Apple AirPods Pro 2 review: great buds get even higher

Apple AirPods Pro 2 review: great buds get even higher

MSRP $249.00

“There’s simply no higher option for anyone with Apple devices.”


  • Excellent noise cancellation
  • Top-notch transparency
  • Excellent sound quality
  • Great call quality
  • Fun charging case features


  • Not ideal for Android
  • Still no EQ adjustments

It’s not possible to debate wireless earbuds without mentioning Apple’s iconic family of AirPods products. And with regards to noise cancellation, there are the AirPods Pro, after which every little thing else. They’re just that dominant.

With the discharge of the second-generation AirPods Pro, don’t expect that to alter. Apple has taken what already was an incredibly successful formula and has made it higher by improving existing features like noise cancellation, sound quality, and transparency, and in addition by adding recent twists from the Apple ecosystem value more highly Find My integration and personalized spatial audio.

That’s good news for Apple fans. However it means everyone else will still must look elsewhere to get a compelling wireless audio experience.

Just how good are the AirPods Pro 2? Let’s check them out.

Video review

What’s within the box?

Apple AirPods Pro 2 with accessories.Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

Along with the AirPods Pro 2 and their charging case, Apple provides a generous set of additional eartip sizes (now including extra small), plus a 41-inch Lightning-to-USB-C cable for charging. That’s a for much longer cable than what most wireless earbuds ship with, but Apple continues to disregard the indisputable fact that not all of its customers have computers or chargers that use USB-C just yet. Possibly it’s just me, but a USB-C-to-USB-A adapter would have been a welcome addition.

The box itself and all of its internals are 100% recyclable paper and cardboard.


Apple AirPods Pro 2 next to first-gen AirPods Pro.First-gen Apple AirPods Pro (left) and second-gen AirPods Pro. Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

You’re going to must look closely — and I mean really closely — to see where Apple has made changes from the first-gen AirPods Pro to the AirPods Pro 2, not less than on the surface. By way of size and shape, the earbuds and the charging cases are an identical. You’ll be able to even swap the earbuds and cases from one generation to the opposite and so they’ll fit together perfectly. But don’t do that. Apple says a firmware mismatch will keep them from charging when you do that, and indeed it does. But not less than nothing exploded or got stuck after I tried.

The same shape means the AirPods Pro remain a few of the comfiest wireless earbuds you’ll be able to buy. However it also means they’re still not as secure as some folks might want. You absolutely can work out in them (the second-gen earbuds keep the IPX4 water resistance rating and the charging case is now similarly protected), but they may need regular adjustments.

Apple AirPods Pro 2 next to first-gen AirPods Pro.First-gen Apple AirPods Pro (left) and second-gen AirPods Pro. Are you able to tell the difference? Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

Look closer and also you’ll see a number of differences. The pressure-relief vents have been moved higher on the newer earbuds, and a recent form of wear sensor knows the difference between human skin (just like the inside your ear) and other objects just like the inside your pockets, must you be within the habit of leaving your charging case at home.

Speaking of the charging case, it now has a built-in lanyard loop, Apple’s U1 chip for precise locating within the Apple Find My app, support for Apple Watch/MagSafe/Qi wireless charging, and a tiny speaker that may be used for quite a lot of feedback tones, which we’ll discuss in a moment.

The entire package now weighs a wee bit more, likely due to all of those extra charging case features: 2.19 ounces versus the first-gen’s all-in weight of 1.98 ounces. Contained in the second-gen earbuds lies Apple’s recent H2 chips, which do the entire heavy lifting for the new-and-improved features.

Controls and connections

The primary-gen AirPods Pro’s easy-to-use controls make a comeback, with a straightforward squeeze-to-click gesture on each earbud’s stem. Press once for play/pause or call answer/end, twice to skip forward, and thrice to skip back. Press-and-hold also is accessible and may be customized for every earbud, allowing you to activate Siri or control lively noise cancellation (ANC) mode.

The brand new skin-sensing wear sensors absolutely live as much as their promise.

The second-gen buds add volume control, a feature that AirPods fans have been asking for. To make use of it, you place your thumb against the back of the stem, similar to you’d for a squeeze gesture. But as a substitute of compacting together with your index finger, you slide it up or down on the stem. Each complete slide gesture moves the amount up or down one notch.

At first, I actually struggled with this recent gesture. But then I discovered the fitting technique — your index finger has to start its slide starting above or below the flat sensor area to be able to be consistently recognized. Should you start on the sensor itself, it’s much less more likely to work.

If you nail it, not only does the amount adjust as expected, but you furthermore mght get a really faint confirmation tone.

