Apple AirPods Pro 2 Review
3 years after the launch of the first AirPods Pro, the second generation has been released. I spent about a month with these headphones, using them every day for several hours, and I hasten to tell you about my impressions, as well as to share my opinion whether they are worth buying.
Second Generation AirPods Pro, despite the minimum external differences, received numerous internals. It turned out a kind of work on the bugs, which made almost perfect headphones for the Apple ecosystem from excellent headphones. Practically – because the questions remain, especially to the stability of the work. But let's talk about all this in order.
You can't tell the difference from a meter away
The design of both the case and the headphones has not changed much. Rumors that AirPods Pro will lose their legs have not materialized. Dimensions and shape remain the same. Design:
- A strap. At the same time, a loop for a strap appeared on the case on the right side (it is not clear why, but someone it will certainly be useful) and a cutout for the speaker – on the bottom. We will return to the functionality of the speaker a little later.
- Microphone. The position of the internal microphone on the headphones has changed, now it is higher, and a skin sensor is installed instead of an optical sensor, as in AirPods 3rd generation. And that's a big plus, as the new generation sensor detects the moment of putting on the headphones noticeably more accurately and faster. Noise reduction or “transparency” is turned on instantly, the music starts playing immediately. No need to wait a second or two until the accessory is convinced that it is on you, as is the case with the first generation.
- Ear pads. In the kit you can find a new size of ear pads – XS, which is suitable for those who were too big for S. I used the “default” M, and continue to do so.
- IPX4. Another important change: according to the IPX4 protocol (from splashes falling in any direction), not only the headphones, but also the case are now protected. Washing headphones in jeans is still not worth it, but getting caught in the pouring rain is no longer so scary.
Locator controls and features
The control remains the same – it's a touch button in a hollow on the leg of the headphones, which is activated by squeezing this same leg with little effort. As before, single (pause), double (next track) and triple (previous track) presses are available, as well as hold (switching operating modes and calling Siri). Functions:
- Sensors. At the same time, the touch hollow now supports up and down swipes, which allow you to increase and decrease the volume, respectively. That's it, what the first generation of AirPods Pro lacked so much! Swipes work, by the way, like a Swiss watch, and a change in volume is accompanied by a soft “knock-knock”.
- Latitude. Also in AirPods Pro 2, interaction with Latitude has been significantly improved. Firstly, you can now search for each earpiece and case separately: if the earphones are outside the case, then for the Locator they make up three entities.
- Play sound. Just the other day I was “lucky” to lose my case in the apartment, while the headphones were in my ears. I just tested the new functionality: I opened the “Locator”, clicked on the case, selected the “Play sound” item and immediately found it (of course, in the most visible place). Thanks to the dynamics that appeared in the case – without it would be much more difficult. The signal, by the way, is quite loud.
- Volume. Let me remind you that earlier it was possible to find a case by sound only with headphones in it because only they could produce it. Even though it was almost impossible to hear them while in the case, crystal silence was required.
- U1. In addition to the sound, a search is available for the headphones and the case in the form of a hot-cold game; If you are in a country where the U1 chip is allowed, then finding the case can be even easier thanks to hyper local positioning – just like the AirTag tag. But only a case, since the U1 chip is only built into it.
- Charging. As for the speaker, then it also plays sound when charging, when the headphones are immersed in a case with a low battery level, and when paired with a smartphone. If these sounds become annoying, you can turn them off in the AirPods settings, which can be accessed from the iOS settings.
- Speed. Here I note that the speed of connecting and switching between devices has really increased. It feels like twice – and it pleases. Thoughts practically do not arise, but …
Sound – surprised and pleased
AirPods Pro 2 are the first Apple headphones to receive the H2 chip. It affects both the speed of connecting and switching between devices, which we have already talked about, and the sound. Including the work of the very adaptive equalizer, which changes the audio parameters on the go based on the sound picture that enters the user's ears. Which, in turn, “listen” microphones directed into the ear canal. Sound:
- H2. Putting aside marketing stories about how and how many times H2 outperforms H1 from the original AirPods Pro, I will say this: the sound is really pumped, and it is felt immediately.
- Bass. Bass is deeper and fatter, more detail, more sound space. AirPods Pro 2 sound like this that I don’t feel like listening to music on the first generation.
