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Apple AirPods Pro 2 (The New Version) Review

Last updated: 5 months ago
16 min read
Editor
rating
4.1
Apple AirPods Pro 2 in hands

Apple AirPods Pro 2 have gone over a complete internal overhaul over their predecessor, delivering a full package for commuters, travelers, and even audiophiles. While they lock most features from Android users, the latter can still have a better sound experience. See why below.

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  • List price (MSRP): $249
  • Manufacturer: Apple

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Our Conclusion

Apple AirPods Pro 2 are visually identical to the original AirPods Pro. However, the latest version has vastly improved sound quality, active noise canceling, and added support for volume commands.

Packaging holds an extra pair of durable, albeit proprietary, ear tips and a new braided USB-C charging cable. The new version also upgraded from IPX4 to IP54 rating on earbuds and the charging case.

One big minus is the absence of intelligent features that AirPods Pro 2 only offer to iOS users. On the other hand, Android users and audio purists can tweak the sound in a way iOS users can’t.

So, are Apple AirPods Pro 2 the best true wireless earbuds on the market, or is the competition from Sony WF-1000XM5 and Google Pixel Buds Pro too strong?

Read the full in-depth review to find out.

Pros & Cons:

  • More balanced sound than original AirPods Pro, with greater detail
  • Familiar comfy design with extra (4) pair of ear tips
  • Effective ANC & fantastic transparency mode performance
  • Seamless connectivity with Apple devices
  • Good battery life of around 6 hours per charge (ANC off)
  • USB-C model has an IP54 rating on AirPods & the case
  • Could be stabler during sports activites
  • You need (newer) iOS device to enjoy all features

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1.
Sonic9Score 4.1
Excellent premium TWS earbuds with desirable sound & features
Sound rating 5.0
Comfort & fit rating 4.0
Durability rating 4.0
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Features rating 5.0
Noise isolation rating 3.0
Noise cancelling rating 4.0
Bluetooth rating 3.5
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Battery life Claimed:6h Test:6h
2.
Sonic9Score 4.0
Great overall TWS earbuds with a few flaws
Sound rating 5.0
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Sonic9Score 4.1
A noticeable downgrade over the AirPods Pro 2 model
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Durability rating 4.0
Battery rating 4.0
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Noise cancelling rating 4.5
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Battery life Claimed:4.5h Test:5h
CONTENTS (show more)

    Our Analysis and Test Results

    Currently selling for $190 on Amazon (for the latest USB-C version), they easily beat similarly priced competitors. Primarily in sound quality and numerous innovative features (albeit the latter are only available to iOS users).

    Apple AirPods Pro 2 inside ears
    Side view of me wearing Apple AirPods Pro 2 Bluetooth earbuds.

    Sound

    Star Rating
    5.0 Perfect

    Apple AirPods Pro 2 have an amazingly balanced sound with a U-shaped signature and a deep sub-bass rumble. They’re excellent, but you can improve them further with slight EQ tweaks.

    Key points:

    • Balanced, very natural sound but with an elevated sub-bass response
    • (Somewhat artificially) detailed sound
    • Decent soundstage and pinpoint accurate imaging

    Apple AirPods Pro 2 – A/B sound test:

    Apple AirPods Pro 2 Sound Quality Test – HeadphonesAddict

    While the first AirPods Pro sounded thin and light on bass, the AirPods Pro 2 have a similar tuning to Apple AirPods Max but with a much more forgiving treble.

    The result is a U-shaped sound signature that works incredibly well with any music genre you throw at it.

    Bass: Rumbly but well-controlled

    By default, the bass is noticeably elevated, especially in the sub-bass. However, it doesn’t sound nearly as muddy as in AirPods 3.

    The bass produced by the custom-built high excursion 11mm dynamic driver is full and carries a lot of weight. It has almost over-ear headphone qualities when listening to songs with noticeable sub-bass energy.

    Despite all that power, it remains well-controlled and nuanced, so you’ll still hear bass guitar riffs and double-pedal drumming during rock or metal songs.

