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The AirPods Pro 2 is the new gold standard for Apple earbuds.

October 17, 2023
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I’ve learned through using the AirPods Pro 2 that appearances can be deceiving. The latest version of Apple’s now-iconic premium earbuds appears to be largely unchanged at first glance, but closer inspection reveals a number of small improvements in the controls, sound quality, and usability. Then there is the amazing active noise cancellation (ANC), which is astonishingly superior to what used to be the norm in the industry.

Having said that, I’m not sure if current AirPods Pro owners need to buy more accessories for $249. And since the original AirPods Pro grabbed the world by storm, a tonne of fantastic competitors have emerged with more creative designs, useful functions, and more affordable costs. The AirPods Pro 2 are among the greatest wireless earbuds I’ve ever tested, and I plan to continue using them despite everything. This is why.

The noise cancellation is really good.

The noise cancellation is really good.

The promise of ANC which is twice as good as the previous model is the AirPods Pro 2 main selling point. It’s a big statement, but these buds more than live up to it.

Living in New York City, I have to endure a lot of noise, such as clattering construction, whirring automobile engines, and frequent chatter. The new AirPods Pro reduced all of this noise to a peaceful, barely detectable hum. When I turned on ANC on my old AirPods Pro, I could still plainly hear the noise of my overworked air conditioner, but the AirPods Pro 2 reduced it to a quiet, unnoticeable rumbling. I quickly became aware of the increased quantity of street noise that was passing through when I unintentionally took the older model with me for a walk. My regular errands have become considerably more enjoyable thanks to the enhanced noise cancellation of the AirPods Pro 2.

When it comes to general comfort, the new AirPods Pro felt almost exactly the same as the originals, which means that they were a pleasure to wear for extended periods of time. Although they’re still great for working out, they’re not quite as snug as the wing-tipped Beats Fit Pro, but they also seem lighter and less bothersome. The main difference this time is the inclusion of an extra-small silicone ear tip to go along with the currently provided small, medium, and large options. If you’ve always found the AirPods Pro to be too big for you, now could be the time to upgrade. I found the default medium tips to feel excellent right out of the box.

Volume controls are clutch.

Volume controls are clutch.

The new AirPods Pro have touch controls, which allow you to instantly increase or decrease the volume in minute increments by sliding your finger up or down the stems. I almost never have to take out my phone anymore when I need to modify my music playback, which is a tiny upgrade that has made a significant difference in my day-to-day use. Although on-ear volume controls are by no means a new idea, the AirPods Pro 2’s implementation is the most user-friendly I’ve ever encountered.

Jabra’s earbuds have decent volume controls, but you had to hold down one of the physical buttons to change them, which could make the sound overly soft or loud. Although you may set up the buttons on the Beats Fit Pro to adjust volume, you’ll have to give up noise cancellation in the process.

The AirPods Pro’s new volume controls, in comparison, feel like a logical extension of the pinch controls that were previously there and were as reliable as ever for pausing, skipping tunes, and taking calls. Although I typically prefer earphones with physical buttons (like my dependable Beats Fit Pro), it will be difficult for me to switch back to anything else once I start using the AirPods Pro 2.

Even better sound quality, now personalized

Even better sound quality, now personalized

For the past week, I’ve enjoyed using the AirPods Pro 2 as my primary set of headphones for listening to music since they produce some of the clearest, richest audio I’ve ever heard from a pair of earbuds. Everything from the cheery guitars and fluid vocals of Beach Bunny’s “Weeds” to the ethereal hip-hop of Kid Cudi’s “Lovin’ Me” sounded loud, clear, and satisfyingly bassy, all the while making it simple for me to distinguish every minute background element.

When switching between the AirPods Pro 2, AirPods Pro, and Beats Fit Pro, I didn’t hear a huge night-and-day difference in sound quality, but Apple’s most recent earbuds did a better job handling higher-frequency noises (like crunchy lead guitar riffs) and provided a cleaner, wider overall sound. A new H2 chip that helps with noise cancellation and overall quality, as well as enhanced internals, makes it feasible for this upgraded audio to be heard. This processor is specially optimized for the most typical noisy circumstances, such as a noisy coffee shop, and has inside what is practically double the computational capacity.

When I listened to spatial audio tracks like Turnstile’s “Endless,” whose fuzzy punk guitars and layered vocals sounded so present and immersive that I was ready to climb in the pit, Apple’s newest earbuds really stood out. The new Personalised Spatial Audio feature, which advances Apple’s 360-degree sound technology by tailoring things to your unique ears, played a part in enhancing this experience.

It only took a few seconds to set up personalized spatial audio by using the front camera on my iPhone to capture the shape of my head. This method is similar to setting up Face ID, and I found it to be much simpler than the numerous photos I had to take (and retake) to get Working on the LinkBuds S is Sony’s 360 Reality Audio.

I definitely heard a slight improvement in overall sound separation when listening to the identical tunes in personalized spatial audio on the AirPods Pro 2 and normal spatial audio on the ordinary AirPods Pro. The good news is that personalized spatial audio is available on the AirPods Pro 1, AirPods 3, AirPods Max, and Beats Fit Pro, so you don’t have to purchase the new AirPods specifically for this benefit.

You only need an iPhone with a TrueDepth camera (iPhone X or newer) and iOS 16 installed on it. If you set up personalized spatial audio on your iPhone, you may use it on your iPad or Mac as well because it is compatible with all Apple devices.

The dedicated AirPods area in the Settings menu is another minor improvement to the quality of life that I value. Instead of having to wade around the Bluetooth menu to find your headphones and manually tweak settings like sound modes and touch control, you’ll now see an icon for your AirPods as soon as you open Settings. Additionally, this capability is accessible on all contemporary AirPods and Beats Fit Pro, just like personalized spatial audio.

