Tech – Review of Apple AirPods Pro (2nd Gen) Due to improvements in Active Noise Cancellation (ANC), touch controls, and other areas, the AirPods Pro continue to be the top recommendation for users of iOS. read more —Delta invests in air taxi startup Joby for home-to-airport flights
What we like
What we don’t like
Who are the AirPods Pro (2nd generation) for?
- iPhone users get the full AirPods Pro (2nd generation) experience, including support for Find My, Personalized Spatial Audio, optimized battery life, and more.
What’s it like to use Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation)?
The second-generation AirPods Pro come with extra-small ear tips in addition to the small, medium, and large tips. If your ear canal openings are small, this will be great for comfort and privacy.
The charging case looks a lot like the case for the first-generation AirPods Pro, but it is different in some ways. The earbuds and the case are now both rated IPX4. That means you shouldn’t worry about splashes, drips, or even light rain. There is also a lanyard loop in the box so that you can attach the case to your belt or bag. Lastly, the case has a speaker that can make sounds to help you find it and to let you know when the Bluetooth pairing is done or the battery is running low.
“Apple didn’t make a lot of changes to the AirPods Pro (2nd generation), but there are a few small ones.”
Even if you use these earphones every day, you won’t notice any big changes. The second generation of AirPods Pro have the same stemmed shape as the first generation. They can get caught on hair, masks, and other things, but that’s a small problem with almost all earbuds with stems.
Overall, the first- and second-generation AirPods Pro don’t look too different from each other, which is fine. Apple didn’t have to make something new out of this.
How do you control the second-generation Apple AirPods Pro?
Swipe controls are another small improvement to the AirPods Pro (2nd generation). The first-generation AirPods Pro could only be tapped and squeezed. With the second-generation AirPods Pro’s swipe controls, you can now change the volume without having to reach for your phone or ask Siri. This is something that many other earbuds, like the Nothing Ear 1, already do, but it’s still nice to have this added.
Besides that, you’ll find the standard set of controls we’ve come to expect from AirPods:
Press and hold
Toggle ANC/Adaptive Transparency modes
Change volume, request directions, playback control, receive messages, and more
Is there an app for the Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation)?
The AirPods Pro (2nd generation) can be used as Bluetooth earbuds on Android and other devices, but not all features will be available. Apple is known for building a walled garden, and because of this, the Settings app on iOS and iPadOS is the only real “app” for the AirPods Pro (2nd generation). To install firmware updates, you’ll also need to have an Apple device on hand.
You can use the ear tip fit test, which is part of the Settings app, to make sure that the earbuds seal well. You can also choose the ANC mode (on/off or transparent), change the touch-and-hold action, and rename the buds. During phone calls, you can choose to use either the left or right earbud’s mic. Still, unless you’re having trouble, we recommend leaving this set to “Automatically Switch AirPods.”
The iPhone Settings menu effectively functions as the AirPods Pro (2nd generation)’s app — that’s bad news for Android users.
You may also access Audio Sharing from this location, allowing you and another person with Apple headphones to listen to music coming from the same source at the same time. To accomplish this, open the Control Center and then double-tap on the media player to make it full screen. After that, you will be given the option to simultaneously stream audio to both your AirPods and an additional pair.
Find My support, on the other hand, is managed entirely by a different application called Find My. After being paired with your device, the AirPods Pro (2nd generation) will immediately become connected to the Find My App. Find My can monitor each individual bud in addition to the case itself, which is made slightly easier to find thanks to an ultra-wideband chip embedded within the case. A speaker within the case will also make a sound to assist you in locating it, as was previously described. The following is how such interpretation sounds:
How do the Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation) connect?
The second-generation AirPods Pro now have Bluetooth 5.3, which is an improvement over the first-generation AirPods Pro, which only had Bluetooth 5.0. That means that the new AirPods should support LE Audio in the future, but at the time this article was written, that wasn’t confirmed. Still, the second-generation AirPods Pro only work with the SBC and AAC Bluetooth codecs. You can listen to high-quality, low-latency audio on an iOS device. When you use the AirPods Pro (2nd generation) with Android, the optimization isn’t as good as it could be.
The move from Apple’s custom H1 chip to the H2 chip is another small change in the second generation of AirPods Pro. Apple says it supports “high bandwidth connectivity,” which isn’t quite lossless but seems to be getting there.
How to pair AirPods Pro (2nd generation) to an iPhone:
The H2 chip also makes it simple to connect your AirPods Pro (2nd generation) to an iPhone:
- Unlock your iPhone and open Settings.
- Tap Bluetooth and turn it on (it’ll turn green).
- Open the AirPods Pro (2nd generation) case near your iPhone.
- A pop-up will appear where you can tap Connect.
You also get automatic device switching between Apple devices courtesy of the H2 chip. Plus, your AirPods will automatically sync with your iCloud account.
How to pair AirPods Pro (2nd generation) to an Android phone:
Connecting the AirPods Pro (2nd generation) with an Android device is a lot more basic:
- Unlock your Android phone, then go to Settings > Connected Devices > Bluetooth.
- Open the AirPods Pro (2nd generation) case near your phone.
- Press and hold the pairing button on the case and wait for your phone to discover the AirPods Pro (2nd generation).
- Tap on the AirPods Pro (2nd generation) to pair them.
