AirPods: Price, Features, & Accessories Coming to Apple's Updated Earbuds
New AirPods completed Apple’s gadget-drop hat trick and there might be even more to come. The Cupertino-based company’s sprint of daily product drops continued with an update to the widely popular AirPods. The new AirPods followed announcements of two new iPads and a line of new iMacs.
It’s unlikely that this is indeed the AirPods 2 redesign that’s long been rumored. But in the meanwhile, Apple has delivered on a handful of new features that have long been predicted by analysts and wished for by fans. Better battery life, voice assistant improvements, and a wireless charging case have all been introduced to the AirPods, though there have been essentially no aesthetic changes at all.
It’s clear that the company has taken a “don’t fix what isn’t broken” approach with this release. During Apple’s most recent earnings call, SVP Luca Maestri reported the company’s wearable business “approaching the size of a Fortune 200 company.” To top that off, the earbuds market is expected to continue ramping up.
Nearly 16 million wireless earbuds will be purchased in 2019, up 44 percent from 2018, bringing in an estimated $2 billion in revenue, according to the Consumer Technology Association’s 2019 Sales and Forecast Report. Here’s everything we know about Apple’s answer to the increasingly common AirPods knockoffs, which now often feature better specs.
Surprisingly, Apple didn’t raise the price of its new AirPods. Purchasing the earbuds with a standard charging case costs $159, just like the older models. The new wireless charging will run you a little extra: Apple will sell the pair in a bundle for $199, an extra $40. The case can be bought separately for $79.
AirPods: Release Date
Both the AirPods and their wireless charging case are available for order right now on the Apple online store. They will be available at the company’s brick-and-mortar locations starting the week of March 25.
AirPods: Are the New Upgrades Worth the Money?
The AirPods got three under-the-hood improvements, which might not be enough to sway existing customers, but could tempt people who haven’t yet gone wireless. Apple attributes many of the improvements to the inclusion of its new H1 chip, which bolstered battery life, improved connectivity, and enabled hands-free “Hey, Siri” functionality.
Apple said in a press release that the new AirPods should offer “50 percent more talk time” on a single charge. The previous version of the earbuds provided 2 hours of talk time, so they should let you run calls for as long as three hours on a single charge.
The company also stated that the AirPods will switch between active devices “twice as fast,” a capability it tested on the iPhone XS Max and 12.9-inch iPad Pro. They also offer “30 percent” lower gaming latency, meaning you’ll hear an app’s audio sooner. That said, these wait times were only a few seconds before, so consumers are unlikely to notice a big difference.
One thing consumers will notice right away is that they can now summon Siri without having to tap the buds or press a button. All they have to do is say the “Hey, Siri” trigger phrase while wearing the AirPods and the voice assistant will pop into their ear.
The most notable new feature is that users can now charge their AirPods wirelessly using the Qi charger in their new case. The new accessory provides more than a day of battery life, and requires only 15 minutes of charging to get 3 hours of battery life. These stats are identical to the original case, but you don’t ever have to plug this one in.
The case contains an induction charging coil that can receive electric energy being transferred by wireless chargers. It comes with a small, green light at the front that lets users know when it is successfully juicing. This is, notably, the only change in appearance that came with Wednesday’s AirPods update.
AirPods: Is This a Sign of the AirPower?
Apple originally hinted that the AirPods would would receive a wireless charging case on September 2017, when they first introduced the long-delayed AirPower wireless charger. AirPower is supposed to have the ability to charge an iPhone, Apple Watch, and AirPods case simultaneously. Now that the trifecta is here, could an AirPower be next on the list?
In January, supply chain rumors suggested the device would soon be unveiled, and said the manufacturing would be split between two firms, Luxshare and Pegatron. Last month, Ming Chi Kuo claimed the AirPower could drop in the first half of 2019, just like the AirPods. The iOS 12.2 beta — which correctly anticipated the AirPods —references the AirPower mat in the software notes.
AirPower’s travails have been well-documented. The company had to figure out a way to embed somewhere between 16 and 27 coils into the device to make it function reliably. That was reportedly easier said than done, but Apple may have finally figure out a way to overcome the issue.