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Apple AirPods (2nd generation) Truly Wireless Headphones Review

Tested using Methodology v1.5
Updated Dec 22, 2021 at 11:52 pm
Apple AirPods (2nd generation) Truly Wireless Picture
6.6
Neutral Sound
6.0
Commute/Travel
7.8
Sports/Fitness
6.0
Office
5.4
Wireless Gaming
5.3
Wired Gaming
5.9
Phone Calls
These headphones were replaced by the Apple AirPods (3rd generation) Truly Wireless
Type Earbuds
Enclosure Open-Back
Wireless Truly Wireless
Noise Cancelling No
Mic Yes
Transducer Dynamic

The Apple AirPods (2nd generation) Truly Wireless are practically the same as the Apple AirPods (1st generation) Truly Wireless, with slight differences. They have a similar sound profile that lacks low bass, and their design is the same as the older model, but you can now purchase them with a case that supports wireless Qi charging, which is nice. Their one-size-fits-all design isn't ideal for everyone, but if you do manage a good fit, they're very comfortable. They're also open-back earbuds, meaning they won’t block out ambient noise but are suitable for outdoor sports like jogging because they allow you to hear your surroundings. However, some may find they don't have the most stable fit. Overall, the AirPods 2 aren’t worth the upgrade if you already have the first model.

Our Verdict

6.6 Neutral Sound

The Apple AirPods 2nd Gen are adequate for neutral sound. Instruments and vocals are present and detailed, but an overemphasized treble range makes them sound bright and harsh. The bass range, although punchy, lacks low-end thump and rumble. However, their sound delivery varies depending on how they fit you, meaning you may have a different experience. Like most in-ears, they have an awful soundstage. Also, unfortunately, they don't work with an app or software that gives you access to an EQ, so you can't fine-tune their sound if you don't like it out-of-the-box.

Pros
  • Great build quality.
  • Fairly well-balanced mid and treble ranges.
Cons
  • Bass delivery varies significantly across users.
  • No EQ or presets.
6.0 Commute/Travel

The Apple AirPods 2nd Gen are mediocre for commuting. Their open-back design means that they don’t block out much outside noise, and they don't isolate you from any low-frequency noises like engine rumbles, which isn't ideal for commuting. On the upside, they're very portable, light, and comfortable to wear if you can get a good fit. Their four-hour battery life is long enough for most commutes. You might have to take a break to charge them when on a long flight, but they only take 30 minutes to fully charge.

Pros
  • Great build quality.
  • Fast charging time.
  • Unique and distinguishable design.
Cons
  • Poor noise isolation.
  • Limited control scheme.
  • Bass delivery varies significantly across users.
7.8 Sports/Fitness

The Apple AirPods 2nd Gen are very good for sports. Their one-size-fits-all design is fairly comfortable, but it isn’t the most stable for everyone. How they fit greatly depends on the size and shape of your ear. Their open-back design is suitable for people who run or work out outside and want to be aware of their surroundings but won't help those who want to block out the noise of a crowded gym. Also, unfortunately, they don’t have a great control scheme, so it's not easy to adjust your playlist or volume when you're on the move.

Pros
  • Great build quality.
  • Fast charging time.
  • Unique and distinguishable design.
  • Very light and portable.
Cons
  • Poor noise isolation.
  • Limited control scheme.
  • Bass delivery varies significantly across users.
6.0 Office

The Apple AirPods 2nd Gen are mediocre for office use. While they're very lightweight and quite comfortable for most, their open-back design means they don’t block any ambient chatter or other office-type noises and leak some audio at high volumes, which could bother your co-workers. Their roughly four-hour continuous battery life isn't enough to last through a 9-5 workday. That said, they recharge very quickly, so you can charge them fully during lunchtime and get another four hours for the second half of your day.

Pros
  • Fast charging time.
Cons
  • Poor noise isolation.
  • Limited control scheme.
  • Bass delivery varies significantly across users.
5.4 Wireless Gaming

The Apple AirPods 2nd Gen are Βluetooth-only headphones, so they aren't compatible with Xbox or PlayStation consoles. They're compatible with Bluetooth-enabled PCs, but their latency is likely too high to be suitable for gaming. Their latency with Android phones is also high. It's lower with iOS devices but may still be too high for mobile gaming.

5.3 Wired Gaming

The Apple AirPods 2nd Gen aren't suitable for wired gaming, as you can't use them wired.

5.9 Phone Calls

The Apple AirPods 2nd Gen are sub-par for phone calls when connected via PC. Their microphone recording quality can make voices sound thin and lacking in presence. However, their noise handling performance is alright. Your voice is separated from moderate ambient sound so that you're heard clearly. However, your voice can be drowned out by louder sounds. When connected via an iPhone, your voice sounds a bit clearer, but the mic offers a slightly worse noise handling performance.

Pros
  • Fast charging time.
Cons
  • Poor noise isolation.
  • Limited control scheme.
  • 6.6 Neutral Sound
  • 6.0 Commute/Travel
  • 7.8 Sports/Fitness
  • 6.0 Office
  • 5.4 Wireless Gaming
  • 5.3 Wired Gaming
  • 5.9 Phone Calls
  1. Updated Dec 22, 2021: Updated review for accuracy and clarity.
  2. Updated Nov 26, 2021: Tested microphone performance with AAC codec. Also retested 'Noise Handling' and reevaluated the 'Case' and 'Comfort' scores.
  3. Updated Jul 22, 2021: Converted to Test Bench 1.5.
  4. Updated Mar 11, 2021: Updated review for accuracy and clarity.
  5. Updated Feb 05, 2020: Converted to Test Bench 1.4.
  6. Updated Nov 21, 2019: Converted to Test Bench 1.3.1.
  7. Updated Nov 21, 2019: We've updated the Power Saving Feature to 'Standby Mode', as it was incorrectly listed before.
  8. Updated Nov 21, 2019: Converted to Test Bench 1.3.
  9. Updated Apr 12, 2019: Review published.
  10. Updated Apr 10, 2019: Early access published.