    If you can reduce the bass using a custom equalizer, I advise you to do so. That makes the overall sound even more balanced and pleasant to listen to.

    Android users are at a slight advantage here, as they can download many third-party EQs. iOS users don’t have this luxury, as the App Store lacks free EQ apps. Learn how to equalize your headphones on iOS and Android.

    Apple AirPods Pro 2 frequency response

    Apple AirPods Pro 2 ANC off vs. on comparison
    Red line (ANC OFF) is more balanced but could still use some tweaks. Otherwise, the treble doesn’t sound as boosted as in the graph (it could be that the Adaptive EQ messed around with our measurement).

    Midrange: Simply natural

    There’s very little negative to say about the midrange on Apple AirPods Pro 2. Everything sounds balanced and natural, from vocals to instruments.

    Detail retrieval is also exceptionally high, so you’ll hear small nuances in vocals and sounds that float around the soundstage.

    The only minuscule complaint is that the dynamic range could be better. Compared to Sony WF-1000XM4 and WF-1000XM5, snare drums, cymbal hits, electric guitars, and vocals don’t sound as lively.

    Treble: Smooth and textured, but could be more detailed

    Unlike AirPods Max, the AirPods Pro 2 have a much smoother treble. It’s well-extended and airy and never sibilant. It does a good job even with tracks like “Mr. Brightside” by The Killers.

    Cymbals have a good texture and produce a pleasant sizzle, which is good news for jazz lovers and similar genres. They could be slightly more detailed, though.

    If possible, boost the 16kHz a few dB to add slightly more clarity and compensate for the punchier bass.

    Apple AirPods Pro 2 & AirPods 3 nozzle
    Nozzle opening between the AirPods Pro 2 (left) and AirPods 3 (right).

    Soundstage is about average for in-ear headphones and gets slightly wider once you lower the bass. The latter often steals attention from other sounds, which hurts the immersion.

    Enabling Spatial Audio features enlarges the soundstage but also boosts treble and midrange, making the audio quality slightly worse. I advise you to stay with the default sound settings.

    In contrast, the imaging is excellent, with just a smidge of blurriness near the center image. However, combined with a fantastic instrument separation, sounds float around your head with great accuracy.

    Sound comparison

    My conclusion

    While all in-ear Apple AirPods until now offered an underwhelming sound quality for the price, the latest AirPods Pro 2 finally got it right. Audio performance is natural, controlled, lush, pleasant, and detailed.

    I feel like the built-in DSP boosts details to sound more apparent, which can be a dealbreaker for diehard audio purists who don’t want their sound to be digitally tinkered.

    However, the effect is so subtle that it doesn’t ruin the experience. If anything, it makes it better since you’ll hear new details, forcing you to re-listen to your favorite songs.

    Therefore, I recommend Apple AirPods Pro 2 to anyone who enjoys quality sound and wants to hear why audiophiles spend so much on audio equipment.

    Also check:

    Comfort & Fit

    Star Rating
    4.0 Great

    Apple AirPods Pro 2 continue to be among the comfiest earbuds on the market, and they now come with an extra pair of ear tips. However, they still aren’t the most stable for sports activities.

    Apple nailed the ergonomics of the AirPods Pro and AirPods 3. A slightly bean-shaped design fits snugly into your ears, while the silicone ear tips never create too much in-ear pressure.

    Apple AirPods Pro 2 & AirPods 3 design
    AirPods 3 adapted the shape of AirPods Pro. If it works, don’t fix it.

    Speaking of tips, you now get an extra pair (a total of 4 sizes). That way, they should fit most ear canal sizes.

    I can confirm that the AirPods Pro 2 are slightly comfier than the Sony WF-1000XM5. They avoid pressuring on your earlobes, although you can wear both for an entire day if you want to.

    On the other hand, they could’ve held to your ears better. Sony fixed that using foam/silicone hybrid ear tips, whereas Apple uses matte silicone.

    While Apple’s tips grab dust and dirt incredibly well, they lose grip on your ears after just a few head shakes. Therefore, I can’t recommend using these in the gym or running.

