As I sat on my computer today, perusing options to buy another set of Apple’s AirPods Pro, it dawned on me: it’s about time I write a review for these bad boys, because I’ve used mine almost daily for the past year-and-a-half. If you’re new to the world of Apple’s headphones and earbuds, you may not realize that Apple offers three options that will suit your needs much better than the standard, wired ear buds that come with some Apple products, like iPhones and iPods: 1: Airpods, which are the wireless companion to the standard earbuds the you’ll find accompanying some Apple devices. These Airpods are the size of the standard earbuds, if you were to cut the cords off at the very base of the earbud stems. They come in a small, square-shaped charging case with round corners, which serves as a convenient storage location for your AirPods, and accepts the standard Lightning USB cable to charge. 2: AirPods Pro, which have all of the features at the standard AirPods, plus a more comfortable fit, better sound quality, and two modes of sound augmentation, being a noise-canceling mode and a “Transparency mode”, which allows you to listen to your surroundings while you listen to your music, podcasts, or other media. 3: Lastly, Apple added the Airpods Max to their fleet this year. These are over-the-ear headphones that offer similar features to the AirPods Pro, minus the charging case. You’ll find that these headphones have better noise-cancelation and sound quality than the AirPods at the cost of a larger profile and price tag. Please note: While the cases for the AirPods and AirPods Pro accept the lightning cable to charge, they can also be placed on a mag-safe charging pad to charge. With that said, I’ve only btested the AirPods Pro with the lightning cable, as I do not own a wireless charging pad. So, Let’s Focus on the AirPods Pro Keeping in mind that this post has no ties to any outside entity, so my opinions aren’t being skewed with the intent of pleasing an advertiser, I absolutely love my AirPods Pro, and I take them with me just about everywhere. I’m on my second pair, because they are easy to lose due to their compact case, but that small profile is also a big part of why I love these earbuds, so it’s a bit of a paradox. If you can see, this won’t be much of a problem for you, but if you’re visually-impaired, it’s another story. With that said, the AirPods Pro are capable of being used with Apple’s “Find My” app, but you have to be pretty close to the case for this feature to be beneficial if you have a visual impairment. Keep in mind that I’m also deaf in one ear, so your mileage may vary here, but I just don’t think the sound is strong enough to truly tout this as an outstanding feature; I’d say the “FindMy” capability is more of an afterthought that Apple added to increase the length of the “features” list for these earbuds. But I’ll save the rest of my opinions until the wrap-up at the bottom of this post. Let’s get into some facts. What’s in the box? First of all, the packaging for the AirPods Pro lives up to the standard we’ve come to know as Apple has grown into the Titan of a company that it is. It’s sleek, compact, and satisfying to open. Inside the box, you’ll find your AirPods Pro and accompanying charging case, three different sizes of the silicone tips that form the seal necessary for effective noise cancellation, one lightning to USB-C cable, and some documentation. Features With the price being around 80dollars more than the AirPods with charging case, it’s a no-brainer that the AirPods Pro are the better choice, whether you’re in need of noise cancellation or you just have an extra 80 bucks burning a hole in your pocket, and you’re about to see why. Comfort and Convenience Being someone who owns a pair of ears that don’t cooperate with standard Apple earbuds very well, the comfort and secure fit provided by the silicone tips of the AirPods Pro are almost at the top of my list when it comes to benefits of these earbuds. With only three size choices, you may feel that two different sizes provide the same level of comfort and sound quality, but the AirPods run a “fit test” during setup to determine which of the tips are the perfect fit for you. The only feature that tops the comfort of the AirPods Pro is their ability to seamlessly alternate between the noise cancellation and transparency modes. On top of these two stand-out features, Voiceover users won’t notice any latency between executing gestures on-screen and their devices’ TTS output, which is a somewhat common occurrence with other Bluetooth headphones. Noise Cancellation and Transparency Mode Living in the heart of the city, I constantly switch between the two modes while I travel with my cane, as I come to street crossings and need to hear traffic, or when I’m on long spans of uninterrupted sidewalk, where I can block-out the sounds of the city while I make my way to my next crossing. And, while the noise cancellation of the AirPods Pro is incredible for their size, I do want to note that they don’t provide as much soundproofing as an over-the-ear headphone, like the Bose Noise Cancelling 700 Headphones. And if you’re curious, you can find my review of those headphones here. On the other hand, when in transparency mode, the AirPods utilize both their inward and outward-facing microphones to bypass the sound-masking that comes with having standard earbuds in your ears, leaving ones’ ability to hear their surroundings unimpeded. And when I say unimpeded, I mean it; when it comes to listening to my surroundings, the transparency mode provides a level of clarity I haven’t experienced with another pair of earbuds- and especially not with over-the-ear headphones. Sweatproof I also wear my AirPods Pro when I lift weights, and on my way both to and from my Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu gym: Two times when there is a lot of sweat and a lot of movement, and so far, their sweat/splashproof design has withstood everything I’ve subjected them to. It’s not uncommon for me to wash them under a faucet, and again, they still work just fine. I haven’t submerged them into a vessel of water though, and Apple has outlined that this would surpass the limits of the AirPods resiliency. Battery life and Charging case While I haven’t been able to find any specific details as to the battery life of the charging case itself, one comparison article I found stated that the standard AirPods can be used for 4.5 hours before needing to be charged by their case, while the AirPos Pro will survive for 5.5 hours. Do keep in mind that these measurement are approximate, as the battery life may vary greatly, depending on distance from the connected device, volume level, mode, and many other factors. Alright, but how do they sound? My AirPods Pro deliver a surprising level of sound quality, whether I’m listening to audiobooks, podcasts, or music. They are undeniably the best pair of earbuds I’ve ever owned, and I’ve had a hard time transitioning back to standard Bluetooth earbuds at times when my Airpods Pro are charging. Spoken-word content sounds crisp and professional, with no fuzziness looming around the speaker’s voice, so I’m not often distracted by poor audio quality, unless I have an unstable wi-fi connection. And, the AirPods Pro even add an extra layer of depth to stories that have occasional music or sound effects entwined throughout their duration. Finally, when listening to music, the AirPods Pro have a surprising amount of power; I haven’t had the feeling that I’m missing any part of a song because of their bass output when in noise cancellation mode. However, When in noisier settings with other music in the background, like at a public gym, I do find myself longing for my aforementioned, over-the-ear Bose headphones, because I can hear too much of the gym’s music over my own. Wrapping Up If you know you want to buy a pair of wireless earbuds, I can’t recommend the AirPods Pro enough. While I do believe they are a tad pricey, inflated prices come with the territory when it comes to Apple products, and I feel like I’ve gotten my moneys worth from these earbuds. With that said, if you’ve decided it’s time to track-down a pair for yourself, I suggest shopping around. While prices fluctuate everywhere, several articles I’ve skimmed mentioned that Amazon occasionally offers much-better AirPods and AirPods Pro deals than Apple.
Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on September 24, 2021 by Zach T.