June 8, 2023


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AirPods Pro review 2: The best Apple earbuds yet missed an opportunity | apple

apple has given its upper earbuds an upgrade, adding improved noise cancellation, new touch controls for volume and a beeping case for AirPods Pro. But the problem of repairability still bothers them.

The £249, second-generation Pro (US$249/AU$399) Pro comes at the same price. their ancestorssitting over £179 AirPods 3 And £220 Beats Fit ProAlso made by Apple.

Together with their ancestors it is difficult to determine what has changed. Some of the black vents on the earbuds have been moved while the case, which is still in the pocket, has some new elements, including sweat resistance.

AirPods Pro 2 case with ports and speakers displayed.
The case includes a new speaker on the bottom and a loop for attaching a wrist strap or lanyard. It can be charged via a lightning cable, MagSafe (Qi) or Apple Watch charger. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

The case chimes during pairing, when placed in the charging case or when the battery is too low to fully charge the earbuds. If you misplace it, it has a U1 chip for precise searching in the Find My app on the iPhone and can connect to help you locate it.

The earpads fit over their predecessors, held in place by a silicone tip with the leg drooping toward the earlobe. I find it safe and comfortable for extended periods, but the lack of any stabilizing wing makes it less suitable for a workout.

They have the same good pressure controls on the running stems and noise cancellation as their predecessors. But they also have a new swipe gesture to raise and lower the volume which works very well.

Better battery life means it lasts a good six hours of playback with noise cancellation or less than five hours for calls. The case can fully charge the earbuds up to four times for a combined runtime of 30 hours, which compares favorably with competitors.


  • Delivery: Bluetooth 5.3, SBC, AAC, H2 chip, UWB

  • Battery life: Six hours of ANC playback (30 hours with case)

  • Water Resistant: IPX4 Casing and Buds (Splash Resistant)

  • Earphone Dimensions: 30.9 x 21.8 x 24.0 mm

  • earphone weight: 5.4 grams each

  • Charging case dimensions: 45.2 x 60.6 x 21.7 mm

  • Charging case weight: 37.9 grams

  • Shipping box: Lightning, Qi wireless (MagSafe), Apple Watch

Best sound and noise cancellation

AirPods Pro next to the iPhone displays the Settings pane.
A new panel from the Settings app on the iPhone shows all the controls for your AirPods including custom spatial sound and case sounds. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

The earbuds contain Apple’s new H2 chip, which supports the latest Bluetooth 5.3 standard and improves audio and noise cancellation. It works best with Apple devices, switching between them automatically, but it works fine with File Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 And many other Android devices and PCs.

The new AirPods Pro sound really good with more bass and more clarity across the range than their predecessors. It produces strong tonal separation, ultra-pure vocals, and handles complex, overlapping tracks well. They sound balanced and fairly well rounded, and do a good job with most types of music for general listening.

When used with an Apple device, they can also create a file Virtual surround effect, called spatial sound. with the iOS 16 updateYou can also customize spatial sound using your ear scans captured with your iPhone’s front camera creating a more realistic sound based on your unique ear shape. Note that these two features are available on other recent AirPods.

For music, it piles on the bass and sounds more spacious, which is an acquired taste. For movies, especially those with Dolby Atmos soundtracks, it sounds great giving you an immersive experience more like cinema from earbuds.

Overall, the new AirPods Pro are Apple’s best earphones to date, and they’re just below the best on the market. Sennheiser And the Sony.

Image of AirPods Pro 2 showing speaker grille and earphone tips
The ear tips have a similar oval shape that fits well into your ear canal with holes to relieve pressure and avoid a “plug” feeling. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

Active noise cancellation is also improved over older models with more capable wind noise handling. They do a better job of blocking out midtones, canceling out car and train noise more effectively. They still suffer from loud noises like keyboard clicks in the office, but they manage background chatter better than most, especially in terms of size and fit. Only Sony is much bigger WF-1000XM4 Better headphone performance.

Apple’s Transparency Mode is still the best in its class, and it looks very natural, as if you’re not wearing earphones. A new “adaptive” mode reduces very loud noises to less than 85 decibels, keeping things like sirens or jackhammers from being overwhelming. If you’re using an Apple Watch, you can see the real-time amount of audio reduction in the Noise app, which is new.

The call quality is really good, coming across very natural sounds in quiet environments with good noise control in noisy street-side environments.


AirPods Pro 2 case open on a table with one earbud hanging on the cover.
AirPods Pro 2 have a longer battery life and each bud and case can be replaced individually, but an actual repair is highly unlikely. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

Apple does not provide an expected battery life, but they must last more than 500 full charge cycles with at least 80% of their original capacity. Battery service costs from £55.

The earphones are not repairable, as I scored a Zero out of 10 on the iFixit Repairability ScaleBut Apple Alternative offers at a cost of £89 for each earpiece. The earbuds and case are made from recycled aluminum, gold, rare earth elements, tin and plastic, but Apple doesn’t publish environmental impact reports for accessories like the headphones. The company offers free trade-in and recycling programs, including non-Apple products.


The cost of the second generation AirPods Pro £249 ($249/AUD 399).

For comparison, the AirPods 3 cost £169And the Beats Fit Pro cost £220The Google Pixel Buds Pro cost £179The Sony WF-1000XM4 cost £199And the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 3 cost £225and the cost of the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro £219.


The second-generation AirPods Pro are Apple’s best earphones to date. They sound better, have more effective noise cancellation, last longer when charged and keep well over their predecessors.

The onboard volume control is very welcome, as is the adaptive transparency feature. It works best with Apple devices, but is fine with most others, missing some advanced features. There are very few competitors that offer as much AirPods Pro 2 in such a convenient pocket-friendly package.

But it is a missed opportunity to improve sustainability. The inclusion of recycled materials is a good thing but it’s not as salvageable as its predecessors and most competitors, which is a real shame and loses a star.

Positives: Great sound and noise cancellation, adaptive transparency, anti-sweat, great controls including onboard volume, advanced features with Apple devices including spatial audio, comfortable and premium case, good call quality

Negatives: Unrepairable Expensive No HD Audio Support Lacks features when connected to Android/Windows Same leg design as its predecessors Only available in white

The loop for attaching the cord or strap to the side of the AirPods Pro 2 case.
The belt loop can help attach the case to your wrist, bag, or belt clip, but its compact shape still fits in the money pocket of a set of jeans. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian
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