The original AirPods vs. AirPods 2 – what’s different?

Apple’s new second-generation AirPods can now be ordered from the company’s website, and many are wondering if they’re a worthwhile upgrade from the originals.

If you’re in the same boat, then you’ve come to the right place, because this piece will discuss the most significant differences between the original and second-generation AirPods.

What’s different?

Hey Siri support

With Apple’s original AirPods, you could double-tap either AirPod to invoke the Siri voice assistant. The second-generation AirPods now support Hey Siri, which means you can simply mutter the words “Hey Siri” to have hands-free access to Siri.

New H1 chip

The W1 chip in the original AirPods has been succeeded by the brand-new H1 chip in the second-generation AirPods. Little is known about why Apple switched from W to H in the naming scheme, but the new chip provides a number of improvements over its predecessor. As our very own Christian Zibreg explains, H1 provides the following perks over W1:

  • Hey Siri
  • An extra hour of talk time
  • More stable wireless connection to devices
  • 2x faster switching between active devices
  • 30 percent lower gaming latency
  • 1.5x faster connection time for phone calls
  • Wireless charging for the battery case

Audio Performance

Apple hasn’t mentioned any noticeable difference in audio quality between the first and second-generation AirPods, but the H1 chip does allegedly deliver a superior audio experience through improved audio streaming.

Wireless Charging Case

The second-generation AirPods can now be bought with a Qi wireless charging-compatible case, whereas the first-generation AirPods originally came with a case that could only be charged with a Lightning cable.

The Qi-compatible charging case can also be purchased standalone for those who already own the previous-generation AirPods; nevertheless, this still felt like a worthy mention since it came out alongside the new second-generation AirPods.

Software Support

Apple’s original AirPods support the following device and software combinations:

  • iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch running iOS 10 or later
  • Apple Watch running watchOS 3 or later
  • Mac running macOS Sierra or later

Apple’s second-generation AirPods only support the following device and software combinations:

  • iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch running iOS 12.2. or later
  • Apple Watch running watchOS 5.2 or later
  • Mac running macOS Mojave 10.14.4 or later

What’s the same?

While a few things have changed between both generations of AirPods, many things have disappointingly remained the same. We’ll outline some of those for you below:

Battery Life

Apple touts an extra hour of talk-time with the new H1 chip in the second-generation AirPods, but for other things, you can expect approximately the same overall battery life the original AirPods are known for:

  • 24-hour all-day battery life with charging case
  • 5 hours of listening time on a single charge
  • 15 minutes of charging provides up to 3 hours of listening time


Both the original and second-generation AirPods sport microphones and accelerometers to detect your voice and to know when they’re being tapped for gesture usage.


While most people expected that the second-generation AirPods would look the same as the first, others expected different color options from the traditional white, such as black.

Not only is white still the only color option or AirPods, but there’s no discernible difference between the first and second-generation AirPods.


The second-generation AirPods start at $159.00 much like the original AirPods. Keep in mind, however, that you’ll need to pony up $199.00 if you want your second-generation AirPods to come with the wireless charging case. The only difference here is that if you bought the original AirPods at this price, you’ll need to pay $79.00 for the standalone wireless charging case, which brings the total price for this setup up to $238.00.

Worth the upgrade?

Personally, I’d be happy just buying a wireless charging case for my first-generation AirPods and calling it a day. It doesn’t seem to me like the second-generation AirPods introduce enough groundbreaking new features to justify the price.

On the other hand, the decision is ultimately up to you and whether you need Hey Siri, the extra hour of talk time and the seemingly minute benefits of the brand-new H1 chip.

Will you be picking up a pair of second-generation AirPods? Discuss in the comments section below.