    Compared to other similar models

    Apple’s buds are definitely among the comfiest we’ve tested, although earbuds like 1MORE Evo, Google Pixel Buds Pro, and even Sony WF-1000XM5 aren’t too bad, either.

    Durability

    Star Rating
    4.0 Great

    Apple AirPods Pro 2 look and feel sturdy but use shiny plastic that gets scratched easily. Furthermore, earbuds and the charging case have an IP54 rating, so a little bit of sweat can’t hurt them.

    Housing materialPlastic
    Eartip materialSilicone,
    plastic
    Official water resistanceIPX4 (Lightning)
    IP54 (USB-C)
    Official dust resistanceNone (Lightning)
    IP54 (USB-C)

    Durability-wise, the new model is identical to the previous one. Both are made of shiny white plastic, which Apple is known for. It gives them a recognizable look but is also susceptible to scratches.

    Simply keeping them on a shelf can cause micro scratches on the charging case, which I’m not sure how that’s possible. So, know that if you’re throwing them around, you’ll quickly get them scratched.

    Apple AirPods Pro 2 on a stone
    Apple is committed to its white plastic, which easily scratches and becomes yellow over time.

    Apart from that, the earbuds and the charging case are very well made. Starting with the earbuds, they’re glued together from 3 parts, which should be difficult to break open accidentally.

    They’re also sweatproof and dust resistant (tested for an IP54 rating), using fine mesh to cover the microphones and the nozzle opening. This means you can sweat over them but avoid dunking them underwater.

    IP54 rating only applies to the USB-C version. The Apple AirPods Pro 2 Lightning version have an IPX4 rating.

    Silicone ear tips use a rather “violent” way of detaching. You must pull them hard to pop them off, which feels stressful on an expensive product like this. But don’t worry, the tips are very durable.

    Apple AirPods Pro 2 replacing ear tips
    Detaching ear tips feels wrong, but they fortunately don’t tear, even when you pull them really hard.

    It’s worth mentioning that AirPods are notorious for getting a yellow tint after months of use. Many users also clog the nozzles with earwax residue. So, learn how to clean your AirPods properly to avoid those situations.

    Moving to the charging case, it now has a speaker that plays a chime when earbuds enter pairing mode, when it’s lost and you try to find it, or when you start charging them. There’s also a metal lanyard loop to secure the case with a string.

    Apple AirPods Pro 2 lanyard loop
    You can put a string through a loop to secure the case in your backpack so it doesn’t fall out.

    Moreover, Apple added an IP54 rating, making it sweat and dust-resistant. That way, you can throw it in a bag near the sweaty gym clothes without risking damage (although the earbud’s stability isn’t suitable for the gym).

    Another thing worth mentioning is the braided USB-C cable that comes with the new (late 2023) version. It not only looks cool, but it’s also long and more durable than older Lightning cables.

    Are they suitable for…

    • Wearing in the rain: Suitable for light rain, but avoid using them under a shower.
    • Running & exercising outside: Suitable, sweat and dust aren’t an issue.
    • Sweating: Suitable, even for heavy sweaters.
    • Dipping underwater: Not suitable.
    Wearing in light rain
    Suitable
    Wearing in heavy rainSomewhat
    suitable
    ExercisingSuitable
    SweatingSuitable
    Dipping underwaterNot suitable
    Apple AirPods Pro 2 mesh ear tips
    A fine mesh in the included ear tips makes cleaning the earwax and gunk much easier.

    Durability comparison

    Durability is slowly getting better for AirPods Pro 2, now beating most premium true wireless earbuds, at least in IP rating. Here’s how we rated their competitors:

    Battery

    Star Rating
    4.0 Great

    Apple AirPods Pro 2 clock at 6 hours and 3 minutes on a single charge with ANC enabled, while the charging case holds another 24 hours of playtime. The latter supports fast and Qi-wireless charging.

