Imagine you went off the grid sometime in 2016 and resurfaced in the New York City of 2019 or time travelled straight into one of India’s fancier gyms or running tracks. You may be forgiven to believe that there’s a new type of human with peculiar ears. Of course, I’m exaggerating but it’s no exaggeration that Apple’s AirPods have become an extension of many people’s personality. You see them in the Subway or Metro with their AirPods firmly planted in their ears seamlessly switching from Imagine Dragons to a client call or playing catch up on their favourite show.

Suddenly 2016 seems like a long time ago. I was among the many tech writers who poked fun at the AirPods. Most of our sarcasm stemmed from the fact that the iPhone 7 had given the 3.5mm headphone jack a boot. We all felt that Apple had gone too far, putting design over customer convenience. The AirPods began as one of the most trolled devices but that changed surprisingly quickly. AirPods at gyms allayed one of the big fears – What if these expensive earbuds fall off during a run or during an intensive work-out? The other apprehension – will one size fit all has sort of been answered. It fits almost everyone but if you’re one of those rare exceptions – I haven’t met one yet, then tough luck.

It’s taken well over two years for the second iteration of the Air Pods to hit the shelves. Comparisons with the 2016 version and a slew of AirPods alternatives are inevitable. But here’s the thing, most AirPods users don’t view their earbuds as just a gadget or a must-own piece of tech. You won’t hear them discussing the thump of the bass as much. This is as much a lifestyle accessory as a pair of headphones. This is particularly true for AirPods users who have them plugged in for a few hours a day. In effect, a connected device just like a fitness tracker or a smartwatch.

After spending a few days with the second generation AirPods, I can say that this a great step up from its predecessor. The design hasn’t changed and that should come as no surprise, given how these stick out (literally) from the rest of the competition. You now have a choice of a wireless charging case (or you can buy the regular version) which adds wireless charging capabilities to the AirPods. This case works on any flat, pad-type wireless chargers or even phones like the Samsung Galaxy S10 or Huawei’s P30 that offer reverse charging. Yes, you can actually charge your Apple AirPods with an Android device. While the AirPods have remained the preferred option for iPhone and Apple watch users, they also work quite well with Android devices.

The big hardware upgrade is the new H1 chip that powers the second-gen Airpods. It impacts connection times, making it faster to switch between devices. This is a good-to-have feature for many users using the same AirPods with multiple devices at home and work. Most heavy AirPods users divide their time between music and calls. This new chip improves battery life, offering an extra hour of talk time. Most of these changes are not stuff you will notice. That’s the thing about AirPods, it just seamlessly integrates into your life and rides largely on convenience and practicality. Apple adds the convenience of hands-free Hey Siri, whether you need to tweak the volume, make a call or ask Siri to give you directions or play a song. The chip also improves the music playback quality slightly. The AirPods don’t possess noise cancellation abilities of some pricier Over the ear headphones. So, if you’re in a noisy street or aeroplane with loud passengers your only option is to turn up the volume.

If you already own the first generation Apple AirPods, you may not need to upgrade. You can consider buying the standalone wireless charging case if wireless charging is a deal breaker for you. But given the 24-hour battery life, you won’t be reaching for the charger too frequently, even if you’re one of those who have AirPods ears! The New AirPods are a great step up and the best wireless headphones for Apple users.  It’s just as intuitive and easy to use with great sound quality and the best battery life in this category.

AirPods with standard charging case cost Rs 14,900, while AirPods with Wireless Charging Case will set you back by Rs 18,900. You can also buy the standalone Wireless Charging Case for Rs 7,500.

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