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The Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation) case is open to reveal the noise cancelling wireless earbuds inside.
Lily Katz / SoundGuys

Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation) review

Apple doesn't raise the price of its new AirPods Pro, but it does raise the bar.
By
November 26, 2022
7.9
Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation)
The bottom line
The Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation) modestly improves upon the first-generation AirPods Pro and features the same iconic look. Apple's upgraded H2 chip begets better active noise canceling (ANC) and battery life, while the case's U1 chip and integrated speaker lets you precisely locate it from the Find My app. If you own an iPhone, the new AirPods Pro is an obvious choice but you do have others too!

Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation)

The Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation) modestly improves upon the first-generation AirPods Pro and features the same iconic look. Apple's upgraded H2 chip begets better active noise canceling (ANC) and battery life, while the case's U1 chip and integrated speaker lets you precisely locate it from the Find My app. If you own an iPhone, the new AirPods Pro is an obvious choice but you do have others too!
Release date

September 23, 2022

Price

$249 USD

Dimensions

Earbud: 30.9 x 21.8 x 24 mm

Case: 45.2 x 60.6 x 21.7 mm

Weight

Earbud: 5.3g

Case: 50.8g

Model Number

MQD83AM/A

Waterproof

IPX4 earbuds and case

What we like
Active noise cancelling and Adaptive Transparency modes
Great auto-wear detection
Water-resistant buds and case
Good fit with four ear tip options (XS-L)
Pressure-sensitive stems and sliding controls
MagSafe, Wireless, and Apple Watch compatible charging
What we don't like
Charges via lightning cable
Many Apple-exclusive features
No way to customize the EQ without third-party app
7.9
SoundGuys Rating
8.2
User Rating
Rating Metric
Our Rating
User Rating
Sound Quality
9.7
8.2
8.0
Bass
9.8
8.7
9.0
Midrange
9.9
8.5
9.0
Highs
9.5
8.6
9.0
Isolation / Attenuation
4.2
7.7
8.0
Active Noise Cancelling
8.2
8.3
8.0
Durability / Build Quality
8.0
7.8
8.0
Value
6.5
6.9
7.0
Design
7.0
8.0
8.0
Connectivity
5.0
8.1
8.0
Portability
9.4
9.2
9.0
Battery Life
6.0
8.0
8.0
Feature
8.8
8.3
8.0
Comfort
8.3
8.4
8.0

It’s what’s inside that matters, or at least that’s what our moms and Apple want us to think. The Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation) looks nearly identical to the first-gen earbuds before it. It may seem that the big Apple is just resting on its laurels, but the case and buds’ new chipsets make the AirPods Pro smarter than before. These chips usher in better battery life, active noise cancelling (ANC), and sound quality into the AirPods line. Will the new AirPods Pro successfully succeed the first-generation AirPods Pro, or will someone else take the wireless earbuds throne?

We spent a week with the Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation) and learned everything you need to know before you buy.

Editor’s note: this review was updated on November 26, 2022, to include a video review.

About this Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation) review: We tested the AirPods Pro (2nd generation) over a period of one week with an iPhone 12 mini operating iOS 16.0.2. At the time, the earbuds ran firmware 5A377, and case ran firmware 3.64.0. SoundGuys purchased the unit for this review. The original publication date is September 27, 2022.

iPhone owners are the only ones with any business buying the AirPods Pro (2nd generation). When you pair these earbuds with an iPhone, you get Apple-exclusive features like Spatial Audio personalization, battery life optimization, Find My access, and more.

While you can still use the second-gen AirPods Pro with an Android device, you’d be throwing money away. Android phone owners, we recommend looking at our list of the best wireless earbuds for Android instead.

What’s it like to use Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation)?

The Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation) earbuds rest on a black surface with the case in the background.
Lily Katz / SoundGuys
These are the newer AirPods Pro earbuds, we swear.