    Tested battery life (ANC on)6 hours 3 minutes
    Official battery life (ANC on)6 hours
    Difference3min (+0.8%)
    Quick charging1 hour in 5 minutes
    Qi wireless chargingYes

    Apple AirPods Pro 2 battery comparison:

    Apple AirPods Pro 2 battery comparison

    The expected battery life of the AirPods Pro 2 is identical to the result I got during my testing. I left them playing music at 50% volume while leaving the ANC on. I got the following:

    • 6 hours and 3 minutes of playtime on a single charge.

    Apple claims 6 hours, which is on point. Activating Spatial Audio and Head Tracking reduces the duration to 5.5 hours.

    If you enjoy your music loud, you’ll have to listen at more than 50% volume (Apple AirPods Pro 2 aren’t very loud).

    Apple AirPods Pro 2 buds in case
    In total, AirPods Pro 2 with the charging case provide around 30 hours of music playtime.

    Therefore, expect a slightly lower battery life. Official specifications also say that using the AirPods to make calls will last around 4.5 hours per charge.

    Beefy charging case holds an additional 24 hours of runtime and supports Qi wireless and fast charging.

    • Placing earbuds into the case for 5 minutes adds another hour to their battery duration.

    Remember that Android users can’t see the AirPods’ battery life on the phone. Fortunately, there are third-party apps that allow you to see it. MaterialPods is one of such apps.

    Here’s the battery rating comparison with similar earbuds:

    Features

    Star Rating
    5.0 Perfect

    Apple AirPods Pro 2 are filled with clever features, but most work only on iOS devices. That said, even Android users should enjoy them quite a bit.

    Latest AirPods Pro 2 aren’t just a reskin of the previous model, but they come with a plethora of new and improved features. Here’s a complete list:

    “Squeeze” controls

    AirPods Pro 2 earbuds have much better control support, now allowing you to change the volume controls without summoning Siri.

    To activate the command, you squeeze the stem, and the AirPods produce a clicking sound. It’s a rather genius way of avoiding uncomfortable physical controls, and touch controls that refuse to work in cold conditions.

    Apple AirPods Pro 2 pressure controls
    To activate commands, you squeeze the flat surface on the stem.

    Of course, even pressure controls aren’t perfect, as you’re moving the earbuds while squeezing the stem. Meaning that you need to readjust them every time you squeeze the stem.

    Commands are equal on both sides. Here are all the command gestures:

    • Play/pause – single squeeze
    • Next song – double squeeze
    • Previous song – triple squeeze
    • ANC modes (Noise Control) – long squeeze (optional)
    • Summoning Siri – long squeeze (optional)
    • Volume up – swipe up
    • Volume down – swipe down
    Apple AirPods Pro 2 squeeze controls
    When you squeeze the AirPods you also move them a bit, so you might need to readjust them after a few squeezes.

    A slightly annoying thing and a possible dealbreaker for Android users is that the default ANC modes only cover ANC and Transparency mode, but not the ANC mode OFF option.

    To enable the latter, you must connect your AirPods to an iOS device, enter their Bluetooth settings, and tick the “OFF” option. Android users need to ask a friend with an iPhone or iPad to help them set up their earbuds.

    Adaptive Audio

    Adaptive Audio is a group of advanced features that work on Apple devices with iOS 17 or up.

    • Adaptive Noise Control: It boosts or reduces outside sounds based on their “importance”, so that you don’t overhear things like emergency sirens when walking across the street.
    • Personalized Volume: Apple AirPods Pro 2 adjust the audio volume based on outside noise and your listening habits.
    • Loud Sound Reduction: When in Transparency mode, AirPods Pro 2 lower the loudness of sounds that exceed 85dB to protect your hearing.
    • Conversation Awareness: Lowers the volume of music and boosts Transparency mode when you start talking to someone. The feature has smoother transitions between audio and ambient mode and doesn’t pause the playback like in Sony’s Speak-to-Chat version. However, the latter at least lets you set how long it takes to resume the audio, which you can’t do on AirPods Pro 2.
    Apple AirPods Pro 2 iOS settings Adaptive

    Adaptive EQ

    This feature works by default and makes the sound identical to all users. People have different ear canal shapes, so you and I might hear sounds differently.

