AirPods Pro Review: Are They Still Worth Buying?



With the AirPods Pro 2 now officially released, is there still a case for buying Apple’s now-cheaper AirPods Pro? Let’s find out…


Apple AirPods Pro (1st Gen)
5.0

Where it counts, with things like ANC, battery life, fit and finish, there isn’t too much to separate between the first-generation and second-generation of Apple’s AirPods Pro. Plus, you can now pick up a set of AirPods Pro for $179 which is a damn sight cheaper than what you’ll pay for a new pair of AirPods Pro 2 (they cost $249.99)

Pros:
  • Amazing noise cancellation
  • Extremeley comfrtable compared to AirPods
  • Dolby Atmos Spatial Audio is brilliant
  • Solid battery life
  • Water & sweat resistant
  • Now a lot cheaper than AirPods Pro 2
VIEW LATEST DEALS
We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase at no additional cost to you.

The original AirPods Pro (1st Gen) launched on October 28, 2019, and were designed as a more upmarket version of Apple’s hugely popular standard AirPods. The AirPods Pro cost more too but this was always going to be the case because they brought with them many, many changes.

The Pro model added in ANC and featured a brand new design, complete with way more comfortable in-ear silicon tips that not only made them more comfortable to wear for prolonged periods of time and better stay in place inside your ear, but they also created a seal which aided the overall immersive quality of the listening experience and the ANC.

On top of that, the AirPods Pro shipped with Apple’s new H1 chipset which brought it improved battery life, more advanced sensors, and a vastly improved audio processor compared to Apple’s cheaper AirPods. And to top of all these additional features, which include Spatial Audio and Transparency Mode, Apple kept the battery in line with what you got on its standard AirPods – around 5 hours (with ANC activated).

The AirPods Pro are also completely water, dust, and sweat resistant, making them an ideal choice for anyone that likes to work out, hike, or cycle outdoors. Indeed, this was the main reason I bought a pair in the first place: I need a solid pair of great-sounding, weather-resistant earbuds for my running sessions.

But what makes Apple’s AirPods Pro so damn good is how it implements ANC. Unlike nearly all other headphone brands, Apple uses two microphones for ANC, an external and an internal one, to create one of the most powerful implementations of ANC on the market. This method for achieving ANC also reduces the “pressure” feeling some folks experience when using ANC-enabled headphones.

But are the AirPods Pro still worth buying in 2022 now that the AirPods Pro 2 are available? As someone that currently uses AirPods Pro and has tested Apple’s AirPods Pro 2, I think I am in a unique position to answer this question, so let’s get into that now…

Are AirPods Pro Worth Buying In 2022?

AirPods Battery Life Comparison
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Apple’s AirPods Pro (2nd Gen) retails for $250 which, for a pair of earbuds, is pretty pricey. If you wanted all the main benefits of Apple’s AirPods Pro, things like ANC, comfortable fit, useful features, and deep integration with iPhone, then you might be better off saving yourself some money and going with the slightly older but equally impressive first-generation AirPods.

Where it counts, with things like ANC, battery life, fit and finish, there isn’t too much to separate between the first-generation and second-generation of Apple’s AirPods Pro. Plus, you can now pick up a set of AirPods Pro for $179 which is a damn sight cheaper than what you’ll pay for a new pair of AirPods Pro 2 (they cost $249.99)

Yes, the AirPods Pro 2 are arguably better but if you don’t want to spend the best part of $250 on them, why not grab a set of AirPods Pro (1st Gen) for less? It’s not like we’re talking about phones here; the differences between the two are subtle, to say the least, and most users would be hard-pressed to isolate and detail them.

AirPods Pro 2 Battery Life is Better Than 1st Gen AirPods Pro

In fact, the only real area the AirPods Pro 2 beat the AirPods Pro is in the battery life department. With the second-generation AirPods Pro, you’ll get up to 6 hours of battery life with ANC, while on the AirPods Pro you get 4.5 hours with ANC. With their respective charging cases, the second generation AirPods Pro’s case will hold 30 hours of battery, while the first-generation can only hold 24 hours.

Is that a big difference? Not really. But if you think it is then your best bet is to go out and get the AirPods Pro 2. They’re incredible, of course, and like the AirPods Pro, the ANC and transparency mode is incredible. But all you’re really paying for is that additional battery performance. Everything else, including how they look, is more or less the same, so if you want to save some money in 2022 I’d go with the first-gen AirPods Pro.

Apple AirPods Pro (1st Gen)
5.0

Where it counts, with things like ANC, battery life, fit and finish, there isn’t too much to separate between the first-generation and second-generation of Apple’s AirPods Pro. Plus, you can now pick up a set of AirPods Pro for $179 which is a damn sight cheaper than what you’ll pay for a new pair of AirPods Pro 2 (they cost $249.99)

Pros:
  • Amazing noise cancellation
  • Extremeley comfrtable compared to AirPods
  • Dolby Atmos Spatial Audio is brilliant
  • Solid battery life
  • Water & sweat resistant
  • Now a lot cheaper than AirPods Pro 2
VIEW LATEST DEALS
We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase at no additional cost to you.

AirPods Pro Review (Full Review From 2019)

AirPods Pro
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Apple AirPods Pro: Sound Quality & Active Noise Cancelation

Let’s get this feature out of the way first, because it’s the one everyone wants to know most about. How good is the AirPods Pro active noise cancelation? In a word: fantastic. In a few words: almost unbelievable. And in a few more words: almost as good as some $800 over-the-ear active noise-canceling headphones I’ve tried.

