Many smart features are exclusive to Apple devices
No lossless audio support
The AirPods Pro 2 are the ideal true wireless earbuds for Apple users, with fan-favourite features including multi-device switching, Hey Siri support and one-tap connectivity. There’s also improved ANC, industry-leading transparency mode and exceptional audio quality – though not lossless like some alternatives.
Price When Reviewed
Best Prices Today: Apple AirPods Pro (second-generation)
Price comparison from over 24,000 stores worldwide
While Apple’s second-generation AirPods Pro might not look that different at a glance, there’s a swathe of new tech both in the buds and in the case that truly elevate the AirPods Pro experience, even for those rocking the first-gen buds.
With headline features including improved audio performance, 2x better active noise cancellation, the introduction of adaptive transparency mode and new personalised spatial audio, the AirPods Pro 2 could be the perfect high-end true wireless earbuds for Apple users.
Design & Build
Comfortable to wear over long periods
New carry case features
Despite whispers that the new AirPods Pro might feature an all-new design sans stem, that’s not the case here. Instead, the AirPods Pro look almost identical to the previous iteration, sporting the same compact design and swappable ear tips that provide much better passive sound isolation than the standard AirPods.
In fact, ear tips are one area where there is an alteration, with Apple now including new extra small ear tips in the box for those with smaller ear canals. It’s not something I can comment on as I use medium/large tips, but it’ll no doubt be a big deal for those that felt the OG AirPods Pro were a little uncomfortable.
The only other notable change in design is the addition of an extra black cut-out section on each bud. While it might look insignificant, it actually houses an acoustic vent that not only looks to improve the audio performance (more on that later) but also makes your voice sound more natural when wearing the buds.
Lewis Painter / Foundry
It negates that plugged-ear feeling common among in-ear buds, especially apparent when talking, and combined with the fantastic transparency mode, it’s easy to keep the AirPods in while comfortably chatting with people nearby.
In fact, comfort is a theme with the AirPods Pro design, with a compact, lightweight 5.3g form factor that doesn’t feel big or bulky in the ear or cause irritation over longer periods of use. They have no problem staying in place despite the lack of any kind of wing style part, even when exercising, and the IPX4 water resistance means they can survive a bit of sweat or light rain too but rivals are often higher rated.
The accompanying charge case measures in at a near-identical 61 x 45 x 22mm, though there are a few changes on offer. The most obvious is the inclusion of a lanyard loop on the right side, allowing you to attach the case to a lanyard around your neck. It does seem like a slightly odd addition, especially given it messes with the otherwise clean, Apple-esque aesthetic, but it’ll be a handy addition for some.
There’s also a new speaker grille located to the right of the Lightning port on the bottom of the case that introduces handy new functionality, but I’ll cover that in a bit.
Lewis Painter / Foundry
Though the AirPods Pro aren’t upgradable, Apple has made efforts to recycle the tech housed within. It now offers an AirPods Pro recycling program, and it’ll even send a recycling bag to your home if necessary. It may sound small, but with non-upgradable parts, the AirPods would usually be destined for landfill once the built-in lithium-ion batteries give up the ghost.
It’s better for the planet, and something we’d love to see from other TWS manufacturers.
Intuitive swipe-based volume controls
Slick software and hardware experience for Apple users
Charging case boasts Find My tech
Apple’s control over hardware and software has always provided a frictionless AirPods experience with connected iPhones, iPads and other Apple tech, and that experience continues with the AirPods Pro 2.
Expect all the smart features AirPods are known for, from a one-tap pairing process to automatic pause/play when you remove and re-insert the buds and the ability to summon Siri just by uttering the phrase ‘Hey Siri’. The buds can also automatically change source depending on the device you’re using, ideal if you’re listening to music on a Mac and want to take a phone call from your iPhone.
Essentially, if you’re an iPhone user, you won’t find a slicker wireless earbud experience from any other manufacturer, though the experience is more generic if you want to use them with an Android, missing out on automatic pairing, device switching, hands-free virtual assistant and more. In that scenario, you may be better suited to the likes of the Google Pixel Buds Pro with Android-specific features.
New features of the buds include personalised spatial audio support, which is set up using an iPhone and its Face ID scanner to generate a map of your ears. This is then used to better replicate spatial audio in your ears for a more lifelike audio experience – in theory, anyway.
In my experience, there was no notable difference to Apple’s already excellent spatial audio support with head-tracking enabled, though your experience may fare differently. It’s also available on the first-gen AirPods Pro and other models of AirPods, so it’s not an exclusive feature to the top-end buds either – rather a nice addition with the arrival of iOS 16.
