A year and a half after announcing that it would release a wireless charging case for its AirPods headphones, Apple is finally ready to ship the accessory — along with a second-generation version of AirPods. The company said today that it will sell two versions of the “new AirPods:” AirPods with Charging Case, and AirPods with Wireless Charging Case.
As has been rumored, the new AirPods include several key changes: the ability to automatically activate Siri when “Hey, Siri” is spoken, improved performance, and the new charging case. Despite internal changes, the new AirPods bundle looks virtually identical to the original version, apart from a new external charging light on the new charging case.
According to Apple, the H1 chip enables several enhancements to the original AirPods experience: one hour of additional talk time — three total hours, or a 50 percent improvement — plus 2 times faster pairing connections when switching devices, 1.5 times faster connection to phone calls, and 30 percent lower latency when using the headphones with games. The standard five-hour run time for standard audio playback per charge remains unchanged.
When fully charged, each of the charging cases brings the total run time of the AirPods to over 24 hours. Apple notes that the wireless charging case can be recharged with Qi-compatible wireless chargers.
What hasn’t changed is the basic AirPods design. Rumors ahead of today’s announcement suggested that Apple might offer two color options, change the glossy surface texture, or otherwise tweak the look and feel of the truly wireless earphones. For the time being, that’s not the case.
Preorders are being taken now for delivery and in-store availability next week. For the first time, Apple is offering an engraving option for the charging cases, which can be ordered for free from the company’s online store.
The new AirPods will sell for the same $159 price as their predecessor with a standard Lightning charging case, or $199 with the wireless charging case. You can also purchase the wireless charging case for $79.
At least for the moment, Apple’s own and long-awaited AirPower wireless charging mat is still missing in action. It was announced a year and a half ago for AirPods, iPhone, and Apple Watch charging and expected to debut alongside the wireless AirPods charging case.