Apple’s week of surprise product launches continues with the announcement of the second-generation AirPods, which will include a wireless charging case and a new H1 chip that the company claims offers improved battery life and “Hey, Siri” support to trigger the virtual assistant without pressing a button.
The new wireless charging case works with standard Qi charging, so it should work with nearly every wireless charger out there. Otherwise, both the second-gen AirPods and the case look virtually identical to the first model, except for a small LED light on the wireless charging case to indicate battery life.
Apple says the H1 chip offers a number of benefits over the W1 chip in the last generation. Specifically, there’s up to an extra hour of talk time, which Apple says is a 50 percent increase; better mic clarity; connection times are twice as fast when switching between devices; and the aforementioned “Hey, Siri” support — which Apple already offers on newer iPhones, iPads, Macs, and the HomePod — that allows you to ask Siri things hands-free. The new AirPods also includes support for Bluetooth 5.
The H1 chip is the first in a new line of headphone-focused chips that Apple is making, breaking away from the W-series chips that the AirPods had borrowed from the Apple Watch line (which will continue to use W-series processors in the future).
Apple will be selling the updated AirPods in two options: with the wireless charging case for $199 or with the standard case for the same $159 price as the previous generation. The company will also sell the wireless charging case separately for existing AirPod owners for $79. That way, users will be able to charge their headphones with a wireless charger without upgrading to the new model.
Notably missing from the announcement is any mention of Apple’s still-missing AirPower wireless charger, which was first announced alongside the iPhone X over a year and a half ago. It was marketed primarily around being able to charge an iPhone, Apple Watch, and AirPods wirelessly at the same time.
Update March 20th, 10:20am: Added additional details about Apple’s new H1 chip.
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