Lewis Painter / Foundry
What will likely be more useful to the majority of AirPods Pro users is the ability to control volume via the buds, thanks to new touch controls on the stems of the buds. Though they don’t look any different – and feature the same ‘squeeze’ tech as before – you can now run your finger up and down the stem to adjust audio on the fly.
It may sound like a simple idea, but it was always the one thing I’d have to use an iPhone or Apple Watch to control, and the ability to do that at a moment’s notice when watching a particularly quiet scene of a movie or when walking into a shop is massively appreciated. It can be a bit fiddly to use at first, but it’s something you get used to after a few days.
Most importantly, the call and microphone quality of the AirPods Pro is still unbeatable.
It sports the same beamforming microphone tech as its predecessor, and that means your voice is picked up surprisingly well in most environments, both indoor and outdoor. Of all the earbuds I test – and believe me, there are lots in all shapes and sizes – I always get complimented on how clear the call sounds whenever I use the AirPods Pro 2.
Of course, it’s not always exceptionally clear – the hiss of a nearby bus driving past can drown me out – but those moments are few and far between compared to the frustratingly frequent ‘can you hear me?’ moments when using other true wireless earbuds.
Equally as exciting, the accompanying charge case boasts a swathe of new features. The most useful will no doubt be the introduction of a speaker on the bottom of the case, which can be activated via the Find My app if you lose the case and buds. Previously, only the buds would chime, making it impossible to locate if they were in their case.
Lewis Painter / Foundry
The speaker is also used to indicate what’s happening, with charming new chimes for pairing, low battery and charging. The low battery chime is a particularly handy addition, helping you avoid those annoying scenarios where your case and buds are completely dead ahead of a long journey.
There’s also Apple’s U1 tech onboard, allowing for the same precision finding tech on recent iPhones as AirTags, making it easier than ever to find your misplaced AirPods Pro.
Notably improved audio performance
Deep bass, clear highs
Apple Spatial Audio is still the best implementation
The AirPods Pro feature a swathe of new tech including a low-distortion driver and a custom amp to deliver a much clearer, more powerful audio experience than the original AirPods Pro.
I used the original AirPods Pro for almost three years, so I was aware of just how my favourite songs sound, and let me tell you, the difference is instantly noticeable. The bass is much more powerful, especially at lower volumes where the original buds would tend to go a little flat, and there’s notably crisper high-frequency performance too.
Everything just sounds more rounded and much clearer than before, making for an excellent music-listening experience that’s suited to everything from acoustic tracks like Israel Kamakawiwo’ole’s Over the Rainbow to bass-slapping tunes like Pendulum’s Tarantula.
The improved audio performance also translates to a more immersive spatial audio experience. While it works best with Dolby Atmos content available from Apple Music, the buds can also upscale stereo playback to widen the soundscape for something more akin to listening to music in a studio.
Lewis Painter / Foundry
It allows you to pick up on minor details you might’ve missed on your favourite tracks, while more closely representing the intended sound experience.
Spatial audio isn’t unique to Apple’s earbuds, but it does stand out as one of the better implementations of the tech, especially when paired with head tracking that shifts the direction of the audio as you move your head for a more traditional speaker experience.
The head-tracked spatial audio isn’t just for listening to music either.
In fact, with support for Dolby Atmos and spatial audio on recent models of Apple TV, it’s perfect for late-night movie watching. The multi-channel audio from movies is rendered perfectly within the buds, and when paired with head tracking, it really feels like you’re watching a movie with a full 5.1 surround sound system, with audio direction changing as you look around the room.
It’s the most natural movie-watching experience I’ve had using in-ear buds and has become commonplace when watching any content on Apple TV late at night.
The only disappointment is that the AirPods Pro 2 don’t offer support for any kind of lossless audio playback like premium alternatives including the NuraTrue Pro that can stream near-CD quality 16-bit/44.1kHz audio with Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1-equipped Android smartphones.
It’ll no doubt miff the audiophiles among us, and it’s a bit of a missed opportunity given the extensive lossless audio library on Apple Music, but the improved audio performance means most won’t notice (or care) on a day-to-day basis.
ANC & Transparency Mode
2x boost to ANC performance
Tailored to tune out voices, cars, trains and planes
Industry-leading transparency mode
Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) is the standout feature of the AirPods Pro 2, with significant improvements via Apple’s new H2 chipset and the optimisation of ANC mic placement on the buds themselves. Apple claims up to 2x improvement in noise cancellation, and while that’s hard to quantify, they’re certainly among the best I’ve experienced in true wireless form.
