Introduction and unboxing
It’s been three years since Apple unveiled the AirPods and their successors, and it’s clear that Apple hasn’t given up on its design.
But don’t let that fool you—everything is better on the inside, and Apple has another winner on its hands.
Compared to the 2019, 2022, it has a much more complete and robust TWS market, and the AirPods Pro 2’s ability to actively suppress noise is not enough to stand out. Stronger offerings from Apple’s best-known rivals in the smartphone world, as well as audio styling, means the AirPods Pro 2 will have to work hard to earn their place.
On the other hand, many people who are deeply invested in the Apple ecosystem will only see three options: €299/$249/INR 26,900 AirPods Pro 2 – €159/$129/INR 14,900 AirPods 2, €209/$169/ INR 19,900 AirPods 3, and €629/$549/INR 59,900 AirPods Max. That makes the AirPods Pro 2 the cheapest Apple headphones with active noise cancellation, which is an instant winner.
The new case, compared to AirPods Pro
Let’s open these up.
AirPods Pro 2 comes with a USB-C to Lightning cable. XS/ S / M / Li silicone ear tips, and the buds themselves, in them.
The MagSafe charge issue is new this year. Eliminating one of the main reasons people buy AirPods cases, Find My also gets a speaker that plays chimes, as well as a metal loop for landing.
But the brand isn’t just out to hurt third-party retailers’ bottom lines. Cleverly, the Find Me service serves double duty as an antenna.
You can charge AirPods Pro 2 using a MagSafe charger, an Apple Watch charger, or any standard Qi charger. The outdated Lightning port is a wired option for charging on the new AirPods Pro 2.
The AirPods Pro 2 are the same as the original, early rumors of a shorter trunk never materialized. That’s generally not a bad thing, as buyers of the original model will be sure to fit just as well as the old ones.
The new AirPods Pro 2 introduces the smaller XS eartip size, which will help those who find the S size too big. The ear tips are compatible with the older models, giving owners of those headphones another size option.
Almost unchanged design
The only real change to the AirPods themselves is the new skin-sensitive sensor that replaces the old ear sensor. It can mark the difference between your ear and any other surface, so the headphones don’t start playing immediately when placed on a table or in a pocket – a very nice change.
The stems on the AirPods Pro 2 have a new slide function in addition to the old press and hold. So now you can slide on the stem column to adjust the volume – a slide up or down will change one step in the corresponding direction.
You can press with two fingers on the stem to play/pause, while squeezing and holding toggles between active noise canceling and adaptive transparency.
New AirPods Pro 2 on the left, AirPods Pro on the right
Find My has been improved with AirPods Pro 2. The case supports precision tracking enabled by the U1 chip, and you can play sound to help you find the shots easily. And the matter is played out.
There is also a detailed battery indicator, which gives you a battery reading of the bag as well as each of the two shoots.
Find my, battery symptoms
Sound quality, active noise cancellation, spatial audio, battery life
OK, let’s get the big deal out of the way – the AirPods Pro 2 look great and they’re a huge improvement over their predecessors.
The original AirPods Pro were a big step up from the open AirPods. Thanks to the in-ear design, they had better sound isolation, which also lent better bass characteristics. The original prose had a wider soundstage with vocal chords and instrumental reproduction. But their voices got distorted in the middle and got smaller and louder as they got louder. Their upper midrange lacked presence, while sub-bass wasn’t too impressive.
AirPods Pro 2 solve each of these problems. For starters, the soundstage is just as wide but clearer – the sound is more dynamic so it fills in the gaps that sound like mud and mud on the old pair. The upper midrange has more presence and on the other hand there is more sub-bass. And AirPods Pro 2 can go loud without sacrificing sound quality.
So improvements on the board. If you’re using AirPods Pro every day and considering the Pro 2 for their sound, you’ll feel a noticeable improvement.
Active noise cancellation and adaptive transparency mode. Starting with the ANC, the first thing you’ll notice is the absence of white noise against a background of silence. That’s a low-level noise floor, which can and does sound like pressure in your ears when you’re not hearing anything on the main Pros. It’s not audible on the AirPods Pro 2 and the pressure isn’t there.
The new headphones have better noise isolation. We’re not going yet, despite Apple’s 2x upgrade. It’s Better – Constant sounds with the same cadence frequency as a motor or fan are filtered out more effectively than before. However, there are better options like Sony’s WF-1000XM4 and, subjectively, the much cheaper Samsung Galaxy Buds2.
Then there’s the adaptive transparency mode. It lets in outside noise but reduces harsh sounds like car horns or construction on the road. Practically, it allows you to listen to music or a podcast/audiobook while safely outside. You can talk to someone without having to take out the buds.
But, don’t expect Adaptive Transparency to feel like you’re walking around bud-free, no.
Active noise cancellation
Spatial audio is excellent. It’s Apple’s best at simulating the surround sound you’d get if you sat in the middle of a large, loud speaker setup. There are two settings – Fixed Sound Quality adds a realistic surround sound experience, Head Tracked is downright magical. Best used while sitting, this mode simulates surround sound based on your head movements. Turn left and the right “speaker” gradually fades back. It feels real and adds a new level to your favorite music.
Samsung and others try to emulate the same feature but can’t match Apple’s implementation prowess.
The AirPods Pro 2 have dual beamforming microphones as well as an inward-facing microphone, which combine to provide a great call experience. The people on the other line reported that it was as good as we heard over the phone.
Battery life is excellent on the AirPods Pro 2. We got about 6 and a half hours of phone calls and 6 hours and 20 minutes of music playback with ANC, both at 50% volume. For context, the old AirPods Pros got 4 and a half hours of playback, while the AirPods 3 offer the same 6 hours of listening time and 4 and a half hours of talk time as the Pros.
There you go, AirPods Pro 2 are great. They’re much better than previous pros, with meaningfully better battery life and excellent active noise cancellation. They are also better than the open AirPods 3 in every way – more noise isolation, ANC vs no ANC, better bass, wider soundstage, etc.
But what did you really expect? It’s only natural that Apple makes the new AirPods Pro better than its three-year-old predecessors.
The question is whether to buy the new AirPods Pro 2 or not enough to answer – if you have the main advantages, getting the new ones will bring a lot of improvements. If you have AirPods 2 or 1, that’s even more so. Get AirPods Pro 2, you won’t regret it.
If you own AirPods 3, the question is even more difficult. If you want active noise cancellation, switch to AirPods Pro 2, if not, keep the existing ones.
That’s talking to everyone in the Apple ecosystem. On the other hand, if you’re an Android user, there’s little reason to go for Apple’s AirPods Pro 2. You’ll pay a premium over most TWS options on the market, and you’ll miss out on the benefits of the AirPods Pro 2 outside of iOS — no spatial audio, get my say, not even automatic ear detection (seriously, Apple!?).
These are the absolute best headphones to get for iPhone. They are also great on their own. The truth is that the AirPods Pro 2 are far from the best buds out there. There are great sounding options out there and there are definitely better solutions out there.