How Many Generations Are There & What’s The Difference?


Between AirPods, AirPods Pro, and AirPods Max, Apple has released a lot of audio gear over the years. Here’s a quick look at the lineup so far.

Apple has released five different generations of AirPods across three distinct lineups, making it clear that the company is serious about its presence in the consumer audio space. AirPods have been around since late 2016, and in the years since then, Apple has made some small (and drastic) upgrades to push the product line forward.

Wireless earbuds are everywhere in 2021, and all the years later since the first AirPods hit the scene, Apple’s earbud lineup still stands out as one of the go-to options. They may not have the very best audio quality and battery life than competing earbuds, but none of that matters after factoring in how well AirPods work within the Apple ecosystem. Between easy pairing, seamless device switching, and reliable connectivity, the experience of using AirPods with other Apple gadgets has yet to be matched.

Related: AirPods Carrying Strap: Should You Buy One & What Are The Options?

The AirPods story first began in September 2016 when Apple launched the first-generation AirPods. The first-gen AirPods stuck around for quite a while, but then in March 2019, they were replaced with AirPods 2. AirPods 2 are offered in two configurations, including one with a regular charging case and one that supports Qi wireless charging. At the time of publication, AirPods 2 are still the latest baseline AirPods that Apple sells. Apple then launched AirPods Pro in October 2019, with the most recent release being AirPods Max launching in December 2020.

These Are The Key Differences Between AirPods Generations

AirPods 2

In the case of AirPods 1 vs. AirPods 2, Apple offered minor improvements to speaker and microphone quality, slightly longer battery life, faster device switching, and a voice-activation feature for accessing Siri. The first-gen AirPods have since been discontinued, making AirPods 2 the go-to choice for someone that wants the AirPods experience for the lowest price possible — starting at $159. As for the two versions of AirPods 2 currently available, the only difference is the charging case. One offers wireless charging support and the other does not.

Where things get a bit more interesting is when comparing AirPods 2 to AirPods Pro. While the core experience is mostly the same, AirPods Pro are better in virtually every way. They sound better, have active noise canceling, come with customizable ear tips, include wireless charging as a default feature, and have an IPX4 sweat/water-resistance rating. All of those upgrades come at the cost of a higher price ($249, to be exact), but for shoppers that want an elevated AirPods setup, Pro is the way to go.

AirPods Max are technically in the same family as AirPods and AirPods Pro, but it’s a completely different product outside of the name. Where AirPods and AirPods Pro are earbuds, AirPods Max takes the shape of over-ear headphones. They have excellent sound, craftsmanship, and features, but the exorbitantly high price of $549 is bound to keep most shoppers with either AirPods or AirPods Pro.

Next: How Fast Do AirPods Charge & How Long Does A Full Charge Take?

Source: Apple

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