Aside from the glossy white charging cases, the first and second-generation AirPods Pro look like twins. This time around, Apple adds a silver lanyard loop and speaker to the otherwise blank block. Rather than play music, the case’s speaker emits a sound to help you locate it through the Find My app. You’ll also hear an alert tone if the battery is low or once pairing is complete, though you can disable these tones through your iPhone’s Settings app. This is the first time Apple’s AirPods come with an IPX4-rated case and earbuds, so both will withstand any splashes or light rainfall. As before, it’s easy to flick the case’s lid open with your thumb, revealing the buds.

The celebrity stemmed earphones slide right out of the case, and it’s a cinch to guide them back in. Although there are benefits to a stemmed design, masks and longer hair can catch or snag on them. When I towel off mid-workout, I occasionally fling one of the earbuds out of my ear because the towel snags against the stem. The same thing can happen when I carelessly remove my bike helmet. The AirPods don’t fly far, so it’s not a dealbreaker—just something to be aware of with any pair of AirPods-like earphones. More ergonomic workout earbuds often have ear hooks or stabilizing wings.

The Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation) ear tip separated from the housing.
Lily Katz / SoundGuys
You remove the ear tips the same as before.

To help secure the buds’ fit and get the best sound quality, experiment with Apple’s four pairs of silicone ear tips (XS, S, M, L). I find that the medium size works best, and the ear tip fit test (iOS only) confirms this. Not only will this prevent the earbuds from falling out with vigorous movement, but it will also block out as much background noise as possible. Plus, it’s easier to squeeze the stem controls when the ear tips form a seal to your ear canals.

How do you control Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation)?

A hand holds the right earbud of the Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation) to show off the stem.
Lily Katz / SoundGuys
The pressure-sensitive stems now support swipes to adjust the volume.

You can control media, listening modes, and field phone calls all from the new AirPods Pro. When paired to a compatible Apple device, you can use the hot word, “Hey Siri,” to make hands-free commands and inquiries. Apple debuts swipe gestures on the AirPods Pro (2nd generation) too. While this is another first for the AirPods line, the Nothing Ear 1 and Bose QuietComfort Earbuds have been rocking swipe gestures for some time.

INPUT (stems)ACTION
One press
Play/pause/answer call
Two presses
Next track
Three presses
Previous track
Press and hold
Toggle ANC/Adaptive Transparency modes
Swipe up/down
Increase/decrease volume
"Hey Siri"
Change volume, request directions, playback control, receive messages, and more

The AirPods Pro also supports automatic play/pause functionality. When you take the earbuds out, your music will stop, and when you reinsert them, the music will resume. Interestingly, if you have ANC or Transparency mode on, this will turn off when you remove the earbuds too. Thanks to the skin-detect sensor, music won’t resume when you place the buds in your pocket; they must touch your skin. We’re happy to see a return of this sensor from the AirPods (3rd generation) and Beats Fit Pro.

Is there an app for the Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation)?

An iPhone 12 mini displays the AirPods Pro (2nd generation) spatial audio modes with the case and a smart watch next to it.
Lily Katz / SoundGuys
The iPhone Settings app and Control Center are where you go to customize the listening experience.

The main app for the AirPods Pro is the iOS/iPadOS Settings app, and you’ll need an Apple device to receive firmware updates. While Android device owners can connect to the AirPods Pro (2nd generation) and listen to music or make calls, they won’t be able to use the features detailed here.

You can access a handful of things from the Settings app, like the previously mentioned ear tip fit test. Once you confirm your selected ear tips, it’s time to rename your AirPods, select your listening mode (ANC on/off, Transparency on/off), and customize the tap-and-hold function of each earbud. You can even go so far as to dictate whether the left or right bud’s microphones are used for phone calls. We recommend leaving it set to “Automatically Switch AirPods.”

Screen shots of the Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation) pairing pop-up cards on an iPhone.
Lily Katz / SoundGuys
When you first pair the AirPods Pro (2nd gen) to your iPhone, you’re met with a few pop-up cards.

The AirPods Pro (2nd generation) also supports Audio Sharing from an iPhone. This means you can use your iPhone to stream audio to two separate Apple headsets. To do so, you need to open the Control Center, and tap the media player to enlarge it. From there, you can choose to stream audio to your AirPods and a friend’s.

