With improved noise cancellation and the most cutting-edge AirPods case ever, the new earphones expand on the advantages of their predecessor.
The AirPods Pro 2 are Apple’s newest side dish for the iPhone, coming three years after the debut of the initial premium AirPods. They have a striking resemblance to their successful predecessor at first view. What, then, is specifically different about the newest earbuds?
Here’s my opinion on everything from the fit and finish to the new sensor technology to the overall sound quality after using them for about a week.
The same cultural icon, the new AirPods
Let’s address the issue that is being ignored.
The AirPods Pro 2 resemble their first-generation version almost exactly. I’m sure a lot of people, including myself, were hoping for a fresh look. Sadly, this was not the case; nevertheless, the AirPods case did receive some observable improvements, which we will discuss in more detail shortly. I have to question if the lack of exterior change was more a continuation of a classic than a lack of originality. In other words, have AirPods become just as necessary an item as a briefcase for business people and a gym bag for exercise enthusiasts?
I need wireless headphones to move around town unbothered as a working professional in New York City. But even when I’m not paying attention, I can’t help but notice how many people are walking about with AirPods hanging from their ears. Apple may not be following design trends, such as the pebble form factor, but it is unmistakably making the AirPods Pro the coveted Birkin Bag of the wireless headphone industry.
The minor redesign of the AirPods Pro 2
The new AirPods’ exterior technical modifications, however slight, do alter the listening experience. Starting off, the top of the earbud now has the acoustics vent instead of the side. You might not see the change right away, but as I’ll explain in a moment if you start listening, you will.
The introduction of extra small (XS) ear tips is my favourite improvement. That’s right, in addition to the small, medium, and large silicone ear tips, the second-generation AirPods now come with a fourth set. The ear tips are cosy, light, and, thanks to the extra-small tip, they perfectly suit my ears. They are already made to produce an acoustic seal that “locks in” the music. Since last year, I’ve been using the tiny ear tip with my AirPods Pros, and while they’ve generally fit my ears, I feel like I’ve continually had to adjust them, particularly while performing high-impact workouts. Naturally, I was eager to test out the new advice.
I began to sprint after a warm-up jog on the treadmill left me visibly perspiring and without ever having to touch the AirPods. No matter how carefully I inserted the AirPods Pro of the first generation into my ear before beginning a sprint, at least one of the buds would always fall out. I ran twice at nine mph (mph) for 40 seconds each while wearing the Pro 2’s extra-small ear tips, and they never lost their fit. Both my workout and the music played without interruption.
Can you hear a difference?
On the Pro 2’s, the sound is very clear at every volume. When it comes to music, both instrumentals and vocals equally come through with a rich but dynamic tone. However, I was curious as to whether I could perceive a difference just because I was anticipating one. I thus carried out a little experiment.
I utilised the Samsung Galaxy Flip 4 to listen to the first half of Harry Styles’ “Music for a Sushi Restaurant” while wearing the Pro 2 in my left ear for direct comparison. To test if the AirPods Pro 2 had the same effect while not connected to an iPhone or other Apple product, I utilised an Android handset. The original AirPods Pro were in my right ear. Both have Personalized Spatial Audio enabled.
I picked the song because it has a lot of bass and brass sounds to add to the mid-to-high frequencies. It’s a tune that experiments with many different sounds.
The singing and lyrics were more pronounced in the left ear (Pro 2). While listening to the band, I felt as though I was in a sound booth since the trumpet and bass were so full. I heard instrumentals that I hadn’t heard during my earlier (and frequent) listening sessions since the brass instruments were audible.
I could still clearly hear out of my right ear. However, after listening to the Pro 2, I thought I was hearing a warmer, more gummy version of the music. The sound was still crisp and the bass was strong overall, but the instruments didn’t have their own standout moments as they did with the other earbuds. The trumpet felt somewhat “underwater” after a direct comparison. This means that when I listened to the music with the first generation Pros right after hearing it in such high clarity, I thought there was a sound that hadn’t been unlocked or was being somehow muffled.
The original AirPods Pro had excellent audio overall. Simply put, the AirPods Pro 2 sounds better.
Personalized Spatial Audio was introduced with the iOS 16 update for AirPods (PSA). Instead of using a broad algorithm that might not work for folks who don’t fit a “normal profile,” PSA uses customised ear and head mapping. With the new AirPods Pro 2, I did note that one of the significant upgrades is the ability to make audio feel like it is coming from right in front of you. It’s crucial to remember that the iOS 16 upgrade also made PSA available for Beats Fit Pro, AirPods Pro, AirPods Pro Max, and the AirPods Pro 2.
