How Do Apple’s New Powerbeats Pro Compare to AirPods?

Earlier this week, we shared a hands-on look at the Powerbeats Pro earbuds launching tomorrow, and today, we thought we'd do an in-depth comparison with the AirPods, giving MacRumors readers a closer look at the similarities and differences between the two devices.

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AirPods and Powerbeats Pro look nothing alike, as the former is designed for casual use and the latter is aimed at those who live a more active lifestyle. The AirPods feature an iconic design that's reminiscent of the EarPods design Apple has used for years, with the earbuds meant to fit ears of all shapes and sizes with no customization.

The Powerbeats Pro are more similar to traditional earbuds, with silicone tips that nestle in the ear and an earhook to hold them firmly in place. The silicone tips come in four sizes, but the earhooks, which wrap around the ear, are one size. These earhooks make sure the Powerbeats Pro stay firmly in place during physical activity.


The silicone tips of the Powerbeats Pro are meant to fit tightly in the ear, which produces a sound isolating - but not noise canceling - effect that dampens ambient noise. The AirPods have no such feature so ambient sound is more audible. Apple has also designed the Powerbeats Pro with IPX4 water resistance while the AirPods have no specific Ingress Protection rating, which means Powerbeats Pro should better hold up to sweat.

Both the AirPods and the Powerbeats Pro have been described as comfortable to most people in reviews and hands-on accounts, though some reviewers have called the Powerbeats Pro even more comfortable than the AirPods despite the earhook, while others find the AirPods easier to wear. The earhook is soft enough that it's not a hassle to wear for longer periods of time, and in our testing, it even fit well with sunglasses.


The Powerbeats Pro are much larger than the AirPods, and while the case that charges them up is similar in functionality to the AirPods case, it's much larger and it's not pocketable, plus it doesn't have wireless charging support and can only charge with a Lightning cable. The Powerbeats Pro only come in black right now, but this summer, Apple is going to release moss, ivory, and navy shades. The AirPods are limited to white.

There are major physical differences between the Powerbeats Pro and the AirPods, but the underlying feature set is the same and the two share similar hardware. Both include Bluetooth 5.0 and an H1 chip for quick pairing, fast device switching, and hands-free "Hey Siri" support. An accelerometer and other sensors also allow AirPods and Powerbeats Pro to pause audio when removed from the ear and resume when the earbud is placed back in the ear.


Music controls are included, and while tap gestures are used on the AirPods for changing tracks and playing/pausing, there are physical controls on the Powerbeats Pro, including a volume button, something the AirPods don't have. As for sound quality, the Powerbeats Pro sound better than the AirPods, which shouldn't come as a surprise given the larger body and the higher price tag.

In our experience, the Powerbeats Pro feature a more immersive and full sound profile because of the tight fit in the ears. Apple says that sound quality was a focus when designing the Powerbeats Pro, and it shows. The AirPods still sound great, though, and are more than adequate for everyday use.

For those who have been wondering, the Powerbeats Pro do indeed support Live Listen, as do the AirPods. Live Listen lets you use the iPhone as a microphone to amplify the ambient noise around you so you can better hear what's going on. As a side note, both AirPods and Powerbeats Pro have beamforming microphones so they sound great when using them for phone calls.


When it comes to battery life, the Powerbeats Pro win out. They're bigger and house a bigger battery than the AirPods, boasting up to nine hours of battery life per earbud and an additional 24+ hours through the case. AirPods max out at about five hours, though the AirPods case also adds 24+ hours of battery life. As for phone calls, Apple says the Powerbeats Pro offer six hours of talk time while the AirPods offer up to three hours of talk time.

Beyond design, pricing is one of the major differences between the Powerbeats Pro and the AirPods. Apple sells the second-generation AirPods with Wireless Charging Case for $199 and with standard case for $159, while the Powerbeats Pro cost $250.

For a deeper comparison of the Powerbeats Pro vs. the AirPods, make sure to check out our Powerbeats Pro and AirPods guide, which walks through the two audio accessories feature by feature. Our dedicated Powerbeats Pro guide also has everything you need to know about Apple's newest earbuds.

