AirPods Pro vs AirPods 2: Are new ones worth the extra money?

Apple now has a ‘Pro’ model of almost all its products except the Apple Watch. Going by the trend, we wouldn’t be surprised to see an Apple Watch Pro next year. The latest Pro device from Apple’s stable is the AirPods Pro. As expected, the AirPods Pro is more expensive than the regular second-gen AirPods. In this AirPods Pro vs AirPods 2 comparison, let’s check out if the Pro buds are worth the extra money.

There are a number of similarities between the AirPods Pro and AirPods 2. They both run the same H1 wireless chip that enables hands-free Hey Siri activation, faster connections, and low-latency. The chip allows customers to use only one earbud at a time if they want.

AirPods Pro vs AirPods 2: Design

The regular AirPods 2 has what Apple calls a ‘universal fit.’ Apple took a one-size-fits-all approach with the non-Pro AirPods, meaning there are no interchangeable ear tips for a customizable fit depending on the shape of your ears. The same earpiece is supposed to fit in everyone’s ears. Apple’s design ensures that they don’t fall off when you are working out or jogging.

The AirPods Pro design is similar to what the leaked images suggested a few weeks ago. It has what Apple calls the “in-ear” design for “customizable fit.” The Pro buds come with silicone ear tips in small, medium, and large sizes. Most other earbuds out there already come with ear tips of different sizes for a customizable fit.

Apple says the AirPods Pro gets a new feature called Ear Tip Fit Test. When you place the Pro earbuds in your ears, Apple’s algorithms and the microphones in each bud measure the sound level in the ear and compare it to the sound coming from the speaker driver. They detect whether the ear tip is a good fit and the right size for you. If you haven’t picked the right size, the algorithms will recommend you to adjust the tips for a better fit.

In terms of size, the Pro AirPods are smaller but deeper and wider than the AirPods 2. The Pro buds weigh 5.4g each compared to just 4g for AirPods 2. Also, Apple ships the AirPods Pro with a USB-C to Lightning cable, which is a departure from the USB-A to Lightning cable that comes with AirPods 2.

The AirPods Pro also has a new vent system to equalize pressure. Apple claims the vent system will reduce discomfort caused by wearing in-ear headphones for extended hours.

Sweat and water-resistance

The AirPods 2 buds lack water and sweat-resistance. So, you’d want to keep them away from sweat, water, or saliva. However, in real life, the second-gen AirPods can withstand some levels of sweat exposure.  The AirPods Pro officially comes with an IPX4 rating for water and sweat resistance. It can survive up to 10 minutes of water or sweat exposure.

Active noise cancellation

Apple fans have been demanding Active noise cancellation (ANC) on AirPods for quite a while. The company has introduced ANC with the AirPods Pro. It allows users to block out ambient noise to listen to music at lower volumes even in noisy environments. This feature is missing from the AirPods 2.

The Pro AirPods has two microphones that use advance algorithms to “continuously adapt” to each individual ear for active noise cancellation. One of the microphones faces outward to reduce background noise from external sources. The second one faces your ears and further minimizes any noise it picks up.

Transparency mode

If you want to hear the outside sound and connect to your surroundings, you can quickly switch from ANC to Transparency mode. Apple claims the Transparency mode allows things to sound and feel natural, just like when you are talking to people around you. This feature is particularly useful when you are jogging, cycling, or working out in busy places.

Force sensor

The AirPods Pro features a new Force sensor that lets you switch between Active noise cancellation and Transparency modes. You have to press and hold the stem of the earbuds to switch between the two modes. The Force sensor also has controls such as single, double, and triple taps to play, pause or skip music and take and hang up on phone calls.

The Force sensor on the AirPods 2 gives you only two options to customize for a double-tap of the left or right buds.

Adaptive EQ

Another feature new to AirPods Pro is the Adaptive EQ, which automatically tunes the low- and mid-frequencies of the music to the shape of your ear. It results in a rich and immersive music listening experience. You should expect significantly better bass performance on the Pro earbuds.

AirPods Pro vs AirPods 2: Battery life

Both products offer a similar battery life. The AirPods Pro promises 5 hours of music playback on a single charge. If you have enabled Active noise cancellation (ANC), the battery lasts 4.5 hours between charges. Combined with the wireless charging case, you can expect the AirPods Pro to last more than 24 hours of music playback. The charging case can be recharged via a Qi charging mat.

Both the AirPods 2 and AirPods Pro support fast charging. If the earbuds are running low on battery, putting them in the case for just five minutes gives you an hour of listening time.

The AirPods 2 also delivers five hours of music playback on a single charge. The charging case packs another four cycles of charging, meaning you can expect at least 24 hours of music playback on the second-gen AirPods.

Though the base model of the second-gen AirPods doesn’t have a wireless charging case, you can get the wireless charging variant by spending another $40.

AirPods Pro vs AirPods 2: Pricing

The AirPods 2 is available at $160 for the base model and $200 for the wireless charging case variant. By comparison, the AirPods Pro has been priced at $250. The Pro model is up for pre-order on Apple’s website, and will hit the store shelves on October 30 in the US.

The AirPods Pro is jam-packed with features not available on the AirPods 2. The Pro buds are worth the extra money, especially considering they cost only $50 more than the wireless charging case variant of AirPods 2.



About the Author

Vikas Shukla
Although he has a background in finance and holds an MBA, Vikas Shukla is a technology reporter. He has a strong interest in gadgets, gizmos, and science. He writes regularly on these topics. - He can be contacted by email at vshukla@valuewalk.com