To find your lost AirPods, you’ll want to open the Find My app on your iOS/iPadOS device. Your AirPods Pro (2nd generation) automatically links to your Find My app upon pairing. From there, you can locate each individual earbud or the case. You can even choose to be notified when you leave the case or earbuds behind, and exempt certain locations like your home.

The AirPods Pro (2nd generation) case’s alert tone is distinct but fairly quiet. Listen below:

How do you set up Spatial Audio on the AirPods Pro (2nd generation)?

A person uses Apple Spatial Audio personalization to take photos of their ears.
Lily Katz / SoundGuys
Your iPhone needs to take unflattering photos of your ears to use personalized Spatial Audio.

When you first pair your AirPods Pro (2nd generation) to your iPhone, a pop-up prompt will appear asking you to set up personalized Spatial Audio. This process requires using your iPhone’s TrueDepth camera to create a custom sound profile based on your head and ears. If Apple’s process sounds familiar that’s because it’s very similar to how Sony 360 Reality Audio optimization works. Apple’s personalized profile then syncs across your devices, so you only need to make it once. Current AirPods Pro (1st gen) owners will be happy to know that personalized Spatial Audio works with the older earbuds too. You only need an iPhone running iOS 16 or later.

Spatial Audio and head tracking works with specific media and during FaceTime group calls. Ideally, this is supposed to emulate how a group conversation sounds in real life, but if I find it disorienting and just disable it.

Toggling Spatial Audio on/off takes just a few moments.

  1. Open your phone’s Control Center (pull down from the top-right corner of the screen).
  2. Touch and hold the volume control from the Control Center.
  3. You’ll see two options on the bottom of your screen to adjust listening modes. Tap the right circle for Spatial Audio modes.
  4. If your streaming service doesn’t support Dolby Atmos, like Spotify, the option will read “Spatialize Stereo” instead.
  5. From there, you can choose between “Off,” “Fixed,” and “Head tracked.” (Note: the “Fixed” and “Head tracked” Spatialize Stereo modes work with streaming services like Spotify, but you may notice the end result isn’t as impressive as when you listen through a service like Apple Music or TIDAL.)

How does the Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation) connect?

The Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation) case is open and contains the earbuds next to an iPhone 12 mini, which prompts the user to update to iOS 16.
Lily Katz / SoundGuys
Make sure to update your iPhone to iOS 16 to get the most out of your new AirPods Pro.

Bluetooth 5.3 keeps the Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation) connected to your device, and this should ensure LE Audio support when it rolls out. For now, you can choose from the SBC and AAC Bluetooth codecs. When streaming AAC audio from an iOS device, you’ll enjoy reliable, high-quality and low-latency audio. While Android supports AAC, its performance is variable and hardware-dependent on Android. The H2 chip supports what Apple calls “high bandwidth connectivity,” suggesting that the sound quality is getting closer to lossless but isn’t quite there yet.

To pair the AirPods Pro (2nd generation) to an iPhone, follow these steps.

  1. Unlock your iPhone and open the Settings app.
  2. Select the Bluetooth menu and turn the toggle on (it will turn green).
  3. Open the AirPods Pro (2nd generation) case near your iPhone.
  4. Wait for a pop-up card to appear on your iPhone and press “Connect.”

Once paired to your iPhone, the second-gen AirPods Pro will automatically be recognized on any source device associated with your iCloud account. This association also enables automatic device switching between Apple devices.

A hand holds the Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation) case with the pairing button in full view.
Lily Katz / SoundGuys
You’ll need to press and hold the button on the charging case to pair the new AirPods Pro to a non-Apple device.

To pair the AirPods Pro (2nd generation) to an Android device, follow these steps.

  1. Unlock your phone and open Settings > Connected Devices > Bluetooth.
  2. Open the AirPods (2nd generation) case near your phone.
  3. Press and hold the white button on the back of the case, and wait until your phone discovers the AirPods Pro.
  4. Tap on “AirPods Pro (2nd generation)” to pair it to your phone.

How long does the Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation) battery last?

