Apple’s second-generation AirPods Pro are starting to arrive to customers and will launch in stores on Friday, September 23. In advance, the first reviews of the wireless headphones have now been shared by selected media publications and YouTube channels.
Priced at $249, the second-generation AirPods Pro have improved sound quality, longer battery life, and up to 2x the noise reduction compared to the original AirPods Pro. They also feature swipe-based volume control, an improved built-in skin detection sensor that more accurately turns audio playback on or off, and a new XS eartip option.
The new AirPods Pro come with an updated charging case with a built-in speaker and U1 chip for Find My support with Precision Finding, an opening to attach a lanyard for carrying convenience, and IPX4-rated water and sweat resistance. In addition to Lightning and MagSafe, the case can now be charged with an Apple Watch charger.
We’ve collected both written and video reviews of the new AirPods Pro below.
The edgeChris Welch said there are “significant” improvements to active noise cancellation:
But Apple has made significant gains with its active noise cancellation. The company says the new implementation is, on average, “up to” twice as efficient as the original AirPods Pro. And while I lack any scientific measuring tools, that claim doesn’t seem unrealistic. In our office, I recently moved desks and now sit near a vent that emits a constant hiss. The original AirPods Pro leave a trace of it in noise-canceling mode, but it’s completely muted and imperceptible with the second-generation pair. I can still hear colleagues chatting if they walk right next to my desk, but at most times the AirPods Pro give me plenty of peace of mind. I’ve also observed legitimate improvements when commuting on the subway, and less general street noise creeps through as I traverse Brooklyn day to day.
Welch also noted improved sound quality in general:
Let’s dig right into the sound quality. Apple completely redesigned the amplifier and driver in the AirPods Pro, and while these drivers are the same 11-millimeter size as the third-generation AirPods, they sound superior and deliver the cleanest, most dynamic output of any AirPods to date.
Engadget‘s Billy Steele achieved about six hours of battery life as advertised:
During my tests, I managed six hours and fifteen minutes of use with a mix of noise reduction, transparency mode and calls. That’s more than the previous generation (4.5 hours) and it’s on par with most competitors these days. Sure, some companies offer 10-plus hours on a charge, but the average is about five to seven for the noise-canceling products I’ve tested. More battery life would always be nice, but the six or seven hours Apple musters is enough to get you through the work day if you take a short break.
GizmodoAndrew Liszewski said the new swipe-based volume control feature is a welcome upgrade, but can be “a bit finicky” at times:
It’s a welcome upgrade, but unfortunately one that I found a bit fiddly to get working. It occasionally required a few swipes before anything happened.
As someone who generally hates having to touch my earbuds while wearing them (it inevitably smokes them a bit) I’ll probably continue to use Siri voice commands for volume adjustments or track skipping (the only thing Siri does very well).
Mobile syrupPatrick O’Rourke said swipe-based volume control is his favorite new AirPods Pro feature that makes for a more convenient listening experience:
In my experience, the new AirPods Pro volume touch controls are extremely responsive and work with subtle changes. For example, if you only want to lower or raise the volume a notch or two, you can do it with a short swipe. The controls are also marked with a light click sound, indicating that they are active and working. I didn’t encounter any accidental presses during my several days with the AirPods Pro (2nd-Gen), even while long-pressing the stem to turn active noise cancellation on/off or double-pressing to skip between songs.
On-device touch volume controls are by far my favorite new AirPods Pro feature. The convenience and ease of use of changing the volume directly on the AirPods Pro (2nd-Gen) without having to take out my iPhone really cannot be understated.
O’Rourke added that iOS 16’s Personalized Spatial Audio feature isn’t very noticeable:
In theory I like the idea of the sound being tuned specifically to the shape of your ear, but in practice it doesn’t make much of a difference. It’s also worth noting that while I really like Spatial Audio when watching movies or TV shows on platforms like Apple TV+, I find it hit or miss with music, especially when a track wasn’t originally recorded with technology in mind and has been remastered.
THE CABLE‘s Parker Hall said the charging case’s new built-in speaker “rings pretty loud” to help track my location, but he wishes the case had a USB-C port for cable charging instead of the usual Lightning connector:
Do you need to find the case via Apple’s Find My app? Now you can, and it rings pretty loud. It also makes a little jingle when it starts charging. Speaking of which, you can charge wirelessly as usual (the case also supports MagSafe), but it’s a shame to see Apple still rely on the Lightning port instead of USB-C.