AirPods Pro 2: release date, price, features

AirPods Pro 2: release date, price, features

Apple's second-generation AirPods Pro presents a highly successful set of wireless headphones. Apart from delivering exceptional audio quality, they boast a remarkably effective active noise reduction feature. However, their most significant advantages are reserved for iPhone users. In this article we will talk about the main features and see if they are worth buying.

When were the AirPods Pro 2 released?

The second generation of the AirPods Pro were released on September 23, 2022. Last September, alongside the announcement of the new iPhone 14 and Apple Watch Series 8, the new AirPods Pro were revealed. Packed with exciting features such as improved active noise reduction, a new transparency mode, touch surface controls, spatial sound with Dolby Atmos support, and a redesigned charging case, these AirPods Pro stand out with significant upgrades. 

© Apple

What are the AirPods Pro 2 key features?

Appearance and fit

At first glance, you may not notice many differences between the AirPods Pro 2019 and the 2022 version. The new models maintain the same design as their predecessors, sporting the iconic white color and semi-in-ear type with a short stem. This design has proven its worth over the past three years, providing both comfort and efficiency. The earphones fit snugly and remain secure even during physical activities.

To cater to a broader customer base, Apple now includes four pairs of tips as standard, up from the previous three. Additionally, a new XS model is introduced to accommodate smaller ear canals, ensuring a perfect fit for even more users. A crucial detail to consider is the positioning of the AirPods Pro in the ear canal, as it significantly affects both the fit and sound quality.

© Apple

Touch control

Other notable updates are found in the stems of the AirPods Pro. The touch surface has been redesigned to accommodate pressure (pinching) and sliding finger gestures. This exciting development enables users to control the volume of their headphones directly, eliminating the need for Siri voice commands or handling their smartphones. With this feature, the AirPods Pro catch up to certain competing models that have already offered this convenient setting.

Charging case

On the practical side, the charging case of the AirPods Pro has received several enhancements. While its form factor remains similar to the previous version, it now includes a mini speaker that emits beeps to help locate the misplaced headphones. This feature works in conjunction with the Locate function, with the case being compatible thanks to its U1 chip. You can now easily locate your AirPods Pro on a map using an iPhone, iPad, or web browser. The addition of this simple audio device also provides helpful information such as the pairing status and the remaining battery level. 

Furthermore, the charging case now features a notch for attaching a wrist strap. Both the headphones and the case boast impeccable finishing, exuding durability. They hold an IPX4 certification, making them resistant to perspiration, splashes, and rain. However, it's important to note that they are not waterproof. Submerging them in water can have detrimental effects.

Transparency Mode

On the opposite end of the active noise reduction feature lies Transparency mode. It utilises the AirPods Pro's microphones to amplify surrounding sounds without distortion, making it useful for engaging in conversations without removing the headphones. With the AirPods Pro 2, Apple introduced "adaptive transparency" to limit harsh sounds in noisy environments. However, while it works, there's room for improvement. The system sometimes takes a bit too long to analyse and activate noise reduction, causing certain distracting sounds to pass through before attenuation. Nonetheless, it remains effective against constant and low-pitched noises, such as a truck's engine at a red light, allowing for clear conversations. iPhone users have additional settings accessible through the accessibility settings of iOS for further customisation.

With an iPhone, you can customise the AirPods Pro's balance, noise reduction, transparency mode, and voice amplification to cater to individual hearing preferences. A great feature from Apple, especially for those with uneven hearing abilities, as long as they use an iPhone.

Spatial Audio

Another notable feature of the AirPods Pro 2022 is their exceptional spatial audio management. Far from being a mere gimmick, spatial audio adds a whole new dimension to music and enhances the cinematic experience when watching movies with 5.1, 7.1, or Dolby Atmos sound. The H2 chip's new algorithms further enhance this function, making it even more impressive. The music experience is truly spectacular with the AirPods Pro 2. The sound is immersive and allows distinct separation of instruments, revealing new details and nuances in familiar songs that were previously unnoticed.

© Apple

The iPhone can also enhance songs that are not immediately compatible with spatial audio. Simply perform a long press on the volume level in the iOS control center to activate the feature. The result remains impressive, as all songs gain depth and clarity. Instruments and vocals offer a newfound richness, rejuvenating tracks that seemed familiar. For optimal spatial audio performance, customisation is possible. By using the front camera and TrueDepth module of the iPhone, a quick photo scans the face and each ear to determine their shape. The spatial sound is then personalised based on these results.

What is the AirPod Pro 2 compatibility?

As always, Apple prioritises iPhone, iPad, and Mac owners. While the AirPods Pro 2 remains compatible with Android and Windows devices, its true potential is unleashed when used with Apple's ecosystem. On iOS or macOS (especially with Macs powered by an Apple Silicon chip), users can customise settings to associate different actions with pinch gestures performed on each earphone stem. They can also select the microphone for phone calls (on the left or right earphone), choose the desired ANC mode (transparency, active, or off), and fine-tune the spatial sound settings. This level of integration makes the AirPods Pro 2 an exceptional companion for Apple hardware users.

All the settings of the AirPods Pro are conveniently stored and accessible across all devices connected to the same iCloud account. However, it's important to note that without an iOS or macOS device, access to these settings becomes limited. Default settings will be in place, and while basic functions like changing the volume and switching between ANC modes will still work, access to features such as spatial audio will not be available. Apple does not provide dedicated apps for Android or Windows devices to optimise the usage of AirPods Pro on these platforms. It's unfortunate, as it limits the full potential of the AirPods Pro for non-Apple device users.

How good is the AirPods Pro noise reduction?

The first-generation AirPods Pro impressed with their effective active noise reduction (ANC) system. Now, Apple has taken it even further with the new H2 chip, bringing significant improvements. According to Apple, this signal processor offers ANC twice as effective as previous models, which might be a slight exaggeration, but it's not far from the truth. The ANC performance is quite spectacular, even without playing music. Urban noises fade away, while purring sounds vanish completely, creating a real bubble of silence. Moreover, the ANC is surprisingly effective with conversations, managing to strongly attenuate human voice frequencies, except for very close proximity. This level of performance is rare among headphones and in-ear devices, making the AirPods Pro stand out from the crowd.

© Apple

The AirPods Pro 2 deliver an even more convincing experience when playing music. They can isolate almost completely without causing any discomfort, as there's no perceptible breath or noise from the ANC. However, the noise of wind can still pass through in certain situations, especially during strong gusts or when moving quickly (e.g., cycling). Despite this, the wind noise is sufficiently reduced not to be overly bothersome. In terms of active noise reduction, Apple has set a new standard with the AirPods Pro 2, offering the best performance currently available.

What is the battery life of the AirPods Pro 2?

The AirPods Pro 2 offer 6 hours of stereo listening or 5.5 hours with ANC and spatial audio at 50% volume. The case provides four full charges, totaling up to 30 hours of listening time (without ANC) or 24 hours of conversation. It charges via Lightning cable or wirelessly, and Apple Watch owners can use their watch charger for recharging.

How much do the AirPods Pro 2 cost?

Similar to other Apple products released this year, the AirPods Pro 2 have experienced a price increase. The new version costs £249.00 or $249.00. This places them at the same price as the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds 2, their direct competitor, but pricier when compared to last year's Sony WF-1000XM4 and Samsung's Galaxy Buds2 Pro. The price is a factor to consider, especially depending on whether you use an Android smartphone or an iPhone. Competitors of the AirPods Pro 2 not only offer commendable audio performance but also provide more settings and functions for users of the Google mobile system compared to the AirPods Pro.

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