Apple AirPods Pro 2nd Gen Review: Stayin' ALIVE!
The Apple AirPods Pro 2nd Gen brings in meaningful upgrades and major updates to the audio performance. Is it worth buying?
Before you wonder, I want to clear it without any wait – you should buy Apple AirPods Pro 2nd Gen if you still have the AirPods Pro 1st Gen. Yes, the new AirPods Pro has enough upgrades in it to warrant another hefty investment. It may still look the same but all the updates inside are massive and elevate the user experience to another level. The good part is that it still costs Rs. 26900, the same as its predecessor.
The not-so-good part, however, is that hefty price. The new AirPods Pro 2nd Gen is one of the most expensive TWS earbuds you can buy, and that mounts a lot of responsibilities on its shoulders. It now needs to sound better than the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 3 and the Sony WF-1000XM4. And it better cast some magic on my ears, especially after Apple's fancy presentation last month. The news, however, is mostly good.
AirPods Pro 2nd Gen: Audio performance
First and foremost, the audio. We might be getting the 3rd Generation of the AirPods Pro after three years and it is crucial for them to sound great now and for the next three years. The original AirPods Pro sounded good but this one is nicer on the ears. The soundstage is wider and that means you get to hear a lot more now. With Spatial Audio enabled, you get a greater sense of surround sound as well.
The most noticeable trait is the stronger yet controlled bass, as well as amplified lows. It is in fact closer to the Sony WF-1000XM4 in its audio signature, and as a result, everything on the AirPods Pro 2nd Gen sounds amazing. Be it Bollywood dance numbers or classical Indian music, or retro songs by Kishore Kumar, the AirPods Pro 2nd Gen makes them all sound live – strong lows and mids, as well as clear highs.
Helping here is noise isolation, which again is crucial on a pair of high-end TWS earbuds. I am happy to report that the AirPods Pro 2nd Gen has easily the strongest active noise cancellation I have witnessed on any TWS earbuds yet. You can feel the ambient noise sucked out of your ear canals as soon as you enable it, and it's as if the world disappears.
For example, my chattering colleagues at the office were hindering my work, and as soon as I enabled ANC, the woman next to my ear vanished! This is impressive considering the high pitched voice that pierces all other earbuds. Be it the traffic or the construction work next door, the AirPods Pro 2 can magically dissolve them.
I can say the same for the Transparency mode, which sounds more natural this year. Active transparency dampens the dangerously high sounds to keep the ears safe in real time– this is done by the H2 chip. The difference is noticeable too – walking past blaring loudspeakers at the Durga Puja pandal kept the noise under control. But then I turned on the ANC and they just vanished.
Part of all this playing with ambient noise is down to the various tricks Apple employed this year. The new eartips, for example, have better mesh design to better manage the audio performance. The repositioned mics for ANC make it more efficient. The Personalised Spatial Audio employs the Face ID on your iPhone to tune the audio to your ear and head geometry. Adaptive EQ uses those mics on the earbuds to tune the sounds in real-time. All of this happens quietly in the background and all I know is that I am getting a great audio experience every time I pick up the AirPods Pro 2nd Gen. These are more than just in-ear speakers – these are alive! Bravo Apple.
The mic performance is best of any TWS earbuds I have worn so far. The voice reception is loud and clear, having ample depth in the speaker's voice. This comes of great help while taking calls outdoors, and the ambient noise is suppressed amazingly.
AirPods Pro 2nd Gen: Design
The AirPods Pro 2nd Gen have barely changed in their overall shape and appearance. They look unmistakably AirPods Pro and that's a very good thing. Unlike the rivals from Sony and Senneheiser, the AirPods Pro 2nd Gen wants to sit in your ear, the short stems are of great help here. The silicon eartips provide a snug fit as well as a good seal.
Other than the relocated mics, the earbuds get volume adjustment gestures. Slide on the inner side of the stem (facing your cheeks) to adjust the volume; this is of big help and you no longer need your iPhone to adjust the volume. The pinch gestures from the original model are still here, and they work well.
The biggest design change, however, comes to the case and I believe it will change the course for the earbuds cases. There is now a speaker on the case that exists to notify of basic things such as charging, low battery, and connection status. When using Find My, you can even force it to play a beacon sound for locating it easily. This makes the case alive too and the convenience is great. And if that's not enough, the lanyard loop should help you distinguish your AirPods Pro case from others.
The case itself is still made of glossy white plastic and while the build quality feels good, it picks up micro scratches easily from keys, coins and even dust. Apple is also sticking to the Lightning port on the AirPods Pro 2nd Gen as of now. Apple claims IPX4 rating for water and sweat protection on the entire set.
AirPods Pro 2nd Gen: Smartness
Being part of the Apple ecosystem, these end up as the smartest pair of earbuds you can buy today. Other than the usual benefits with iOS and macOS devices, these earbuds have some new tricks up their sleeves. Siri is the default voice assistant here (obviously) and it can read even Hinglish messages fluently. These earbuds can switch between your Apple devices based on which one is in use, and the tuning setup is applied across all devices. And I can't get enough of the cool animation of the battery meter when you wear the AirPods.
The U1 chip from the Apple AirTags makes its way into the case and that means you can now pinpoint the case's location in your pile of clothes, or bag. This is a clever idea and those having a knack for losing their AirPods shall now be at peace.
AirPods Pro 2nd Gen: Battery Life
This is kind of a mixed bad situation. The earbuds themselves now run far longer than I can wear; up to 6 hours with ANC. Most of the days, I left them in my ears with transparency on, and listened to music as well as quickly answering calls. It is the MagSafe case that runs out faster. I have to fill up the case every 4-5 days, especially when wearing them for 8-9 hours daily. The case's charge levels are now shown in the iPhone battery widget, and I observed a constant drain when left untouched. It could be the U1 chip and those speakers but the case runs out of power quicker than I expected.
Charging the AirPods Pro 2nd Gen is a breeze. The fastest charging happens via the iPhone's 20W Lightning charger in just around an hour's time. You can also put it on MagSafe and even the Apple Watch charger. It is tricky to position it rightly on the Apple Watch charger and I recommend sticking to the MagSafe charger.
Wow! The new AirPods Pro is mighty brilliant. Nothing else is as smart as this.
It may look like a minor update but the Apple AirPods Pro 2nd Gen is a mega upgrade from the original model. The mighty H2 chip enables a higher dimension of audio rendition, and offers the nicest ANC as well as transparency of all TWS earbuds you can buy today. A comfortable design with added practicality and a case that doesn't want itself to be lost, and a good battery life – what else do you want for your AirPods Pro?
Apple has outperformed our expectations and for anyone seeking a great sounding pair of earbuds that are brimming with smartness, the Apple AirPods Pro 2nd Gen is an easy recommendation, provided you have an iPhone in your pocket, or a Mac on your desk.
- Comfortable to wear
- Superb noise cancellation
- Sounds superb
- Case battery life
- Only built for Apple products
Supported platformsiOS, macOS, iPadOS
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