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Video

Test Results

perceptual testing image
Design
Design
Style

The Apple AirPods 2nd Gen are identical to the previous model, with the same stem design characteristic of first-generation Apple AirPods (1st generation) Truly Wireless. They feel well-built and have a smooth plastic casing with brushed aluminum, which gives them a unique and premium look.

7.5
Design
Comfort
Weight 0.02 lbs
Clamping Force
0 lbs

The Apple AirPods 2nd Gen are comfortable, but like the first generation, they have a one-size-fits-all design, so how comfortable you find them depends more on the shape of your ears than earbuds with silicone tips. They're very lightweight, though, and if you can achieve a nice fit in your ears, you can barely feel them. They also don’t enter your ear canal very deeply or create a plunger-like feeling, which some listeners may appreciate.

4.3
Design
Controls
OS Compatibility
Not OS specific
Ease Of Use Subpar
Feedback Subpar
Call/Music Control Yes
Volume Control No
Microphone Control No
Channel Mixing
No
Noise Cancelling Control No
Talk-Through
No
Additional Controls Voice Assistant

Update 11/26/2021: We have changed 'OS Compatibility' from 'iOS' to 'Not OS specific' as the call and music controls work on both Android and iOS devices. However, Android users can't use the voice assistant feature. As a result, we have updated our review to reflect this change.

The Apple AirPods 2nd Gen have a limited control scheme. If you're using an iOS device, you can use the built-in settings interface to set what happens when you double-tap each earbud: skip track backward or forward, play/pause (and answer an incoming call), or activate Siri. Your audio will also automatically pause when you take the earbuds out of your ears. You can disable ear detection and the touch-sensitive surface if you prefer. Unfortunately, there's no option to change the volume with the onboard controls, although you can enable 'Hey Siri' on your iOS device to control everything with your voice. If you're not using an Apple device, double-tapping either earbud skips to the next track, but you can't change this. If you're using a Windows device, you also can't accept calls from online services like Microsoft Teams. That said, you're able to play and pause media as well as skip tracks on Windows. If you prefer physical buttons that offer good feedback, check out the Anker SoundCore Life P2 Truly Wireless.

9.2
Design
Breathability
Avg.Temp.Difference 0.8 °C

The Apple AirPods 2nd Generation are very breathable headphones, like most in-ears. They have no tips and barely have any points of contact with your ear. Although they're a bit less stable than other truly wireless headphones like the Jaybird Run XT Truly Wireless or the Samsung Galaxy Buds Truly Wireless, they're also slightly more breathable, and you shouldn't notice a difference in temperature while wearing them.

9.6
Design
Portability
L 1.7" (4.3 cm)
W 1.0" (2.5 cm)
H 0.6" (1.5 cm)
Volume 1.00 in³ (16.39 cm³)
Transmitter Required No

The Apple AirPods 2nd Gen are incredibly portable. The footprint of most truly wireless headphones is very small, and these are no exception. They're easy to carry around and easily fit in most pockets and bags, even inside their case.

8.5
Design
Case
Type Hard case
L 2.1" (5.3 cm)
W 1.7" (4.3 cm)
H 0.7" (1.8 cm)
Volume 2.50 in³ (40.97 cm³)

Update 11/26/2021: After testing the Apple AirPods (3rd generation) Truly Wireless, we noticed that the scoring of the 2nd generation's case needed to be reevaluated. The case feels great, but there are similar cases that are as good, if not better than this one. While it's small, lightweight, and supports wireless charging, it doesn't support MagSafe charging, and the one indicator light doesn't do much to tell you the level of the case or buds. As a result, we have lowered the scoring of this test from 9.0 to 8.5.

The Apple AirPods 2nd Gen have an excellent case. With the same sleek design as its predecessor, it protects the headphones well against minor falls and scratches but not against water damage. The case is the same size as the one that came with the Apple AirPods (1st generation) Truly Wireless, but it supports Qi wireless charging. However, if you don't need this feature, you can also get them with the same case as the previous generation, which only charges via Lightning instead.

8.0
Design
Build Quality

The Apple AirPods 2nd Gen have an impressive build quality. The plastic casing feels high-end and durable and should be solid enough to withstand a few drops without getting damaged. They're well-made, sturdy headphones and feel high-end, although they lack some of the more premium finishes of earbuds like the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless. They lack an IP rating for dust and water resistance, unlike the Apple AirPods (3rd generation) Truly Wireless or the Apple AirPods Pro Truly Wireless, which are both certified IPX4 for resistance against being splashed with water.

6.5
Design
Stability

The Apple AirPods 2nd Gen have okay stability. They have a one-size-fits-all design and don't come with different tip options, so your experience varies depending on the shape and size of your ears. If you plan to use these earbuds during a light activity like walking, they should stay put as long as you have a good fit. Their wireless design also means that you don't have to worry about snagging a cable on the kitchen corner and ripping the headphones from your ears. That said, take a look at the JBL Tune 225TWS True Wireless if you're looking for truly wireless earbuds with a more stable fit.

Design
Headshots 1
Design
Headshots 2
Design
Top
Design
In The Box

  • Apple AirPods 2nd Gen headphones
  • Charging case
  • USB-A to Lightning cable
  • Manuals

Sound
Sound
Sound Profile
Bass Amount
-8.65 dB
Treble Amount
0.39 dB

The Apple AirPods 2nd Gen's sound profile is similar to their predecessor's, the Apple AirPods (1st generation) Truly Wireless. While it's fairly well-balanced for non-bass-heavy content like classical music or podcasts, genres like EDM or hip-hop lack thump and rumble and sound lacking or hollow. The treble response is also overemphasized, so instruments and lead vocals seem a bit bright and harsh. These headphones also have inconsistent sound delivery, so you may hear a different sound depending on how they fit in your ears. Unfortunately, they don't have an app that includes sound customization features like an EQ or presets.

