Despite some of the most enthusiastic forecasts for Apple’s new generation of AirPods, the recent launch of Apple AirPods pose new questions even as they address the many we’ve had for the past months of incessant leaks.
Biometric sensors and noise cancellation – two of the most outlandish “leaked” features, did not materialise. Instead, what we got were the more pedestrian features like faster connectivity, better battery life, and support for “Hey Siri”. Yes, there’s also a wireless charging case, but you’ve got to spend more to get it. You’re one of the millions of AirPods owners worldwide, and like many, you’re wondering if you should upgrade – let’s investigate.
Feature 1: Longer Battery Life
Apple’s marketing literature does not indicate how much longer the battery on the new AirPods will last than its previous iteration. Given the always-on processing constantly listening out for the “Hey Siri” command, the new AirPods might not have that much longer a battery life than its predecessor.
Despite this, if you already own a pair that happens to have battery issues (that are relatively well-documented), the fair price of the new AirPods mean it isn’t the worst choice to upgrade.
Feature 2: “Hey Siri” Support
You’re keen on keeping your AirPods experience strictly hands-free, and mumbling “Hey Siri, reduce my volume” in public isn’t too much an ordeal. But the AirPods generation 2 might not be the right choice for you.
If you’re looking to snag the version bundled with the Wireless Charging Case (it’s frankly not really an upgrade without the Wireless Charging Case), it will cost about half of the base model of the Apple Watch Series 4, which starts from SGD 599. The base model of the Apple Watch Series 3, which features almost all the creature comforts of the Series 4, comes in at SGD 419.
With the Apple Watch, rotating the Digital Crown directly controls the volume on your AirPods (and other wireless audio devices). Track controls and information are also directly accessible from the watch face by lifting your wrist. The new Spotify Watch App is also slated to support native tracks for you to save on the Watch – which means you can take your watch alone with your AirPods on your next run.
That’s the real question: a smattering of feature upgrades with the AirPods Gen 2, or a whole package of functionality with the Apple Watch?
Feature 3: Faster Connectivity
I own the full ecosystem of iOS and MacOS Apple devices, and use my AirPods between them. One of the perennial problems I faced with the first generation AirPods is the fact that it takes a couple of seconds to switch between devices. It also is quite the (relative) ordeal – I usually leave my AirPods connected to my iPhone, but switching it to the iPad, MacBook or Mac Pro requires menu-diving to bring up Bluetooth settings in order to manually switch the audio over.
With the switch to the H1 chip, Apple might have overcome this issue – perfect for power users deeply burrowed in Apple’s all-encompassing ecosystem of products. Whether the H1 processor enables UX improvements to device switching with the AirPods remains to be seen pending a hands-on review, and we’ll keep you posted.
Otherwise, if you mainly listen on your one device like the iPhone, there’s little to no reason to switch to the new AirPods. The first generation was already fast enough to impress the hardest of tech veterans’ hearts.
Feature 4: Wireless Charging
Bundled with the ‘Pods for SGD 299, and available separately at SGD 119, the Wireless Charging Case is by no means cheap.
If going wireless is your raison d’être, the Wireless Charging Case is a no-brainer. If Apple’s first generation is any indication, the new case with added capability will likely be a smashing success and work seamlessly – especially great if you have Qi wireless charging pads littered about your house, office and every conceivable location.
Otherwise, if you’re like me and do not have wireless charging pads that lie flat, the Wireless Charging Case might not give you the greatest utility. Apple’s promised AirPower charging mat has yet to materialise, but when they do, and if you get your hands on it, it will be the perfect reason to drop that dough on the Wireless Charging Case for the AirPods Gen 2.
In any case, wireless charging is still much, much slower than good old wired power. With my current use of the first generation AirPods, it is trivial to quickly charge the device.
You don’t have to be, but if you’re rich, get it.
If you own the full ecosystem of Apple products (which kind of is the same thing as the first point), get it.
If you haven’t got the AirPods, it’s the same price as the previous generation – unless you opt for the Wireless Charging Case. Get it.
If you need the latest and greatest, get it.
The AirPods with Wireless Charging Case retails at SGD 299, and at SGD 239 with the regular wired charging case. The Wireless Charging Case is available separately at SGD 119. All devices are available for order via the Apple Website or the Apple Store app soon, and will arrive in Apple Stores end Spring 2019.