How to Tell the Difference Between Airpods 1 and 2

Is it worth the upgrade?

The differences between the first and second models of Apple's AirPod earbuds are few but important. Here they are and how to tell which version you have.

What's the Difference Between AirPods 1 and 2?

With a quick look, you won't see any visual differences between the two base models of AirPods. They're the same size and weight. But the 2019 AirPods 2 have some updated hardware inside, making them worth trading up to if you already own the 2016 model. Here's a quick rundown of the changes.

Chips: W1 vs. H1

The original AirPods, along with some Beats headphones, use Apple's W1 chip. Later iterations of this processor appear in the Apple Watch.

The newer H1 processor is Apple's current standard for its audio devices. Along with the 2019 AirPods, you'll find this chipset in Airpods Pro, AirPods Max headphones, and other Beats headphones like the Powerbeats and Powerbeats Pro.

Here are some differences between the W1 and H1 chips:

  • The newer H1 supports the "Hey, Siri" vocal command to access Apple's digital assistant. In the original AirPods, you could only activate Siri by tapping one of the pods.
  • H1 chips have 30% less latency over Bluetooth than W1s. You may not notice this difference while listening to music, but you might if you wear AirPods while playing games or watching movies.
  • H1 chips, which support Bluetooth 5, are also faster to connect to other devices–like an iPhone–than the W1 chip (which supports Bluetooth 4.2).

Battery Life: Not Much Difference

Apple claims that both kinds of AirPods support up to 24 hours of listening time between the headphones and the extra charges you get from the wireless case (five hours per charge). But because of the energy efficiencies that the new chipset provides, it says that the more recent version will let you talk longer.

According to Apple's fact sheets, AirPods 1 support about two hours of talking time, while the updated model can do three. Still, you may not notice a significant impact during everyday use of either version.

Compatibility: Stay Up to Date to Use All the Features

The original AirPods were compatible with phones and tablets running iOS 10, and later, Apple Watches using watchOS 3 and up, or Macs running at least macOS Sierra (10.12). Those base requirements should also be good enough to use the AirPods 2, but to access every feature, you'll need at least iOS 13 or iPadOS.

Because AirPods use Bluetooth to connect, you can also use them with non-Mac computers and Android phones. You may not have access to every feature. For example, non-Apple devices don't have Siri.

How to Tell Which AirPods Version You Have

If you're curious about which generation your AirPods are, you can try a few methods to find the model number. First, however, you should know the model numbers of both versions. Here they are:

  • AirPods 1: A1523 or A1722
  • AirPods 2: A2032 or A2031

The quickest (but hardest) way to find your AirPods' model number is to look on the earbuds themselves. Each earbud has the model and serial number in tiny print underneath the earpiece.

The model information on AirPods 2

Apple, Inc.

You can also check on your iPhone. In iOS 14 and later, open Settings and select Bluetooth. Then, tap the i icon next to your AirPods and find the model number under About.

In earlier versions of iOS, go to Settings > General > About, and then tap the name of your AirPods. The next screen will show the model number.

FAQ
  • How do I pair AirPods 1 with AirPods 2?

    Due to their use of different processors, you can't pair an AirPods 1 earbud with an AirPods 2 earbud—both earbuds have to be from one or the other.

  • Can AirPods 2 be charged in an AirPods 1 case?

    Yes, you can charge a pair of AirPods 2 using a case made for AirPods 1, however the AirPods 1 case won't be able to charge wirelessly. This will not work for AirPods Pro.

  • How do I connect two sets of AirPods to a single iPhone?

    First make sure the iPhone is updated to the most recent version of iOS. With one set of AirPods connected, then open Control Center to select the AirPlay button, and select Share Audio. Hold the second set of AirPods (inside the case) close to the iPhone and open the lid, then wait for the AirPods to appear on the iPhone's share screen. Select the second set of AirPods to start sharing audio.

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