5.6
Sound
Frequency Response Consistency
Avg. Std. Deviation
1.13 dB

The Apple AirPods 2nd Gen's frequency response consistency is disappointing. Because of their one-size-fits-all design, sound consistency depends on how well they fit inside your ears. If you don't get a good fit, you may not get a consistent response each time you listen to audio. Deviations in the low bass and between the high-mid and low treble are noticeable.

Sound
Raw Frequency Response
5.8
Sound
Bass Accuracy
Std. Err.
6.68 dB
Low-Frequency Extension
70.25 Hz
Low-Bass
-13.78 dB
Mid-Bass
-1.58 dB
High-Bass
2.09 dB

The Apple AirPods 2nd Gen's bass accuracy is sub-par. Their open-back design means they struggle to reproduce a thumpy, rumbly low bass. That said, the rest of the range is quite well-balanced, so your audio sounds punchy, warm, and full. There's a bit of overemphasis in the high-bass that adds a bit of extra boom as well.

Their bass delivery also varies noticeably from person to person and is sensitive to the earbuds' fit and positioning in your ears. The results here represent the average response, and your experience may vary.

8.4
Sound
Mid Accuracy
Std. Err.
2.17 dB
Low-Mid
1.31 dB
Mid-Mid
0.07 dB
High-Mid
3.01 dB

The Apple AirPods 2nd Gen's mid accuracy performance is impressive. The low-mid and mid-mid are very flat and well-balanced, resulting in an accurate representation of vocals and lead instruments. There's a bump in high-mid which increases the intensity and clarity of vocals and lead instruments, but it's minor enough that your music shouldn't sound overly honky or harsh.

7.4
Sound
Treble Accuracy
Std. Err.
3.89 dB
Low-Treble
3.83 dB
Mid-Treble
3.78 dB
High-Treble
-2.62 dB

The Apple AirPods 2nd Gen have decent treble accuracy. Their response is fairly flat and well-balanced, but it's slightly overhyped. The low and mid-treble ranges are overemphasized, which adds harshness to lead instruments and vocals, while sibilants like cymbals sound bright and piercing.

This represents the average treble response, and since fit and positioning can affect treble delivery, your experience may vary.

7.2
Sound
Peaks/Dips
Peaks
1.97 dB
Dips
1.12 dB

The Apple AirPods 2nd Gen have decent peaks and dips performance. The dip in the low-bass may result in a lack of rumble and thump, while a peak in the mid to high-bass adds body and boom to mixes. There's also a smaller dip in the mid-mid that nudges instruments and lead vocal towards the back of the mix. A peak between the high-mid and low-treble makes instruments sound honky and harsh. The high peak in the mid-treble can make some sibilants, like S and T sounds, seem harsh.

8.5
Sound
Imaging
Weighted Group Delay
0.28
Weighted Phase Mismatch
2.28
Weighted Amplitude Mismatch
1.37
Weighted Frequency Mismatch
1.28

The Apple AirPods 2nd Gen have an excellent imaging performance. The group delay is below the audibility threshold for the entire range, ensuring a tight bass and transparent treble reproduction. Also, the L/R drivers of our model are very well-matched in amplitude, frequency, and phase response. This is important for the accurate placement and localization of objects (like voices or footsteps) in the stereo image. These results are only valid for our unit, and yours may perform differently.

2.9
Sound
Passive Soundstage
PRTF Accuracy (Std. Dev.)
N/A
PRTF Size (Avg.)
N/A
PRTF Distance
N/A
Openness
9.6
Acoustic Space Excitation
3.2

The Apple AirPods 2nd Gen have an awful passive soundstage. Like most in-ear headphones, they don't interact with your outer ear, so sound seems to be coming from inside your head instead of from speakers in the room around you. However, thanks to their open-back design, the soundstage seems quite open and spacious compared with closed-back in-ears.

0
Sound
Virtual Soundstage
Head Modeling
No
Speaker Modeling
No
Room Ambience
No
Head Tracking
No
Virtual Surround
No
7.8
Sound
Weighted Harmonic Distortion
WHD @ 90
0.358
WHD @ 100
0.104

The Apple AirPods 2nd Gen's weighted harmonic distortion performance is very good. Aside from a peak in the high-treble that shouldn't be audible, all frequencies fall within good limits at both normal and high listening volumes, resulting in a clear and pure audio reproduction.

Sound
Test Settings
Firmware
1A673
Power
On
Connection
Bluetooth 4.0
Codec
SBC, 16-bit, 44.1kHz
EQ
No EQ
ANC
No ANC
Tip/Pad
Default
Microphone
Integrated

These are the settings used to test the Apple AirPods 2nd Gen. Our results are only valid when using these settings.

Isolation
1.0
Isolation
Noise Isolation
Isolation Audio
Overall Attenuation
-1.95 dB
Bass
0.32 dB
Mid
0.98 dB
Treble
-6.94 dB

The Apple AirPods 2nd Gen have bad noise isolation. This is due to their open-back design, which is just like the previous Apple AirPods (1st generation) Truly Wireless. They block virtually no sound from the bass and mid-ranges, so they don't isolate you from the rumble of engines or background conversations. They do somewhat better in the treble range, which includes noises like the hum of an AC unit, but you still may not notice any difference. However, if you like to run or do other outdoor activities while listening to music, you may appreciate that these allow you to hear your surroundings. On the other hand, if you don't like the open-back design, the Apple AirPods Pro Truly Wireless, the Jaybird X4 Wireless, the Jaybird Tarah Wireless, or the Skullcandy Jib Wireless are all closed-back headphones with better noise isolation.