    Adaptive EQ is constantly measuring how audio behaves in your ear canal. Based on that, it adjusts the EQ settings to deliver the sound as Apple intended to.

    Personalized Spatial Audio

    Spatial Audio has 2 modes: enlarging the soundstage and locking the sound’s direction.

    • Enlarging the soundstage means the sounds are pushed slightly further out of your head (Fixed). However, while Apple’s iteration is definitely the best on the market, it still sounds unnatural.
    • Using the second mode, you lock the sound’s direction (Head-Tracking). The direction of the sound moves according to your head movements. Feature tries to mimic situations like watching a TV where sound only comes from one direction. Honestly, it feels gimmicky and is probably only useful in combination with Apple’s new Vision Pro headset.

    The “Personalized” word means that before you use Spatial Audio, you must scan your ears with the FaceID. Using that data, AirPods can better simulate how sound bounces in your ears to create a more believable spatial feeling.

    Apple AirPods Pro 2 spatial sound setup

    Microphone quality

    AirPods Pro 2 have an overall good call quality, although your voice becomes slightly muffled when speaking in noisier environments.

    Apple AirPods Pro 2 microphone test: (no noise test from 0:00-0:24, with background noise test from O:24-0:55)

    As expected, AirPods Pro 2 have a pretty clean microphone quality when speaking in quieter places. You appear slightly thin, but others should have no issue understanding you.

    On the other hand, you become more muffled and slightly quieter when exposed to more background noise. It isn’t too distracting, and others can still understand you. However, the performance could be better at this price.

    In comparison, Apple’s earbuds are much better than Sony WF-1000XM5 for making calls but worse than Edifier NeoBuds Pro 2, which deliver a clearer, fuller, and more consistent voice quality.

    Apple AirPods Pro 2 earbuds
    There are microphones all around the AirPods. The main one is located on the stem’s tip, facing outward.

    Features rating comparison

    AirPods Pro 2 offer a ton of features, but most of them are locked away for non-iOS users. And even if you have an iOS device, it needs to support iOS 17 to have access to every single feature.

    Noise Isolation

    Star Rating
    3.0 Good

    Apple AirPods Pro 2 have an okay passive noise isolation, which only becomes audibly effective from 1kHz and up. On the other hand, sound leakage is practically nonexistent.

    Measured average noise isolation13,24 dBA

    Due to a gentle insertion and shallower fit, AirPods Pro 2 don’t passively isolate that much. Their performance is similar to EarFun Free Pro 3 but slightly worse than Google Pixel Buds Pro.

    Apple AirPods Pro 2 Passive isolation

    In comparison, Sony WF-1000XM5 are really strong in passive isolation, blocking more than 10dB more noise on average compared to Apple’s earbuds.

    Still, you shouldn’t get too distracted by other sounds when riding a bus and listening to music. However, you must enable active noise cancelling if you want to isolate yourself more.

    Here’s a table of how effective is AirPods Pro2’s passive noise isolation at blocking specific frequencies:

    FrequencyNoise reduction
    dB SPL
    Noise reduction
    dBA (A-weighted)
    100 Hz0 dB-19,1 dBA
    200 Hz1,1 dB-9,7 dBA
    400 Hz2,6 dB-2,2 dBA
    600 Hz3,4 dB1,2 dBA
    1 kHz6,3 dB6,3 dBA
    2 kHz15,9 dB17,1 dBA
    4 kHz31,3 dB32,3 dBA
    6 kHz23,5 dB23,6 dBA
    10 kHz33,2 dB30,7 dBA
    15 kHz27,3 dB21,2 dBA
    Average13,24 dBA
    A-weighted values from the International standard IEC 61672:2003

    How severe is sound leakage?

    Sound leakage is a nonissue with these Apple earbuds. Even at higher listening volumes, others might barely hear your music. Still, refrain from using this fact as a pass to blast music in quiet places.

    Is wind noise a problem?

    Wind noise can be a slight problem if you plan to wear AirPods outdoors. Protruding stems create small air vortexes, which you can hear as a humming noise.

