Apple has finally announced the much rumored AirPods Pro. They are priced at $249 in the US and will be available starting Wednesday, October 30.
The AirPods Pro are not a replacement for the standard AirPods but as the name suggests, a more premium version of them. The main features here are active noise cancellation, a new water resistant design and a few other unique and interesting features.
The active noise cancellation has been a long time coming. The AirPods Pro feature an in-ear design, making them only the second pair of Apple earphones apart from the now defunct and aptly named Apple In-Ear Headphones to feature an in-ear design. The AirPods Pro comes with three sets of silicone ear tips that click into place and provide passive noise isolation even before the electronics kick into place. A vent system is used to equalize the pressure so the wearer doesn’t feel any discomfort, especially if they aren’t used to in-ear earphones.
The active noise cancellation system uses two microphones, one on the outside and one on the inside of the earphones. The external microphone monitors the ambient noise and then creates an inverse audio signal that cancels it out. The internal microphone monitors the sound within the earphones and automatically adjusts the noise cancellation for each ear based on the amount of noise seeping in.
The AirPods Pro also have a feature called Transparency, which basically mixes in some of the ambient sound in with the audio so you can hear things like the traffic around you when you’re out for a run or announcements at the airport.
The AirPods Pro also have a new design that is IPX4 water and sweat resistant, which means you can use them in the gym or on a run and don’t have to worry about ruining them with sweat and the new in-ear design also keeps them in place. However, you can’t exactly use these in the pool and also, only the earphones are water-resistant, not the case.
The stalks of the earphones are now also pressure sensitive so you can squeeze them to invoke various functions. You can press and hold to toggle between active noise cancellation and Transparency mode, press once to play/pause, twice to skip tracks, and thrice to skip back.
On the audio front, the AirPods Pro use a new custom high-excursion audio driver with a new custom high dynamic range amplifier. The audio is constantly monitored using the internal microphone and adjusted on the fly so you get the best audio quality regardless of the shape of your ear and the noise around you.
All the processing is done onboard by the H1 audio processor, also found on the second generation AirPods. The custom chip enables the AirPods Pro to have low latency that AirPods are known for while also processing the audio, noise cancellation and hands-free Hey Siri requests.
The AirPods Pro are just as clever as the standard AirPods. You can just open the lid near an iOS device and have them show up for easy pairing. You can pull them out of your ears to pause the music and put them back to continue playing. A cool new feature with the AirPods Pro is the Ear Tip Fit Test, which uses the internal microphone to measure the sound level and tell you if the ear tip you have selected is the right size for your ear and if you need to adjust it for better seal.
Like the AirPods, the AirPods Pro also support Audio Sharing feature with select iOS and iPadOS devices. You can have two set of AirPods Pro or AirPods connected to the same device and listening to the same content.
Despite all the new features and slightly smaller design, the battery life of the AirPods Pro is similar to that of the AirPods. You get 4.5 hours of music listening time with noise cancelling turned on and 5 hours with it turned off. You also get 3.5 hours of talk time with noise cancelling on. The case provides additional charges and take the battery life to a total of 24 hours of listening time and 18 hours of talk time. The case does fast charging and provides one hour of music or calls after just 5 minutes of charging.
The case has been redesigned for the new AirPods Pro. The main feature here is now that wireless charging is built-in and you don’t need to buy an optional case for it. It works with any Qi-enabled wireless charger, just like the iPhone. Or you can just charge it with a Lightning cable.
The AirPods Pro will be available in over 25 countries, including the US at the aforementioned price. The standard AirPods can still be purchased for $159 or $199 with the Wireless Charging Case, which is also sold separately for $99.