7.2
Isolation
Leakage
Leakage Audio
Overall Leakage @ 1ft
38.25 dB

The Apple AirPods 2nd Gen have a decent leakage performance. Βecause of their open-back design, they leak more audio than most closed-back earbuds we've tested, like the Microsoft Surface Earbuds Truly Wireless or the TOZO T6 Truly Wireless. The audio that escapes sounds thin, but if you listen to your music at high volumes in a moderately quiet environment like an office, people around you may be able to hear it.

Microphone
Microphone
Microphone Style
Integrated
Yes
In-Line
No
Boom
No
Detachable Boom
No

Update 11/26/2021: We have retested 'Recording Quality' and 'Noise Handling' to see if there's a difference in performance between Bluetooth AAC and SBC codecs. Our testing PC doesn't support AAC, which is the license-free standard for Apple devices. However, we conducted this microphone retest while the headphones were placed on our test head and connected to an iPhone 11, which supports AAC. To retest 'Recording Quality', we played the same 'Recorded Speech' audio clip through our test head. While Bluetooth codecs aren't the sole factor in microphone performance, using the AAC codec, the voice sounds clearer than when connected to our test PC and using SBC codec. You can hear our results here.

For 'Noise Handling', we played the 'Speech + Pink Noise' and 'Speech + Subway Noise' audio clips. Using the AAC codec, the mic offers a slightly worse performance blocking out pink noise from speech than when connected to our test PC. That said, the mic can block out slightly more noise in the subway recording when connected to an iPhone versus a PC. However, it also cuts out some speech in the process.

We have updated our review, but there hasn't been a change in the scoring of our microphone tests regarding AAC codec. To ensure comparability between different reviews, we test the mic of Bluetooth headphones using SBC codec as it's almost universally used by these devices.

6.4
Microphone
Recording Quality
Recorded Speech
LFE
261.43 Hz
FR Std. Dev.
3.34 dB
HFE
3,319.91 Hz
Weighted THD
27.169
Gain
38.23 dB

The Apple AirPods 2nd Gen's microphone's recording quality is mediocre, similar to the previous model. While your voice should be understandable, it sounds thin and lacks presence and openness, as with many Bluetooth microphones.

6.9
Microphone
Noise Handling
SpNR
13.93 dB
Noise Gate
Always On
Speech + Pink Noise Handling
7.5
Speech + Pink Noise Audio Sample
Speech + Subway Noise Handling
6.0
Speech + Subway Noise Audio Sample

Update 11/26/2021: After user feedback, we have retested 'Noise Handling'. We originally scored this test at 8.5, which was too high. When facing a fan, the headphones do a good job blocking out this kind of noise. However, we have dropped the score for 'Speech + Pink Noise' from 8.5 to 7.5 to better reflect the quality we heard during a call. We have updated our review to reflect these changes.

The microphone has alright noise handling capabilities. Your voice is brought in front of moderate noise, and you can easily hear what's being said. However, with loud sounds, your voice can be drowned out.

Active Features
6.6
Active Features
Battery
Battery Type
Rechargable
Continuous Battery Life
4.1 hrs
Additional Charges
5.0
Total Battery Life
24.6 hrs
Charge Time
0.5 hrs
Power-Saving Feature
Standby mode
Audio While Charging
Yes
Passive Playback
No
Charging Port Lightning

The Apple AirPods 2nd Gen have an okay battery performance. They provide roughly four hours of continuous playback from a single charge, less than the advertised five. On the plus side, the case stores five additional charges. The variant we tested comes with a case that supports Qi Wireless charging, but they are also sometimes sold with a case that only charges with a USB-A to Lightning cable. The earbuds charge fully in about 30 minutes, which is very quick for truly wireless headphones, and conveniently, you can use one bud at a time while the other charges. Ηowever, please note that battery performance can vary with real-life use, meaning you may have a different experience.

5.0
Active Features
App Support
App Name No App
iOS Yes
Android No
macOS Yes
Windows No
Equalizer
No
ANC Control
No
Mic Control No
Room Effects
No
Playback Control
No
Button Mapping Yes
Surround Support
No

The Apple AirPods 2nd Gen have poor app support. They don't have a dedicated app, but if you're using an iOS device, there's a built-in interface that pops up when you connect them. You can use it to check the remaining battery life of the headphones and case and map the earbuds' touch-sensitive controls. With macOS, you can check the battery life and connect to Bluetooth. Unfortunately, the interface isn't available for Android or Windows. The Sony LinkBuds Truly Wireless are open-back earbuds that have a companion app with more features, including a graphic EQ and presets.

Connectivity
6.8
Connectivity
Bluetooth
Bluetooth Version
5.0+H1 chip
Multi-Device Pairing
No
NFC Pairing
No
Line Of Sight Range
149.00 ft (45.42 m)
PC Latency (SBC)
176 ms
PC Latency (aptX)
N/A
PC Latency (aptX HD)
N/A
PC Latency (aptX-LL)
N/A
iOS Latency
80 ms
Android Latency
165 ms

The Apple AirPods 2nd Gen have adequate Bluetooth connectivity. They don't offer simultaneous multi-device pairing or NFC pairing, but Apple's H1 chip makes them very easy to pair with products in the Apple ecosystem. Their latency with iOS devices is low, so you shouldn't notice any delay between your audio and video if you use them for gaming or watching videos on your iPhone. Unfortunately, they have high latency with Android devices and PCs, although some devices and apps seem to compensate for latency, meaning you may have a different experience.

