The new Apple AirPods Pro Gen 2 is arguably the most popular wireless earbuds available Apple claims they’re even better than before, but how are they better? What’s new, what’s been improved and by how much most importantly should you buy them you’ve got questions I’ve got answers.
For many, AirPods have become an essential item, and arguably they’re also a part of pop culture not because apple makes them but because they sound great. More importantly, they work seamlessly with iPhones. My favourite model is the AirPods pro because not only do they sound the best, but they also have noise cancellation.
AirPods Pro 2: Design & features
So on the AirPods themselves, these look and feel very familiar to the original Pros.
They’re almost identical, but there are some changes here when we take a closer look with some significant updates on the inside, which we’ll get into. They still have the stalks, which I’m glad to see.
I find them easy to hold and handle and taken out of my ears. We still have the same controls as before press to play or pause or to answer and end a call, double or triple press for the next or previous song and hold to switch between active noise cancellation and the new adaptive transparency mode.
The stems are now capacitive and touch-sensitive. You can swipe up and down to adjust the volume in stages, which works well. It feels natural, and a friendly little audible tone plays with each swipe. There’s no need to keep reaching for your pocket for your phone with an Apple Watch.
You can adjust the volume on your phone using the Digital Crown, but I find it’s sometimes kind of awkward to do, especially when I’m doing things like running but the volume control on the stems worked so much better. It’s a slight improvement, but it’s one of my favourite new features, and it completes the set of controls on the AirPods pro. It’s handy when I’m watching on the iPad or the mac and I’m in the kitchen, and I don’t have to keep going over to them to adjust the volume. I like it.
The proximity sensor that detects when they’re in your ears has moved from the bottom to the inside of the bud.
It’s a skin-detecting sensor now like the AirPods 3 for better accuracy, and the inside vent has now moved to the Top Apple says to help with noise cancellation, which has got even better than that in a moment.
They still have the same overall shape, so if you found the Old Pros fit you well, you shouldn’t have any issues here. I can still run, jump around, and be active without these falling out, which I could never do with the first AirPods. In the box, there are now four ear tip sizes, the large medium, which comes fitted with trim and a new extra small, which might help if you previously found these were too big to fit your ears comfortably.
Still, Apple says they’re not interchangeable with the tip from the first Pros, which had a much denser mesh. I’m not sure how well it comes across on camera, but they say you should use the tips with your AirPods for the best acoustic quality. They also still only come in one colour, white which I would like to see a black pair or maybe some matching colours with the new iPhone 14s.
AirPods Pro 2: new charging Case
The new charging case has some notable new additions. It now has Apple’s U1 chip enabling Precision finding with the find my app. This is the same chip that they use in air tags. The find my app uses this cool UI with an arrow and distance to guide you to where your case is. It’s pretty neat and makes finding new AirPods even easier if you often forget where you’ve put them.
We also have a speaker on the bottom now, which plays a sound to help you locate them, and some new turn alerts for when the battery is low, or you put the case on charge.
There’s now a lanyard Loop attachment on the side, an excellent addition. I picked up this lanyard by in case from the Apple store, or you can use one of your choices. Just make sure that it’s not too thick. With it, you can attach your Pros to your backpack or your bag for easy reach.
The magnets inside the case do keep the lid pretty well shut, so they hopefully won’t be falling out also now; both the AirPods and the charging case are ipx4 sweat and water resistant previously,
only the AirPods themselves were, so they’ll be fine if they get splashed with a bit of water.
AirPods Pro 2: H2 chip- sound Quality
On the inside, the new Pros have Apple’s Next Generation H2 chip, which powers instant pairing and switching active noise cancellation and the new adaptive transparency mode.
The new chip works with a new low Distortion audio driver and a custom amplifier to power it for improved sound quality over the first generation. I’ll be honest when I first used the new ones, I didn’t immediately notice that much difference. The new Pro sounded better, but the first gen still sounds excellent despite being almost three years old.
Still, when I swap between each pair while listening to a few songs, I can hear how much better the new ones sound. There’s just an overall Fuller and richer sound from the new Pros with deeper bass, more clarity in the highs, and a more detailed soundscape. It makes it feel like you’re being surrounded by sound, especially. When listening to spatial audio content, apple has a load of spatial audio playlists now on Apple music.
I recommend that you go and check those out if you get a pair of these. they show off the sound quality improvements, voices sound crisp and straightforward if you listen to a lot of podcasts, and they’re also great for watching TV and films with I use mine all the time with the Apple TV. Yeah, I’m just really pleased with the sound quality. I think they sound great.
AirPods Pro 2: Mics
inward facing mics have been redesigned to better recognize and articulate your voice they’re also using voice enhancement algorithms now to make it sound more natural when you’re on the phone and in video calls sounds so much clearer and a lot less muffled now and less sort of artificially processed i think.
AirPods Pro 2: Active Noise Cancellation
One of the biggest challenges we get with the new H2 chip is the improved active noise cancellation and the new adaptive transparency mode, which are features that separate the pros from the standard AirPods.