According to our battery testing, the AirPods Pro (2nd generation) standalone battery life is 5 hours, 43 minutes with ANC on, falling just short of Apple’s official 6-hour battery specification with ANC on. The charging case provides an extra 24 hours of listening time, or 19 hours, 30 minutes of talk time. When it’s time to recharge you have a few options. You can charge the case wirelessly atop a Qi, MagSafe, or Apple Watch charging mat, and you’ll need a Lightning cable for wired charging.

The Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation) charging case with its Lightning input and speaker.
Lily Katz / SoundGuys
The case’s Lightning port is next to its speaker outlet.

While this is pretty typical battery performance for true wireless earphones, remember that battery cells degrade over time. Apple tries to slow down battery death with a battery optimization feature; your iPhone will learn your listening habits and only charge the earbuds to 80%, reaching 100% right before it anticipates you’ll use them. While this is a step in the right direction, your AirPods can only last so long when you use them regularly. Every charge and deplete cycle reduces the life of the Li-ion battery cells, and wireless charging further hastens battery breakdown. No pair of wireless earbuds is truly sustainable, so you’ll need a pair of eco-friendly headphones.

Fast charging is faster than the standard with the AirPods Pro (2nd generation), and 5 minutes of charging yields 60 minutes of music playback.

How well does the Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation) cancel noise?

A chart depicts the Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation) noise cancelling and isolation performances; the former is very effective when you get a good seal.
The noise cancelling is certainly good enough for your daily commute or work flight.

The AirPods Pro (2nd generation) noise cancelling is better than before with a performance that places it right alongside the other titans of ANC on the market. Only instead of over-ear headphones, these buds just sit inside your ear. Though the isolation itself is nothing to write home about, the ANC will destroy between 20-30dB of outside noise depending on the frequency. That’s a respectable result for ANC earbuds, and this product should be well suited for commutes, air travel, or casual listening in a noisy environment.

Remember, to get your AirPods Pro (2nd generation) ANC to reflect the chart above, you need to get a proper fit. This requires you to take a moment and play with the four ear tip sizes that Apple provides, and even go further and use the ear tip fit test (iOS only). Don’t be worried if you need to use one size for one ear and a different size for your other ear as this is quite common. These small steps will ensure you get the best isolation from your earbuds, allowing optimal noise cancellation.

How does Transparency mode work on the new AirPods Pro?

The Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation) pressure-relief vent on the right earbud.
Lily Katz / SoundGuys
The earbuds have pressure-relief vents to help make the ANC listening mode more comfortable.

Apple’s new Adaptive Transparency relies on the H2 chip to minimize the intensity of loud, unpredictable sounds like passing sirens or construction. With Adaptive Transparency mode enabled, I can walk past construction sites and heavily trafficked areas while remaining aware. Unlike when I enable transparent listening on the Nothing Ear 1, the AirPods Pro (2nd generation) renders abrupt, loud sounds audible but not painful.

How does the Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation) sound?

A chart depicts the Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation) and AirPods Pro (1st generation) frequency responses, revealing the newer pair has a louder bass response.
This kind of frequency response will sound great to most listeners.

In short, the AirPods Pro (2nd generation) sounds great and will make most music sound good as long as you have a good fit. Through the bass and mids, the AirPods Pro (2nd gen) closely follows our house curve and only makes significant deviations above 8kHz. Most listeners won’t be too bothered by the relative under-emphasis (compared to our house curve) in the uppermost octave. Harmonic detail may be harder to hear during particularly busy segments in your favorite tracks, but we prefer this to the alternative.

The AirPods Pro (2nd generation) uses the always-enabled Adaptive EQ feature to account for how the earbuds fit in your ear and your precise ear shape. Inward-facing microphones monitor what you hear in real-time and adjust the low and mid frequencies accordingly—yielding consistent sounding audio playback anytime you use the AirPods Pro.

A chart depicts the Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation) and AirPods Pro (1st generation) frequency responses, revealing the newer pair has a louder bass response.
The bass and midrange output is more consistent with the AirPods Pro (1st gen) than the (2nd gen) version.

These AirPods Pro (1st generation) sounds much like the second-gen AirPods Pro, with the newer model featuring a louder sub-bass response than the older model. This kind of sound will reproduce your music with just a bit more oomph, so you can hear the bassline of your music more clearly while walking outside, for example. Either way, there’s an under-emphasized treble response relative to our house curve. Both earbuds use Apple’s Adaptive EQ.