Related Roundup: AirPods 2
Buyer's Guide: AirPods (Buy Now)

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Apple Supplier Ramps Up Production of AirPods 2 Parts to Meet High Demand

The manufacturer of rigid-flex printed circuit boards (PCBs) used in Apple's AirPods 2 is ramping up production of the technology into early 2020 at least, despite rumors that Apple will launch two new AirPods models as early as this year with a different internal design.


DigiTimes reports that Apple supplier Unitech Printed Circuit Board still sees the rigid-flex PCB combination as the mainstream technology for truly wireless headphones, and will expand its production capacity in Taiwan by 25-30 percent in 2019 to meet increased demand from clients.

In contrast, Apple's two new AirPods models are expected to make use of SiP (system in package) technology, which will improve assembly yield rates, save internal space and reduce cost.

Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo forecasts that the two new models will likely go into mass production between the fourth quarter of 2019 and the first quarter of 2020.

Kuo has said one of the new AirPods models will feature an "all-new form factor design" and a "higher price" than the second-generation AirPods, which cost $159 with a standard charging case and $199 with a wireless charging case. The other model is expected to be a more iterative update to AirPods 2 with the same pricing.

In March 2019, Apple launched its second-generation AirPods powered by an Apple-designed H1 chip, enabling hands-free "Hey Siri" functionality and up to 50 percent more talk time compared to the original AirPods. The second-generation AirPods feature the same outward design as the original.

Bloomberg reported that Apple's third-generation AirPods will feature a new design and perhaps improved water resistance that will allow the AirPods to hold up to "splashes of water and rain."

The AirPods aren't likely to be entirely water resistant, however, and won't be able to be submerged in liquid. These third-generation AirPods are also rumored to include noise cancellation features and increase the distance that AirPods can be listened to away from an iPhone or iPad.

Samsung, Huawei, Sony and Google are all actively developing their own truly wireless headphones, many of which are expected to use the older rigid-flex PCB technology. Apple now dominates nearly 70 percent of the truly wireless headphone market, according to DigiTimes, suggesting Apple's adoption of the new SiP tech could give the company an even greater advantage over rivals as the market continues to grow.

Related Roundup: AirPods 2
Buyer's Guide: AirPods (Buy Now)

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Deals Spotlight: Get the 2019 AirPods With Charging Case for $140 ($19 Off) and Wireless Charging Case for $70 ($9 Off)

Amazon is discounting the 2019 AirPods with Charging Case to $139.99, down from $159.00. Apple just refreshed the AirPods last month with an updated H1 chip and "Hey Siri" support, and also launched the AirPods with Wireless Charging Case at $199.

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Amazon is also offering just the Wireless Charging Case by itself at a discount. You can get the accessory for $69.99, down from $79.00 ($9 off). The Wireless Charging Case is aimed at users who have a pair of the original AirPods and don't want to upgrade to AirPods 2. By just purchasing the case, they can gain wireless charging features for the older model.

These are some of the first major discounts for the 2019 AirPods since they launched in March. Shoppers should note that the AirPods with Charging Case won't ship until May 7, 2019, and that the Wireless Charging Case will take 2-4 weeks to ship. It's unclear how long the sale will last, so visit Amazon soon to place an order if you're interested.

2019 AirPods Sale

More sales and bargains can be discovered in our Deals Roundup.

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Tag: AirPods

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Kuo: Two New AirPods Models Likely in Late 2019 to Early 2020, Including One With ‘All-New Design’

Apple will likely launch two new AirPods models as early as the fourth quarter of 2019, according to analyst Ming-Chi Kuo.


In his latest research note, obtained by MacRumors, Kuo forecasts that two new AirPods models will likely go into mass production between the fourth quarter of 2019 and the first quarter of 2020, with Luxshare, Goertek, and Amkor expected to be Apple's primary suppliers of the new earphones.

Kuo believes one of the new AirPods models will feature an "all-new form factor design" and a "higher price" than the second-generation AirPods, which cost $159 with a standard charging case and $199 with a wireless charging case. The other model is expected to be a more iterative update with the same pricing.

Both new AirPods models are said to adopt a new system-in-package design internally, which can improve assembly yield rates, save space internally, and reduce costs, but Kuo does not elaborate on outward-facing design changes.

