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- The second-generation AirPods Pro are Apple’s best-sounding headphones to date.
- Upgrades include better overall sound and active noise cancellation.
- Apple’s AirPods Pro now compete with other premium wireless earbuds like Sony and Bose.
Apple’s second-generation AirPods Pro comes three years after the originals launched, and it’s a huge improvement on all fronts that matter.
The new AirPods Pro look the same as previous models, but with their performance comes meaningful upgrades. You can thank Apple’s all-new H2 chip for significantly improved audio quality, noise cancellation and battery life, as well as advanced features like “adaptive” transparency mode.
The original AirPods Pro are the perfect choice for Apple fans. However, I would argue that the upgrades make the second generation AirPods Pro the most logical. While there are many alternatives on the market, Apple’s flagship wireless earbuds are now among the best in their class and it’s hard to beat if you have an iPhone.
Familiar fit with an easier-to-find charging case
The new AirPods Pro are almost identical to the previous model, with a few tweaks to the positioning of the microphones and vents. If the original Experts’ fit treats you well, they will do the same.
To appeal to more ears, Apple adds four eartips to the box instead of three. The added extra-small silicone eartip should please anyone who thinks the first-gen AirPods Pro sound too cramped.
When it comes to design, the larger hood is in the charging case. The case’s new U1 chip enables “Precision Find” with the Find My app, giving you visual direction and distance indicators to its location. The charging case also has a speaker that plays sound so you get an aural indication as well. And as a small bonus, there’s a new lanyard loop on the left edge of the case.
The speaker of the charging case also gives you audible notifications for low battery and beeps when you start charging or when pairing is complete. It is now water and sweat resistant and, as expected, compatible with MagSafe.
Apple claims that the second-generation AirPods Pro earphones have six hours of battery life, and the MagSafe charging case can hold a charge for up to 30 hours. This is an improvement over the original AirPods Pro, but pretty much on par with other premium wireless earbuds.
Impressive active noise cancellation and better all-round sound
The second-generation AirPods Pro are the first pair of Apple headphones to work with the H2 chip, which provides enhanced sound and active noise cancellation, adaptive transparency mode, and the aforementioned longer battery life.
Compared to other premium wireless earbuds, the original AirPods Pro have always been at the bottom of the noise canceling performance chart. With the second generation of Pros, that all changed. Apple claims the second-generation AirPods Pro have up to twice the noise-cancelling performance of the originals, and I tend to believe them – from the low hum of a commuter train, the world is much quieter when you want it to be, and from cars driving in the rain to higher pitches that babble. people.
While the audio is a huge improvement from the original Pros, it’s worth noting that active noise canceling isn’t quite as high-end as Sony’s XM4 headphones or Bose’s QuietComfort Headphones II. I’d also argue that even Jabra’s mid-range Elite 85Ts offer a better overall audio experience because they allow you to customize the sound to your liking with their equalizer settings, while the AirPods don’t.
Instead, the second-generation AirPods Pro include Apple’s Adaptive EQ feature that automatically adjusts the sound they produce to the shape of your ears. It’s a useful feature, but I’d love to see an option that lets users set their own EQ.
The new AirPods Pro also come with Apple’s personalized Spatial Audio (similar to Sony’s 360 Reality Audio) and a 360-degree surround sound format that provides an “immersive” listening experience. Even with songs in Apple’s “Made for Spatial Audio” playlist, I can’t say I see much difference between having the feature turned on or off.
But perhaps the best new feature powered by Apple’s H2 chip is the “adaptive” transparency feature, which automatically reduces the volume of loud sounds when using transparency mode. It does a great job of letting sound in and also blocking out loud noises like car horns. It’s so good that the second-generation AirPods Pro are the only pair of earphones that I really take the transparency mode with seriously.
Built-in volume controls are a welcome addition
The original AirPods Pro came with media playback controls and pressure-sensitive controls for switching between noise cancellation or transparency modes, but these were significantly missing volume controls.
Apple fixed that with the second-generation AirPods Pro by adding touch sensors that let you slide the stems up or down to adjust the volume. You no longer need to reach for your phone to adjust the volume.
Despite the short stems, swiping up or down is surprisingly easy and intuitive: Pretend to pinch the stems with your thumb and forefinger, and swipe with just your index finger.
Should you buy?
The second-generation AirPods Pro are definitely recommended for “most people,” at least those who are willing to spend over $200 on premium wireless earbuds, and especially those built into the Apple ecosystem with multiple Apple devices.
The second-generation AirPods Pro are easy for Apple loyalists, offering seamless pairing and switching between iOS devices, as well as features like Sensitive Find, as well as finer controls and options in AirPods settings not found on other platforms. . Even if you have a pair of original AirPods Pro, you will notice a big difference.
However, AirPods Pro aren’t necessarily the only option out there. If you don’t have an iPhone, I still recommend looking at Sony’s WF-1000XM4, Jabra’s Elite 85T or Bose QC Earbuds II.