That is no exaggeration. Given the AirPods Pros’ $249 price, I was expecting some decent active noise cancelation (ANC) from Apple, but as soon as I put the AirPods Pro in my ear I was amazed at just how well they drowned out outside sounds.

Even when I’ve got the AirPods Pros in my ears with no music playing, the outside world seems eerily quiet–that’s even true when I’m crossing a busy intersection. But with ANC while music is playing, it’s almost impossible to hear anything but the tunes.

And because of the ANC, I hear many more details in my favorite songs than I do with my old 2nd-generation AirPods. The difference between the two is night and day. Everything from the low-tone and mid-tones sounds so much better on the AirPods Pros–and the bass for such a tiny device is outstanding.

Apple AirPods Pro: Form & Fit

AirPods Pro
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What’s crazy about the AirPods Pro is that they are actually heavier than the 2nd-generation AirPods, yet they feel lighter in your ears. That’s probably to do with the form-fitting rubber tips that hold the AirPods Pro in your ear solidly.

While my older AirPods never fell out of my ears, I always had to adjust them throughout the day to push them back in a little deeper. I don’t have to do that with the AirPods Pro. Matter of fact, I know I could literally do cartwheels with my AirPods Pros in my ear and they wouldn’t shift a millimeter, much less fall out. The fit is that good.

Speaking of fit: the AirPods Pro comes with three differently-sized tips. And the software in iOS 13.2 lets your iPhone run an ear tip fit test, which tells you which tips are the best fit for your ears.

The AirPods Pro is also shorter than the regular AirPods and lacks tap controls like the old AirPods. Instead, you force touch (press) the stem to play/pause, move forward, or go back to a song. This took some getting used to when I was used to tapping my old AirPods, but within a few hours pressing the stem seemed like second nature.

One other thing about the new AirPods Pro is they’re sweat and water-resistant. You can’t take them for a swim, but your sweat during a workout or the rain is not going to damage the AirPods Pro.

Apple AirPods Pro: Case & Battery

AirPods Pro
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The new AirPods Pro gets you 4.5 hours of usage when you have ANC turned on. That’s 30 minutes less than the old AirPods (which don’t offer ANC). But that 30 fewer minutes is a sacrifice worth making considering how incredible the AirPods Pro ANC is. Plus, if you turn off the ANC your AirPods Pro will last for 5 hours on a single charge.

Like the older AirPods, the case gets you 24+ hours of total battery life–so a fully changed case will get you five full charges to your AirPods Pro. The case also is wireless, so if you have a Qi charging station, it’ll work with that. You can also plug the case in with a Lightning cable to charge it.

Apple AirPods Pro: “Hey Siri” & Final Thoughts

As with the 2nd-generation AirPods, the new AirPods Pro also supports “Hey Siri.” If you like using Siri, that’s a plus. But Hey Siri support isn’t the reason to get these–the stunning active noise cancelation is.

So trust me, if you are a fan of Apple’s previous AirPods, the new AirPods Pro is going to blow you away. I can honestly say the AirPods Pro is probably Apple’s single-best product of 2019 – and probably its best audio product ever.

  • 4.0
  • $204.94
  • Description:

    These start from $179/£159 and come with Spatial Audio support, unlike their predecessors, but you do not get ANC included. Battery life is fairly strong though with 5-6 hours of playback time with Spatial Audio activated.

Editor's #1 Choice
  • 5.0
  • $239.00
  • Description:

    The AirPods Pro 2 sound amazing, feature market-leading ANC tech, and have improved battery life over the 1st gen. If you want the best wireless ANC earbuds on the market right now, I’d definitely recommend going with the AirPods Pro 2 – especially if you’re already using an iPhone.

  • 3.5
  • $499.99
  • Description:

    If you want the best sounding audio, brilliant ANC, and access to Spatial Audio, and you prefer over-ear headphones, the AirPods Max are a great pair of headphones. But they do lack water and dust resistance, as most over-ear headphones do

4.0
$204.94
Description:

These start from $179/£159 and come with Spatial Audio support, unlike their predecessors, but you do not get ANC included. Battery life is fairly strong though with 5-6 hours of playback time with Spatial Audio activated.

Editor's #1 Choice
5.0
$239.00
Description:

The AirPods Pro 2 sound amazing, feature market-leading ANC tech, and have improved battery life over the 1st gen. If you want the best wireless ANC earbuds on the market right now, I’d definitely recommend going with the AirPods Pro 2 – especially if you’re already using an iPhone.

3.5
$499.99
Description:

If you want the best sounding audio, brilliant ANC, and access to Spatial Audio, and you prefer over-ear headphones, the AirPods Max are a great pair of headphones. But they do lack water and dust resistance, as most over-ear headphones do

02/04/2023 07:37 pm GMT
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Michael Grothaus

Apple expert and novelist, Michael Grothaus has been covering tech on KnowYourMobile for the best part of 10 years. Prior to this, he worked at Apple. And before that, he was a film journalist. Michael is a published author; his book Epiphany Jones was voted as one of the best novels about Hollywood by Entertainment Weekly. Michael is also a writer at other publications including VICE and Fast Company.

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