Along with its recently launched AirPods 2, Apple also released a standalone Wireless Charging Case for the AirPods. The Wireless Charging Case is an $80 accessory that works with both the first and second-generation versions of Apple’s wireless earbuds.
If you own a set of first-gen AirPods, should you consider forking over more money for the privilege of wireless charging? Watch our brief hands-on video review for the details.
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First and foremost, be sure to read and watch our full AirPods 2 review if you want intimate details about Apple’s second-generation truly wireless earbuds. This post and video will be focusing specifically on the standalone Wireless Charging Case, which can be used with both the original AirPods and AirPods 2.
AirPods 2 buyers who want Wireless Charging should opt for the premium AirPods with Wireless Charging Case for $199, which comes at a $40 premium over the $159 AirPods 2 with wired Charging Case.
Wireless Charging Case for AirPods video review
Unboxing and usage
Apple ships its standalone Wireless Charging Case in a box that’s exactly the same size as the AirPods box. Inside the box, you’ll find documentation and the Wireless Charging Case. Unlike the AirPods, no Lightning to USB cable is included.
Keep in mind that the Wireless Charging Case is just that — a standalone wireless charger with no AirPods included. You’ll need to provide your own first or second-generation AirPods in order to complete the package. It’s as simple as removing your AirPods from their existing wired Charging Case, and placing them in the new Wireless Charging Case.
If you’re a first-generation AirPods users who’s considering a purchase of the Wireless Charging Case for AirPods, please be aware that this case is solely for wireless charging. In other words, it brings none of the AirPods 2-exclusive features, like hands-free Hey Siri, faster device switching, and longer talk time, to the table.
The main differences between the wired and wireless version of the Charging Case is the relocation of the LED status indicator, along with the wireless coils embedded inside that help facilitate wireless charging.
The new Wireless Charging Case, like the original wired version, provides multiple charges for up to 24-hours of listening time. You may experience better battery life when compared to your existing case due to battery degradation of the original, but the two cases feature the same battery life rating when new.
The Wireless Charging Case is able to charge via a wired Lightning cable, or wireless connection. To charge your AirPods wirelessly, simply place the AirPods Wireless Charging Case on a Qi-enabled wireless charger with the LED indicator face up.
The LED status indicator will turn orange to indicate charging has commenced, timing out after 8 seconds. While not charging, the indicator will show green to indicate the unit’s ability to provide the AirPods inside with a full charge. When less than one full charge remains, the indicator will show amber.
Keep in mind that wireless charging will be noticeably slower than charging via Lightning — I regularly received a 3-4 percent increase in battery after 5 minutes of resting on my Mophie Wireless Charging Base, while a Lightning connection provided roughly double that. If you need a quick charge, you’d be better off using a standard Lightning Cable. I see wireless charging as more of a convenience for overnight or leisurely charging.
AirPower’s demise makes wireless charging less compelling
One of the more fascinating things about the Wireless Charging Case is its promotion of the now defunct AirPower Wireless Charging Accessory on the rear of the box. As you likely know, Apple recently cancelled AirPower due to issues with its development.
AirPower was an Apple-designed wireless charging mat capable of wirelessly charging an iPhone, Apple Watch, and a pair of AirPods simultaneously. Early renders of the mat indicated that the accessory would be tightly integrated with iOS, though it was unclear exactly how deep that integration would have been.
AirPower’s cancellation definitely takes some of the sheen off of the AirPods Wireless Charging Case. It’s one of the reasons that I opted to go with the more expensive $199 AirPods with Wireless Charging Case to begin with.
Now that AirPower is cancelled, users will have to rely on other ways to wirelessly charge their AirPods. Some of the alternative options, such as the Nomad Base Station Apple Watch Edition, work well enough, but don’t seem as cool as AirPower might have been.
The Wireless Charging Case for AirPods might be considered for a few reasons:
- You own first-generation AirPods that still work great, but you desire to have wireless charging
- The battery life for your existing Charging Case is terrible
- You lost or broke your original Charging Case
- All of the above
Although the Wireless Charging Case works with the AirPods 2, the standalone case is primarily aimed at first-generation AirPods users who fall under one or more of the aforementioned scenarios.
But the lack of AirPower certainly puts a damper on the idea of wirelessly charging your AirPods. The Wireless Charging Case is Qi-enabled, so it will work with any Qi charger, but that’s not the solution that users envisioned when Phil Schiller revealed its newest AirPods case sitting on an AirPower mat during the iPhone X event in late 2017.
You’ve got to be all-in on wireless charging — multiple chargers around the house, or at least own one multi-device charger on your nightstand — in order to justify dropping $80 to upgrade your first generation AirPods. And remember that if you need to re-up battery life quickly, you’ll still want to use a wired Lightning connection for the fastest charge.
Personally speaking, I think you’d be better off-putting that money towards the second generation AirPods, or waiting it out for AirPods 3. Future updated models are rumored to bring a new design, and more enhanced features to the table.
What do you think? Sound off down below in the comments with your opinions.