Apple AirPods is one of the most revolutionary tech product in recent years. No, they don’t do anything massively different, but they do the regular stuff in an entirely new way. They are expectedly the bestselling wireless buds by a margin, a category that was pretty much non-existent before the first-gen AirPods. Strictly following the ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ mentality, Apple launched the new second-gen AirPods. There was no fanfare as such, owing to the incremental nature of the upgrades. That isn’t entirely a bad thing.
The AirPods 2 were a highly anticipated product. One, because the first one had a few kinks that needed fixing, and second, because we were excited how Apple would take it a step further. My personal experience with the original AirPods was rather brief, but in the time following it, I have had the pleasure of trying the executions from various companies, some clearly inspired by Apple, others, trying to stray away from it.
In a vacuum, here’s what the AirPods felt like, as a first time user. Fair disclaimer, I had them connected to various Android phones throughout the experience and not an iPhone, so some features did not work. Those included the effortless pairing, which for an iOS device starts and ends at opening the case of the AirPods. For Android, the pairing process was similar to any other Bluetooth audio peripheral. What you also miss out on is the ability to pause music when you remove one of the buds from your ears, the modern-day equivalent of removing your hat while greeting someone. Another weird bug that prevailed consistently was that each time I would pause a song and resume playing, it would start playing at full volume.
The sound quality was pretty good, with good audio separation even at relatively higher volumes. The sound-stage was also better than what I expected from something so small. What I wasn’t completely happy with was the comfort and fit. The design is exactly the same as the older one, which means it’s a really sharp plastic bud that I’m scared to wear for longer periods or tuck in deeper. Most other earphones and buds have a silicone tip that adds the necessary cushioning, which is entirely absent here. Those ear tips also bring noise cancellation as they pack your ear canal. The AirPods 2 skip on that and offer a very open sound experience. Some may like it, most may just find it non-enjoyable because of loads of extra sound that will distract you. There is no noise cancellation whatsoever. That could be fixed by adding one of those third-party tips or fins, but that would be one more thing you’d have to spend on.
The charging mechanism learns a few more tricks. The regular wired charging that takes place through the Lightning Port on the bottom is adequately fast, with a 20-minute charge providing a 3-hour playback time. You also get Qi wireless charging this time with this special case, but it is still too slow to be practical. The new H1 chip inside is supposed to increase the call time to 3 hours. On the topic of calls, they are just fine. Just like every other truly wireless buds, you will be able to hear the other person but they are likely to have a tough time hearing you. The distance between the mic on the AirPods and your mouth mean that the buds have a tough time picking your voice amidst ambient noise.
Overall, the AirPods 2 are exactly what you expect them to be—Just right in almost every department. Users who wanted a better battery life or a more comfortable fit will have to look elsewhere. I honestly would not recommend them to non-iOS users as they offer nothing more than the competition.
But if you are an iPhone user, the ease of use that the AirPods brings, with all those extra features and the possibility to summon Siri, these are a no-brainer. For existing AirPods users, you are not missing out on anything major and don’t need to feel any FOMO.
Images: Aakash Jhaveri and Dhawal Bhanushali / Mashable India