An IPhone’s Best Audio Buddy

AirPods (2019).

Portrait of Tammy Strobel

Apple has just released new AirPods, but you would be hard pressed to tell because they look and even sound identical. Happily, however, there are meaningful updates on the inside.

The most significant update of all is the new H1 headphone chip. The H1 chip replaces the W1 chip found in the first-generation AirPods and it does a couple of important things. It supports the latest Bluetooth 5.0 standard, enables hands-free Siri, allows for faster connection to and switching between devices, and is more power efficient so it serves up 50% more talk-time.

Setting up the AirPods is super easy. Simply open them near an iPhone and a prompt will appear. Tap connect and that’s all there is to it. Plus, if you are connected to iCloud, the AirPods will automatically be set up on all other Apple devices associated with the iCloud account.

Like any other earbud and IEM, the sound quality that you are going to get from the AirPods is going to be highly dependent on the quality of the seal that you can achieve with your ears. If you fail to get a good seal, the AirPods will sound soft, hollow, and lacking in bass.

But if you can get a decent enough seal, the AirPods will surprise you with their respectable sonic capabilities. Bass is surprisingly impactful and punchy for earbuds this small. Mids are placed just right in the mix so vocals and most instruments have the right amount of body and presence. The highs, however, are significantly rolled off so the AirPods lack that bit of air and sparkle that would have made them great.

However, the best thing about the AirPod is how strong a connection it maintains with iOS devices. Unlike other true wireless earbuds, which I find to be horribly susceptible to audio dropouts and jitter, the AirPods are steadfast and seldom suffer from any connection problems. This is, in my view, the AirPods biggest advantage over its rivals.

And if you want to splurge, the AirPods can also be purchased with a new wireless charging case. This new case looks just like the old one but it can be distinguished by its LED status indicator on the front - the old case’s LED status indicator is on the inside and concealed by the cover. The new wireless charging case is convenient, especially if you already have a wireless charging pad for your iPhone, but it is also very slow. It took me about three hours to get a full charge.

The bottom line for iPhones owners is this: if you have a first-generation AirPod and it still works well, there’s little benefit to upgrading to the new AirPods; but if your existing AirPods are failing on you (the built-in batteries have a limited lifespan, after all), or if you are searching for a new pair of true wireless earbuds, then these updated AirPods are easy to recommend. In fact, they’re probably the only one’s we would recommend for your iPhone.

My Reading Room
Still the best all-around true wireless earbuds for iOS devices.
My Reading Room
My Reading Room

You can now invoke Siri without double-tapping on the AirPods.