    Fortunately, if you walk, you quickly forget about it. On the other hand, running or listening on a windy day noticeably interferes with music clarity.

    Noise isolation rating comparison with other models

    Noise Cancelling

    Star Rating
    4.0 Great

    Apple AirPods Pro 2 have a really good active noise cancelling performance, especially for speech. However, it could be stronger in the lower bass and upper midrange/treble area. In contrast, the Transparency mode works beautifully.

    Measured average noise reduction with ANC on19,24 dBA
    Cumulative noise reduction of isolation + ANC

    Apple AirPods Pro 2 active noise cancelling test:

    Apple AirPods Pro 2 ANC Test – HeadphonesAddict

    Despite the massive hype surrounding the H2 chip and how the active noise cancellation is the best in class, the measurements show a slightly different picture.

    ANC’s performance is really good but not excellent, as some might want you to believe. It’s similar to Edifier NeoBuds Pro 2 but can’t reach the same level of reduction as Sony WF-1000XM5.

    Apple AirPods Pro 2 ANC vs. Sony WF-1000XM5 comparison

    However, while AirPods Pro 2 lack in raw noise cancellation, they make it up with a more consistent reduction and better effectiveness against speech.

    Consistency is good since you don’t hear massive swings in which sounds are reduced and which aren’t.

    Speech reduction is also great if you’re exposed to loud office noise and want to isolate yourself to focus on work. This is where the second-generation AirPods Pro really do a good job.

    Here’s the table with Apple AirPods Pro 2 ANC test results:

    FrequencyNoise cancelling
    dB SPL
    Noise cancelling
    dBA (A-weighted)
    100 Hz28,6 dB9,5 dBA
    200 Hz29,4 dB18,6 dBA
    400 Hz30,2 dB25,4 dBA
    600 Hz26,2 dB24 dBA
    1 kHz14,1 dB14,1 dBA
    2 kHz10,6 dB11,8 dBA
    4 kHz32,8 dB33,8 dBA
    6 kHz20,5 dB20,6 dBA
    10 kHz26,1 dB23,6 dBA
    15 kHz17 dB11 dBA
    Average19,24 dBA
    A-weighted values from the International standard IEC 61672:2003

    Ambient sound mode performance

    It is no surprise that AirPods shine when it comes to ambient sound mode or transparency mode. AirPods Pro 2 continue this “legacy”, amplifying surroundings with excellent clarity and realism.

    There’s a small over-boost between 1.1kHz and 3.1kHz, which makes some sounds a bit thin, but it, fortunately, doesn’t ruin the experience.

    Apple AirPods Pro 2 Transparency mode measurement

    If you need temporary awareness or want to quickly talk to someone next to you, this feature will make you feel like you aren’t wearing earbuds at all.

    Another thing worth pointing out is the microphone’s resilience to wind noise. This means using AirPods Pro 2 outdoors doesn’t produce distorted audio, as if someone is blowing into a mic.

    What does Adaptive Noise Control do?

    Adaptive Noise Control is a part of the Adaptive Audio feature. It uses a mixture of ANC and Transparency modes to block some sounds while boosting others depending on what the algorithm thinks you should or shouldn’t hear.

    Apple AirPods Pro 2 in ears
    Apple’s Transparency mode boosts ambiance so naturally that you forget you’re wearing earbuds.

    Furthermore, enabling the “Loud Sound Reduction” feature while using Transparency mode reduces external sounds over 85dB to protect your hearing, such as people yelling or ambulance sirens passing by.

    Asking people to yell and clap loudly, you could hear a staggering difference with or without this feature turned ON.

    Noise cancelling rating comparison

    Bluetooth

    Star Rating
    3.5 Almost Great

    Apple AirPods Pro 2 have an indoor range of 35 feet, which is quite average. They also primarily use AAC and can support Bluetooth multipoint and Game mode, but only with other Apple devices.