The newer AirPods Pro features a low-distortion audio driver and custom amplifier that aren’t found in the old model. Indeed, in our tests the newer AirPods posted lower total harmonic distortion. However, this isn’t a good indicator of user preference in audio, and the difference is extremely small.

Lows, mids, and highs

The Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation) sensors decorate the earbuds which lay on a yellow, textured surface.
Lily Katz / SoundGuys
The AirPods Pro (2nd generation) is decked out with skin-detect and bone conduction sensors, just to name two.

The song Why by Dominic Fike never fails to get me dancing, and the AirPods Pro reproduces the song’s bassline perfectly in line with my expectations. During the first chorus, I can hear the beat without issue, even amid the loudly mixed cymbal hits. At 0:42, I can distinctly hear the timbre of Fike’s voice change while he sings the phrase, “… my latest lines.”

While the lows and mids sound as expected through the AirPods Pro (2nd generation), the somewhat quieter upper octave is noticeable only when I strain to hear it. Take Harry Styles’ song As It Was, which I’m deeply familiar with: here, the cymbal hits are quieter than I anticipate at 0:58 due to this under-emphasis. Styles’ vocals sound great here though, as do the guitar parts through the verses—but it’s not perfect. In truth, this may go unnoticed, but it might be noticeable if you’ve got a keen ear.

When you use Apple Music, you can choose from a menu of EQ presets, but you’ll need a dedicated EQ app for complete control over how the earbuds sound.

Can you use the Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation) for phone calls?

A chart depicts the AirPods Pro (2nd generation) microphone frequency response which under-emphasizes sub-bass frequencies.
This bass under-emphasis helps with speech clarity.

The microphone array sounds quite good under ideal conditions, but when background noise comes into play, sound quality declines. When the AirPods Pro (2nd generation) tries to reject unpredictable background noise, as heard in our “Office conditions” sample below, the voice can drop out completely. You can hear this at 0:16, when the recording of Sara’s voice relays the phrase, “Say it slowly but make it ring clear,” and the words “ring clear” become inaudible. In our “Windy conditions” microphone sample, voices are very hard to hear.

Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation) microphone demo (Ideal conditions):

Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation) microphone demo (Office conditions):

Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation) microphone demo (Street conditions):

Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation) microphone demo (Windy conditions):

How does the microphone sound to you?

2547 votes

Editor’s note: Our standardized test setup plays back pre-recorded phrases from a calibrated artificial mouth in our test chamber, either with or without simulated background noises, simulated reverberant spaces, or artificial wind. This means that samples from every product can be directly compared, which makes it far easier to make meaningful comparisons between products in terms of the raw speech quality or the product’s ability to reject noise. While this setup is consistent, it’s unable to allow the earbuds to detect speech as they would in the real world (using vibrations), so you’re likely to experience something different than our demos above.

The second-gen AirPods Pro microphone system does a slightly better job of rejecting background noise than the first-gen AirPods Pro, but this comes at the expense of accurate voice reproduction. While the person on the other end of the call will hear less background noise on the AirPods Pro (2nd generation), they may also hear less of you. (Windy conditions affect the microphone equally on either set of AirPods Pro.)

Apple AirPods Pro (1st generation) microphone demo (Street conditions):

Apple AirPods Pro (1st generation) microphone demo (Windy conditions):

Which microphone sounds best to you?

1425 votes

Should you buy the Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation)?

The Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation) case is open and laying at an angle to show the earbuds and their sensors.
Lily Katz / SoundGuys
The AirPods Pro (2nd generation) has much better noise cancelling than its predecessor.

iPhone owners who need a new set of earbuds should grab the AirPods Pro (2nd generation). The newest AirPods Pro performs better than the first version, and the two headsets share a $249 USD original price. Anyone starting from scratch will get a lot of mileage out of the AirPods Pro (2nd generation), and the improved ANC makes this set of AirPods a joy to use when you’re a mile high. But if you have the first-gen AirPods Pro, you may not need to upgrade.

