Apple AirPods 2 Review
We review 1-year old Apple AirPods 2 to see what you can expect after they age a bit (battery life drops…).
Overall score: 3.4 out of 5 points.
The short summary: the Apple AirPods 2 are simple true wireless earbuds that sound okay for the price and look good to the Apple-conscious.
Still, you can’t expect them to be better than the AirPods Pro, which have an in-ear design and a higher price tag. Due to the classical earphone shape, you get lower levels of bass and noise isolation.
Nonetheless, they’re really simple to use (on an iPhone). They connect automatically, calling up Siri is easy and just work out of the box without hassle.
But the AirPods are nothing special on Android, so consider other earbuds if you don’t have an iPhone.
One absolutely superb thing is comfort. They’re super lightweight, and you barely feel them. You can easily wear them for hours.
But the sound could be better. Read more on that below.
PROS & CONS
- Super comfortable for hours
- Easy setup
- Nice features on an iPhone
- Wireless charging case
- Mediocre sound
- No the most stable (especially when sweating)
- Somewhat pricey
You can find AirPods 2 among:
Type: in-ear headphones
Connection: Wireless Bluetooth
Driver size: n/a
Frequency range: n/a
Weight: 7g both earbuds, 46g with the case
Cable length: n/a
Microphone & Controls: Yes (built-in)
Battery life: Officially up to 5 h, realistically around 3 h
Charging time: Under 2h, 15-minute charge gives 3h (officially)
Active noise-cancelling: No
Charging cable: USB-A to Lightning cable
Bluetooth codecs: AAC, SBC
Wireless range: 33ft (10m)
Mic design: n/a
What’s in the Box?
- Apple AirPods 2
- Wireless charging case (you can buy non-wireless for less money)
- Lightning to USB-A cable
- User manual
Comfort & Fit – 4/5 Great
One of the best things about the new AirPods 2 is their comfort. Super lightweight to the point you forget you’re wearing them. But they do slip off when sweating.
Thanks to low weight at 7 g (under 0.02 lbs) for both earbuds, you can wear them for hours on end without discomfort. The design is the same as the first AirPods, and it generally fits into ears well.
The only thing that you can’t do with these is exercise. At least not seriously.
When your ears get sweaty, the earbuds start slipping out. You can feel them slowly losing the fit until they drop out.
The sleek plastic surface makes them slide out more easily. Sure, some people use them for exercise, But, you’d do much better to check out better workout earbuds (with water protection as a bonus).
Nonetheless, since these aren’t meant for activity, the stability is fine for daily use. You barely have to readjust them. So, the AirPods get good marks from us. You’ll wear them in comfort.
Noise Isolation 1.5/5 Meh
Almost no noise isolation. The earbuds don’t block the ear canal from the background noise.
The earbuds without in-ear design don’t block a lot of noise. AirPods 2 are the same. There’s no way around it.
If you want to block the outside world, then you’ll have to get in-ear headphones. On the other hand, walking around in a city with better awareness is much safer.
You can hear the traffic and even some conversation, so you can always avoid an accident.
Bluetooth – 4/5 Great
You get Bluetooth 5.0 with the H1 chip that offers a stable connection and seamless Apple connectivity.
On an iPhone, the AirPods 2 connect automatically without additional hassle. On Android, you have to go through the usual pairing mode and find the device on your phone.
Another nice feature is the seamless switching between iOS devices. It makes moving from your iPhone to an iPad super simple. If you own multiple Apple products, this is a bonus reason to get them.
The Bluetooth connection stays stable over 1 wall without hiccups. After the 2nd wall between the AirPods and your iPhone, it starts breaking (but doesn’t disconnect).
You get the usual range of around 33ft (10m), after which it starts to distort.
Is There a Delay when Watching Video?
Not really. While technically there is some delay since the AirPods use AAC codec, it’s not noticeable.
You can watch videos in comfort, and the lips don’t lag behind the sound.
Battery 3/5 Good
You get decent battery life and plenty of flexibility with a wireless charging case and quick charge capability. The AirPods last around 3 hours until one side turns off.
While Apple promises 5 hours of music per charge, it’s actually a bit less. You might get closer to 5 hours on lower volume with new AirPods.
After your AirPods age a bit, the battery capacity starts to diminish. In our tests of 1-year old AirPods 2, we regularly got around 3 hours per charge until the left side earbud died. The right side still had around 25% left.
At 3 hours per charge, it isn’t bad but isn’t good either. It’s more than enough for most listening sessions, especially considering the fast quick charging.
Still, talk time is slightly shorter since it apparently uses more energy. If you want to use them for talking expect shorter battery life.
There are 2 models, one with a regular charging case that you power up with a Lightning cable. The other is a wireless charging case that you can also charge on a Qi wireless charging pad.
With the second generation, the wireless charging case got an LED indicator that tells you when you’re filling it up.
You can charge it with wires, and quick wireless charging too. Officially, you get roughly 3 hours of music for a 15-minute charge. In reality, it’s closer to half that.
Also, if you don’t play music after a couple of minutes, the AirPods turn off automatically to save power.
It’s a decent performance that ensures you rarely run out of battery life. The case itself holds over 24 hours, so that’s one whole day of music. It’s more than most other true wireless earbuds.
But considering their price and size, we’d expect better battery life performance on a single charge.
Durability – 4/5 Great
As is usual for Apple products, the AirPods 2 are well built with sturdy design and materials but no water protection.
Sure, the buds are plastic, but it’s high quality. Though the sleek finish is prone to scratches if you’re not careful.