    Bluetooth version5.3
    Bluetooth range
    (no obstructions)
    200ft+
    Bluetooth range
    through a wall
    35ft (10.6m)
    MultipointOnly for connecting
    multiple Apple devices
    Audio latency
    (audio delay)
    230ms

    Bluetooth performance of the AirPods Pro 2 is a mixed bag. But first, they offer a stable close-range connection with Bluetooth 5.3. I haven’t experienced any stutters, but if you do, check this article to see what could be the reason.

    On the flip side, they don’t shine in the long-range indoor test:

    • Walking across the house, they lasted 35 feet (or 10.6 meters) until cutting the audio. That’s right after passing the second brick wall. Using iPad Air 2 improved the range by a foot or two.

    The result is comparable with most true wireless earbuds but worse than Apple AirPods 3 (50 feet) or Apple AirPods Max (65 feet).

    Apple AirPods Pro 2 earbud
    AirPods Pro 2 are among the weakest when it comes to indoor Bluetooth range.

    As for the Bluetooth multipoint, Apple only offers it among other Apple devices signed into the same AppleID account. If you don’t own any or only have an iPhone, you need to manually switch to another device.

    How to pair Apple AirPods Pro 2?

    1. Upon opening them for the first time, they automatically jump into pairing mode. If you have an iOS device, you should see a pop-up message suggesting connecting. Otherwise, you find them in your device’s Bluetooth settings.
    2. When you want to pair them to a different device, you must place them in the charging case while leaving the lid open. Hold the button on the back of the case until the front LED blinks white and you hear a chime playing through the case’s built-in speaker.

    Learn how to pair Apple AirPods to any device you want.

    Apple AirPods Pro 2 case button
    Case button on the back that initiates the pairing process.

    Apple’s proprietary high-resolution audio protocol

    The latest Apple AirPods Pro 2 with USB-C port also brings an updated H2 chip. The latter is now working on a 2.4GHz and 5GHz proprietary connection (instead of only 2.4GHz on the Lightning version).

    A new 5GHz connection transmits high-quality audio (20-bit depth and 48kHz sampling rate) to supported Apple devices, such as the Apple Vision Pro “spatial computing” headset.

    This also means that the Lightning AirPods Pro 2 owners can’t have high-resolution audio when using the abovementioned headset.

    Apple AirPods Pro 2 USB-C - Lightning
    The new late 2023 version comes with a USB-C port (below).

    What Bluetooth codecs do they use?

    Apple AirPods Pro 2 can use SBC and AAC Bluetooth codecs, but they always default to AAC. The latter is Apple’s preferred codec since it has the most efficient encoding/decoding algorithms for it.

    Note that the AAC codec isn’t “good enough” to support lossless audio, even when listening to songs on Apple Music.

    Is there an audio lag?

    There’s no noticeable lag when watching video content on YouTube or social media apps, even on Android. However, there’s a noticeable delay in mobile games.

    As mentioned above, the latest USB-C AirPods Pro 2 have a new protocol that uses a 5GHz frequency band to not only transmit high-res audio but also “massively” reduce audio delay.

    However, so far, this connection only works with Apple Vision Pro. There is no official mention of the same connection running with the new Game Mode feature on Macs and MacBooks.

    In conclusion, if you want a lag-free experience on any content you watch or play, you need to have the most expensive Apple products. Maybe the iPhone 16 will also support Game mode.

    Bluetooth rating comparison

    Should You Get Apple AirPods Pro 2?

    Star Rating
    4.5 Almost Perfect

    Currently selling at $190 on Amazon, it is pretty easy to recommend the new Apple AirPods Pro 2 USB-C version. While not perfect, they have a ton of useful technologies that improve the user experience.

    However, most features are locked into Apple’s ecosystem and only available for devices running the latest iOS 17.

    That said, if you don’t mind lacking access to some of those features, these AirPods are more than attractive to Android users, too. If anything, they can easily tweak their EQ to sound even better.

    Apple AirPods Pro 2 earbuds in case
    The latest Apple AirPods Pro 2nd generation are a fantastic pick for anyone who likes technology and excellent sound.