The lead excerpt from Kuo's research note:
We expect Apple will likely launch two new AirPods models in 4Q19 at the earliest. One is the all-new form factor design at a higher price. The other's outlook and price will be the same as the current model's. A common internal design factor of these two new AirPods will be to abandon the current "SMT+RFPCB" design and change to adopt the SiP design instead for improving assembly yield rates, saving internal space and reducing cost.
Kuo is "positive on the demand for AirPods" and Apple's wireless headphones market share, as he believes the "all-new design" of one of the new models "could boost the replacement demand and attract new users." He estimates AirPods shipments will reach 52 million units in 2019 and 75-85 million units in 2020.

Last month, Apple launched second-generation AirPods powered by an Apple-designed H1 chip, enabling hands-free "Hey Siri" functionality and up to 50 percent more talk time compared to the original AirPods. The second-generation AirPods feature the same outward design as the original.

Bloomberg's Mark Gurman was first to reveal Apple's roadmap for AirPods, including the second-generation pair with "Hey Siri" support, while DigiTimes also expects third-generation AirPods to launch by the end of the year.

Related Roundup: AirPods 2
Buyer's Guide: AirPods (Buy Now)

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Report Claims AirPods 3 With Noise Canceling Feature to Launch Later This Year

DigiTimes reports this morning that Apple is set to launch third-generation AirPods with a noise cancelation function by the end of the year, contradicting an earlier rumor that said Apple's AirPods 3 have been pushed back to 2020.

Apple is reportedly set to release its third-generation AirPods for sales by the end of 2019, with the new wireless earphones to incorporate a noise cancellation function. And Taiwan's Inventec reportedly will be the major assembler of AirPods 3, while China's Luxshare Precision will also grab part of the orders for the new device, according to industry sources.
Today's report claims that Apple will fend off competition from rival brands of true wireless earbuds by including a noise-canceling function in its third-generation AirPods, although doing so could throw up new design and assembly challenges.
The sources said that noise cancellation is not a new technology, but a technology hard to harness. On the one hand, semiconductor devices can hardly work without suffering electromagnetic disturbance, and on the other hand how the structural design of the noise forward feedback microphone can be done well to achieve harmonious operation with other devices is a great challenge for designers and assemblers.

In addition, earphones with noise-cancellation function will consume more power than those without, and it remains to be seen how Apple will do to reduce power consumption, the sources indicated.
Taiwan's Inventec is said to be uniquely positioned to meet the production challenges of AirPods 3, thanks to its extensive assembly experiences, giving the manufacturer a better chance of winning assembly orders from Apple than China's Luxshare Precision. As it stands, the assemblers command an equal share of orders for AirPods 2.

Bloomberg's Mark Gurman has also claimed that Apple's third-generation AirPods could include noise cancellation features, as well as a new design, and perhaps improved water resistance that will allow the AirPods to hold up to "splashes of water and rain."

However, Gurman believes that AirPods 3 now won't be ready until next year, and that aligns better with the current consensus. Apple only launched AirPods 2 with optional wireless charging and hands-free Siri functionality in March 2019, making the introduction of another model this year seem unlikely, but not impossible.

Related Roundup: AirPods 2
Buyer's Guide: AirPods (Buy Now)

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Powerbeats Pro vs. AirPods 2

Apple's Beats brand in April announced upgraded wire-free Powerbeats Pro earbuds that are quite similar to Apple's recently released second-generation AirPods, but with a focus on fitness and working out rather than every day use.

The two sets of earbuds have a lot in common, but there are some notable differences that are worth pointing out. Read on for a complete comparison of the AirPods 2 and the Powerbeats Pro.

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Powerbeats Pro Design vs. AirPods 2 Design


AirPods are made for casual use and feature a one size fits all design with a rounded bulb-like earpiece and a microphone-equipped tail that extends out of the ears. There's no additional hook or other mechanism to keep them in the ears.


Powerbeats Pro are designed for fitness and have a design similar to prior Powerbeats models with earhooks that fit over the ears to secure them in place along with four ear tips in various sizes for a customizable fit.

Powerbeats Pro are meant to stay in the ears during vigorous activity and Apple tested more than 20 configurations before arriving at a design that fits most people.


Both the Powerbeats Pro and the AirPods come in charging cases, but while the AirPods charging case is small, compact, and the size of a dental floss container, the Powerbeats Pro charging case is much larger, clamshell-like, and not as pocketable.