If you’re trying to decide between the two, and I’ve noticed the improvements here, Apple says that these can cancel out double the amount of sound as before, despite how good the original Pros are. My old Pros, which I’d use all the time in the Gym, would cancel out maybe around 70 percent of the background noise, the sound of people working out, and the music playing through the gym speakers.
I’d say now, though, that with these new ones, they block out maybe 80 or even 90 of what’s going on there scarily good, particularly at reducing those sort of consistent low-level frequencies like the sounds of passing traffic or the oven when I’m in the kitchen with my old Pros I could still hear a bit of the Gym’s music playing under my own but not anymore with these only really when there’s that sort of brief silence between each sound. They’re just as great as when I’ve been using them around the home or when I’m out.
The bottom line is that noise cancellation is better than ever, and you can focus on your music, your studying, or your workout without those background distractions. How well these fitting areas also play A Part which is also why they included that new extra small tip size for those with smaller ears. You can also do an ear tip fit test which plays some music while you’re wearing them and uses the mics to listen for any sound leaks, and it tells you if you should use a different tip size or adjust the AirPods in your ears.
AirPods Pro 2: Adative Transparency mode
Suppose you’ve not used AirPods Pro before. Transparency mode uses the mics to actively let sound in so you can hear things like traffic when you’re crossing a road or when someone starts speaking to you without having to take the buds out, which has always impressed me. There’s no noticeable delay in the sound, and everything sounds incredibly natural. It’s easy to forget that you’re still wearing them, but now we have adaptive transparency, which dynamically reduces the volume of harsh environmental noise.
Apple used can construction work in their example while still letting you hear the world around you; I’ve not been able to test them out in extreme conditions like that just yet, but I have tried blasting some music out of some speakers and standing close to the vacuum.
The H2 chip processes all this at 48000 times per second, too, so it can instantly react to those loud noises when using transparency mode. On my old Pros, there was always this very subtle I could hear in the background from the mics only when I’m in a tranquil, pretty much silent place, and that is still here with the new ones. It’s a little bit more noticeable than before. I thought that it might be because of the new adaptive transparency. I did try turning it off to see, but the louder home was still there. It is only slight, and it’s not that big of a deal. It’s just something I’ve noticed.
AirPods Pro 2: Ecosystem, Battery & Charging
They can be paired with non-apple Bluetooth devices, too, but if you’re not in the Apple ecosystem, you won’t benefit from things like the seamless setup that syncs to all of your iCloud devices and the auto device switching.
As you move between them, the efficiency of the new H2 chip also means that we get even longer listing times and battery life now up to six hours of listening on a single charge, up from the four and a half that we had before, and that’s a 33 increase which is pretty significant considering how small the batteries in these have to be and they also have Bluetooth 5.3 like the new iPhone 14s,
for an even more efficient wireless connection which does also help with the charging Case, you now get up to 30 hours of Total listing time up from 24, so overall, these will last even longer between charges.
I often use my AirPods for long periods when editing these videos on my Mac, and they last longer before I get any of those low battery warnings. They can still charge with any Wireless t-charger. Apple did update the last gen’s Case by adding magnets so that it can snap to a MagSafe charger, and that’s when I got my first pros, and that comes as standard now on the AirPods pro 2.
The Case can now be charged with an Apple Watch charger too which is excellent and convenient. It just snaps into place and like the 14s. We still have a lightning port on the bottom for Wired charging. Maybe next year, we’ll get USBC. I also like that the case battery level is always visible in the battery widget when connected; it would only show when the AirPods were inside, so it’s much easier to monitor that now.
AirPods Pro 2: worth it to upgrade should you buy them
So these were the upgrade, and should you buy them well if you’ve got a pair of the first AirPods one or two that you’ve had for a few years. These are a no-brainer if you want the extra features over the AirPods 3, the active noise cancellation transparency mode, and the excellent volume control on the stems. You’ll be impressed by them, especially by the sound quality.
If you’ve been using the original Pros for the last two or three years, you might have found by now that the battery life on them isn’t what it was, especially if you’ve been using them a lot, so now would be a good time in a cycle. If you’re considering upgrading, and I think there’d be a worthwhile upgrade for you too, but if you picked up the pros in the last year or so or maybe since the mini refresh when they added MagSafe, then you might not be feeling the need to upgrade.
Just yet, or spend the money doing so, and these are 250 dollars or pounds here in the UK, and they’re 50 pounds more expensive over here now than last time, which isn’t a slight increase, and I do fall into that last category. I bought my Pros a year ago when they added the massive case, but I will keep these new ones despite that.
The noise cancellation is even better, the sound quality is richer and deeper, and I like having the volume control on the stems. That’s such a nice Improvement, but the new Pros aren’t going to make your current ones any worse, and I am just a techie guy, and I use my AirPods every day, so if you are like me, I think you’ll like these too