Active Noise Cancellation improves somewhat
According to Apple, the H2 chip improves Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) by nearly two times. Apple did certainly enhance the ANC capabilities by relocating the microphone to the top of the earphones and focusing on frequency level rather than volume. I can’t hear myself typing, my air conditioner blasting, or my roommate shouting at the TV as she watches Monday Night Football while I type these lines and listen to music at around 70% level.
I feel as though I’m in my own universe when I stroll around New York’s streets. Although the noise cancelling on the AirPods Pro (first generation) was fantastic, I frequently felt as though a white noise wall was limiting my senses when using noise cancelling. The cancellation in The Pros 2 seems less forced and more organic.
I was curious to find out whether the ANC was as excellent as the earplugs I often wear during spin class. In my spin class, there is usually one certain space under a speaker that nobody books. Simply put, it becomes too noisy to exercise comfortably. So I reserved the time and tested the AirPods Pro 2. The earbuds didn’t completely block out the noise when I put them in, but I discovered that the amount of internal and exterior sound I was exposed to was just right. I didn’t feel like I was becoming deaf or losing out on the music since I was able to hear the teacher well, keep up with the tempo, and enjoy myself. The best part: I never had to adjust them or have them slip out of my ears.
Mode for Adaptive Transparency
The upgraded Adaptive Transparency mode of the AirPods Pro 2 is one of its most striking features. I need to be aware of my surroundings since I live in a city with a lot of construction noise. Even with music playing, I need to be aware of my surroundings, whether it’s listening to make sure I don’t miss my subway stop or the buzz of an electric bike as I cross the street. In my testing, the Pro 2’s new Transparency mode successfully equalises the audio in the earphones with the outside noise. But when I switch from ANC to Transparency mode, I usually need to raise the volume by around 25%.
A more intelligent charger
The inclusion of the speaker to the AirPods case itself has been eagerly anticipated by those, like myself, who regularly lose their case or let it fall between sofa cushions. I can now use my iPhone’s Find My function to ping my second-generation AirPods case. I was able to find the AirPods from the depths of my rucksack in another room since the speaker emits a high-pitched chime sequence when I plug in the headphones.
Battery life and recharging
Usually, I am that person whose AirPods go dead mid-walk home from work despite having forgotten to charge them all week. I was therefore pleased to see that Apple claimed a 33% increase in battery life, resulting in a total of six hours of listening time and five charges from a fully charged case.
After my first full day of trying the AirPods, which included listening to music and podcasts throughout my commutes, during a workout, and on a two-hour trip, the case still had a 65% battery charge. I felt inspired.
I’m frequently forced to decide between charging my iPhone or my AirPods, which excuses my carelessness with regard to charging. However, this current version may be recharged with an Apple Watch charger. I can now utilise the Apple Watch charger that spends most of the day besides my desk charging my AirPods case.
sensors and gesture features
The AirPods Pro’s stem can be pressed once to pause or play audio and held down to switch between ANC and Transparency mode, much as the original AirPods Pro (s). The volume may now be changed directly from the AirPods’ stems.
Although the function appears to be fantastic in principle, I found it difficult to use, especially while travelling. Your hand must be extremely close to your ear since the stems need to be lightly pressed in order for the volume to change. I feel it takes the same amount of time to just crank up the volume on my phone without the uncomfortable hand positioning, especially if you’re running or moving swiftly.
The skin sensors are more sensitive, I’ve also observed. So, there have been times when I’ve unintentionally hung up on a conversation or paused music when I only intended to change the audio.
anarchy in connectivity
The AirPods Pro 2 may be connected to an Apple Watch, iPad, or Mac while being primarily an iPhone attachment. The AirPods are instantly accessible to connect if you’re signed into the same Apple account across all of these devices. Because you don’t have to fiddle with Bluetooth pairing as you do with other headphones, this may be really convenient.
The issue, though, is that Apple attempted to make the AirPods intelligent enough to transition between devices automatically. One of the greatest issues with AirPods is that it may rapidly get chaotic if you own many Apple devices. As a result, after connecting to a Mac or an iPad, it may occasionally be challenging to get your AirPods to switch back to your iPhone. Therefore, you must access the settings and manually adjust them to the desired device. Recent software upgrades appear to have made things worse rather than better.
I’m sorry to let you down if you were hoping that this problem would be resolved by the AirPods Pro 2 and the new H2 processor. This issue still exists.
To sum up
The AirPods Pro 2 are an update to the originals that offers better audio quality in a more convenient design. It is undeniable that the sound quality on these earbuds is the finest yet, even if many of the more visible, tactile upgrades are already in the casing. Depending on what you value most in a pair of wireless earbuds, the additional improvement in sound quality or case usefulness may or may not be worth the additional $70.
You’re not really losing out on anything if you’re content with the original AirPods Pro. But the new version is available if you want the finest in Apple’s wireless earphones and frequently misplace your charging case.