Apple unveiled a new set of AirPods Pro along with the impending iPhone 14 series and the long-rumored Apple Watch Ultra during its “Far Out” presentation on Wednesday. The new H2-processor, which Apple claims should block “up to twice as much noise” as its predecessor, as well as swipe-based controls and a host of other features, will be included in the 2nd gen AirPods Pro when they ship on September 23.
As of this week, the second-generation AirPods, third-generation AirPods, second-generation AirPods Pro, and AirPods Max make up the official AirPods collection. The first-generation AirPods Pro are still available from a variety of merchants, including Amazon, Walmart, and Target, even though Apple no longer offers them.
Although the second-generation AirPods Pro are an improvement over the first generation, are they worth the $249 asking price? That’s a difficult issue to answer because there are so many different AirPods available at different pricing points. To make it easier for you to choose which AirPods model could be the best for you, we’ve compared each one below. The new has not yet been reviewed.
BETTER DESIGN AND CONSTRUCTION
All of Apple’s current AirPods models are in-ear, true wireless earbuds with the exception of the AirPods Max. The third-generation AirPods and both iterations of the AirPods Pro have shorter, heavier, and wider stems than the second-generation AirPods. Look at the first and second-generation AirPods Pro as well if you place a lot of importance on comfort of fit. The latter also come with replacement silicone ear tips in different sizes, although only the second-generation AirPods Pro are available in the extra-small size. Additionally, it might be a good idea to stay away from the second-generation AirPods and AirPods Max if you plan to use the earbuds during vigorous gym sessions because neither of them provide any type of sweat and water resistance.
The AirPods Max are a substantial pair of over-ear headphones that have stainless steel earcups and a curved mesh headband in contrast to the plastic AirPods. They are the biggest and heaviest in the lineup as a result, of course. The Max is available in silver, space grey, blue, pink, and green, whereas the earbuds are only available in white.
ASSESSMENT CASES (MAGSAFE, LIGHTNING, ETC.)
Apple offers two charging cases for its earbuds: a wired charging case that uses a normal Lightning connection and a MagSafe-compatible case that also uses a Lightning cable for charging. All of the MagSafe charging cases work with both other Qi-compatible wireless chargers and Apple’s MagSafe technology.
Apple only offers the second-generation AirPods with the Lightning Charging Case, which provides only half the 30-hour listening time that the other cases do. Apple’s Lighting Charging Case is also not water- or sweat-resistant, unlike the other charging cases available for AirPods. The third-generation AirPods, on the other hand, cost $179 when purchased with a MagSafe charging case and $169 when purchased with a Lightning charging case, though we advise skipping the latter if you can.
When the first-generation AirPods Pro were released in 2019, they came with a Lightning-only charging case, but it’s grown more difficult to locate that particular model in stock. Both of the AirPods Pro models now include a MagSafe charging case, although the more recent model’s case differentiates from the older model and the third-generation AirPods in that it has a built-in speaker and Find My support, making it easier to keep track of it. Additionally, Apple gave it a built-in loop so you could lanyard-attach the case to it.
Regarding the AirPods Max, they come with a Smart Case of their own that is intended to prolong battery life by putting the headphones in a very low power mode. Sadly, as we mentioned in our review of the AirPods Max, Apple’s Smart Case is not excellent, mostly because it performs a poor job of safeguarding your headphones. Additionally, the case is too easily dirty and has an excessive number of slits, which makes it simple for the ear cups to be scratched. It is also not water-resistant, in contrast to Apple’s most recent MagSafe Charging Case.
SPATIAL AUDIO, NOISE CANCELLATION, AND OTHER FEATURES
All of Apple’s AirPods perform admirably in terms of sound quality, with the exception of the second-generation AirPods Pro, which we have not yet tested. However, each model comes with a unique collection of characteristics, some of which improve the listening experience.
The AirPods Max or either edition of the AirPods Pro are good options if you’re searching for a set of noise-canceling earphones. Each of the three has active noise cancellation, which muffles outside noise to let you concentrate more intently on your music. Additionally, they provide a useful transparency option that allows you to hear background noise while listening to music and other audio content.
But the difference is in the chips. Apple’s H1 chip powers the AirPods Max and the majority of its AirPods models, including the first-generation AirPods Pro, while Apple’s new H2 chip powers the second-generation AirPods Pro. With increased Adaptive Transparency mode and superior acoustics, the second-generation AirPods Pro should help you drown out loud noises in your environment. We haven’t tested Apple’s claim that the new AirPods Pro can cancel up to twice as much noise as the original AirPods Pro.
Every pair of AirPods—aside from the entry-level model—offers customised spatial audio support and dynamic head tracking for use with all Apple devices. As a result, compared to the second-gen device, which lacks said functionality, the more recent AirPods models provide a more immersive, theater-like sound quality experience. The second-generation model is also missing proprietary high-excursion Apple drivers, which provide more powerful bass, and adaptive EQ, which is said to modify output based on your ear shape. All models, with the exception of the AirPods Max, come with a high dynamic range amplifier that enhances music quality while extending battery life.