A harder-to-lose case

A harder-to-lose case

The case of the AirPods Pro 2 went through various physical and software modifications that should help prevent them from going missing indefinitely. This is one of the largest improvements. The right side of the case now has a lanyard loop, which makes it simple to attach a lanyard (like this one from Incase, which costs $13). You can then connect the lanyard to your wrist or backpack to have the AirPods Pro with you at all times.

If that isn’t sufficient to prevent your headphones from going missing, the new AirPods Pro now allows you to locate the case using the Find My app (other Apple headphones offer this feature, but it is typically only available for the headphones themselves). The best part is that the case now has a chime feature that you can use to find it when it inevitably slides behind your couch cushions or beneath your bed. Additionally, Precision Finding may be used with an iPhone 11 or later to get precise directions on where your case is, just like an AirTag.

The new AirPods Pro case is now more solid, with an IPX4 rating that should ensure that it can survive some gym sweat or a few sprays of water in the rain, in addition to being tougher to lose. The case’s sound effects aren’t only restricted to when it’s missing; it also makes distinct chimes when it starts charging, runs out of energy, or is in pairing mode. This extra confirmation is great and could be helpful for those who are blind. I personally don’t need these noises, so I was happy to learn that you can turn them off in the Settings menu.

The AirPods Pro 2 Great battery life

The AirPods Pro 2 Great battery life

I experienced the new AirPods Pro for a week and have only had to charge the case twice so far, despite using them for lengthy periods of time and a combination of ANC and transparency. Given that I wear them pretty much all day, Apple’s most recent premium earbuds have offered outstanding overall endurance and held their own against the competition.

The second-generation AirPods Pro’s rated battery life, which guarantees six hours of nonstop playback and a total of 30 hours in the case with ANC enabled, closely matches my own experience with them. This is comparable to the Beats Fit Pro and will give you up to six hours more wear time than the Bose QuietComfort 2 and an additional 90 minutes of battery life than the original AirPods Pro. It still falls short of the fantastic 12 hours we received with the Sony WF-1000XM4, which is currently our top pick for the finest noise-cancelling earbuds.

Thankfully, the AirPods Pro 2 continues to support wireless charging, whether you’re using a MagSafe device or a conventional Qi wireless charger, unlike the Beats and Bose earbuds.

The design is more of the same.

The design is more of the same.

The new AirPods Pro are essentially identical to their predecessors in terms of design, with the exception of a few pleasant improvements to the case and some marginally altered ventilation on the buds themselves. In fact, there were several times when I unintentionally put the old ones in before going for a stroll. This isn’t always a negative thing; the AirPods Pro still looks and feels great, and there’s a reason you can’t leave the house without seeing a few pairs—but it can be disappointing for those hoping for something new.

These aren’t the earbuds for you if you’re tired of the same old Apple White and don’t want stems sticking out of your ears. It would have been good to see the AirPods Pro change things up a little in a market where rivals like the Beats Fit Pro and Galaxy Buds 2 Pro offer a variety of color options and low-profile, stemless designs.

Conclusion

The AirPods Pro 2 is a significant upgrade for Apple’s earbuds, offering a range of subtle tweaks to controls, sound quality, and overall usability. The AirPods Pro 2 boasts impressive active noise cancellation (ANC) that is twice as good as the previous model, making daily errands more pleasant. The AirPods Pro 2 also feels virtually the same as before, with an extra-small silicone ear tip. The volume controls are clutch, allowing users to quickly raise or lower the volume in small increments.

This feature is the most intuitive I’ve used yet, making it easier to adjust audio playback without having to take out their phone. The AirPods Pro 2’s combination of intuitive playback and volume control makes it hard to go back to anything different. Despite the price tag, the AirPods Pro 2 are among the best wireless earbuds I’ve ever tested, and I see myself using them for the foreseeable future.

The AirPods Pro 2 has been a favorite for music headphones, providing clear, rich audio quality. The updated buds handle higher-frequency noises and deliver a cleaner, wider overall sound due to improved internals and a new H2 chip. The personalized spatial audio feature enhances the experience by tuning things to your specific ears.

This feature is available on the AirPods Pro 1, AirPods 3, AirPods Max, and Beats Fit Pro and works across Apple devices. The dedicated AirPods section in the Settings menu now shows an icon for your AirPods, making manual adjustments easier. The AirPods Pro 2 also features a harder-to-lose case, which has gotten some physical and software-based tweaks to prevent them from permanently going missing. The AirPods Pro 2 is a great addition to Apple’s audio technology, offering a more immersive listening experience.

FAQS

Will the AirPods Pro 2 come in different colors?

The alternatives are as follows: Even though Apple doesn’t produce black AirPods, there are a couple of alternative ways to acquire a set. The only color available for Apple’s wireless earbuds, the AirPods ($129), AirPods 3 ($179), and AirPods Pro 2 ($249), is white.

What do the different color lights mean on the AirPods Pro 2?

Green: When the LED is green, either the case or the AirPods have reached full charge. Amber: The LED will change to this color while the AirPods case or the headphones are charging, which is also known as orange. White LED flickering: When the LED is blinking white, it is prepared for Bluetooth pairing.

Can you customize the color of the AirPods Pro?

Add some color to your AirPods Pro 2nd Generation! Add your favorite color to these wonderful small headphones. The charging cover can be painted or not, and you can even select two distinct colors for each AirPod! You’ll have a distinctive pair in any case!

Do AirPods Pro 2 light up?

When your AirPods Pro (1st or 2nd generation) or AirPods (3rd generation) are on the charging mat, you can tap the case to check whether they are charging (amber light) or fully charged (green light).