AirPods Pro (2nd generation).
I’ve been testing Apple’s new $249 AirPods Pro (second generation) for several weeks. They are available to order now and will hit stores on Friday. Of all the things Apple introduced earlier this month, these are the ones I’m most excited about.
I love my old set of pros, but the upgraded headphones have features I didn’t even know I wanted.
This is why I think you should buy Airpods Pro (2nd generation).
Transparency mode is actually transparent
When you’re using AirPods Pro and you’re not in noise canceling mode, you’re in what Apple calls transparency mode. When you press and hold the grip of your AirPods and you can hear the sound of the sound being sealed or filtered, you’re switching between noise canceling mode and transparency mode.
Noise reduction and transparency settings for AirPods Pro (2nd generation).
The great thing about the new AirPods Pro is that when you’re in transparency mode, you can actually hear what’s going on around you. The older version blocks some of the sound even when you’re in transparency mode. Often when I wear my old pros, I would have to take one out during a call. Now I can hear everything clearly as long as the transparency mode is on.
This advancement is made possible by Apple’s new H2 chip. Thanks to the H2, there’s also a feature called Adaptive Transparency Mode that automatically blocks out sharp noises like a siren or a motorcycle. This feature can be turned on or off. I like to wear it to protect my ears from very loud decibels when walking around a busy city.
Noise cancellation is even better
The H2 chip also made active noise cancellation even better. Apple says the next-generation AirPods Pro provide double the noise cancellation, and I could hear the difference.
While on a plane that usually has very loud ambient noise, I was able to completely tune out the loud hum of the engine and air conditioning while watching Netflix. When the guy sitting next to me started trying to make small talk, I didn’t hear him and just pointed at my headphones. ugh
There’s a new feature that even shows you how much noise is being removed. When you use your AirPods Pro (2nd generation) with your Apple Watch, you can see the noise reduction in real time.
When you use AirPods Pro (2nd generation) with Apple Watch, you can see the noise reduction in real time.
Volume control directly on AirPods
Touch control on the new Pros lets you turn the volume down or up by gently sliding up or down on the AirPods handle.
I was initially afraid that this would be too sensitive, but after a few weeks of use, I’m happy to report that I’ve never accidentally activated this feature. I often fall asleep with my AirPods on, so I was impressed that the volume controls didn’t activate when I tossed and turned.
Charging case works with Apple Watch charger
The new AirPods also come with a new MagSafe charging case. You can even use your Apple Watch charger for the new pros, which is very convenient.
You can now charge AirPods Pro (2nd generation) with the Apple Watch charger.
In addition to easier charging, the battery life of the new AirPods is significantly better. Overall, Apple says battery life has improved by 33%. You now get up to 30 hours of total listening time while active noise cancellation is on. That’s six hours more than the previous generation.
The speaker in the case is great for lost AirPods
If you’ve read my previous reviews, you may have noticed a common theme: I lose things a lot. The new AirPods Pro have a built-in speaker that plays sound so you can find your lost AirPods.
The new AirPods case also comes with a new U1 chip, so you can use the Find My app to see the exact location of the last place you left your AirPods.
There is a strap loop on the side of the case that allows you to attach your AirPods to your wrist or handbag. I haven’t tried straps yet as they are sold separately by third parties, but I can see how this would help me keep up with them.
The sound quality is superb
The new AirPods Pro have superior sound for several reasons. First, there’s a new extra-small ear tip, so hopefully people who say their AirPods fall out of their ears or who don’t get a good seal will see this as a solution.
There’s also a new feature called Custom Spatial Audio. By using your phone’s front-facing camera, your iPhone remembers the size of your ears and helps ensure that the sounds you hear are tailored to your individual ear size.
In the AirPods Pro (2nd generation) settings, you can see and hear how spatial audio works.
There are songs on Apple Music that are specifically designed for spatial audio, and you can really hear the difference. When you’re in the AirPods settings, you can even play sound by going to the tab under Spatial Audio that says See and hear how it works. You can see how much more immersive the sound quality is when spatial audio is enabled.
You can test the spatial audio feature in the settings of your AirPods Pro (2nd generation).
Bluetooth switches seamlessly between devices
One complaint I hear a lot about AirPods is that previous generations claim to seamlessly and intelligently switch between whatever device you’re using, but that feature doesn’t work well. I think this may have been fixed with the new pros.
I was in my kitchen cooking, watching my iPad with my AirPods. When I received a call I was able to seamlessly switch to the call and then when the call ended I went back to watching my show. When I finished watching my show, I asked Siri to play the podcast I wanted to listen to on my iPhone, and I was able to stop listening on my iPad and pick up right where the podcast last left off.
I really appreciated this seamless transition. Difficulty connecting to Bluetooth and switching between devices can drive you crazy, especially when working remotely. Being able to jump to different devices without doing a hard reset on Bluetooth was a luxury I didn’t miss.
Should you buy the new AirPods Pro?
I have nothing bad to say about the new AirPods Pro. They are comfortable to wear, the noise canceling and transparency modes are significantly better, and the battery life has improved. You’ll be hard pressed to lose them with all the new features, you can control the volume without having to touch your phone, and most importantly, the sound quality is excellent.
When I was too lazy to dig into my bag and get my new AirPods Pro, I listened to an audiobook with the older AirPods. I could totally hear and feel the difference. Not only do I recommend buying the new Pros, my advice to previous generation AirPods owners is to upgrade if you have the money. I think you will notice a big difference.
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