Lewis Painter / Foundry
Sure, you don’t get the gradient ANC controls like with Sony’s WF-1000XM4, but that’s of little concern once the mode is activated. The instant quietening of even loud environments like the 80db+ Victoria line on the London Underground is genuinely impressive, allowing me to listen to music at comfortable volumes rather than maxing it out to drown out the monotonous shrieks of the tube.
It’s a test I perform with most ANC-enabled buds I review, and the AirPods Pro 2 are up there with the best. It’s a seriously impressive feature that makes light work of both low- and high-pitched environmental sounds, specifically tailored to cancel out the drone of fans, trains and flights as well as people talking nearby.
Using the sound level app on Apple Watch, I saw an average of 30db noise reduction when using the buds in loud environments, which not only helps quieten the environment but protects your hearing too.
Apple’s transparency mode tech has always been a personal favourite of mine. It essentially blends your music with sound from the environment around you, providing better situational awareness when walking the streets or working in a busy office.
It picks up even small sounds and replicates this perfectly in stereo for a true-to-life experience. In fact, I’ve forgotten I’ve been wearing the buds on several occasions with transparency mode active and no music playing – and that’s saying something.
Transparency mode is ideal for quick conversations, be it with a shopkeeper as you grab some snacks or that one annoying colleague at work that can’t take the hint that you don’t want to be disturbed when listening to music. You’ll likely have to pause the music so you can better process what’s going on (some rivals like the XM4 do this automatically), but I never felt to remove the buds from my ears to chat to those around me.
That has been further enhanced with the new AirPods Pro 2’s new adaptive transparency tech that processes incoming sound 48,000 times per second to anticipate and reduce loud, harsh sounds like sirens or construction noises in real-time. It’s a welcome addition that works impressively well on the loud streets of London, making for fewer wince-inducing moments as screaming police sirens go by than the OG AirPods Pro.
Battery Life & Charging
Slight bump to earbud battery life
Charging case battery capacity is identical
Can charge AirPods Pro case with Apple Watch charger
When it comes to battery life, expect a slight bump compared to the original AirPods Pro that keeps Apple’s latest buds in line with the competition.
That includes a six-hour battery life from the buds with ANC active, up by 1.5hrs compared to their predecessors, with 24 additional hours of charge provided by the case. That brings total battery life to around 30 hours, though playtime can be extended to 7 hours of listening with 28 extra hours in the case simply by disabling ANC. That’s in line with the likes of the Sony WF-1000MX4.
Lewis Painter / Foundry
There’s also fast charging tech that’ll provide three hours of charge from just 15 minutes in the case, though that’s fairly commonplace among high-end true wireless buds.
What isn’t standard is how you can charge the AirPods Pro; while it missed out on the upgrade to USB-C, sporting the same Lightning port on the bottom for charging, the case can now be wirelessly charged via the Apple Watch charger in addition to Qi and MagSafe, making it easier than ever to top up the buds if you’ve already got Apple charging tech nearby.
Pricing & Availability
The new 2022 AirPods Pro cost $249/£249, which is the same price in the US and £10 more than the previous generation in the UK.
But while the original AirPods Pro were among the most expensive earbuds around at release, the high-end earbud market has matured greatly and, compared to the likes of the $329/£299 NuraTrue Pro, the AirPods Pro are comparatively good value for money.
The AirPods Pro 2 represent the pinnacle of true wireless earbud performance for iPhone users, with not only impressive audio performance with improved ANC and transparency mode capabilities, but a swathe of smart features that push the AirPods Pro above other third-party options.
It’s not so clear-cut if you’re an Android user, losing out on many of the smarts that make the AirPods Pro what they are, but if you’ve got an iPhone, iPad, Apple TV or Mac, the AirPods Pro are the ideal high-end performers.
60.6 x 45.2 x 21.7mm, 50.8g (case)
21.8mm x 30.9mm, 5.3g (earbuds)
Custom Apple driver and amplifier
Active Noise Cancellation
Adaptive Transparency mode
Vent system for pressure equalisation
Spatial audio support with dynamic head tracking
Dual beamforming microphones
‘Hey Siri’ support
IPX4 water resistance
6hrs of battery in buds, additional 24 in case (with ANC on)
Works with Lightning, MagSafe, Qi and Apple Watch chargers
4 sets of ear tips
Best Prices TodayApple AirPods Pro (second-generation)
Lewis Painter is a Senior Staff Writer at Tech Advisor. Our resident Apple expert, Lewis covers everything from iPhone to AirPods, plus a range of smartphones, tablets, laptops and gaming hardware. You'll also find him on the Tech Advisor YouTube channel.