How long does the Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation) battery last?
Apple claims another benefit of the H2 chip is improved battery life thanks to improved efficiency. Once more, this is a small upgrade, with our tests getting five hours, 43 minutes from the AirPods Pro (2nd generation). That falls just short of Apple’s official claim of six hours, but it is indeed longer than the five hours we got with the first-gen AirPods Pro.
The charging case uses Lightning (a continued annoyance), Qi, MagSafe, or an Apple Watch charging mat to recharge. Using the case, you can get up to 24 hours of listening time, or 19 hours, 30 minutes of talk time. It supports fast charging, too, and you can get 60 minutes of playback time after just five minutes in the case. These are pretty typical values for earbud battery life overall.
In a neat touch, in tandem with an iPhone, the AirPods Pro (2nd generation) can learn your listening habits and only charge to 80% until just before you typically use them. Only then will it will top them up to 100%. This battery health management should help preserve battery life in the long term.
How well do the Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation) cancel noise?
Better ANC is perhaps the most significant selling point of the AirPods Pro (2nd generation) and Apple’s biggest upgrade promise, and they deliver. As can be seen in the figure above, the AirPods Pro (2nd generation) handle noise quite well. This level of performance places them alongside the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro, and they easily outperform the first-generation AirPods Pro.
As always, to obtain the optimal experience, you must locate ear tips that suit well. iOS includes an ear tip fit test to assist with this.
Apple’s release announcement also highlighted Adaptive Transparency, which is powered by the H2 processor. Adaptive Transparency, when activated, allows background noises to enter your ears until the earphones detect severe, loud sounds such as construction activities. In our experience, this method is effective; the sounds are still discernible but significantly less strong.
How good do the Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation) sound?
There are no major upsets regarding the AirPods Pro (2nd generation)’s sound quality. Sure, you can see a slight drop-off in the high notes in the frequency response graph above, but most people won’t mind this.
The buds also benefit from the Adaptive EQ feature (which the first-gen AirPods Pro also have). It is always on and constantly adjusts the earbuds’ sound depending on how they fit, the shape of your ears, and the environment around you.
The AirPods Pro (2nd generation) still sound good, just like their predecessors.
If you really strain to listen, in songs like Harry Styles’ “As It Was,” you can notice that the cymbals are slightly quieter than expected. Still, Styles’ vocals sound great, and so does the guitar. It’s not technically perfect, though you’ll likely only notice if you have sensitive hearing or are in a quiet room. Meanwhile, songs like “Why” by Dominic Fike retain their fun, dancing beats just fine while the vocals come through clear.
Do the AirPods Pro (2nd generation) sound better than the AirPods Pro (1st generation)?
Apple claimed in its press release that the AirPods Pro (2nd generation) have improved sound compared to the AirPods Pro (1st generation). Again, the differences are minor here. though in our tests we noticed a slightly greater bass boost from the second-generation AirPods Pro.
Apple also says a new low-distortion driver and custom amplifier power the AirPods Pro (2nd generation). The newer AirPods Pro definitely do have lower total harmonic distortion, but you likely won’t notice a difference overall.
Note that neither model has a true custom equalizer. Apple Music lets you choose from some presets, but that’s it.
How do you set up Spatial Audio on the AirPods Pro (2nd generation)?
Personalized Spatial Audio was announced when the second generation of AirPods Pro came out, but it’s already part of the updated standard in iOS 16 and later. So, you don’t have to have the newest AirPods to make it work. This feature can also be used with the AirPods Max, AirPods (3rd generation), and AirPods Pro from the first generation.
“Personalized” means that the iPhone’s “TrueDepth” camera will take a picture of your ears to make the technology work best for you. The Sony 360 Reality Audio spatial audio implementation does something similar. As you can see in the screenshots above, you can scan your ears by going to Settings > AirPods Pro > Personalized Spatial Audio.
Spatial Audio works with media files that are compatible with it as well as FaceTime calls. The second one was a little confusing for us, but your experience may be different.
If you want to give Spatial Audio a try for yourself, it’s easy to turn on:
Open the iPhone’s Control Center (pull down from the top-right corner).
Tap the volume knob and hold it down.
At the bottom of the screen, there will be two choices. Tap the circle on the right to hear Spatial Audio.
Streaming services that are supported for Dolby Atmos, like Apple Music or Tidal, will have Spatial Audio, while services that are not supported, like Spotify, will have “Spatialize Stereo.” This is a fake spatial audio effect that isn’t quite as good as the real thing.
You can choose how you want to listen by clicking “Off,” “Fixed,” or “Head tracked.”
To make or take calls, do you need a separate device or are Apple’s AirPods Pro (2nd version) sufficient?
The microphone array in the AirPods Pro (2nd generation) is a bit of a nuanced change. In ideal conditions, the earbuds do a good job of capturing voices. Things get dicier when wind and other background sounds come into play. As you can hear in our sample recording of “Office conditions” below at around the 0:16 mark, and in the “Windy conditions” recording in general, your voice may get cut out along with the noise.
Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation) microphone demo (Ideal conditions):
Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation) microphone demo (Office conditions):
Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation) microphone demo (Street conditions):
Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation) microphone demo (Windy conditions):
You can tell us in the poll below what you think of the mic in AirPods Pro (2nd generation).