0
Connectivity
Non-Bluetooth Wireless
Non-BT Line Of Sight Range
N/A
Non-BT Latency
N/A
0
Connectivity
Wired
Analog Audio
No
USB Audio
No
Detachable No
Length N/A
Connection
No Wired Option
Analog/USB Audio Latency
N/A

The Apple AirPods 2nd Gen are wireless-only headphones, and you can't use them wired, but they come with a USB-A to Lightning cable for charging the case.

Connectivity
PC Compatibility
Analog
No
Wired USB
No
Non-BT Wireless
No

These Apple AirPods 2nd Gen are fully compatible with Bluetooth-enabled PCs. However, they can't connect to computers any other way, and their somewhat high latency means you may notice audio lag if you use them for gaming or watching movies on a computer.

Connectivity
PlayStation Compatibility
PS4 Analog
No
PS4 Wired USB
No
PS4 Non-BT Wireless
No
PS5 Analog
No
PS5 Wired USB
No
PS5 Non-BT Wireless
No
Connectivity
Xbox Compatibility
Xbox One Analog
No
Xbox One Wired USB
No
Xbox One Non-BT Wireless
No
Xbox Series X|S Analog
No
Xbox Series X|S Wired USB
No
Xbox Series X|S Non-BT Wireless
No
2.2
Connectivity
Base/Dock
Type
Charging Case
USB Input
No
Line In
No
Line Out
No
Optical Input
No
RCA Input
No
Dock Charging
Yes
Power Supply
Lightning

The Apple AirPods 2nd Gen come with a great and very small charging case that stores additional charges, but it doesn’t have any inputs. The case also has Apple’s typical lightning port and now supports wireless Qi charging on some models.

Differences Between Sizes And Variants

The Apple AirPods 2nd generation are available in one color variant: 'White'. They're sold with either the same case that came with the Apple AirPods (1st generation) Truly Wireless, which charges via Lightning cable or with one that supports Qi wireless charging. We tested the Qi wireless charging case variant, but we expect the other variant to perform similarly to our model. If you come across another variant or your headphones are different, please let us know in the discussions below so we can update our review.

Compared To Other Headphones

Like the Apple AirPods (1st generation) Truly Wireless and the Apple AirPods (3rd generation) Truly Wireless, the Apple AirPods 2nd Generation stand out for their open-back design, which means they struggle to reproduce low-bass and don't really isolate you from ambient noise. Compared to the 3rd generation, they have shorter continuous battery life and lack some features, like virtual surround sound. Ηowever, depending on the shape of your ears, you may prefer the 2nd generation's slimmer earbud shape, which some find more comfortable. If you like their design but want headphones that block out ambient sound, closed-back models like the Anker Soundcore Life P3 Truly Wireless or earbuds with ANC like the JBL Live Pro+ TWS True Wireless have a similar look and better noise isolation.

We also suggest taking a look at our recommendations for the best truly wireless earbuds, the best noise cancelling earbuds, and the best Bluetooth earbuds.

Apple AirPods Pro Truly Wireless

The Apple AirPods Pro Truly Wireless are much better than the Apple AirPods (2nd generation) Truly Wireless. The Pro's sound profile is much more balanced, especially in the bass range, and their in-ear design and ANC provide significantly better noise isolation. The Pro also have an easier-to-use control scheme and feel much more stable in the ear. On the other hand, the non-intrusive fit of the AirPods 2 may be more comfortable for some people, and they charge much quicker.

Apple AirPods (3rd generation) Truly Wireless

The Apple AirPods (3rd generation) Truly Wireless and the Apple AirPods (2nd generation) Truly Wireless have different strengths, so you may prefer either depending on what you're looking for. The 3rd generation have longer continuous battery life and button-like controls that are easier to use than the 2nd generation's touch-sensitive surfaces. With iOS devices, they support Spatial Audio and head tracking for virtual surround sound, and their 'Adaptive EQ' adjusts the sound profile depending on how they fit you. Their bulkier design may put pressure on the inside of your ears, but both versions have a one-size-fits-all design, meaning you may prefer either, depending on the shape of your ears. On the other hand, the 2nd generation have lower latency with iOS devices and better overall mic performance.

Apple AirPods (1st generation) Truly Wireless

The Apple AirPods (2nd generation) Truly Wireless and the first model, the Apple AirPods (1st generation) Truly Wireless, are practically the same headphones. There are very few differences between the two models. The second generation model now uses the H1 chip, has better wireless range, and should have less latency, although we measured the opposite. They pretty much have the same sound profile, but the biggest difference is that you can now buy them with a case that supports Qi wireless charging.

Samsung Galaxy Buds2 Truly Wireless

The Samsung Galaxy Buds2 Truly Wireless are better in-ears than the Apple AirPods (2nd generation) Truly Wireless. The Samsung have more consistent audio delivery, a more neutral sound profile, which some users may prefer, and they have a significantly better noise isolation performance, thanks to their ANC system. You can also customize their sound using their companion app's EQ presets. However, the Apple are more comfortable and better-built. They also have a better battery performance.

JBL TUNE 230NC TWS True Wireless

The JBL TUNE 230NC TWS True Wireless are more versatile in-ears than the Apple AirPods (2nd generation) Truly Wireless. While both are comfortable, the JBL have a more stable in-ear fit, a more neutral sound profile, which some users may prefer, more consistent audio delivery, and their companion app offers a parametric EQ and presets to help you adjust their sound to your liking. They also have a better battery performance and are equipped with an ANC system that can block out more background noise. However, the Apple feel better built and have an H1 chip for seamless pairing with your Apple devices.

Samsung Galaxy Buds+ Truly Wireless

The Samsung Galaxy Buds+ Truly Wireless are better truly wireless earbuds than the Apple AirPods (2nd generation) Truly Wireless for most people unless you have an iPhone and prefer something with a more open sound. The Samsung have a better-balanced sound profile, longer battery life, and they isolate a lot more noise. Some people prefer how the Apple headphones let in ambient sounds, though, as well as their seamless pairing with Apple devices.

