Apple Airpods 2 (2019) Review
December 20, 2019 at 6:46 am #3011George LucasReviewer
Before you get stuck into this review, it’s worth mentioning that Apple has refreshed these super popular earbuds with the more recent AirPods 2 (2019), and even newer AirPods Pro, which means the tech giant has discontinued the original AirPods 1 – but that doesn’t mean you should write them off.
A few years on and many retailers are still trying to get rid of their remaining stock, which means AirPod prices have dropped, making them a better option for those on a budget.
The AirPods 2 could be your best solution if you’re an iPhone owner, with every new model, from the iPhone 7 to the new iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max, lacking a 3.5mm headphone jack.
But although we think these true wireless Apple earbuds are impressive, that doesn’t mean they’re perfect. For starters, they rely almost entirely on Siri for controlling audio playback, which is never going to be the most convenient option – especially if chatting to Apple’s voice assistant has never really become second nature to you.
For all our reservations about the fit and feel of the AirPods 2, they actually sound pretty good.
The days of weak, tinny sound are over. Listen to a track like Turbowolf’s Nine Lives, and the bass nicely cuts through the track without overwhelming the mid and treble notes.
It means the headphone’s sound has energy and rhythm to it, whether you want to relax with some Slayer, or get pumped up with Enya.
There’s also a good amount of space in the soundstage. Turn on Back to Black by Amy Winehouse, and the layering in the orchestral backing is impressive. Instruments are able to share the soundstage without it feeling overcrowded.
There’s not quite the same crispness or detail across a track as a similarly priced pair of wired headphones, but the AirPods 2 nevertheless provide an impressive listening experience.
The AirPods 2 blow the Lightning-equipped EarPods, the ones bundled with recent iPhones, out of the water in terms of sound quality. The EarPods offer a flat and thin sound experience compared to the AirPods 2, which is comparatively buzzing with energy.
To be clear, this sort of performance difference is absolutely warranted when the AirPods 2 cost over five times the amount of the EarPods, but it’s reassuring to know all the same.
Apple has a very distinctive style, and the AirPods 2, for better or for worse, adhere rigidly to this aesthetic.
In fact, if you’ve used Apple’s wired EarPods (which come as standard with the company’s phones and iPods) then you’re probably familiar with how the AirPods 2 look, since the they’re are almost identical, minus any cables.
The biggest difference between the two is the small arm which comes down from the earbud section. The AirPod’s arm is significantly thicker than that of the EarPods to fit the device’s battery and microphone.
This thickness means that the AirPods 2 aren’t as stylish as the classic Apple buds, which is unfortunate given Apple’s history of treading the fine line between technology and fashion.
Sticking with the classic EarPod design also means that the AirPods 2 dispense with modern conveniences like replaceable silicon eartips that secure the earphones firmly in your ears.
Instead, the AirPods 2 rely entirely on their one-size-fits-all plastic housing to keep themselves sat firmly in your ears.
This was an ongoing theme with the AirPods 2, which was that although they never physically fell out of our ears, they never felt all that secure either, and we’d think twice before leaving the AirPods 2 in while we ran for the train.
We forgive this when it comes to the standard EarPods, but when there’s no cable to catch the earbud when it falls we think it’s more important for that extra feeling of secureness.
The downside of a lack of silicon is the fact the AirPods 2 don’t feel secure, but the upside is that because they’re not pressing on the insides of your ear, they feel very comfortable over long listening periods.
The long stems protruding from the bottom of each earbud might be bulky, but the plus side of that bulk is that the AirPods 2’ battery life is really great.
Apple’s claim of five hours battery life from the AirPods 2 appeared to be completely accurate in our tests, and even better was the amount of time it took to recharge them using the charging case, meaning that charge was never far away whenever it did dip low.
This convenience is only going to improve in the future with the rumored addition of a wireless charging case that will allow you to charge your AirPods 2 wirelessly.
The current charging case is an excellent work of design. You charge the case up via its Lightning port, and once fully charged the case holds enough power to fully charge your AirPods 2 over four times.
A small LED underneath the charging case’s lid glows red or green to indicate the AirPods 2’ charge status, and you can open the lid near a paired phone to see the relative charge levels of both pop up on the screen.
In short, the battery life of the AirPods 2 is great, and much better than the competition. It’s just a shame that they’ve had to be made so big to accommodate the battery.
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