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

The brand new skin-sensing wear sensors absolutely live as much as their promise. I attempted to idiot them with fabrics, plastics, leather, and metal, and none produced a false positive. The one exception was my fingernail, but on condition that’s only a layer over real skin, I’d say it’s an exception that proves the rule. They usually pause and resume your tunes almost immediately as you pop them out and in of your ear.

It’s price noting that in iOS 16 (which is a requirement if you wish to get probably the most out of those earbuds), the settings for the AirPods finally are in their very own dedicated area inside the Settings app, as a substitute of buried within the Bluetooth menu. It offers a wealth of great options including a fit test, preferences for ANC, detailed battery status, and gesture customization. The case will even communicate together with your iPhone periodically over Bluetooth Low Energy to present you an accurate battery level, even while you’re not using the earbuds.

The one thing missing — or should I say, still missing — is a technique to adjust EQ. Apple still stands by its Adaptive EQ because the only adjustment you would like — in other words, “trust us.”

Connecting the AirPods Pro 2 to your iOS device is laughably easy. Just flip open the case lid next to an unlocked iPhone or iPad and it’s immediately recognized. One tap on the on-screen animation and also you’re in business.

Apple says they’ve richer sound with more clarity … I feel that’s spot-on.

And although Apple still doesn’t support Bluetooth Multipoint for simultaneous device connections, its automatic device switching works almost as well — and one could argue it would even be higher than Multipoint if you might have several Apple devices you utilize regularly like an iPhone, iPad, Mac, and an Apple Watch. It’s not quite seamless — on a number of occasions, my Mac wouldn’t pump volume through the AirPods although it indicated it was connected to them. My two test iPhones — an iPhone 11 and iPhone 14 — also appeared to arm wrestle over which one should take precedence over the AirPods connection. But I’ll chalk that as much as an unusually complicated setup (and possible user error) on my part.

The AirPods Pro 2 use Bluetooth 5.3, the most recent and biggest version of the wireless standard. But Apple is simply scratching the surface of what Bluetooth 5.3 can do. Not only has it declined to support Multipoint, it has also remained silent on other features like LE Audio, including the brand new LC3 audio codec, and Auracast for public Bluetooth broadcasts.

Still, what matters most is that the connection is robust and stable so long as you remain inside about 25 feet indoors and inside 35 to 40 feet outside.

Sound quality

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

Apple says it has endowed the AirPods Pro 2 with a recent, low-distortion set of drivers and recent high dynamic range amplifiers for “richer sound with more clarity and consistency across volumes and a wider range of frequencies.” I feel that’s spot-on.

The primary-gen buds sounded good — way higher than any previous AirPods — but they were routinely outclassed by competitors like Sony’s WF-1000 series (XM3, XM4) and Sennheiser’s Momentum True Wireless 3. These rival earbuds still have an edge over the second-gen AirPods Pro — especially when connected to Android handsets — nevertheless it’s a slimmer lead. More necessary: Unless you sit yourself down for a really critical listening session with a handpicked set of lossless, hi-res tracks, I just don’t think you’ll have the option to listen to the difference.

For ANC and transparency the AirPods Pro 2 and Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II are each excellent. However the AirPods Pro are higher.

The brand new AirPods offer up an in depth performance, with loads of punchy bass, and really clear high frequencies. The soundstage is pleasingly wide, even when it lacks the pin-drop precision of the Technics EAH-AZ60 or Astell & Kern AK UW100. The AirPods Pro 2 sound so good, I can’t help wondering how significantly better they may sound if Apple actually supported higher quality codecs like Sony’s LDAC or Qualcomm’s aptX Adaptive. Still, what the AirPods may lack by way of audiophile precision, they make up for in immersion, especially when you delve into head-tracking spatial audio.

Speaking of spatial audio, personalized spatial audio is a recent feature in iOS 16 that I won’t get into here since it’s not an AirPods Pro 2 exclusive (it really works on the first-gen, third-gen AirPods, and AirPods Max too). But I did try it, and I could definitely hear an improvement to the way in which Dolby Atmos Music sounded. I’ll be posting my full thoughts on the brand new feature shortly.

Noise cancellation and transparency

Apple AirPods Pro 2 inside their charging case.Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

On literally the identical day that Apple announced the second-gen AirPods Pro, Bose debuted its second-gen QuietComfort Earbuds, together with the claim that they offered the perfect ANC you possibly can get, period. And for me, it was a claim that proved true … for about every week. Then I got my hands (and ears) on the brand new AirPods Pro. Apple’s buds don’t beat the QuietComfort Earbuds II on noise cancellation — in actual fact, they’re so close, I couldn’t pick a winner if I attempted. But I prefer the AirPods Pro anyway.