Sound Differences and Noise Isolation


Powerbeats Pro use rubber ear tips in four sizes similar to traditional earbuds, which means they're designed to create a tight fit in the ear to isolate ambient noises. There is no feature for adding in ambient noise, which is something to be aware of if you plan to use these in situations where you need to hear what's going on around you.


AirPods have no similar ambient noise filtering because they are not designed to fit tightly in the ear canal.

Apple says sound was a focus when designing the Powerbeats Pro, with the new earbuds offering powerful, balanced audio with pure sound reproduction, enhanced clarity, and improved dynamic range.

Apple makes no similar claims about the AirPods and instead describes them as having "rich, high-quality sound." We'll need to wait for hands-on reviews for more specific details about the sound differences between Powerbeats Pro and AirPods.

Physical Buttons


You can tap on the AirPods to do things like activate Siri or change the song track, but there are no actual physical buttons.

The Powerbeats Pro is larger with more available surface area, and it does feature physical buttons for adjusting the volume, changing the song track, and accepting or declining a call.


There is no off button on the AirPods and there is no off button on the Powerbeats Pro. The Powerbeats Pro come on when taken out of the charging case and turn off when put back in, and will also go into a sleep mode after a period of inactivity to preserve battery life. The AirPods work the same way.

Water Resistance


According to Apple, the Powerbeats Pro are sweat and water resistant. Apple has not provided a specific IP rating for the Powerbeats Pro, but the company makes no claims at all about the water resistance of the AirPods.


According to Apple, the Powerbeats Pro have been engineered to handle sweat without failing, but you probably shouldn't wear them in the shower or while swimming.

Powerbeats Pro Colors vs. AirPods 2 Colors


AirPods only come in white, but Powerbeats Pro come in Black, Ivory (an off white shade), Navy, and Moss (an olive green). AirPods also feature a white charging case while all Powerbeats Pro models ship with a black charging case.


Price Difference


Apple's AirPods are priced at $199 for the version with a Wireless Charging Case or $159 for the version without one, while Powerbeats Pro cost $250.

That's almost a full $100 over the base model of the AirPods.

Processor, Sensors, and Siri Support


The Powerbeats Pro use the same H1 chip that's in the AirPods 2 for faster connections to your devices, faster switching between devices, lower latency, and support for hands-free "Hey Siri" activation.

As with the AirPods, using "Hey Siri" requires the Powerbeats Pro to be paired with a compatible device like an iPhone, iPad, or Apple Watch.


Powerbeats Pro have all of the same sensors and features that are in the AirPods, including ear detection that plays/pauses music appropriately based on position.

As with the AirPods, you can use just one Powerbeats Pro earbud or use both at the same time.

Phone Calls


AirPods have a speech-detecting accelerometer and beamforming microphones that filter out external noise when you're making a phone call or a Siri request, and the Powerbeats Pro have the same feature.

The Powerbeats Pro actually have two beamforming microphones on each side to make up for the lack of a stem like the AirPods have. Phone calls on both the AirPods and the Powerbeats Pro are designed to sound crisp and clear.

Battery Life


Each Powerbeats Pro earbud offers nine hours of listening time, which is a full four hours longer than the AirPods promise. AirPods offer five hours of battery life, but the battery life of both the AirPods and the Powerbeats Pro is extended to over 24 hours with their respective charging cases.

Charging


The AirPods and the AirPods Wireless Charging Case can be charged using either Lightning or Qi-based wireless charging. The Powerbeats Pro case does not feature support for Qi-based wireless charging and must be charged with a Lightning cable.

The Powerbeats Pro have a Fast Fuel feature that adds 1.5 hours of music playback after five minutes of charging and 4.5 hours of playback after 15 minutes of charging.


Apple's AirPods have a similar fast charging feature but it's not quite as good due to the smaller battery, offering three hours of listening time with a 15 minute charge.

Comparison Chart


Here's an at-a-glance comparison chart that gives a quick overview of the differences between the AirPods 2 and the Powerbeats Pro.


Bottom Line


Apple's AirPods 2 and new Powerbeats Pro earbuds are clearly aimed at different target markets. While the AirPods 2 are for casual listening on a day to day basis, the more expensive Powerbeats Pro are designed for physical activity including sports, workouts, and more.

