Apple AirPods Pro 2 vs. AirPods Pro: What’s new?

If you were a loyal AirPods Pro user while waiting for the next generation to release, we have good news for you. Apple finally launched the upgraded second-generation AirPods Pro at their September 2022 event, leaving fans wondering if the new version is worth the investment. To make your decision easier, we’re breaking down the key differences between the new AirPods Pro 2 and their predecessor so you can clearly see what’s new and decide if you want to buy a pair of new buds. But let’s be honest, this second generation of AirPods Pro basically picks up where their sibling left off and makes them pretty much better in every way. For comparison, though, here we go.

AirPods Pro 2 Further Reading



Design and comfort

First-generation Apple AirPods Pro (left) and second-generation AirPods Pro. Can you tell the difference? Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

The AirPods Pro 2 haven’t received much of a design update over the originals – you’d have to search hard to see the differences, such as the repositioning of the pressure relief vents to be higher on the second-gen buds. You also get additional features, such as the addition of a new wear sensor that can tell the difference between your skin (like when it’s in contact with the inside of your ear) and, for example, the inside your pocket, if you forget your charging case and need to put them there. The AirPods will know they’re not in your ear and won’t turn on.

The original AirPods Pro were already some of the most comfortable headphones we’ve ever tried. This still rings true with the AirPods Pro 2. The first-generation AirPods Pro come with three sizes of tips: small, medium, and large. Narrow-eared listeners will be happy to know that the AirPods Pro 2 come with an extra-small tip size to ensure a better fit. If looks and personalization are important to you, you’ll also appreciate that you can customize your AirPods Pro 2 case. You can add emoji, initials, and numbers, whatever suits your style. This way, your case will be 100% unique to you. Speaking of the case, the AirPods Pro 2 charging case also has some really great improvements, including the addition of Apple’s U1 chip which now enables pinpoint location in the Apple Find My app and support for charging charging via MagSafe, Watch and Qi wireless. chargers.

Winner: Airpods Pro 2

Controls

Touch control on AirPods Pro 2.
Apple

The long-awaited physical volume controls that the first-generation AirPods Pro lacked are here with the new AirPods Pro 2. Now you can adjust the volume by moving a finger up and down on the bud stem. You also get a satisfying confirmation tone so you know for sure when the volume has changed. The other controls, however, remain the same. The squeeze gestures for click to play/pause and call/answer remain the same as the AirPods Pro, so you don’t have to spend a lot of time figuring out how everything works.

The AirPods Pro 2 also benefit from Apple’s Find My feature to help you find lost headphones. The case also has a speaker that beeps loudly when you try to find it and a lanyard loop so you can keep it close at all times.

Winner: Airpods Pro 2

Sound quality

AirPods Pro 2 audio drivers.
Apple

One of the biggest improvements in the AirPods Pro 2 is the sound quality and the number of features that promise to improve your listening experience. The AirPods Pro 2 feature Apple’s new H2 chip, which delivers “richer sound with more clarity and consistency across volumes and a wider frequency range,” as Apple puts it. New drivers and amplifiers also promise low distortion and high dynamic range capabilities.

You also get something called “Custom Spatial Audio”, which means you can use the iPhone’s TruDepth camera to create a custom listening profile based on your ear shape and head shape. This data is used to adjust the sound rendering to improve your listening experience. Simply put, the music will be personalized to your unique characteristics so that you experience the best sound quality possible. Unfortunately, previous AirPods Pro didn’t have any of these features, so this upgrade is 100% worth it.

Winner: Airpods Pro 2

ANC mode and transparency

Man wearing Apple AirPods Pro 2.
Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

In addition to sound quality, the new H2 chip has also improved noise cancellation for a truly immersive experience. Apple claims the AirPods Pro 2 offer twice the active noise cancellation of the first-generation version. Transparency mode has received a massive upgrade with what Apple calls Adaptive Transparency, which constantly monitors abrasive noises around you and adjusts accordingly, so you can immerse yourself in sound while maintaining a optimum level of environmental awareness. You can also disable this adaptive transparency feature if you find it disruptive, but our review found it very useful. While the original AirPods Pro also offer some of these features, they’re nowhere near as powerful as what you see in the AirPods Pro 2.

Winner: Airpods Pro 2

Call quality

Simon Cohen wearing Apple AirPods Pro 2.

If you frequently use your headphones to take calls, you’ll be happy to know that the second-generation AirPods offer excellent call quality thanks to their improved noise-canceling features. You no longer hear random vehicles and construction sounds in the background, so you can fully concentrate on the person on the other end.

Winner: Airpods Pro 2

Battery life

Apple AirPods Pro 2 charging case hanging from its lanyard loop.
Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

Another major area that has been improved in the AirPods Pro 2 is battery life. The Original AirPods Pro provide approximately four to five hours of listening time on a single charge and up to 24 hours with the charging case. The AirPods Pro 2 will last much longer, delivering six hours of listening time on a single charge and up to 30 hours with the charging case. It can make a huge difference if you’re using the AirPods on the go, on vacation, while working out, or just away from the charger for a long time.

Winner: Airpods Pro 2

Water resistance

Close-up of Apple AirPods Pro 2.
Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

If you wear your headphones during a sweaty workout or just live in a humid environment, you’ll want to invest in water-resistant headphones first. The AirPods Pro and AirPods Pro 2 are both IPX4 water resistant, but the AirPods Pro 2 go even further to offer the same water resistance in the case, so you don’t have to worry about each little bead of sweat and spill.

Winner: Airpods Pro 2

Price

If you are working on a tighter budget, price is obviously a deciding factor. While the original AirPods Pro are now discontinued by Apple and can no longer be purchased from Apple.com, you can still find them from third-party retailers such as Amazon for around $180. The AirPods Pro 2 will cost you $250. The $70 difference may be a quick decision for some, but we recommend looking more than just the price. The AirPods Pro 2 offer massive upgrades with much better sound quality, so they’re worth the extra $70. But for the price alone, the win goes to the original model, as long as you can find them.

Winner: First generation AirPods Pro

The bottom line

The AirPods Pro 2 are the obvious winners here. With improved sound quality, personalized audio experience, improved noise cancellation, improved housing and longer battery life, you get everything you could ask for in headphones. The price is a little steep, but you get several upgrades that will take your listening experience to the next level.

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