While Apple’s U1 and H2 chips bring new and improved features to your ears, the existence of the AirPods Pro (2nd generation) doesn’t render the first-gen obsolete. To save a buck and get most of the features discussed in our review, we’ll push you to the original AirPods Pro. With the newer AirPods Pro already flying off the shelves, you can find the AirPods Pro (1st generation) for as low as $179 USD. Buying the older model saves you $70 USD, and opens the door to plenty of cool Apple features like personalized Spatial Audio and battery optimization. True, the AirPods Pro noise cancelling is better than before, but there are still some better noise cancelling earbuds.

Apple AirPods Pro (2nd Generation)
Apple AirPods Pro (2nd Generation)
Impressive ANC • Comfortable fit • Wireless charging
One of the best true wireless earbuds for iOS users
The second generation of AirPods Pro features top-quality active noise cancellation in a water-resistant package.

How does Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation) compare to other AirPods?

A hand holds a Apple AirPods (3rd generation) earbud by the stem to reveal the open-type fit and embedded sensors with the open case in the background.
The Apple AirPods (3rd generation) earbuds have a more rounded speaker element opening than the (2nd generation), forming a better fit in your outer ears—and a worse fit at the ear canal openings.

The first and second-generation AirPods Pro are nearly indistinguishable from one another. The main differences between the two generations lie under the hood. Noise cancelling is better on the newer headset, thanks to the H2 chip; the old model houses the older H1 chip. With the latest model, you get a new “high-excursion Apple driver” for improved sound quality. Charging cases differ between the two models: only the new case is water resistant, and has a built-in speaker and U1 chip for locating.

Apple AirPods (1st generation)Apple AirPods (2nd generation)Apple AirPods (3rd generation)Apple AirPods Pro (1st generation)Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation)
Size (earbud)
Apple AirPods (1st generation)
40.5 x 16.5 x 18 mm
Apple AirPods (2nd generation)
40.5 x 16.5 x 18 mm
Apple AirPods (3rd generation)
30.8 x 18.3 x 19.2 mm
Apple AirPods Pro (1st generation)
30.9 x 21.8 x 24 mm
Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation)
30.9 x 21.8 x 24 mm
Weight (earbud)
Apple AirPods (1st generation)
4g
Apple AirPods (2nd generation)
4g
Apple AirPods (3rd generation)
4.3g
Apple AirPods Pro (1st generation)
5.4g
Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation)
5.3g
Size (case)
Apple AirPods (1st generation)
44.3 x 21.3 x 53.5 mm
Apple AirPods (2nd generation)
44.3 x 21.3 x 53.5 mm
Apple AirPods (3rd generation)
46.4 x 21.4 x 54.4 mm
Apple AirPods Pro (1st generation)
45.2 x 60.6 x 21.7 mm
Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation)
45.2 x 60.6 x 21.7 mm
IP certification (buds)
Apple AirPods (1st generation)
N/A
Apple AirPods (2nd generation)
N/A
Apple AirPods (3rd generation)
IPX4
Apple AirPods Pro (1st generation)
IPX4
Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation)
IPX4
Fit type
Apple AirPods (1st generation)
Open
Apple AirPods (2nd generation)
Open
Apple AirPods (3rd generation)
Open
Apple AirPods Pro (1st generation)
Sealed (three ear tip sizes)
Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation)
Sealed (four ear tip sizes)
Bluetooth
Apple AirPods (1st generation)
SBC, AAC; Bluetooth 4.2
Apple AirPods (2nd generation)
SBC, AAC; Bluetooth 5.0
Apple AirPods (3rd generation)
SBC, AAC; Bluetooth 5.0
Apple AirPods Pro (1st generation)
SBC, AAC; Bluetooth 5.0
Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation)
SBC, AAC; Bluetooth 5.3
Active noise cancellation
Apple AirPods (1st generation)
No
Apple AirPods (2nd generation)
No
Apple AirPods (3rd generation)
No
Apple AirPods Pro (1st generation)
Hybrid ANC
Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation)
Hybrid ANC
Wireless charging available?
Apple AirPods (1st generation)
No
Apple AirPods (2nd generation)
Yes, with wireless charging case
Apple AirPods (3rd generation)
Yes, compatible with Qi and MagSafe,
Apple AirPods Pro (1st generation)
Yes, compatible with Qi and MagSafe (2021)
Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation)
Yes, compatible with Qi, MagSafe, and Apple Watch chargers
Chipset
Apple AirPods (1st generation)
W1
Apple AirPods (2nd generation)
H1
Apple AirPods (3rd generation)
H1
Apple AirPods Pro (1st generation)
H1
Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation)
H2 (earbuds)
U1 (case)
Touch controls
Apple AirPods (1st generation)
Yes
Apple AirPods (2nd generation)
Yes
Apple AirPods (3rd generation)
Yes, with force sensor
Apple AirPods Pro (1st generation)
Yes, with force sensor
Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation)
Yes, with force sensor and swipes
Connector
Apple AirPods (1st generation)
Lightning
Apple AirPods (2nd generation)
Lightning
Apple AirPods (3rd generation)
Lightning
Apple AirPods Pro (1st generation)
Lightning
Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation)
Lightning
Battery life (75dB SPL)
Apple AirPods (1st generation)
3.45 hours
Apple AirPods (2nd generation)
4.175 hours
Apple AirPods (3rd generation)
6.35 hours
Apple AirPods Pro (1st generation)
5.1125 hours
Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation)
TBD
Original price (USD)
Apple AirPods (1st generation)
(Discontinued)
Apple AirPods (2nd generation)
$159 USD, $199 USD with wireless charging case
Apple AirPods (3rd generation)
$179 USD
Apple AirPods Pro (1st generation)
$249 USD
Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation)
$249 USD

