentrated in the treble range, meaning the sound leaking out of these headphones will be quite thin and mostly consist of S and Ts. Overall, you don’t have to worry about the leakage of the AirPods at moderate volumes, but if you are blasting your music in a relatively quiet environment like an office, the people around you may be able to hear the leakage.
Now let’s go back to Marc for the active features.
For their active features starting with their wireless range. Here the AirPods 2 are slightly better than the original AirPods but not by much. The AirPods 2 reached up to 46 ft compared to the original 41 ft when the Bluetooth source was obstructed. This is about the same for both headsets and won’t have a significant impact for day to day activities. However, the AirPods 2 do much better in direct line of sight at 150ft vs 91ft for the originals.
This makes the AirPods 2 slightly more suitable if your often paired fixed sources like your iMac or Tv. Also, range could be a lot better with Bluetooth 5.0 source. For latency the AirPods 2 with the H1 chip is supposed to perform 30% better with an ios device than the original AirPods, however, measured about 204 ms for the AirPods 2, and retested the original AirPods with our more recent dongle and got 185ms latency, slightly up from the older 169ms value. Unfortunately, our current test equipment only goes up to Bluetooth 4.2 for now and does not have any special interaction with the H1 or W1 chips which could be compensating quite a bit for latency on iOS devices. Overall, like most Bluetooth headphones they won’t be the best choice for watching videos or gaming on your phone. But if you have an iOS device you will barely notice any delay. As for battery life not much as changed either. The 2nd generation AirPods lasted about 4.1 hours, the original AirPods 4.8 but this is within the margin of variance for our battery test. It’s not the longest lasting headphones on a single charge unlike the galaxy buds. However, you do get up to 5 potential recharges in the case for a total of more than 20 hours of battery life. And the earbuds charge fully in 30 minutes which is one of the fastest charge time we’ve tested for any truly wireless design. You also have the addition of Qi wireless charging support if you get the wireless charging case variant of the AirPods 2.
However, you can also purchase the case separately for the old model and achieve the same effects. It’s a convenient feature, especially with the more recent iPhones that support wireless charging and overall both headphones should have enough battery life for most use cases as long as you take a few breaks here and there during your listening sessions. Unfortunately, we’ve noticed that after heavy use, the battery of our 1rst gen AirPods has started to deteriorate. It barely lasts 2 hours now which may also be the case for the AirPods 2 in the long run. Then again, all batteries somewhat deteriorate over time especially with so many recharges and when used on a daily basis like we do with our unit.
If your AirPods are still in good shape, then just getting a wireless charging case will be a better value then upgrading to the AirPods 2. For their app and software support, sadly, both the AirPods 2 and original AirPods do not have a proper app with in-depth customization options like some of the other truly wireless headsets we’ve tested. Instead, they have a simple interface that shows battery information for the buds and the case once paired to your IOS device. You also get a few more options to tweak in the Bluetooth settings like the aforementioned button mapping for each bud and disabling the auto ear detection feature. That’s about it though, so no 5band EQ, no room effects, and no auto-off settings, which means the AirPods and AirPods 2 will not be as customizable as some of the other truly wireless headphones we’ve tested. On the upside, you can use the find my iPhone app to also find your earbuds which is nice.
Lastly, for their connection options, the AirPods 2 are Bluetooth 5.0 headphones with H1 chip, an upgrade from the AirPods 4.2 W1 chipset. However, this means they may have a considerably better performance than what we’ve measured here when paired to an iOS device with Bluetooth 5.0. On the other hand, the case is about the same. Both come with fairly short lightning cables to recharge the headsets, and since you can get the wireless case for both models then technically both AirPods 2 and original AirPods support Qi wireless charging. However, you will have to purchase a wireless charger separately. Overall, should you upgrade to the AirPods 2 or stick with the original AirPods? Well for most people who already have the AirPods it won’t be worth it. They have the same sleek design and great build quality.
They’re also comfortable for most with a one-size-fits-all design that you will either love or hate depending on your ears.
They also have the same control scheme which is fairly limited and doesn’t give any volume controls and the always-on Hey Siri feature won’t be useful enough to replace the missing functionality. Lastly, their sound profile is also the same and lacks a bit of bass for most listeners. The AirPod 2 are Bluetooth 5.0 headphones though so they could have a much better performance in terms of range and latency especially on ios device then what we’ve measured. So if you have the latest iPhone and are getting your first AirPods then go for the 2nd generation, it most likely will give you slightly better performance. However, if your first gen AirPods are still in good shape, then the AirPods 2 won’t be worth the upgrade, since you can just purchase a wireless charging case separately. And that’s pretty much it, you can check out all our measurements on our website.
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