Beats Powerbeats Pro Truly Wireless

The Beats Powerbeats Pro Truly Wireless are better headphones than the Apple AirPods (2nd generation) Truly Wireless. The Beats are more geared towards sports, thanks to their very stable ear-hook design, and they deliver sound more consistently among users. They also have much better bass accuracy and offer more than twice the battery life of the Apple headphones on a single charge, although the Apple case holds more additional charges. The Beats also have a very bulky case that isn’t as portable as the Apple case. However, the Beats have a better and more complete control scheme with volume control.

Sony WF-1000XM3 Truly Wireless

The Sony WF-1000XM3 Truly Wireless are better true wireless in-ears than the Apple AirPods (2nd generation) Truly Wireless. The Sony feature a closed-back design, which combined with their ANC feature makes them better at isolating you from ambient noise. The Sony deliver audio more consistently and do a better job of reproducing low-bass sounds like the thump and rumble of EDM or hip-hop. On the other hand, the Apple have one of the most comfortable fits for in-ears, if their one-size-fits-all design suits you. They also take less than an hour to fully charge, and you might see improved performance if your mobile device can take advantage of the H1 chip.

Razer Hammerhead True Wireless 2021

The Apple AirPods (2nd generation) Truly Wireless and the Razer Hammerhead True Wireless 2021 have different strengths, and you may prefer either one. The Apple are more comfortable, feel better built, and they have an H1 chip so that you can seamlessly pair them with your other Apple devices. The Razer have a significantly better noise isolation performance, thanks to their ANC, their continuous battery life is longer, and their companion app offers a graphic EQ and presets so you can adjust their sound to suit your tastes.

Anker SoundCore Life P2 Truly Wireless

The Anker SoundCore Life P2 Truly Wireless are better truly wireless headphones than the Apple AirPods (2nd generation) Truly Wireless. The Anker have a much better-balanced sound profile, better controls, significantly better noise isolation, and longer single-charge battery life. On the other hand, the Apple have a more comfortable fit as they don't go into the ear canal, feel much more premium, and utilize the H1 chip for seamless pairing to your Apple devices.

Sony WF-C500 Truly Wireless

The Sony WF-C500 Truly Wireless are better than the Apple AirPods (2nd generation) Truly Wireless for most purposes. The Sony have a more neutral default sound profile, which some may prefer, and it’s customizable with a graphic EQ and presets in their companion app. They also have easier-to-use onboard controls, a longer continuous battery life, and passively isolate you from much more noise. On the other hand, some may prefer the Apple’s open design, which allows you to hear ambient sound. They also feel sturdier and have a mic with a better noise handling performance.

Google Pixel Buds A-Series Truly Wireless

The Apple AirPods (2nd generation) Truly Wireless and the Google Pixel Buds A-Series Truly Wireless have different strengths, and you may prefer either one. The Apple are more comfortable, feel better built, and have a better battery performance. They also have an H1 chip so that you can seamlessly pair them with your Apple devices. However, the Google earbuds have a more sound profile is more neutral, which some users may prefer. Once you achieve a good fit, you should also get a more consistent sound each time you use them.

Anker SoundCore Liberty Air 2 Truly Wireless

The Anker SoundCore Liberty Air 2 Truly Wireless are better true wireless headphones than the Apple AirPods (2nd generation) Truly Wireless. Although the Apple feel better made, the Anker have a noticeably more neutral sound profile, and they pack a lot more accurate bass thanks to their closed-back design. That also means that the Anker block out more ambient noise thanks to their typical in-ear fit. On the other hand, if the Apple fit your ears, they're very comfortable. However, the Anker come with a lot of tip options to help you find the most comfortable fit.

SoundPeats TrueFree 2 Wireless

The SoundPeats TrueFree 2 Wireless are slightly more versatile than the Apple AirPods (2nd generation) Truly Wireless. The SoundPeats have a more stable fit, a better control scheme, and a more consistently delivered, better-balanced sound profile. They also block out more ambient noise and leak less audio. Meanwhile, the Apple's open-back enclosure generates a more immersive, expansive soundstage, and they're also more comfortable and better-built. They also last a little longer on a single charge and have a superior integrated microphone.

JBL Tune 225TWS True Wireless

The Apple AirPods (2nd generation) Truly Wireless are better for mixed usage than the JBL Tune 225TWS True Wireless. The Apple are better-built, more comfortable, have a more neutral sound profile, and come with a case that supplies a longer total battery life. They also have lower audio latency on PCs and mobile devices. Conversely, the JBL have a more stable fit, a more comprehensive control scheme, superior mic recording quality, and longer continuous battery life.

JBL TUNE 220TWS Truly Wireless

The Apple AirPods (2nd generation) Truly Wireless are better headphones than the JBL TUNE 220TWS Truly Wireless. The Apple are much more comfortable, look and feel much more premium, have a more accurate sound profile with a bit more bass, a much better battery life, and some customization options on iOS. On the other hand, the JBL's controls are easier to use and provide better feedback, and they feel much more stable in the ear.

Samsung Galaxy Buds Truly Wireless

The Samsung Galaxy Buds Truly Wireless are better and more versatile truly wireless headphones than the Apple AirPods (2nd generation) Truly Wireless. The Samsung are closed-back earbuds, and their fit blocks more noise than the open-back Apple. The Samsung are slightly less comfortable if the design of the Apple suits you. Sound-wise, the Samsung sound more neutral and have more bass than the open-back Apple. They also have a long single-charge battery life, which is nice. On the other hand, the Apple feel slightly better made and have a smaller and more portable charging case. The Apple also have noticeably less latency than the Samsung.