Comparing the AirPods first, second, and third-generation to the AirPods Pro is a bit more dramatic as the standard AirPods earphones don’t seal your ear canals. Instead, the unsealed earbuds keep you simultaneously tuned into your world and music. This philosophy is similar to bone conduction headphones and Sony’s donut-shaped earbuds. When you want a relatively affordable pair of earbuds that works seamlessly with Apple devices, you get the AirPods (3rd generation) ($19.99 at Amazon), but when you want something that actively blocks out environmental noise, you grab the AirPods Pro.

Even though the AirPods Max is a much different form factor from the true wireless AirPods Pro, there are some similarities and differences to note if you’re stuck between the two. To see how both compare, check out our AirPods Pro (2nd generation) vs AirPods Max article. You can pick up the AirPods Max for $479 at Amazon.

Is the Beats Fit Pro better than the Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation)?

The Beats Fit Pro noise cancelling true wireless earbuds in the open case and next to the two extra pairs of ear tips, all of which are in the purple variant.
Lily Katz / SoundGuys
Beats includes three pairs of ear tips for its wing-tipped workout buds.

Athletes will find the Beats Fit Pro works better for their needs, while listeners looking for a pair of everyday earbuds will gravitate toward the AirPods Pro (2nd generation). Stabilizing ear wings make the Fit Pro a great pair of earbuds, but I find the AirPods Pro (2nd generation) is more comfortable for hours at a time. Price is another factor, with the AirPods Pro costing $50 USD more than the Fit Pro ($179.95 at Amazon). When you buy the Fit Pro, you also get a pair of earbuds that works nearly as well on Android as it does on iOS, but when you buy any set of AirPods, you’re locked into Apple’s ecosystem.

The Beats Fit Pro and AirPods Pro (2nd generation) have slightly different sound profiles. There’s about a 10dB difference in sub-bass and midrange output through the Fit Pro, whereas it’s much more uniform with the AirPods Pro (2nd generation). This kind of sound makes sense for the Beats earphones because they’re billed as workout earbuds. While this is ideal for exercise, it may not be as pleasant for daily use as the AirPods Pro frequency response. No matter which pair of earbuds you buy, they both under-emphasize the treble above 7kHz relative to our target curve. If you need to scratch that treble detail itch, we recommend playing around with your music service’s EQ.

Active noise cancelling performance is slightly better on the AirPods Pro (2nd generation) than the Beats Fit Pro, but both will serve you well in noisy conditions. The AirPods Pro (2nd generation) ANC may sound a bit more pleasant since its strength is steadier across the frequency spectrum, though.

