Get the Lowest Prices anywhere on Macs, iPads and Apple Watches: Apple Price Guides updated April 9th
 


Truly wireless headphones have become commonplace. Multiple competitors offer their own version of the concept, and Apple themselves have three different wireless earbuds. AirPods Pro aim to set themselves apart with a rich feature set and a pro price tag.

Apple's AirPod ProApple AirPods Pro

What is Active Noise Cancellation?

ANC is a term used to describe a technology used by modern headphones to eliminate external noise from a listening experience. The strength of ANC varies from device to device and is determined by the algorithms used and the goal of the manufacturer.

AirPods Pro utilize a microphone on the outside of the earpiece to listen continuously for external noise, then it sends a sound called anti-noise into the ear. This will cancel out the external sound almost entirely before the wearer can hear it. A second microphone located inside the ear listens to the sound in your ear canal and will cancel any unwanted noise too.

Apple’s new wireless earbuds offer a smaller design with a bigger feature set
Apple’s new wireless earbuds offer a smaller design with a bigger feature set

The ANC is continuously adjusted at 200 times per second to ensure the best results. If this sounds familiar, the HomePod also uses microphones to continuously adjust sound. Also of note, the the pro models are vented which will equalize air pressure and prevent the user from feeling like they are underwater or have clogged ears. Venting allows for increased comfort and fixes an issue many have with the in ear rubber design.

What is Transparency Mode?

Transparency mode is a third listening mode for AirPods Pro, after ANC and standard. When wearing earbuds with flexible ear tips you're likely seeking to seal off the ear canal entirely. This creates a barrier to external sound that makes hearing the world around you difficult, even with ANC off.

There are three distinct listening modesThere are three distinct listening modes

Transparency mode uses the microphones to adjust the ANC to a much lower level, then pipes in some of the external environment and voices to your ear. It even listens for your own voice to make it easier to speak naturally. This means that you can walk around town and not be afraid that you'll miss hearing an oncoming car.

When wearing a single AirPod Pro, Transparency mode is on by default. In order to make ANC work with only one ear, you will need to change it in settings. If you are in ANC mode and remove one of your AirPods, it will automatically switch the remaining AirPod to Transparency mode.

Will AirPods Pro stay in my ears?

If you tried to wear Apple's original earbuds or Airpods and you found that their "one size fits most" design just didn't fit you, you will want to try again with the pro model. Three different ear pieces are included in the box, which allows for some variety to the fit and seal. The attachment is a simple plastic oval, which should easily be replicated and sold by third parties, so even if Apple's tips don't work for you, some others may.

AirPods Pro silicone tips come in small, medium, largeAirPods Pro silicone tips come in small, medium, and large

Another unique feature introduced is its ability to perform an "Ear Tip Fit Test" and verify that the ear tips you have chosen are providing a proper seal.

Do AirPods Pro last a full day?

Apple says that with ANC turned on, the AirPods Pro will last 4.5 hours, and only gains another half hour with it off. The charging case offers an additional 24 hours of battery, just like its predecessor. Apple says that 5 minutes in the case will get you 1 hour of listening back.

AirPods Pro come with a wireless charging case by defaultAirPods Pro come with a wireless charging case by default

The key to long battery life lies in how you use them. Like with the AirPods, keep the earpieces in their case when not in use, and this will ensure a continuous charge. Using only one earpiece at a time will extend their battery life even further. 

Other AirPods Pro features

All of the features mentioned add up to a versatile device,but there are a few more features worth mentioning:

Water resistance is rated at IPX4, which means working out with the AirPods Pro or a little rain shouldnt scare you. The previous AirPods all stood up to water rather well, and some even survived a trip through the wash, but this is the first time Apple gave AirPods a water resistance rating.

Adaptive EQ is another interesting feature. Just like ANC, Adaptive EQ will continuously listen to the audio inside your ear canal, but instead of adjusting for noise, it adjusts for audio quality. Another feature likely born from Apple's experience designing HomePod.

The Force Sensor is in the flat portion of the stem.The Force Sensor is in the flat portion of the stem.

Previous AirPods used a tap gesture to summon Siri or play/pause music, which would sometimes be uncomfortable or push the earphone deeper into your ear. The AirPods Pro use something called the Force Sensor which you squeeze to perform tasks. One press operates play/pause, two will skip forward, three will skip back, and a long press will switch between ANC and Transparency modes.

The H1 chip brings all the quick pairing and Siri features you've come to expect from Apple headphones. "Hey Siri" works great, and the new Announce Messages with Siri is equally awesome. You can also share audio with other users who have the latest H1 chip equipped headphones.

Firmware

Apple updates all of its products from time to time to ensure best possible operation and locks up any vulnerabilities, and AirPods Pro are no exception. Apple has released multiple firmaware updates to the earbuds, but not much is stated about what they do. The most recent update that took place in December was pulled by Apple after complaints of reduced sound isolation in ANC mode.

AppleInsider reviewed the AirPods Pro and gave it a 4.5 out of 5.

AirPods Pro Lite

Rumors have surfaced for a new model in the pro line, potentially called AirPods Pro Lite, that would provide a similar experience at a lower price. Nothing of note in the rumors about what features such a device may have, but changeable ear tips and some form of ANC or transparency mode would likely make the cut.

The term is likely a placeholder, and may not even be AirPods at all. As the previous rumor cycle around a pair of "Apple studio headphones" came and went, it is now apparent they were likely just the refreshed Beats Solo Pro. AirPods Pro Lite could be a Beats product as well, maybe a new version of the Beats X.

Pricing

AirPods Pro are $249 and sometimes found on sale. Check out Appleinsider's Price Guide to find a good deal. Apple sells the ear-tips for $4 as well, if you lose or damage yours.

Essential Reading