Apple AirPods Pro upgrade brings noise canceling, better sound, and a new design
The original AirPods have found their way into a lot of ears since their 2016 launch, and Apple gave the wireless earbuds a minor tweak with a 2019 refresh. Now the true second (or third?) generation of the AirPods have arrived: the AirPods Pro.
Noise cancellation is one of the headline new features, which has necessitated a bit of a redesign, with rubberized ear tips (you get a choice of three sizes in the box). A new design also means a new wireless charging case, which is wider and shorter than before.
Apple says two microphones plus some "advanced software" processing combine to remove background noise. The sound signal is apparently tweaked 200 times every second so you can focus on your music, podcast or phone call.
There's also a new Transparency Mode, which lets sounds from the outside world in again: you can apparently switch between this and full noise cancellation with a press on the stem of one of your AirPods Pro earbuds, in case you've got a train announcement or a face-to-face conversation to listen to.
The same sensor that lets you turn Transparency Mode on and off can also be used to play, pause or skip tracks, as well as answer and hang up phone calls, all of which should mean less time reaching for your iPhone.
Audio fidelity is improved through what Apple calls Adaptive EQ, tuning low and mid-range frequencies to the shape of your ear in the way a HomePod might adapt its audio output to the shape of a room.
Battery life is the same as the existing AirPods, which stay on sale, at a maximum of five hours of listening time (a little less if you've got noise cancellation on all the time). As before, you get wireless "hey Siri" access to the assistant on a connected iPhone.
Apple has also added sweat and water resistance to the AirPods Pro, giving you another reason to upgrade: they'll survive a bit of rain and a few workouts, but don't take them swimming or anything like that (and don't try and charge them while they're wet).
The AirPods Pro go on sale October 30, and – despite recent rumors to the contrary – are still only available in white. They're yours for US$249, while the previous pair can still be had for $159 or $199 depending on whether you want the bundled charging case to have wireless capabilities or not.
Product page: Apple