Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation) are for sale

Here’s the fastest AirPods Pro (2nd Gen) review on the web: Yes, they’re a little better. Ok, that’s it, thanks for reading! Sorry, my boss says I need to say more things. Plus, they’re on sale ($234). AirPods Pro are Apple’s wireless noise-canceling headphones, arguably one of the best products in their class. The new 2nd generation version builds on that with a few incremental improvements — nothing you can’t live without, but nice to have. So should you buy them? And if you already have the 1st generation AirPods Pro, should you upgrade?

AirPods Pro 2nd generation: What’s new?

It’s hard to tell the 2nd generation AirPods Pro apart from their predecessors. Apart from a tiny new sensor at the top, they are almost identical. As before (to paraphrase Henry Ford), you can have them in any color you want, as long as it’s white.

Fit is extremely important for all headphones, so Apple has expanded their silicone eartip options to include an ultra-small size. I’ve always found the pre-installed medium tips to be just right for me, but my wife is happier with the small ones. The key is to make sure you have a really good seal when rocking the headphones in your ears. be prepared to experiment with different tip sizes to find the optimal seal. Fortunately, a new “ear test” will help you do just that.

The charging case is the same size as before, but now has a small speaker built into the bottom. This is so you can hear beeps when you turn on Find My Phone, which is useful if the case is lost. You can charge it via a Lightning cable, a MagSafe or Qi charging pad, or (this one’s new) an Apple Watch charger. Apple promises up to six hours of listening time on a charge, one hour longer than the 1st-gen AirPods Pro, and up to 30 hours total through the case (an improvement of 6 hours).

The AirPods Pro charging case now has speaker and lanyard holes. Lanyard not included. 🙁 (Photo: Rick Broida/Yahoo)

The headphones themselves have the same control button embedded along each stem, but they’re now touch-sensitive: You can swipe up or down to increase or decrease the volume. This is a welcome addition, although it’s a bit inconvenient: You can’t help but graze your ear at the same time, especially when swiping up. It feels like part of your ear is blocked.

The big news here is Apple’s “next level” active noise cancellation (ANC), which is not only “smarter” thanks to a new H2 chip but also “up to twice as powerful”. Promises like these are hard to keep. I find the 1st generation AirPods Pro to be virtually unbeatable when it comes to ANC, so it’s hard to say the new ones are twice as good.

Likewise, it’s hard to test the upgraded adaptive transparency feature, which lets you hear outside sounds (an important safety feature for outdoor activities like jogging), but aims to minimize the volume of things like sirens and machinery. This might prove valuable to someone living in a busy big city, but here in the suburbs, it doesn’t add much value. For what it’s worth, I tried playing a loud siren sound on YouTube and didn’t notice any significant reduction. Your mileage may vary.

I like the upgraded in-ear detection, which solves a problem with the original AirPods Pro: If you stuck them in your pocket, they’d probably think they were in your ears and continue playing. Here, a new sensor actually detects the skin (!), so false readings are much less likely.

AirPods Pro 2nd generation: How do they sound?

In a word: great. I’ve tried a lot of wireless headphones, and the new AirPods Pro are not only among the most comfortable for long-term use, but also some of the best-sounding. I’m not a fidelity snob. I tend to be quite satisfied even when listening to headphones like the EarFun Air Pro 2. But with the AirPods Pro, music sounds rich, detailed and perfectly balanced. Mention Apple’s Adaptive EQ or any number of other factors. my tired ears are impressed.

Of course, I felt that way about the 1st generation AirPods Pro. I’m not sure there’s an order of magnitude improvement here. Likewise, Apple’s spatial audio enhancements — which use the iPhone’s camera scan your ears and adjust the sound accordingly — it’s a bit lost on me. Make no mistake, spatial audio was already an amazing feature: When, say, you’re watching a Netflix video on your phone, it keeps the audio “steady” in front of you, even when you turn your head. Hardly necessary, but definitely neat. Does the new “custom geometry” generated by the ear scan make spatial sound noticeably better? Not that I’ve noticed. And I wasn’t able to test the feature on a group FaceTime call, which Apple says will now sound “like you’re in the same room with friends and family.” (Wait, we are sure do we even want it?)

AirPods are also some of the best headphones, period, for phone calls, something to consider if you like to walk and talk or spend a lot of time in Zoom meetings.

AirPods Pro 2nd Gen: Not quite perfect

The new AirPods Pro are shown inside their charging case.

One annoyance remains: The charging case’s status LED isn’t good for much. It should either light up or go dark when charging is complete. it does neither. (Photo: Rick Broida/Yahoo)

I have a few bites. First, although the updated charging case has holes for adding a lanyard with a wrist strap, Apple doesn’t include one. This is pretty annoying as it would probably cost the company pennies to throw one in the box. As it stands, you can buy a colorful 10-piece string for around $6.

Second, a nagging issue remains: The front LED of the AirPods case lights up orange when plugged in, but then goes dark after a few seconds. Want to know the charging status? You need to press or open the case to turn the LED back on. This wouldn’t be much of a problem if, say, the LED turned green when charging was complete, but it doesn’t. There is literally no indication that it is actively charging or that charging is complete. This makes no sense to me.

AirPods Pro 2nd Gen: Should You Buy Them?

Like so many Apple products these days, the new AirPods Pro only bring incremental improvements to the table. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, not when the previous version was already a winner. The updated headphones offer slightly better battery life, slightly improved noise management capabilities and a few tweaks to the charging case. It’s not so much the icing on the cake as the icing.

My take: If you already own 1st generation AirPods Pro, there’s no compelling reason to upgrade. You’ve lived without volume touch controls for so long.

However, if you’re trying to decide between the AirPods Pro and another set of wireless headphones, I can definitely recommend the former — especially to iPhone owners. Much of AirPods’ “secret sauce” is in the integration: Siri for hands-free voice commands, Find My for locating lost buds, iPhone lock screen for battery status, and more. Just as the Apple Watch is the best smartwatch for iPhone users, the AirPods Pro are arguably the best headphones.

Read more: The best AirPods Pro alternatives for $100 and under

If you have Amazon Prime, you’ll get free shipping, of course. Not a member yet? No problem. You can sign up for your free 30-day trial here. (And by the way, those without Prime still get free shipping on orders of $25 or more.)

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