Beats Solo Pro Wireless

The Beats Solo Pro Wireless are better headphones for most uses than the Apple AirPods (2nd generation) Truly Wireless. The Beats have a more neutral sound profile, which some users may prefer, an active noise cancelling (ANC) system which blocks out a great amount of ambient noise, and a better battery performance. However, the Apple are more comfortable.

Sony LinkBuds Truly Wireless

The Apple AirPods (2nd generation) Truly Wireless are better for most purposes than the Sony LinkBuds Truly Wireless. The Apple headphones have a more comfortable, stable fit for most, a better build quality, and a more neutral sound profile, although neither pair reproduces much bass. Their case holds more extra charges. On the other hand, the Sony headphones' continuous battery life is a few hours longer. They also support virtual surround sound and come with a graphic EQ and presets for sound customization.

Raycon E100 Truly Wireless

The Apple AirPods (2nd generation) Truly Wireless and the Raycon E100 Truly Wireless are very different headphones, and the Raycon are a more versatile option. The Raycon are closed-back and have great noise isolation performance, as well as an excited sound profile. The Apple are open-back, meaning they won’t block out ambient noise and lack quite a bit of sub-bass. However, they have a better battery performance and their one-size-fits-all design is very comfortable if it suits you.

Bose SoundSport Free Truly Wireless

The Bose SoundSport Free Truly Wireless are better headphones than the Apple AirPods (2nd generation) Truly Wireless. The Bose have a much more neutral sound profile and deliver audio much more consistently between different people. They have a more stable fit and you also get a better control scheme with volume control. However, they take a lot of time to charge for truly wireless earbuds, and they have a fairly short wireless range. Their case is also very bulky and doesn’t support wireless charging like the Apple.

Razer Hammerhead True Wireless 2019

The Apple AirPods (2nd generation) Truly Wireless are slightly better than the Razer Hammerhead True Wireless 2019. The Apple are more comfortable, feel more premium, and have a better-balanced sound profile. On the other hand, the Razer have a more consistent listening experience among users, feel much more stable in the ear, and have much lower latency on non-iOS devices with 'Gaming Mode' enabled.

Skullcandy Sesh Evo True Wireless

The Skullcandy Sesh Evo True Wireless are better for mixed usage than the Apple AirPods (2nd generation) Truly Wireless. The Skullcandy have an easier-to-use and more comprehensive control scheme, a more stable fit, more consistent audio delivery, and far better noise isolation capability. They also have longer continuous battery life and have a couple of EQ presets built-in. That said, the Apple earbuds provide a more open and spacious listening experience, are better-built, and more comfortable to wear. They have a case that yields a longer total battery life, with five additional charges compared to the Skullcandy's three.

Skullcandy Indy Evo True Wireless

The Skullcandy Indy Evo True Wireless and Apple AirPods (2nd generation) Truly Wireless have different advantages. The Apple are better-built and are preferable if you want a more spacious, opening listening experience, courtesy of their open-back design. However, that also means they barely block out any background noise. The Skullcandy provide a more consistent listening experience and have a far more intuitive control scheme, but don't last nearly as long on a single charge.

JBL Tune 125TWS Truly Wireless

The JBL Tune 125TWS Truly Wireless are more versatile than the Apple AirPods (2nd generation) Truly Wireless. The JBL block out far more ambient noise, have an easier-to-use control scheme, deliver a better-balanced listening experience with greater consistency, and last longer on a single charge. That said, the Apple are better-built, more comfortable, and charge substantially faster. Thanks to their open-back enclosure, they provide a far more expansive listening experience.

Raycon E50 Truly Wireless

The Raycon E50 Truly Wireless and the Apple AirPods (2nd generation) Truly Wireless are completely different truly wireless headphones. The Apple are open-back so they don't isolate well. It also means they lack bass, while the Raycon have a very boomy and bass-heavy sound profile. Although the Raycon come with various tip sizes, the one-size-fits-all design of the Apple is very comfortable if they fit you. The Apple are also noticeably better-built, feel more durable, and have a better battery performance with lower latency, especially with iOS devices.

Monster Clarity 101 AirLinks Truly Wireless

The Apple AirPods (2nd generation) Truly Wireless and the Monster Clarity 101 AirLinks Truly Wireless are quite differently designed, so they each have their own pros and cons. The Monster have a more traditional in-ear design that's not always the most comfortable, but provides good bass and isolates quite a bit of noise. The Apple, however, have an open-back earbud design that struggles to deliver much bass and lets a lot of ambient noise in, but they're more comfortable for many people.

Anker SoundCore Liberty Air Truly Wireless

The Anker SoundCore Liberty Air Truly Wireless and the Apple AirPods (2nd generation) Truly Wireless may look similar, but perform quite differently. The open-back Apple lack bass and don't isolate any noise, but have a more bright, spacious sound. On the other hand, the noise-isolating in-ear Anker have a more bass-rich sound but are less comfortable.

Ultimate Ears FITS Truly Wireless

The Ultimate Ears FITS Truly Wireless are better headphones than the Apple AirPods (2nd generation) Truly Wireless. The Ultimate Ears have a more balanced sound profile out-of-the-box, and thanks to their graphic EQ and presets, they offer more sound customization options. They have better noise isolation and a more stable fit thanks to their moldable ear tips, too. However, the Apple are better-built.

Beats Powerbeats3 Wireless

The Beats Powerbeats3 Wireless are better headphones than the Apple AirPods (2nd generation) Truly Wireless. The Beats closed-back design will isolate more ambient noise than the open Apple, although the fit of the Beats doesn’t isolate very well. However, the Beats are noticeably more stable due to their ear-hook design, which is great for sports. They also have a more neutral but bass-rich sound profile and perform more consistently across different users. You also get volume controls on the Beats' in-line remote, which the Apple don’t have. On the other hand, the Apple have a great charging case and feel slightly better made than the Beats. While you get more battery life with the Beats, you can’t charge them anywhere like you can with the Apple's case.