You get many of the same features between the AirPods Pro (2nd generation) and Beats Fit Pro, including personalized Spatial Audio, so long as your device runs iOS 16 or later. Both earbuds have skin-detect sensors and an IPX4 rating, but only the second-gen AirPods Pro case has an IPX4 rating too. You can’t go wrong with either pair of earbuds, but if you refuse to spend more than $200 USD on wireless earbuds, the Fit Pro fits the bill.

What should you get instead of the Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation)?

After all this, you might realize that you don’t want the latest AirPods Pro. Lucky for you, we’re living through a golden age of wireless earbuds, and you have plenty of AirPods Pro alternatives to choose from.

A photo of the Sony WF-1000XM4's case open, revealing the earphones sitting within.
The addition of the copper ANC mic housings make the Sony WF-1000XM4 a bit more glam.

Sony’s WF-1000XM4 is among our favorite noise cancelling wireless earphones for its stellar ANC, comfortable fit, durable build quality, and OS-agnostic mobile app. The WF-1000XM4 is about $30 USD more expensive than the AirPods Pro (2nd generation) and currently costs $228 at Amazon, but it often goes on promotion too. If you want a more anonymous-looking earphone from Sony, look into the Sony LinkBuds S, which you can get for $148 at Amazon.

Android phone owners who want access to features like Google Translate right in their ears can pick up the Google Pixel Buds Pro. These earphones cost $192.5 at Amazon and compare well against the Sony WF-1000XM4. Google’s ANC is surprisingly effective; like Apple, the Pixel Buds Pro buds and case are water resistant. Unlike Apple’s earbuds, however, you get Bluetooth multipoint, making the Pixel Buds Pro a proper headset for work.

A man wears the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro while facing left, and he's about to tap the touch pad with trees and concrete in the background.
Jasper Lastoria / SoundGuys
You control the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro with a series of taps, presses, and holds.

For the best from Samsung, grab the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro. These earbuds have some of the best ANC we’ve tested and can block out plenty of low-frequency noise. Listeners who travel for work, or just to work, the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro will put your mind at ease. The default sound quality is a bit more bass-heavy than our ideal curve, but only by about 5dB. For $104.99 at Amazon, you’ll have a hard time finding a more feature-packed pair of buds—even if a handful of those features are relegated to Samsung’s ecosystem. We compare the AirPods Pro (2nd gen) to the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro in our versus article.

The Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II is another OS-agnostic alternative, with more sound customization available and comparable ANC, though it is more expensive at . For a side-by-side comparison, check out our Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation) vs Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II article.

Frequently asked questions about the Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation)

Anyone who subscribes to Apple Music can listen to songs in Spatial Audio with Dolby Atmos, so long as you have the proper equipment. For an Android phone, all you have to do is the following:

  1. Open the Apple Music app.
  2. Tap the More button (three vertical dots).
  3. Tap the Settings tab.
  4. Tap Dolby Atmos to toggle it on/off.

The AirPods Pro works with “Conversation Boost” to amplify voices in front of you. You can also use “Headphone Accommodations” to amplify frequencies you may need to hear more clearly. You can even enable “Live Listen” to better hear a speaker in an auditorium for class lectures or work conferences. You’ll need an iPhone to use any of these features.

When you buy a pair of AirPods, an Apple HomePod mini, or certain Beats, you get six free months of Apple Music. This only applies to new Apple Music subscribers.

Below is a list of devices that make you eligible for your free six months of Apple Music:

  • AirPods Pro series
  • AirPods (2nd and 3rd generation)
  • AirPods Max
  • HomePod
  • HomePod mini
  • Beats Fit Pro
  • Beats Studio Buds
  • Beats Powerbeats
  • Beats Powerbeats Pro
  • Beats Solo Pro

You’re more likely to have the best sound quality from your AirPods Pro (2nd generation) when using an iOS device, since the highest quality Bluetooth codec option from the earbuds is the AAC codec. AAC is consistently good on iOS devices, whereas on Android devices it can vary a lot.