The third-generation AirPods and second-generation AirPods Pro lack dual optical sensors, but the second-generation AirPods Pro, first-generation AirPods Pro, and AirPods Max all do. The latest models, on the other hand, make use of a skin detection sensor to more precisely determine whether or not your AirPods are in your ears and, consequently, whether or not to play or pause audio.
Each of Apple’s in-ear AirPods has two beamforming microphones, which should help cancel out ambient noise and focus on your voice more clearly. However, the second-generation AirPods lack inward-facing microphones, unlike the previous earbuds, therefore they are unable to listen inside your ear to lessen internal sounds. In contrast, the AirPods Max include nine microphones, including three for voice recognition and eight for active noise reduction.
BATTERY LIFE Unsurprisingly, the AirPods Max have the longest battery life. Apple claims that while using active noise cancellation or the transparency mode, the headphones may provide up to 20 hours of listening time on a single charge. The AirPods Max provide up to 20 hours of video playback on a single charge when spatial audio is activated. Furthermore, according to Apple, just five minutes of charging can provide you about 1.5 hours of listening time.
Interestingly, the second-generation AirPods Pro offer roughly the same battery life as the third-generation AirPods, but the first-generation AirPods Pro offer even less. The new AirPods Pro offer up to 5.5 hours of battery life with spatial audio and head tracking turned on, whereas the third-generation AirPods offer a maximum of five hours. According to Apple, both the third-generation AirPods and second-generation AirPods Pro offer a maximum of six hours of listening time and up to 30 hours with the included charging case.
While the first-generation AirPods Pro provided up to 24 hours of listening time with the supplied charging case, they only provided a maximum of 4.5 hours of listening time with active noise cancellation turned on and five hours without it. However, you should be able to get about an hour of listening time from each of the three models after charging them for just five minutes.
Of the lineup, the second-generation AirPods have the shortest battery life. Apple claims that the older AirPods may last up to five hours on a single charge and more than 24 hours when used with the charging case that comes with them. According to the specifications, the second-generation AirPods need to be in the case for 15 minutes in order to provide up to three hours of listening time.
The second-generation AirPods Pro are the first pair of Apple earphones to have swipe-based controls. This implies that you can change the volume by swiping up or down on the stem. However, they still rely on tactile buttons for additional settings, just like their predecessor and the in-ear AirPods. For instance, on the third generation of AirPods and both generations of the AirPods Pro, you must click the stem to pause, play, or answer a call. But regardless of the AirPods model you purchase, you may call Siri by speaking a short command.
The over-ear AirPods Max, in comparison, provide physical controls. Each pair has an extra button that can be used to choose between active noise suppression and transparency modes in addition to a Digital Crown that is bigger than the dial on the Apple Watch. But there isn’t a power button. Instead, they activate when you set them on your head.
COMPATIBILITY (AND CONNECTIVITY)
You’ll be able to seamlessly swap between your numerous Apple devices no matter which AirPods you purchase. The most recent iPhones, iPads, Apple Watches, and Macs can all use any AirPod. The iPad Mini 2 and the iPhone 6 are among the older devices that the second-generation AirPods are compatible with.
VALUE AND ACCESSIBILITY
The cost is the key distinction between each AirPods model. The second-generation AirPods cost $129, but we frequently see third-party merchants like Amazon selling them for $99. Nevertheless, the cost of the third-generation AirPods varies depending on which model you purchase. Apple charges $169 for the version with a Lightning charging case and $179 for the version with a MagSafe charging case. But at places like Amazon, Target, and other retailers, we frequently see the third-generation earphones selling for ranging from $149.99 to $169.99.
WHAT SHOULD YOU PURCHASE?
Each AirPods model now available delivers excellent sound quality, dependability, and user-friendliness. However, one you should get will rely on your needs and price range.
It’s simple to choose the AirPods Max if you want over-ear, noise-canceling headphones. But if you’re looking for a set of real wireless earphones, things get a little trickier. As the only AirPods in the current lineup to offer active noise cancellation, you should think about getting the AirPods Pro. If you frequently work out, you might also want to think about the AirPods Pro (or possibly the third-generation AirPods), which provide IPX4 sweat and water protection. Additionally, both the first and second generations of AirPods Pro have removable ear tips that enable a more snug, pleasant fit.
However, if you’re looking for the model with the best noise cancellation, you should probably go for the second-generation AirPods Pro. Apple promises that they will be able to block out twice as much noise as their predecessor while providing an enhanced Adaptive Transparency mode, albeit we haven’t yet verified these claims. The second-generation AirPods Pro, which come with a pair of extra-tiny ear tips, may be the better option if you have very small ears.
On the other hand, the first-generation AirPods Pro are sometimes discounted to approximately $179.99 if you’re seeking for something more reasonably priced. That is only $50 higher than the entry-level, second-generation AirPods and about the same cost as third-generation AirPods. However, they also include active noise suppression and three sets of interchangeable, customised ear tips. Additionally, they have the same qualities as the third-generation AirPods have over the second-generation AirPods, such as sweat and water resistance, a MagSafe charging case, and improved spatial audio capabilities.