Due to smooth surfaces they’re likely to fall on the floor. It happens to all of us. Thankfully, the tough construction saves the day (most of the time).
Now, there are no changes when it comes to water protection, the second generation AirPods have none. So, they’re not suitable for any activity where you sweat.
Nonetheless, some people use them for working out too. Supposedly, they survive some sweat just fine but don’t count on it.
The charging case is also well built with a snappy magnetic lid. The lid is somewhat wobbly but less of a problem than with AirPods Pro or PowerBeats Pro.
All in all, the durability is top-notch, but it’s a shame they don’t have any sweat protection. An IPX4 would make them pretty great since you wouldn’t be afraid of wearing them in the rain or when hiking.
Features – 4/5 Great (on iOS)
Lots of user-friendly features on the iPhone. Less than basics on Android. A good microphone with limited controls.
These are clearly designed for Apple products. They connect and switch seamlessly with an iPhone, Apple Watch, or iPad. Open the AirPods case and keep it close to your phone. A prompt will ask you if you want to connect. Tap it, and you’re done.
You can customize the touch controls to do something else but not on Android.
You can use “Hey Siri” for all commands, which works fine at home but gets a bit awkward if you’re in a place where you’re not supposed to talk, like a library.
Having the option to use either would be better.
And while you can set controls for a single and double-tap, you can’t control volume. You can choose from:
- Calling up Siri
- Next song
- Previous song
And the touch controls are somewhat annoying. You often accidentally “tap” or “double-tap” when taking them out of the case or when readjusting the fit.
Also, the autoplay/pause feature works as intended. We’ve seen that in some other true wireless earbuds.
When you take them out of the ears, they stop playing. Put them back in, and they continue playing the music automatically.
The microphone quality is excellent for true wireless earbuds. You can easily use them hands-free for phone calls, video calls, or even conferences. While you don’t get boom microphone quality, it’s better than you’d expect from the little buds.
Sound – 3/5 Good
Sound quality lacks deep bass due to the design. The treble is emphasized, which results in harshness and sibilance. Otherwise, it’s good for most music genres, as long as you know, these are the cheapest Apple earbuds you can get.
This might be contrary to what others might tell you. But all the big words about rich, high-quality sound are just marketing.
You can get better sounding earbuds for half the price. With AirPods, ease of use and brand name is what sells them.
Nonetheless, the main problem is the lack of deep bass and rumble. There’s no isolation, and even if the drivers produce low frequencies, you can’t really hear them.
This means they aren’t the best for bassy music like Hip Hop and EDM. For other genres, they sound okay.
However, the buds are capable of some bass and punchiness, but to a lower degree than in-ear headphones.
The sound signature tends to emphasize highs, which results in clear and bright sound but sometimes overdoes it. In some music, the high tones get distorted and sibilant. Like they’re trying to do too many things for what drivers are capable of.
Still, the mids are nice and clear and generally make the vocals sound present.
You can remedy the situation with EQ inside Apple settings (only works on iOS). However, you still won’t get the rumble we’d like to see.
Overall, the audio quality is rather average and nothing special. That’s to be expected. The earphone design isn’t the best for bass, and the AirPods are the cheapest option you can get from Apple.
If you want a better sound check the AirPods Pro.
If you’re not too picky about sound quality and maybe want to listen to some audiobooks on the go, these will do fine. But don’t expect to be blown away.
Why Buy Apple AirPods 2?
Compared to the original AirPods, the second-gen Apple AirPods come with upgraded Bluetooth 5.0 instead of the 4.2 version and a new H1 chip. Plus, you can get them with a wireless charging case and a better overall battery life.
Comfort is high, so you can wear them all day long. Though they aren’t the best for sports.
At the price of roughly MSRP $135 for the regular and $170 for the wireless charging case, you’re paying a premium price. We don’t recommend them for Android because they lack many of the features.
But if you’re a lifelong Apple user, you’re bound to use other Apple products that work brilliantly with the AirPods.
Ease of use and simplicity are unmatched. And since you’re probably used to saying “Hey Siri” and giving her commands, the lack of control options won’t bother you.
Plus, they come as a fashion statement that tells others you’re cool and hip and know latest tech. Or at least that’s what a lot of people think.
All in all, Apple AirPods 2 are an upgrade from the previous model and a classic Apple product that is serving its purpose for less demanding users.
If you want simple true wireless earbuds that work out of the box without tinkering, then these are a great choice.
Is it worth paying for a wireless charging case?
If you want to experience the best AirPods can offer and already have a wireless charging mat that you use with other devices, then that’s the natural decision.
You do have to pay roughly $35 MSRP for the more expensive version, but if you’re listening to music daily, that’s a low price to pay for convenience.
Wireless charging is probably here to stay, it’s only a question of when you throw away your cable and switch to a wireless mat. Your second-generation AirPods can be there with you from the start.
Apple AirPods 2 Alternatives
Apple AirPods Pro: For the better sounding true wireless earbuds with active noise cancellation, get the Pros. They’re better in pretty much all categories.
They’re in-ear, stick in ears better and even have some basic sweat protection.
Beats PowerBeats Pro: These are the go-to workout headphones for Apple users. They come with the same Apple synergies but also have fantastic stability, deep, punchy bass, and water protection. Though they do cost a bit more.
Jabra Elite 75t: A much better choice for Android users. You get full customization and EQ on Android and iOS. And if you want to use them for sports, get the Elite Active 75t version with high IP57 dust and water protection.