Apple’s new AirPods bring only minor updates to the much-loved originals

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It’s official: Apple’s update to its wildly popular fully wireless AirPods is here, and the new buds are simply called “new” AirPods. They’re still only available in white, and they look identical to the originals, but there are a few small improvements that are worth noting. Here’s everything you need to know about the new Apple AirPods:

Price and availability

The new Apple AirPods will be $159 with a standard charging case — a price that is unchanged from the previous version — and $199 with a new wireless charging case. Both are available for order on Apple.com right now, and will be in stores next week. You can also buy just the wireless charging case for $79.

Key new features

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While many were speculating on advanced new features like water resistance and noise cancellation, Apple has chosen to make this update a minor one.

The biggest change is one that none of us will ever see: The new AirPods are powered by Apple’s H1 wireless chip, which is the successor to the W1 found in the original AirPods. Apple claims it improves the audio experience, as well as wireless synchronization. The new AirPods have up to 50 percent more talk time compared to the first generation. “Switching between devices while listening to music on iPhone, Apple Watch, or iPad is more seamless than ever with two times faster connect times,” according to the announcement. The H1 chip also delivers up to 30 percent lower gaming latency.

The other key enhancement that the H1 chip offers, is the ability to summon Siri with just your voice. Previously, you had to tap an AirPod to begin voice commands, but the new AirPods now join the iPhone and HomePod with the ability to listen for the “Hey, Siri” wake words, making interactions with an iPhone or Apple Watch truly hands-free.

Wireless charging and battery

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Battery life for the new AirPods stands at five hours for listening or three hours for talking.

The AirPods still come standard with a lightning-only charging case, but now there’s a $40 wireless option too. The wireless charging case uses Qi charging technology, and looks identical to the wired version, save for a small LED indicator on the front that shows when wireless charging is happening. As a bonus, the wireless charging case is backward compatible with the original AirPods.

Both wired and wireless cases give the new AirPods a total of 24 hours of listening time, which is essentially unchanged from the first generation.

Better than the rest?

When Apple released its original AirPods, we called them the best fully wireless earbuds available at the time of our review. However, they were eventually surpassed by the competition. The new AirPods represent only a minor update, and though hands-free Siri and wireless charging are welcome additions, they may not be sufficient to impress people who are now used to even more features on truly wireless earbuds. We’ll withhold final judgment until we get a chance to put the new wireless buds through their paces. Check back with us for our full AirPods review in the weeks ahead.

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