    Pros & Cons:

    • More balanced sound than original AirPods Pro, with greater detail
    • Familiar comfy design with extra (4) pair of ear tips
    • Effective ANC & fantastic transparency mode performance
    • Seamless connectivity with Apple devices
    • Good battery life of around 6 hours per charge (ANC off)
    • USB-C model has an IP54 rating on AirPods & the case
    • Could be stabler during sports activites
    • You need (newer) iOS device to enjoy all features

    Who these are best for:

    • Apple users: They’re the best and the most feature-packed AirPods they can get today.
    • TWS audiophiles: True wireless listeners who like balanced, albeit a bit bassy sound and don’t mind if their music has a touch of “processing” added.
    • Frequent commuters and travelers who take advantage of intelligent ANC and transparency mode features.

    Who should avoid them:

    • Sportspeople who look for stable earbuds that can endure jumping and head shaking.
    • Apple users with devices too old to support iOS or iPadOS 17.

    How do Apple AirPods Pro 2 compare to the competition?

    • AirPods Pro 2 have a more natural and detailed sound than their main competitors.
    • They’re overall comfier than most competitors.
    • Microphone quality is similar to other competitors in the same price range, if not slightly better.
    • Earbuds and the case have an IP54 rating (USB-C version), which is higher protection than in competitors.
    • Ambient sound mode works far more naturally than among the competition.
    • They have far more useful features than competitors, albeit only Apple users can access them.
    • Battery life is good but overall lower than that of other competitors.
    • Active noise cancelling is also good but less strong than earbuds in their price range.
    • They use proprietary solutions and features that don’t work on devices other than Apple’s.
    • Indoor Bluetooth range of 35 feet is about average, if not slightly lower than the competition.

    Here’s their value rating compared to similar alternatives:

    Are they worth the price?

    Apple AirPods Pro 2 currently sell at around $190-$210, which sounds a lot. However, compared to the competition, they’re actually on the “cheaper” side. If you’re an iOS users, they’re well worth their price.

    On the other hand, if you don’t have access to an iOS device to make a few customizations, the value quickly drops. At that point, you’re better off with the likes of Sony WF-1000XM5 or Google Pixel Buds Pro.

    Just make sure to read our full reviews to know what you’re getting when buying from those two brands.

    Apple AirPods Pro 2 alternatives

    Sony WF-1000XM5

    Sony WF-1000XM5 buds on table

    Sony earbuds have a livelier, more dynamic sound but slightly recessed electric guitars. Both are excellent on its own.

    ANC, stability for sports, and feature availability are far better on Sonys, but the AirPods beat them in comfort, boosting ambient noise, battery life, and the usefulness of their features. Both are difficult to pick out of their charging cases.

    Sony WF-1000XM5 review

    Google Pixel Buds Pro

    Google Pixel Buds Pro inside ears

    Buds Pro have a balanced sound but less natural and detailed than AirPods. The latter are also superior in call quality. Both are equally comfy and stable, while Google’s earbuds have a beefier battery at almost 8 hours per charge.

    Furthermore, Pixel Buds Pros have a stronger ANC performance in lower frequencies, slightly more robust Bluetooth, and multipoint that works on all devices, not just Google’s.

    Google Pixel Buds Pro review

    What’s in the Box?

    Apple AirPods Pro 2 accessories
    • Apple AirPods Pro 2 true wireless earbuds
    • 4 pairs of (proprietary) silicone ear tips
    • (Braided) USB cable (USB-C to USB-C)
    • Quick user guide

    Specifications

    Type: True wireless
    Connection: Bluetooth 5.3
    Back design: Closed-back
    Drivers: 11mm dynamic
    Frequency range: n/a
    Impedance: n/a
    Weight: 0.18 ounces (5.3 grams) per earbud
    Mic & Controls: Yes
    Water resistance: IPX4 (IP54 – USB-C model)
    Battery life: 6h + 24h in case
    Charging time: Quick charge – Lightning/USB-C
    Active noise cancelling: Yes, hybrid
    Bluetooth codecs: SBC, AAC, LC3
    Wireless range: 35 feet (10.6 m)
    Microphone: Yes

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