The AirPods are smaller and more convenient to carry and offer more convenient wireless charging methods, while the Powerbeats Pro offer longer battery life, superior sweat resistance, more color options, sound isolation, and potentially a different sound profile.

Choosing between AirPods 2 and Powerbeats Pro will depend on how the AirPods fit in your ears - some people can't get a good fit with the one size fits all design -- and your budget. The Powerbeats Pro's earhooks and ear tips in multiple sizes will potentially offer a better fit and will certainly be the better option for people who need earbuds for physical activity.

More Info


For more details on the Powerbeats Pro, make sure to check out our full Powerbeats Pro guide.

Guide Feedback


Have questions about the Powerbeats Pro or AirPods or know of details we've left out? Let us know in the comments or Send us an email here.

Related Roundup: AirPods 2
Buyer's Guide: AirPods (Buy Now)

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AirPods 2 Teardown: H1 Chip With Bluetooth 5.0, Same Batteries, and Water-Repellent Coating on Charging Case Board

iFixit today shared a teardown of the second-generation AirPods, providing a closer look at the H1 chip with Bluetooth 5.0 and the same 93 milliwatt hour battery in each of the AirPods in line with the original pair.

New charging case on left and new AirPods with H1 chip labeled in red on right via iFixit

The repair website also pried open the new wireless charging case, which continues to have a 398 mAh battery capacity, and said there is a new "water-repellent coating" on the circuit board. The teardown notes that the updated charging case "seems designed for increased durability, but not repairability."


Unsurprisingly, the new AirPods earned a zero for repairability, as iFixit says they remain "disappointingly disposable." AirPods are not designed to be serviced, as no hardware components can be accessed without damaging the earphones, and sealed-in batteries make the AirPods a consumable product.


Many of these details were already known, but the teardown still provides an interesting look at the internal differences compared to the first-generation AirPods. More photos and tech specs are available over on iFixit's website.

Related Roundup: AirPods 2
Buyer's Guide: AirPods (Buy Now)

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Hands-On With Apple’s New Second-Generation AirPods

Apple's second-generation AirPods, announced last week, started showing up on people's doorsteps this morning and also became available for purchase in Apple retail stores. We picked up a set of AirPods 2 to see how they compare to the original AirPods.


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Second-generation AirPods actually come in two configurations: with a new Wireless Charging Case and with a Lightning-only charging case, with the former priced at $199 and the latter priced at $159. We purchased the version with the Wireless Charging Case, as the new case is one of the major changes.

Design wise, you're not going to be able to tell the new AirPods from the original AirPods. They're still only available in white and they continue to feature the exact same design - white plastic buds with a stem at the bottom.

All of the changes to the AirPods are actually internal. There's a new H1 chip that replaces the W1 chip and brings quite a few improvements. In our experience, AirPods 2 connect to your devices much more quickly than the original AirPods, and swapping between devices is faster.

Latency has been cut down, and because the AirPods 2 support Bluetooth 5.0, you may see some range and quality improvements. We think the AirPods 2 seem to sound a bit better, especially at higher volumes.

There's a new "Hey Siri" feature that lets you activate Siri hands-free without the need to tap on the AirPods, and when talking on the phone, battery life is now three hours instead of two.

A major difference between AirPods 1 and AirPods 2 is the aforementioned Wireless Charging Case, which comes with AirPods 2 and can be purchased on a standalone basis for AirPods 1 for $79. The Wireless Charging Case lets you use any Qi-based wireless charger to charge up your AirPods, and it will let the AirPods work with the AirPower if Apple ever releases it.

AirPods 1 and AirPods 2 are not interchangeable -- if you try to use an original AirPod with a second-generation AirPod in the AirPods Charging Case, it will flash red to let you know about the incompatibility.

There's no real way to visually tell the two versions apart, but if you connect them to your iPhone, you can see which version you have by opening up the Settings app, choosing General, and scrolling down to the AirPods section. You can tell the Charging Case from the standard case because the LED light that indicates charging is on the outside of the case rather on the inside.

The second-generation AirPods shipped without features many were hoping for such as a new color and health tracking capabilities, but still mark a solid upgrade over the original version. What do you think of Apple's new AirPods? Let us know in the comments.