- Sony WH-1000XM4. At some point, I even thought in the heat of the moment to sell my Sony WH-1000XM4, they say, why, if the new AirPods Pro can do the same. But no, after listening, I decided to leave the top full-size headphones.
- Soundcore Liberty 3 Pro. Among TWS, my sound benchmark is the hybrid Soundcore Liberty 3 Pro that I tested earlier this year.
- Quality. And yes, AirPods Pro 2 fall short of them, but they try very, very hard. But for this, Apple first needs to implement the “armature”, which is hardly possible in such a compact package.
Noise reduction has also been upgraded, according to my subjective impressions, it has become as much more effective as 30-40%. And if I used to make a discount on the form factor, believing that it was impossible to get “noise reduction” at the level of full-size headphones in the TWS format, now I will not make such a discount. Technologies:
- Noise reduction. And all because the AirPods Pro, as it seemed to me, suppress the noise quite better than the Sony WH-1000XM4, and in some places even better. Turned on “noise reduction”, set the volume to 40- 50% and that's it, you will most likely hear nothing but music. Except for the very distant sound of a subway train flying into the station or the roar of an airplane taking off overhead.
- Suppression. In other cases, it is a real vacuum cocoon that allows you to be alone with the music. As long as Apple doesn't break anything in future headphone firmware updates, like it did with the original Pros. And let me remind you that the previous model received a lot of criticism because with each update, the effectiveness of “noise reduction” became less and less.
- Efficiency. At the same time, I note that that noise cancellation is moderately aggressive, and if you turn it on without music, you can feel pressure on your ears. With the first generation, it is practically not felt. But here you have to choose – either more efficiency, or less pressure.
- Transparency. As for the “transparency” mode, it has not been improved much, but the main thing is that they did not worsen. “Transparency” in AirPods Pro is already the best and most natural, you really could not touch it.
- Adaptive Transparency. But Apple tried it by adding “Adaptive Transparency” to the AirPods Pro 2. According to the idea, the chip should muffle the sources of very loud noises, but I did not notice much difference from the first generation AirPods Pro. Either because it simply doesn’t work in the new product, or because it was also in the first “Pros”, it was simply not advertised, or I didn’t understand something or didn’t hear it.
- Face ID. I made similar conclusions about the personalization of spatial audio – in the headphone settings, you can scan the shape of the ears using Face ID sensors, and then smart algorithms supposedly should improve the spatial sound specifically for your ears. So. Something seems to have changed, but it has become better or worse – it is not clear.
- Spatial audio. I admit that in my case, my misunderstanding of “spatial audio” played a cruel joke in principle. I never listen to music with it because it seems to me that it spoils it. In movies and TV shows, yes, the sound becomes more interesting. But I can’t explain exactly how the personalized settings affected my user experience – before it was fine, and after it became normal, just a little different, but this is not accurate either.
Autonomy and charging
AirPods Pro 2 become more autonomous – now you can listen to music with active noise cancellation or “transparency” up to 6 hours (was 4.5 hours) continuously and up to 30 hours (was 24 hours) with recharging in the case. Traditionally for Apple, the declared figures correspond to reality, I had something like this at medium volume. At the same time, you can now charge the novelty with an Apple Watch charger, with which it is magnetized. And this is in addition to all other previously available methods: Lightning cable, MagSafe or any other Qi-charging.
However, regarding AirPods, I would not recommend any wireless charging methods in principle because the batteries in the headphones and case are small and delicate. I think it is not worth increasing their wear by heating, which is inevitable with the wireless version. Cable is somehow more reliable, and faster.
I can definitely call the AirPods Pro update a success. In my opinion, today, this is the best headphone option for those who live inside the Apple ecosystem. And this, by the way, is the only 2022 Apple gadget that I upgraded without thinking. Firstly, from for the upgrade of sound and pumped “noise reduction”. In the second – because of all the other useful innovations. So, I recommend taking even as a replacement for the first AirPods Pro. This will be especially true for those who took the first “Pros” 2–3 years ago, after all, during this time, the batteries of the headphones, most likely, most of their resource.
P.S. And the packaging bug was fixed: on the front side of the box from the first generation there were two left headphones, and here – left and right.