Battery life has always been excellent, and has improved with this second generation, so you can listen for up to five hours on a single charge. In real world usage, I find I can get through an entire day without worrying about battery; starting with a 90 minute commute listening to podcasts, then music on and off throughout my work day and a 90 minute commute back home. Each time the AirPods pop back into their charging case — during meetings or moments I need to focus on the people around me — it’s enough to top the buds up for their next listening session.
Of course there is room for improvement. I wish Apple would allow you to pair the AirPods to two devices at once — say your phone and work Mac, or phone and Apple Watch — and switch between them using an app. Then again, it would be even better if the AirPods were smart enough to stay connected to all my devices, and swap between them all based on the ‘frontmost’ device. I’m sure that’s the end goal with the H1 chip, we’re just not there yet.
It’s impossible to talk about the second generation AirPods without mentioning AirPower, the fancy wireless charging mat Apple previewed back in September 2017. Wireless AirPods were rumoured to be done last year, but held back until AirPower was ready to ship. The rumours could be true, considering the AirPods box suggests charging the buds with AirPower.
But, just this weekend, Apple admitted the project was all too hard and cancelled AirPower. This was an embarrassing misstep for the company, but one that doesn’t change my view on the convenience of wireless charging overall. I’m using a wireless charger at my desk right now to charge my phone, and our home is covered in Qi chargers. The Qi standard is incredibly convenient for a phone, I’m just not sure the convenience is worth it for the AirPods case, given how little you need to charge it.
I’ll admit I thought the AirPods looked ridiculous when they debuted, and I guess I still do, but as a podcast and music fanatic, these little buds are my favourite gadget from the last few years. They’re as important to have as my wallet, phone and keys when leaving the house.