The AirPods Pro offer a big leg up over the more basic AirPods.
Design and Build
There’s a ‘Transparency Mode’ which allows you to listen in to sounds from the outside.
Noise Cancellation: The headlining feature, of course, is the active noise cancellation which works with two microphones on each bud listening to the outside ambient noise and the noise that reaches inside the seal to generate an anti-noise that quietens the world around you.
The tech samples noise at 200 times per second, and boy, does it work!
As with any pair of active noise cancelling earphones, the predictable, constant droning noises like trains and aircraft engines are almost completely silenced, with general office hubbub reduced to mere whispers.
You’re not getting the user-selectable noise cancelling modes we’ve seen on other noise-cancelling audio equipment, with Apple it’s all or nothing.
Except, there’s a neat ‘Transparency Mode’ which allows you to listen in to sounds from the outside, say when you’re walking on a busy street or airport and need to stay aware of your surroundings.
Lack of Controls: Apple’s H1 chip is the AirPods secret sauce for quick pairing and exceptional wireless connectivity, but as quickly as the Pros pair with your iPhone, they still require you to pull the phone out to adjust volume.
The competition has managed to add in touch controls, albeit a tad fidgety, for volume control and one often wished Apple would have added that in.
The current touch controls on the stalks take some getting used to.
Battery Life: With a claimed five hours for the earphones (noise cancellation off) and another 19 hours from the charging case, the battery life remains middle of the road.
With noise cancelling on, battery life dips by a little over half an hour, which means they fare worse than the non-Pro models.
The AirPods Pro go up against the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless, the Nokia True Wireless and the Samsung Galaxy Buds.
They may not match the best in the category purely on sound quality, but the user experience and insane levels of comfort coupled with great noise cancellation make the AirPods Pro a strong contender in the segment.