It comes right down to execution. Bose’s ANC system, while impressive in every way, nonetheless produces a noticeable hiss while you’re in a comparatively quiet area without music playing. That hiss is a relentless reminder that there’s technology working within the background attempting to keep you free from annoying noises. With the AirPods Pro, alternatively, all you get is silence.

Caleb would exclaim, “Wow, um, did you hear that truck?” and inevitably, I’d reply, “No, what truck?”

Each products are also too near call on transparency listening, with incredibly clear reproduction of the surface world, including your individual voice, but again, I prefer the AirPods due to how transparency is managed.

On this case, I’m referring to Bose’s ActiveSense tech, which continually monitors for very loud sounds while you’re in Aware (transparency) mode and attempts to tamp them right down to secure listening levels. The AirPods Pro 2 do the identical thing — Apple calls it Adaptive Transparency. Each do the job, however the AirPods Pro do it higher.

Here’s an example: We’ve one in all those Vespa-style electric scooters. If you turn it off, it emits a completely ear-piercing 100-decibel shriek, which I actually have yet to successfully disable. It’s so loud you’ll be able to hear it a block away. And when it’s in an enclosed space — like our garage — it’s painful. With the QuietComfort Earbuds II, that shriek was greatly reduced, but was still a bit uncomfortable for my liking, while the AirPods Pro 2 eliminated the high-frequency spike, leaving me with a sound I could hear clearly, without wincing.

You’ll be able to turn Adaptive Transparency off when you find it interferes with sounds that matter to you, but in my temporary time with these earbuds, it was never an issue and I strongly recommend leaving it on.

Call quality

Apple AirPods Pro 2 inside their charging case, near iPhone 14.Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

The AirPods Pro at all times have been reliable companions for calling, but they’re even higher now that Apple has given the second-gen model enhanced background noise cancellation. Digital Trends editor-at-large Caleb Denison and I did a series of phone calls on each versions to listen to the difference for ourselves, and it got pretty amusing at times. Caleb would exclaim, “Wow, um, did you hear that truck?” and inevitably, I’d reply, “No, what truck?” and so it might go as each of us gave the opposite a color commentary on sounds that simply couldn’t be heard on the opposite end of the road.

It’s not perfect; the value for the entire magic noise suppression is a rather muffled voice quality, nevertheless it’s only a difficulty in loud, outdoor settings. Inside, your callers will hear you clearly and effortlessly, almost as when you were speaking right into your phone’s mic.

Battery life

Apple AirPods Pro 2 charging case charging port and speaker close-up.Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

Earbuds like this have very small batteries. That’s just physics at work. But battery life does are likely to get a bit of higher with every recent generation. The second-gen AirPods Pro are actually as much as six hours per charge under normal conditions with ANC on and volume set at 50% which, given how good the ANC is, might just be sufficient for many listening.

It’s going to take successful when you push it: I used the ANC function by itself for a protracted motorcycle trip and the roar from the wind and my bike’s engine/exhaust probably taxed those H2 chips considerably. I only got about five hours before they gave me that dead-battery warning tone.

Apple AirPods Pro 2 charging case lanyard loop close-up.

Apple AirPods Pro 2 charging case suspended from its lanyard loop.

A fast five-minute charge gives the earbuds an additional hour of use, so that you’ll have the option to get back to your in-flight movie pretty quickly if the battery should conk out.

Throw within the 4 full charges within the case (greater than the everyday two or three you get on other earbuds) and also you’re now as much as 30 hours before it is advisable to go looking for electricity.

Speaking of the case, I want to say two quick things: first, the precision finding via Apple’s “Find My” feature that’s enabled by the U1 chip is awesome, as is the built-in speaker. Just getting a confirmation tone for wireless charging is definitely worth the upgrade. But second — really Apple, you place a lanyard loop on this thing but couldn’t give us an actual lanyard within the box? You’ll be able to buy them on Amazon for $7 for a six-pack, so what wouldn’t it have cost to incorporate only one? 10 cents? Not. Cool.

A complete no-brainer

So there you might have it. Apple’s second-gen AirPods Pro cost similar to the primary generation, but have a slew of meaningful improvements that put them at the highest of the heap for features like ANC and transparency. For any Apple fan who needs a set of wireless earbuds, they’re an obvious (and excellent) selection.

Android or PC users could buy them too — their best features (comfort, ANC, improved sound quality, volume control, skin sensors, adaptive transparency, higher battery life, and call quality) would all work just positive — but with none access to your voice assistant, settings, spatial audio, higher-quality codec support, or the Find My feature, I’m undecided it’s price it. Given how good Google’s recent Pixel Buds Pro are, you would possibly just want to avoid wasting yourself the $49 and get a set of buds made to your phone.

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