Apple enjoys a commanding position in the TWS segment. AirPods have proven to be an ideal fit for iPhone users, now more than ever since the days of wired earphones are long gone. Apple refreshed its AirPods lineup with the introduction of AirPods Pro (2nd generation), which have come a long way since the original AirPods and are made superior to the original Pro model as well. A new AirPods Pro is long overdue as Apple skipped an upgrade for three good years. Is the new model worth the wait? Let's find out.
Apple launched the new AirPods Pro 2 in September at its celebrated Fall event. They are priced at Rs 26,900 in India. Apple has added a Pro formula to its new AirPods, which reflects on the price tag.
Apple AirPods Pro 2 may not look all that different from the original Pro, but they sure have a lot to offer to make it worth your buck. They are lighter, offer improved audio and noise cancelling, better battery, Spatial Audio, new volume control, enhanced tracking and a lot more.
Design, controls & fit
Apple AirPods Pro 2 continue the signature design, with slight tweaks that only reflect upon use. The stem design gets more meaning with the AirPods Pro 2 than any of the predecessors. Let's dive into the details of the design.
The AirPods Pro 2 now get an extra small ear tips in addition to the small, medium and large sizes, which now cater to a larger user base. The AirPods as well as the charging case now get IPX4 certification to protect against drizzles and water splashes.
There are some thoughtful additions to the case, such as the lanyard loop, which can be used to attach the case to the bag or jeans, and a speaker to get alert sounds while tracking it or to be notified in case of low battery or pairing success. The overall look and feel of the case is almost the same. The case still picks up minor scratches over time.
Coming to the AirPods, the two earbuds look identical to the first-gen model, which is not a bad thing at all. The design works and comfort is still the best you can get. The biggest upgrade we found in the AirPods Pro 2 is that they now get swipe control to adjust the volume. This was long overdue and saves a great deal of time and effort for users.
Other controls on the AirPods Pro 2 are standard. A single press on the stem of the AirPods Pro 2 can answer/end calls, play/ pause tracks; two presses changes tracks; three presses take you to the previous track; and press and hold switches between ANC and Adaptive Transparency Modes. To adjust the volume, you simply swipe up or down on the stem of the AirPods Pro 2 and it works effortlessly. If you're an avid Siri user, you can command Siri to change the volume, get directions, playback controls, receive messages and more.
The AirPods Pro 2 also get an automatic play/pause function, which is a crucial feature in TWS segment. Whenever you take one or both earbuds out of your ear, the music or any multimedia will stop playing. Put the earbuds back in and voila, it continues to play. To get ahead of the competition, Apple added a skin sensor to the AirPods as well, which means putting the earbuds in the pockets or bag does not resume playing tracks. This impacts the overall battery as well.
Apple AirPods Pro 2 came after three years. Naturally, there were high expectations. After testing the earbuds for a good amount of time, it only managed to exceed our expectations as they sound great. The audio delivered by the AirPods Pro 2 is clear, with great detailing and balanced tones. The low-distortion, high-excursion custom audio driver paired with the H2 chip's audio algorithms promises precision in its audio performance. The advancements in the second-generation model make the AirPods Pro 2 better than the original variant.
The AirPods Pro 2 would remain paired to the iPhone 14 Pro for several hours throughout the day. During this, we handled calls, listened to music, streaming multimedia content on OTT and played some games. The rich audio delivery and powerful sounds made the listening experience pleasant. From catching up on the House of the Dragon to listening to pop, hip-hop, bass-heavy Punjabi tracks and trance on Apple Music, we couldn't have asked for a better TWS paired to iPhone 14 Pro.
Overall, the AirPods Pro (second-generation) are definitely better in more ways than one and delivers its sound signature to satisfy your listening needs.
These tiny earbuds are packing a surprising amount of features. For one, the ANC is absolutely brilliant. To fully enjoy the noise-cancelling feature, make sure you get the right size for your ear tip and run an ear tip fit test. With the ANC on, you can shut harsh sounds and enter a different dimension altogether. If you're playing music while on ANC, everything around you is muted.
ANC might be great, but our favourite is the Adaptive Transparency mode, which we often found ourselves using. Apple's H2 chip's magical algorithms block harsh noises while keeping you aware of the ambience. It worked great in traffic as the constant honking of horns would get muffled. Even when we were passing by some construction work in the neighbourhood, which is a lot in Bengaluru due to the Namma Metro work, the harsh noises are filtered out so they don't irritate the ears. That was one of the reasons why we didn't mind having the earbuds on all the time.
Another fancy feature that left us impressed is the Personalised Spatial Audio. The precision with which it works is absolutely wonderful. You just map your left and right ear once and enjoy an immersive experience. Apple Music has a dedicated playlist for tracks supporting Spatial Audio, which works the best. But the feature also worked in movies and TV shows, which was quite remarkable. You can choose fixed or head-tracking feature to suit your preference. It's also worth pointing out that this feature is not the reason to upgrade since the first-gen AirPods Pro, AirPods Max and AirPods (3rd gen) all got support for this feature with a recent software update.
Connectivity and customisations
Apple AirPods Pro 2 doesn't come with an app and that's just one less app for the iPhone. But what's better is that once you pair the new AirPods Pro 2, the functions of an app and available right within the Settings of the phone. It's not an equivalent to the app, unlocking all the features that you'd otherwise have, but it is close and has almost everything.
The AirPods Pro 2 settings will let you do an ear tip test to ensure you have a sealed fit. You can also choose ANC modes, customise the touch and hold function and rename your AirPods. The Settings app lets you choose the mic preference during phone calls. You can set up Spatial Audio, automatic ear detection, charging case sounds and a host of accessibility settings.
Pairing the AirPods Pro 2 is as seamless as ever. Just open the case lid and you'll get a notification on the iPhone. A simple tap and it is paired.
AirPods 2 Pro get Bluetooth 5.3, which future-proofs the earbuds opening avenues to LE Audio later. During our daily use, we found the AirPods Pro 2 to have a spectacular range. Our AirPods remained connected to the iPhone while streaming multimedia from at least 20 steps away from the phone — all without any distortion in the audio. The Find My function is still found under Find My app.
Apple AirPods Pro 2 is surely improved when it comes to the battery. With our regular use, we could use the AirPods Pro 2 for up to 5 days, which is with ANC on and off. With regular ANC, you can get 3 days.
Our battery statistics based on our usage were translated as the following:
- Five and half hours with ANC
- 26 hours of listening time with the charging case
- Fast charging gives 60 minutes of playback with just a 5-minute charge.
What made charging the AirPods Pro 2 easy was simply placing it on the Watch charger. The case is Qi compatible and also powers up using the Lightning cable. The charging speed is quite fast compared to the original model.
With continuous use, the AirPods Pro 2 learn your listening habits and charges up to 80 percent. This is similar to what the iPhone does, which preserves the battery's health if you plan on using the AirPods for a long time.
AirPods Pro 2 is remarkably improved and makes it worth all the wait. Apple has surely come a long way on this front, playing to its strengths of walled garden stuff. The noise cancelling is effective, and the audio performance lively. The battery optimisation is also improved for that uninterrupted usage.
AirPods Pro (second-gen) is more of a product of its own than an extension of the iPhone. It's a no-brainer if you have an iPhone and is worth upgrading from the original AirPods Pro.