Apple has come a long way since the launch of the AirPods in late 2016, quickly taking the lead in real wireless headphones. Although the original AirPods were replaced with a second-generation variant only a few months ago, Apple has already expanded its emerging range of real wireless earphones. The Cupertino-based company has now introduced the AirPods Pro, its latest headset with the most functions.
Price at Rs. At 24,900, the AirPods Pro has a new design, a force touch control and a great new function – active noise cancellation. Are these the best real wireless headphones you can buy today? We tested this new premium pair of Apple earphones and here's what we have to say.
Apple AirPods Pro design and specifications
The Apple AirPods (2nd generation), launched earlier this year, offer a number of improvements over the original version, except in terms of design. The AirPods still look the same and have an outer ear fit. This design is one of the most polarizing things about AirPods – some love it, others just don't. With the AirPods Pro, Apple has now chosen a more traditional fit for the channel with rubber earplugs. We found that this ensures a more secure hold and improved noise isolation, and that active noise cancellation is working properly.
The implementation of this in-ear fit by Apple is unique: the earplugs do not sit on extended stems, but are attached directly to the grilles of the individual devices. They are securely attached and stay in place, though they don't look like it, and three pairs of earbuds (small, medium, and large) are included for customization. We loved how comfortable the AirPods Pro was and we were able to wear it for hours at a time.
Like the standard AirPods, the AirPods Pro are available in a single color and version: white, glossy plastic. Love it or hate it, nothing means looking at a pair of AirPods that are quite similar to this design. However, the earphones themselves look very different, with shorter stems, bulky earphones and larger sensor windows and ventilation slots than the AirPods (2nd generation). With AirPods Pro you now get IPX4 sweat and water resistance.
The stems on each earphone are equipped with force touch sensors that control playback and call processing. A second customizable function can be set to either call Siri or run through the active functions for noise suppression and sound transparency. You can use the Bluetooth settings of an iOS device to determine which page controls which function. It is possible to have either noise control or Siri on both sides or different functions on the left and right side.
The AirPods Pro still has no power switch. They turn on automatically when they are removed from the charging case and go out when they are put back in. If you take one earbud off your ear, the music will pause and active noise cancellation will be turned off for the other one while you are still wearing it. This way you can listen to your surroundings or chat quickly.
Pressing the sensor was fairly easy thanks to a small notch that helps your finger find the right place. Acoustic signals in the form of a physical key tone and chimes tell you that AirPods Pro has registered your entries, which we found to be particularly useful. It is disappointing to note that you still cannot adjust the volume on the AirPods Pro directly and you have to do so on the source device. You can ask Siri to adjust the volume as before, but we found this to be as clumsy as ever.
The Force Touch buttons themselves are a little harder to use than the tap gestures of the AirPods (2nd generation) because you have to find and press down on a very small area of the handle. We got used to it after all, but it's certainly a little slower than many other real wireless headphones we've used, including 2nd generation AirPods.
The microphones are now on mesh strips on the outer parts of the individual headphones and work both for calls and for active noise suppression. There is an additional internal microphone that hears the sound in your ear and further increases noise cancellation. We later examined whether all of this actually leads to better active noise cancellation in this test.
In addition to active noise cancellation, the Apple AirPods Pro also have the transparency mode, which activates the microphones to pick up outside noise and pass it on to the user's ears. It's similar to what we've seen on other high-end noise-canceling headphones, and is useful when you want to hear what's going on or speak to someone without taking off the headphones. For us, it worked quite well and had a natural sound that was similar to what we heard when the headphones were off.
The AirPods Pro uses the same H1 chip as the AirPods (2nd generation) and works via Bluetooth 5 to ensure a fast and stable connection, hands-free Hey Siri commands and more. There is also what Apple calls "Adaptive EQ". This allows the AirPods Pro to adjust the equalizer according to the shape of your ear and also seems to affect the sound quality according to the music genre or the type of sounds played on the headphones.
Apple AirPods Pro software and features
Previous AirPods were not up to date in terms of software integration beyond adapting the basic functions and the ability to call Siri via gestures or the command "Hey Siri". Something has changed with the AirPods Pro.
You can still customize some features using the Bluetooth settings on your paired iOS device, and you can access Siri using either the Force Touch sensor or the speakerphone. However, the software offers a lot more. Unfortunately, you cannot customize any functions on an Android smartphone and you need an iOS device to get the most out of the AirPods Pro.
For one, a paired and connected AirPods Pro headset is now shown in the form of a small icon on the volume controls, and you can quickly switch between noise reduction, transparency, and both. The same function is not available for 2nd generation AirPods, so it has been added specifically for the Pro headset. With the "Press and hold" function, you can either adjust the noise cancellation or call Siri on your iOS device. The settings for automatic ear detection and the microphone can also be adjusted.
There is also an “Ear Tip Fit Test” that the device can use to test which tips offer the best fit and noise isolation. We were able to get a good fit with all three tips, although we personally preferred the big ones for comfort. Of course, this is different for different users. We therefore recommend that you run this test the first time you set up your AirPods Pro to find out which pair of tips is best for you.
The AirPods Pro charging case has a major change: it is wider and shorter than that of the regular AirPod to take into account the shape of the Pro earphones. The rest of the design is well known, with an indicator lamp on the front, a pairing button on the back under the hinge, and a lighting port for charging the case on the bottom. The case comes standard with Qi wireless charging support. There is no non-wireless option like 2nd generation AirPods.