Sennheiser MOMENTUM True Wireless

Due to their closed-back design, the Sennheiser MOMENTUM True Wireless are more versatile than the Apple AirPods (2nd generation) Truly Wireless, which are open and let noise seep into your audio. The Sennheiser also have better controls and a better-balanced bass. However, the Apple are more comfortable if you can find the right fit, and they have a more neutral treble reproduction than the Sennheiser. The Apple also have a noticeably better battery life performance.

Skullcandy Sesh Truly Wireless

The Skullcandy Sesh Truly Wireless are better truly wireless headphones than the Apple AirPods (2nd generation) Truly Wireless. The Skullcandy don't feel as well-built as the Apple, which have a very premium, lightweight feel, and they don't connect to Apple devices as seamlessly. Their battery life is also worse as their case is rated for only two additional charges as opposed to Apple's five. On the upside, the Skullcandy's sound profile is more bass-rich, which some may prefer, and they offer much more comprehensive control scheme. Their in-ear fit also gives them a more consistent sound profile among various users.

Microsoft Surface Earbuds Truly Wireless

The Apple AirPods (2nd generation) Truly Wireless are better truly wireless headphones than the Microsoft Surface Earbuds Truly Wireless. The Apple look and feel more premium and better built, have a better-balanced sound profile, and a better microphone. On the other hand, while both headphones lack a lot of bass, the Microsoft have a graphic EQ in their companion app, so you can customize the way they sound. They also last longer off a single charge, though their case doesn't hold nearly as many full charges.

Creative Outlier Air Truly Wireless

The Creative Outlier Air Truly Wireless are slightly better mixed-usage earbuds than the Apple AirPods (2nd generation) Truly Wireless because of their closed-back design. The Creative Outlier sound profile is more balanced and packs more bass. They also offer volume control, although it's hard to use. On the other hand, the Apple are very comfortable if their one-size-fits-all design fits you well. They're better built and recharge faster. However, you’ll get more continuous playback time with a single charge of the Creative Outlier.

Skullcandy Indy Truly Wireless

The Apple AirPods (2nd generation) Truly Wireless and the Skullcandy Indy Truly Wireless have different strengths. The Apple have a better build quality and recharge much more quickly. They also have a more neutral sound profile, which some may prefer, although it lacks low-bass. On the other hand, the Skullcandy have a dark, bass-heavy sound profile that fans of EDM and hip-hop may like. They also leak less sound at high volumes and do a much better job of blocking out noise like background conversations.

AfterShokz Aeropex Bone Conduction

The Apple AirPods (2nd generation) Truly Wireless and the AfterShokz Aeropex Bone Conduction are very differently-designed headphones, which you might prefer depends on your needs. The Apple are more conventional in-ears and leak much less audio. Their truly wireless design and compact charging case make them much more portable as well. On the other hand, the AfterShokz deliver sound via bone induction and sit outside your ears. Because of their design, they don't block any ambient noise, which is great for people who exercise outdoors. They also have an IP67 rating for dust and water resistance.

Skullcandy Indy Fuel Truly Wireless

The Skullcandy Indy Fuel Truly Wireless are better-suited for mixed usage than the Apple AirPods (2nd generation) Truly Wireless. The Skullcandy deliver a more consistent listening experience with more accurate bass. They leak much less audio, feel more secure in the ear, and block out substantially more ambient noise. However, the open-back Apple are better-built, generate a more spacious listening experience with a better-reproduced treble, feel more comfortable to wear for extended periods, and have a better-integrated mic.

Anker Zolo Liberty+ Truly Wireless

The Anker Zolo Liberty+ Truly Wireless are more versatile truly wireless headphones than the Apple AirPods (2nd generation) Truly Wireless because of their closed-back design that isolates more ambient noise. This makes the Anker better suited for the office and for commuting. However, the Apple are more comfortable and feel slightly better-built than the Anker. The Apple are also more portable, thanks to their great case. If you use them with an iOS device that can take advantage of the H1 chip, we expect noticeably lower latency on the Apple. On the other hand, the Anker deliver sound more consistently and have noticeably more bass.

Bose Sport Open Earbuds Truly Wireless

The Bose Sport Open Earbuds are better for outdoor sports and fitness, while the Apple AirPods (2nd generation) Truly Wireless offer a more versatile overall performance. The Bose are more stable and don't cover your ear, so you can stay aware of your surroundings. They also have more consistent audio reproduction. However, the Apple are more comfortable, have five additional charges in their carrying case, and have an H1 chip so that you can seamlessly pair them with your Apple devices. Their sound profile is better-balanced, too.

Cambridge Audio Melomania 1 Truly Wireless

The Cambridge Audio Melomania 1 Truly Wireless are more versatile truly wireless headphones than the Apple AirPods (2nd generation) Truly Wireless. The Cambridge closed-back design isolates against more ambient noise, making them a suitable option for commuting. It also means that they pack a bit more punch in the bass range than the Apple. On the other hand, the Apple are better-built and their one-size-fits-all design is very comfortable if you can find the right fit. The Apple have a shorter continuous battery life than the Melomania, but they charge more quickly and also have less latency when watching video content, especially if you can take advantage of the H1 chip. A certain variant of the Apple also supports wireless charging for the case, which the Cambridge can’t do.

TaoTronics SoundLiberty 95 Truly Wireless

The Apple AirPods (2nd generation) Truly Wireless are better earbuds than the TaoTronics SoundLiberty 95 Truly Wireless. The Apple are more comfortable, feel better built, and offer a longer continuous battery life. They also have an H1 chip, which allows you to connect with different Apple devices more easily. However, the TaoTronics have better bass accuracy.

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