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What’s The Difference Between AirPods 1 and 2?

If you own an Apple smart device, like an iPhone or iPad, you might be thinking about getting a pair of wireless earphones to go with it. Chances are you’re considering the Apple AirPods, and there are good reasons why you should. 

First, the chances are that nothing will work as efficiently and easily with an iPhone or iPad as a pair of Airpods. These devices were, after all, designed for one another. Second, even when compared to many other devices, the Apple AirPods still rank among the best-built and best sounding wireless earphones on the market. 

Thinking of getting a pair of AirPods?

If so, you’ve probably realized that there are different generations of AirPods. Users can pick up models of both the first and second generation of Airpods at varying prices. Depending on whether they’re buying new or not. 

If you are wondering, “What’s the difference between Airpods 1 and 2?” other than age and price, stick with me as I’ll examine all of them in this short article.

What’s The Difference Between AirPods 1 and 2?


The Short Answer

Mainly, the differences between the 1st and 2nd generation of AirPods come down to audio quality, battery life, microphone quality, and noise canceling. The AirPods 2 are more efficient at these things than the first generation. But, there are some other differences and similarities as well. 

The Charging Case

Let’s start with the charging case, as this is a large part of using your AirPods. In terms of dimensions and design, the AirPods 1 and 2 charging cases are nearly identical. The only difference is that the AirPods 2 charging case comes with wireless charging capabilities, but the AirPods 1 does not.

The two cases are identical in their interior design as well. That means you can place either generation of AirPods in the charging case, and they will charge. This cross-compatibility is a great move on Apple’s part as it adds to the longevity of its products.

Size of the AirPods

Of course, to ensure the cross-compatibility of AirPods 1 and 2, Apple had to make the dimensions of the two generations the same. The two generations are identical in their sizes, so, as mentioned, you can place them in your charging case with no problem. 

Water Resistance/Proofing

Apple has shared no specific information regarding an IP rating for AirPods 1. This leads me to believe that there is no kind of waterproofing or resistance built into the first generation. 

The second generation of Airpods has an IPX4 rating, which means that they are not fully waterproof but are water and sweat-resistant. They also have increased resilience to dust and microscopic particles. 

Therefore, they can handle a workout session and a light splash of water just fine. But don’t go dipping them in the pool or bathtub.

Price Difference Between AirPods 1 and 2

Price Difference

When asking, “What’s the difference between AirPods 1 and 2?” this is a big consideration. Fortunately, both the AirPods 1 and 2 are still sold at their original retail prices. Of course, if you opt for a wireless charging case with your AirPods 2, then it will increase the cost somewhat.

A pair of first-generation AirPods with a charging case can cost as little as $80 and as much as $130. The second generation of AirPods can cost you anywhere from $160 to $200, depending on whether you get a wireless charging case or not. 

Active Noise Cancellation

Unfortunately, the standard AirPods do not have Active Noise Cancelling (ANC). The only noise cancellation on standard AirPods (first and second generation) is passive noise isolation. This is created by the seal of the tips when you place the AirPods in your ear. 

Only the Apple AirPods Pro is equipped with Active Noise Cancelling.

Wireless Charging 

The wireless charging feature will depend on which case you have for your AirPods. As mentioned, wireless charging was only introduced with the 2nd generation AirPods case. 

And as also mentioned earlier, the generations are cross-compatible. That means you can place a pair of 1st generation AirPods in a 2nd generation case, and they will charge, and vice-versa. However, wireless charging for the case is only available with a second-generation charging case. 

How Long Should a Pair of AirPods Last?

The lifespan of a pair of Airpods can be calculated, but only to a very vague extent. According to Apple, the battery will degrade as the AirPods get used. This is nothing new, though; all battery-powered devices have lifespans. 

According to Apple, the battery for an AirPods case will become unusable after two years of everyday use. Of course, this should serve only as a basic guideline. The lifespan can be lengthened or shortened depending on your use. 

Connecting to Android Devices

You may not get the same functionality and performance as you would when using them with an Apple device. But, AirPods are Bluetooth devices, so they can easily be used with Android smartphones and tablets. 

The pairing process may be a bit different, but it’s still as quick and easy. Simply open the setting app on your Android device and navigate to the Bluetooth settings page. 

Then, press the setup button on the back of your AirPods charging case and wait for the AirPods to be recognized by the Android device. You can then tap on the AirPods to initiate the connection. This should take no more than a few seconds. 

Battery Life

Battery Life

Unsurprisingly, the battery life of AirPods 1 and 2 varies greatly depending on how they are used. But, some basic figures can serve as guidelines. 

If used only for listening to music, AirPods should deliver around five hours of playtime on a single charge. When used for voice calls and recording (using the microphone), the battery should last around three hours. And when these two functions are combined, the battery life can vary as much as two or three hours. So, anything from one to four hours is expected. 

Charging Time

AirPods will reach a full charge, from a low-level or flat battery, after about 20 to 30 minutes in the charging case. A fifteen-minute charge should give you a 40% to 50% increase, or the equivalent of two hours of playtime. 

The charging case can be charged wirelessly or via a lightning cable and will take around an hour to reach a full charge from a low-level or flat battery. When fully charged, it can hold around three to four charges. 

Need More Information About AirPods?

We can help with that. Take a look at our detailed articles on Can Reset AirPods Be TrackedSimple Tips to Keep AirPods From Falling OutAirPods Blinking Orange? How to Fix ItAirPods Connected But No Sound, and How to Make Your Airpods Louder for more information.

Also, check out our in-depth reviews of the Best Apple AirPods Pro Alternatives, the Best AirPods Alternative, the Best iPhone Earbuds, the Most Comfortable Earbuds, the Best Wireless Earbuds For Small Ears, and the Best True Wireless Earbuds you can buy in 2023.

What’s The Difference Between AirPods 1 and 2 – Conclusion

If you are in the market for wireless earphones to use with your smart device, whether it is an Apple device or not, you can’t go wrong with a pair of Apple AirPods. No matter which generation you pick, you will be rewarded with quality audio and build quality. 

The Airpods 1 and 2 are wonderfully interchangeable. You can charge them in a case from either generation, meaning there is a healthy second-hand mix-and-match market that can help anyone find a pair that suits their wallet. 

Second-generation AirPods do offer slightly better audio, an IPX4 rating, and a wireless charging case. But that is it when it comes to the advantages of AirPods 2 vs AirPods 1. And, don’t forget about the cross-compatibility of the different generations.

Until next time, happy listening.

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About Joseph L. Hollen

Joseph is a session musician, writer, and filmmaker from south Florida. He has recorded a number of albums and made numerous short films, as well as contributing music to shorts and commercials. 

He doesn't get as much time to practice and play as he used to, but still manages (just about!) to fulfill all his session requests. According to Joseph, it just gets harder as you get older; you rely on what you learned decades ago and can play without thinking. Thankfully that's what most producers still want from him.

He is a devout gear heat and has been collecting musical instruments all his life. As his wife, Jill, keeps on saying, "You're very good at buying nice instruments, but terrible at selling them!".

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