AirPods Pro - Better Sound, Better Fit And Active Noise Cancellation
Mac Life|January 2020
Better sound, better fit and active noise cancellation — plus Apple has toned down the “iconic” visual weirdness with shorter arms
Matthew Bolton

Apple’s AirPods Pros have arrived just in time for Christmas. The Pros give you a proper in-ear fit, gym–friendly sweat and water resistance (IPX4), and a wireless charging case as standard. They are also full-on noise-canceling headphones, taking on a small band of in-ear rivals such as Sony’s chunkier WF–1000XM3.

There are also clever additions such as a test to see if they’re fitted properly in your ears; an adaptive sound that optimizes audio based on your ears’ construction; and a new touch-based control system, replacing the taps you had to use on the original. There’s also all the usual Apple (and Beats by Dre) iPhone–specific features, such as ultra-quick pairing and hands– free Siri access.

Among all these very pleasing features, one fundamental of the original AirPods has been lost. Because of the way they go deeper into your ears, these Pro buds are less easy to just leave in your lugs and still interact with people and the world at large. However, a Transparency Mode does allow you to let sound get through, so perhaps die–hard, all–day AirPods users won’t be put off.

BETTER BATTERY LIFE

With noise canceling on, the AirPods Pro are rated for slightly lower battery life than standard AirPods, at four–and–a–half hours per charge compared to five hours per charge. Turn the noise canceling off and Apple says you should get five hours again. Depending on how you look at it, that means either the ANC is impressively efficient, or the benefit of turning it off is weirdly negligible.

The case for the AirPods Pro is chunkier than the original, so they won’t slip in absolutely any pocket quite so easily. But the difference is less than you might expect, and it’s still thinner than lots of its rivals’ cases, crucially, so there’s less of a bulge.

Part of the size difference is down to the AirPods Pro having tips that go properly into your ears, unlike the earlier version, which just sat on the edge of the ear canal. This gives the AirPods Pro an even more secure fit, and we’ve been unable to dislodge them in anything resembling normal use, including various forms of exercise.

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