Apple AirPods pro 2 review: Audio, battery life and more


There aren’t any easily discernible differences between the new AirPods Pro and the previous model, although the acoustic vents have been slightly rearranged around the edges of the buds.

You can tell the AirPods Pro apart from the latest third-gen AirPods because the Pro earbuds have silicone tips on the end to ensure a decent seal in the ear, which helps with noise isolation.

For the latest Pro model there are now even more of these tips – alongside the previously supplied small, medium and large tips there is an extra small option to ensure the perfect fit. Not only is this good for noise reduction, but for making sure they don’t fall out of your ears.

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Being Apple, there’s even an eartip fit test in the iPhone software (go to Settings and if the AirPods Pro are connected, they’ll show up as an item on the first page. Tap the Ear test (while you have the earbuds in your ears) and you’ll hear a melody so the software can figure out if the AirPods fit well.

Incidentally, the setup remains as ingeniously simple as ever with AirPods. Just bring the AirPods Pro (still in their case) close to your iPhone or iPad, open the case and you’ll see an image of them on the screen. You decide to connect them and then you’re done.

The biggest design change is for the charging case, which now has a loop on the side so you can attach a lanyard to it. There’s also now a speaker on the bottom of the case. No, no, that’s not for making music, that would be ridiculous. The case now contains Apple’s U1 chip, meaning you can use the Find My app on your iPhone to locate it if you’ve misplaced it. The speaker means the case can make noise to let you know you’re nearby, like a game of hide-and-seek that only gadgets can play.

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There’s another change to the case – it has a MagSafe connector, so you can charge the AirPods Pro in their case using the same MagSafe charger that works with compatible iPhones. You can also charge them with the Apple Watch’s charging puck, a feature unique to the new AirPods Pro.

Engraving AirPods cases is nothing new, but you can now get more personal than ever. Memoji is the name for the cartoony identity you can create for yourself to go with your Apple ID. Now you can have this engraved on the case. This new feature is also available for previous generations of AirPods cases.

sound quality

The new Apple H2 chip is central to the performance of the second-gen AirPods Pro – it has twice as many transistors as the previous H1 chip (if you count, the number has gone from 500 million to 1 billion).

What does this mean in terms of audio? It’s pretty impressive. First off, the noise-cancellation is significantly better than the first-gen Pro earbuds, and that was industry-leading.

Apple claims the new headphones can extract twice as much noise as the previous model, partly because the new chip is faster and can run more advanced algorithms. According to Apple, it’s been tuned to work better in environments like coffee shops or busy offices.

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In practice, the noise-cancellation was good enough to reduce continuous noise like engine noise on a train, and eerily meant I couldn’t hear my fingers when typing out this review.

Then there’s personalized spatial audio. First use the front-facing camera (the TrueDepth camera) to provide the software with a front view of your face, followed by a view of each side of your face to capture the shape of your ears. It takes less than a minute. The idea is that when you’re done, the personalized audio will sound a lot better than the non-personalized one. Note that you can turn this off at any time, but you’ll have to go through the setup process again if you want to turn it back on at a later date. The personalized settings will also carry over to your other devices, and this feature is also available on AirPods 3rd generation and AirPods max.

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Some other headphones have systems that can alter sound quality, though rarely as easily as here, and the difference between personalized and non-personalized is certainly noticeable here. I can’t describe how it would be for you, but for me the higher notes were more articulated and the vocals came alive. Turning it off again meant the music seemed flatter. Some notes that seemed less present while the personalization setting was off then became punchier and clearer when it was on. It’s a subtle but effective improvement.

There’s a new control mechanism for adjusting playback volume – swiping the stem of the earbud. It’s difficult to learn, but effective once you have it.

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Adaptive transparency worked well. It’s for those situations where you need to be in touch with the real world, perhaps for a conversation, but don’t want to turn off the music. It’s hard to gauge just how much better that is, although it felt like some sounds like road drills or sirens were a little less awful, although they certainly still cut through.

It’s worth noting that even with these new AirPods Pro, you won’t be able to play music in lossless quality, but the audio here is still stunning.

performance and battery life

The improvements in audio quality are mainly due to the new H2 chip, which is very effective. Things that AirPods users take for granted, such as Other features such as good call quality are as good as ever, while using the Find My app to locate the case was easy.

Battery life is better – you don’t always hear that with an updated gadget. The original AirPods Pro managed four and a half hours with active noise cancellation turned on. That’s now up to six hours in the latest Pro. That’s more than the previous version with noise canceling turned off (five hours). According to Apple, talk time for phone calls has increased by one hour to four and a half hours. And while the new Personalized Spatial Audio feature reduces listening time, at five and a half hours that’s still more than the longest listening time available on the first-gen Pro.

These are Apple’s claims, but real-world testing has shown these numbers to be correct.

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