Last updated: 1 month ago
AirPods Pro are Apple's newest take on the totally wireless earbud. With a smaller design compared to the standard AirPods, the pro model is a premium version of the ultra-popular AirPods. Featuring ANC, changeable ear tips, and the H1 chipset, they certainly strive to earn their Pro name.
● Active Noise Cancellation
● Transparency Mode
● Changeable ear tips
● Force Sensor for easy control
● Adaptive EQ
● H1 chipset
● Water resistant
● 4.5 hours battery with ANC
● Cost $249
Truly wireless headphones have become commonplace, with multiple competitors offering their take on the concept. Apple has three different versions of AirPods, and AirPods Pro set itself apart with a rich feature set and pro price tag.
AirPods Pro Pricing
AirPods Pro cost $249. Unlike standard AirPods, which ships with either wired or wireless charging cases, the AirPods Pro only ship with a wireless-charging case.
AirPods Pro Features
Active Noise Cancellation
Active Noise Cancelation, or ANC, describes a technology in modern headphones that reduces external noise from a listening experience. ANC's effectiveness varies from device to device, depending on each manufacturer's algorithms and goals.
AirPods Pro include a microphone on the earpiece's outside that listens for external noise continuously, then sending a sound called anti-noise into the ear. This attempts to cancel out the external sound 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 noises there.
The ANC is continuously adjusted at 200 times per second to ensure the best results. The HomePod also uses microphones to continuously adjust the sound.
AirPods Pro is also vented, for equalizing air pressure and preventing 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.
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.
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 you can walk around town and not be afraid you'll miss hearing an oncoming car.
When wearing a single AirPod Pro, Transparency mode is on by default. To make ANC work with only one ear, you will need to turn it on in settings. If you are in ANC mode and remove one of your AirPods, it will automatically switch the remaining AirPod to Transparency mode.
Fit and design
If you tried to wear Apple's original earbuds or Airpods and you found that their "one size fits most" design didn't fit you, you may want to try again with the pro model. Apple includes three different earpieces in the box, allowing for some variety to the fit and seal. The attachment is a simple plastic oval, which third parties can replicate. So, even if Apple's tips don't work for you, others may.
Another unique feature is its ability to perform an "Ear Tip Fit Test" and verify that the ear tips you have chosen are providing a proper seal. After starting the test, a paired iPhone will play music through the AirPods while using its microphones to analyze the seal. For each ear, it then either recommends trying a different tip or tells you that you that ear already has a tight seal.
Apple says that with ANC turned on, the AirPods Pro will last 4.5 hours, and only gains another half hour with the setting turned off. The charging case offers an additional 24 hours of battery, just like its predecessor. Apple says five minutes in the case will get you one additional hour of listening back.
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, when applicable, will extend their battery life even further.
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, meaning working out with the AirPods Pro or a little rain shouldn't 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. This is another feature likely born from Apple's experience designing HomePod.
The new AirPods Max also includes Adaptive EQ.
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 on the stem 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. It supports "Hey Siri" and the new Announce Messages with Siri feature. You can also share audio with other users who have the latest H1-equipped headphones.
Apple updates all of its products from time to time to ensure the best possible operation, and AirPods Pro are no exception. Apple has released multiple firmware updates to the earbuds, but the company doesn't state much about what they change. Apple pulled the most recent update from December 2019, after complaints of reduced sound isolation in ANC mode.
On May 5, Apple finally released a new firmware update to address the pulled update and fix any remaining issues. You can navigate to settings->general->about on a paired iPhone to check if you have the latest 3A283 firmware installed. If it's on an older firmware, ensure your AirPods show as connected in the Bluetooth menu screen when the lid is open, then leave them in the case. The update will complete on its own at some point without user interaction. There is no way to manually force an update.
AppleInsider reviewed the AirPods Pro and gave it a 4.5 out of 5.
WWDC 2020 & iOS 14
At the 2020 Worldwide Developer Conference, Apple announced that its flagship in-ear headphones would be seeing some major upgrades. In iOS 14, AirPods Pro received a new Spatial Audio feature that mimics an immersive surround sound and movie theater-like experience. In other words, the audio will sound like it's coming from around the wearer.
Spatial Audio relies on tricks, like the built-in accelerometer, to monitor a user's head motions so that its sound field stays fixed.
Spatial Audio supports audio encoded in 5.1, 7.1 and Dolby Atmos.
AirPods Pro Rumors and News
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. There is 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.
Common AirPods Pro Questions
Are AirPods Pro waterproof?
AirPods Pro are water and sweat resistant, rated IPX4.
Do AirPods Pro work with Android?
Yes, but with limitations. While noise cancelling and ambient mode both work with Android phones, you miss out on the automatic pairing and device-switching when used with Apple devices.
Do AirPods Pro have wireless charging?
Yes, the case that ships with AirPods Pro can be charged both wirelessly and wired.
How much do AirPods Pro cost?
AirPods Pro pricing is $249.