Related Roundup: AirPods 2
Buyer's Guide: AirPods (Buy Now)

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New AirPods Sound Quality Debated as Orders Begin to Arrive Around the World

Apple's new second-generation AirPods are beginning to arrive to customers around the world, and some early adopters have turned to the MacRumors forums and social media to share their first impressions of the earphones.

The new AirPods unboxed via Reddit user Lachlanhunt

The new AirPods have the same outward design as the original and remain available in white only. Apple continues to include a one-meter Lightning to USB-A cable in the box with all second-generation AirPods.

Hey Siri


Powered by a new H1 chip, the new AirPods support hands-free Siri, enabling users to change songs, make phone calls, adjust the volume, get directions, and more by saying "Hey Siri." Siri can still be activated by doubling tapping one of the AirPods if enabled in Settings > Bluetooth on an iOS device.

First impressions about the new Hey Siri functionality are mostly positive so far. MacRumors forum member Moxxham from Australia wrote that "Hey Siri seems to work really well," even with loud music playing in the background, while Reddit user Lachlanhunt found the feature "works reasonably well."

Sound Quality


First impressions about overall audio quality are both subjective and anecdotal, with conflicting opinions as to whether the new AirPods sound better than the original. Reports range from users not noticing any difference all the way to feeling like the new AirPods are a huge improvement for sound.


MacRumors forum member Kiky disagrees with the above tweet:
When listening to music, I could not make out any discernible difference between my AirPods 2 and my wife’s original AirPods. I bought the AirPods 2 mainly for the gym and casual wireless listening. They will replace my Jabra’s which have lousy latency issues and fatigue my ears after 30 mins or so.
At the very least, MacRumors reader Vladislav Kuznetsov and many others agree that features like Siri and FaceTime calls sound clearer:


On a related note, Apple recently seeded a 6.3.2 firmware update for the first-generation AirPods, and some users on MacRumors and Reddit are speculating that the update has led to improved audio quality and faster connection speeds on the first-generation AirPods. Evidence is anecdotal at this point.

Early adopters are also noticing that the new AirPods switch more quickly between devices like the iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, and Mac they are connected. Apple says the H1 chip makes switching between sources up to two times faster.

As far as battery life is concerned, more time will be needed for a proper comparison between the new AirPods and the original pair.

Apple says the new AirPods get up to three hours of talk time per charge, compared to up to two hours with the previous generation. Other battery life stats remain the same, with up to five hours of listening time per charge and more than 24 hours of total battery life from extra charges stored in the case.


The new AirPods are available to order on Apple.com and in the Apple Store app with a wired charging case for $159, the same price as the original AirPods, and with a wireless charging case for $199. Apple says both options will be available at Apple Stores and select resellers starting this week.

MacRumors will be sharing our own second-generation AirPods hands-on video and impressions soon. Let us know your own first impressions in the comments section or by tweeting at us with a @MacRumors mention!

Related Roundup: AirPods 2
Buyer's Guide: AirPods (Buy Now)

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AirPods 2 Now Available for In-Store Pickup

Apple's updated second-generation AirPods began arriving to customers around the world this morning, marking the official launch of the new earbuds.

The new AirPods have also made their way into stores and are available for in-store pickup. Many stores across the United States appear to have immediate availability of the AirPods, so if you want a set, you can pop into a retail location and get them today.


It's not clear how much available supply there is, but almost are stores are listing stock at the current time.

Retail stores are stocking the AirPods 2 with Wireless Charging Case ($199), AirPods 2 with standard Charging Case ($159), and the standalone Wireless Charging Case ($79) that adds wireless charging capabilities to your existing AirPods.

Apple's second-generation AirPods continue to be available solely in white, and there were no design changes introduced with the update. The AirPods are equipped with an updated H1 chip, which brings connectivity improvements. AirPods now connect more quickly to your devices, and swapping between devices is two times faster.

Bluetooth 5.0 is supported for improved range, and the new AirPods have a hands-free "Hey Siri" feature so you no longer need to activate Siri by tapping on one of the earbuds (though this option still exists).

The major new feature with the AirPods 2 is of course wireless charging, which, with the Wireless Charging Case allows the AirPods and case to be charged using any Qi-based wireless charging option. When the long-awaited and still missing AirPower is released, the new AirPods Wireless Charging Case will be required to charge AirPods with the accessory.

Related Roundup: AirPods 2
Buyer's Guide: AirPods (Buy Now)

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