AirPods 1 vs AirPods 2 – are they worth the upgrade?

The AirPods 2 offer improved audio, call quality, battery life and even wireless charging, but should original AirPods owners make the switch?

AirPods 2 review
Bottom Line
The AirPods 2 sound a lot better than their predecessor, and they still reign king for making calls on iPhone. But there are better sounding, more comfortable wireless earbuds out there.
Pros
Improved audio quality
Improved call quality
Seamless pairing
Wireless charging
Slight bump in battery life
"Hey, Siri" integration
Cons
Same old design
Loose fit
4.5

AirPods are everywhere in New York. You’ll be hard pressed to walk a single block without passing by at-least a few people wearing them. Needless to say, AirPods have been a huge success. This is part of the reason why the release of AirPods 2 is such a big deal. With all of that said, on paper, the new AirPods come with some neat new features, as well as improved audio and call quality – but are they actually worth the upgrade?

Design

Let’s start with the design. We would’ve liked to see new color choices and a new ear tip design, unfortunately, the AirPods 2 are practically identical to the originals. Some people love the AirPods design, but we personally loathe them. They are uncomfortable in our ears and sport a horribly loose fit that makes them prone to falling out, making them very easy to lose. Oh, and you can forget about using them for a serious workout! Needless to say, we’re disappointed that Apple didn’t change up the design for the AirPods 2.

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airpods1 vs airpods2 1024x732 - AirPods 1 vs AirPods 2 - are they worth the upgrade?
Left: Original AirPods charging case. Right: AirPods 2 with wireless charging case

But although the design of the new AirPods is practically identical to the originals, it’s worth mentioning that the AirPods 2’s wireless charging case is slightly different than the original charging case. To that effect, Apple relocated the LED indicator from inside of the AirPods charging case to the outside of the case. This makes a lot more sense logically.

Audio

Again, some reviewers love the original AirPods’ audio prowess, but we have never been a fan of the original AirPods audio and have always felt that they were extremely overrated. Fortunately, the sonics on the AirPods 2 have been significantly improved. Music sounds less tinny, less muddy, it is now a lot more balanced, and instruments and vocals are a lot more defined. Overall, the AirPods 2 offer a significant jump in audio quality over their predecessors, but there are still plenty of better sounding wireless earbuds out there on the market.

airpods 2 wireless charging case 1024x674 - AirPods 1 vs AirPods 2 - are they worth the upgrade?

Call Quality

When making calls to compare them to the original AirPods, callers told us that the first gen AirPods sounded more muffled and that the AirPods 2 sounded clearer. Likewise, callers sounded clearer to us on the new AirPods 2. With all of that said, overall the call quality on the AirPods 2 is not a drastic difference over the originals.

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New features

The AirPods 2 come in two flavors – with ($199) or without a wireless charging case ($159). Although hardly a necessity, the wireless charging case is a nice touch. The AirPods 2 started charging right away when we plopped them down on our Mophie wireless charging base.

We’re especially excited by the AirPods new “Hey, Siri.” integration. Although we didn’t expect it to be, it’s super convenient being able to use Siri handsfree for tasks while using the AirPods 2.

Are the AirPods 2 worth the upgrade?

Nope. Not at all.

If you’re an AirPods gen 1 user, unless you have money to burn, we’d recommend waiting until you lose your AirPods, or until they break, before you make the upgrade to the AirPods 2.

If you want the best sounding, most comfortable wireless earbuds out there, we’d recommend trying the Earin M-2’s. If you want the best wireless earbuds for the gym, check out the Plantronics BackBeat Fit 3100.

With all of that said, the AirPods 2 still reign, king, when it comes to making calls on an iPhone. So if you’re an iPhone user who will regularly use AirPods to make calls, nothing gets better in this category than the AirPods 2.

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