The cavities inside are shaped to fit the AirPods Pro earbuds perfectly and have magnets that snap into place and charge. Charging the case itself still requires a somewhat disappointing Lightning cable. We would have preferred the more universal USB Type-C here, as Apple now has a handful of products that use this standard for power. Wireless charging is not as fast as normal wired charging. However, it is helpful if you already have a decent wireless charger.
The AirPods Pro's battery life is similar to AirPods (2nd generation) in terms of the number of hours you get out of the headphones and case. Note, however, that noise cancellation is enabled on the Pro model. With these headphones, we usually have a little more than four hours of continuous operation, with the noise canceling switched on and the volume set to about 80 percent. In this case, we can fully charge the earbuds about four and a half times, giving a reasonable total time of 22 to 23 hours of battery per charge cycle.
Apple AirPods Pro performance
Now that we have dealt with the basics, we go into the essentials in our test of the AirPods Pro: sound quality and performance. We used the headphones with an Apple iPad mini (2019) (Review), a OnePlus 7T Pro (Review) and a MacBook Air, with all three devices using Apple's favorite AAC Bluetooth codec.
This allowed us to subject the AirPods Pro to a variety of use cases, including listening to music, watching videos and films, and making voice and video calls. We also extensively tested the active noise reduction and transparency modes.
Apple's standard AirPods don't sound bad, but something has always been missing, mostly because of the fit of the outer ear. The Apple AirPods Pro finally did everything right and fixed some of the basic issues we had with the AirPods before, and we loved how those headphones sounded.
The sound is engaging, haunting and clear. We couldn't find any problems with the sound quality. The AirPods Pro sounded as good as or better than any other pair of real wireless earbuds we could test.
Regardless of the device used, we have consistently powerful sound reproduction with excellent responsiveness across the entire frequency range. The AirPods Pro were able to handle every music genre correctly, with the acoustic signature almost magically adapting to the tracks we played. When listening to the rock classic Baba O & # 39; Riley from The Who, the headphones provided a powerful bass, while the details in the middle and in the highs were preserved. We were also particularly impressed by the stereo separation and the sound stage. The sound had an audible breadth and depth.
With Deadmau5 & # 39; s Raise Your Weapon, the volume has been increased to a level that is far above the "safe" level. The AirPods Pro created a completely different sound experience that was perfectly matched to the electronic / dubstep genre of the track. The middle class saw a significant surge in initial voices, followed by some tight bass and sparkling highs as the punchy electronic beats began.
What really impressed us was how quickly the headphones adjusted to the change in tempo and attacked in the middle of the track when switching to Raw Dubstep. The AirPods Pro were fast, responsive and extremely powerful regardless of the genre.
We liked the quality of the low-end, but it's worth noting that the AirPods Pro doesn't deliver a very aggressive sub-bass. We felt a bit immersed in the deepest depths, but the mid-bass skillfully raised and provided an entertaining, realistic interpretation of the sound. While you obviously hear a lot more detail with a high-end pair of wired earphones or headphones, the AirPods Pro does just as well a job with Bluetooth transmission as is currently possible.
Some important factors contribute to this significant improvement in sound quality – better noise isolation thanks to the design and earplugs in the channel, as well as active noise cancellation. The noise isolation alone had only a minor impact on the sound quality and was not as good as the Anker Soundcore Liberty Lite headphones.
However, the design of the earplugs and internal microphones is said to support active noise cancellation. When cancellation is activated, the earphones work like a very good passive seal.
Active noise cancellation isn't quite what you'd expect from good over-ear headphones, but it's extremely effective due to the in-ear design. In our experience, a lot of ambient noise has been suppressed, including the hum of an air conditioner, traffic noise, and more – essentially repetitive, flat-wavelength noise. It even softened voices and noises like car honking and definitely made music and singing much cleaner and more audible.
The responsiveness and flexibility of the AirPods Pro also ensured excellent sound when watching videos and making voice calls. The dialogue in videos, TV shows and films was clear, the sound effects were clear and the sound in the videos we recorded was natural and realistic. We had no problems with voice calls at all as the AirPods Pro did a good job on both ends of the call even in noisy environments.
AirPods have been phenomenally popular since their inception and have made the company the leader in wireless communications. With the AirPods Pro, Apple has an absolute winner in stock. This new model has everything needed to maintain the company's lead in the segment. These earphones look and feel good, sound good, and offer useful features that greatly improve the overall experience.
There are only a few minor problems with the headphones themselves, such as: For example, the lack of volume control, the slower response of the Force Touch sensor and the continued use of the Lightning standard to charge the AirPods Pro. However, there is one big problem – the price in India.
At Rs. With 24,900 euros, the Apple AirPods Pro is very expensive. Although it is significantly better than AirPods (2nd generation) in every respect, it is hard to imagine that you would have to pay the same price for a premium pair of noise-canceling over-ear headphones like the Sony WH -1000XM3. It is even more disappointing when you consider the price difference between AirPods in the United States and India. Even with taxes, the price of the AirPods Pro in the US is around Rs. 5,000 less than in India.
Regardless of whether you are an Apple user or not, there is no better wireless headphone you can buy today. If you have the budget for the AirPods Pro, this is a strong recommendation from us.
Price: Rs. 24,900
- Improved design and fit
- Outstanding sound quality
- Very good battery life
- Good active noise reduction and transparency mode
- No volume controls on the headphones
- Lightning connector for charging
Reviews (of 5)
- Design / comfort: 4.5
- Audio quality: 4.5
- Battery life: 4.5
- Value for money: 3
- Total: 4