(Last Updated On: October 31, 2019)

What’s so “Pro” about the Apple AirPods Pro?

AirPods Pro (From Apple)
AirPods Pro (From Apple)

As the end of Q4 inches closer, Apple is releasing an update to one of its most popular products – the AirPods. As with most Apple products, if it’s going to get a price bump, it better comes with the “Pro” label.

Most influencers have already received their review unit and done a fair amount of commentary on it. Our job here today is to watch through these long, monetized Youtube videos (so you don’t have to) and break down what set the AirPods Pro apart from the first-gen AirPods.

Quick Notes

1. In-Ear Form Factor

The biggest physical change that you will pick up immediately is the wearing ergonomics. Instead of the classic earbuds form factor, AirPods Pro now adopts a more popular in-ear form factor.

Three sizes of ear tips are included. Apple stated on the website that the ear tips “click” into place. This means that you don’t have to struggle to wiggle the silicone ear tips on the nozzle, like what happens for most IEMs.

Three different sizes of AirPods Pro's silicone ear tips. (From Apple)
Three different sizes of AirPods Pro’s silicone ear tips. (From Apple)

2. Shorter Stem

The long stem has always irked me. It looks like someone has snipped off the EarPods and pretending that they are listening to music. The good news is that they have decided to shorten the stem. Still dorky? You tell me.

Body Comparison: AirPods Pro (T) AirPods (B). (From Youtube/SuperSaf)
Body Comparison: AirPods Pro (T) AirPods (B). (From Youtube/SuperSaf)

3. Ear Tips Fit Test

Other than tiny hardware innovation, the software side has some surprise on its own – the Ear Tips Fit Test. I don’t believe I have seen this anywhere. If you did, let me know in the comments section.

AirPods Pro's Ear Tip Fit Test on the iPhone (From Youtube/SuperSaf)
AirPods Pro’s Ear Tip Fit Test on the iPhone (From Youtube/SuperSaf)

The AirPods Pro checks the seal of the ear tips by using the internal mic. It will play some music and give you the result of the seal. If the seal is not great, you can change to the other ear tips provided.

4. Active Noise Cancellation

The next most prominent feature upgrade that the AirPods Pro has is the Active Noise Cancellation (ANC). ANC is a noise reduction technique invented by Bose.

ANC uses a mic to actively listen for external noise coming into the ear. It will then play a frequency into the ear to attenuate the external noise, therefore “canceling” it.

The first-gen AirPods only utilizes passive noise isolation.

Black Grille

On the side of the AirPods Pro, you will find a new black grille. I’m guessing this design encompasses the mic that is needed to make the ANC work..

AirPods Pro's black grille. (From Youtube/MKBHD)
AirPods Pro’s black grille. (From Youtube/MKBHD)

Three ANC Modes

The AirPods Pro’s ANC comes with 3 modes:

  1. On
  2. Off
  3. Transparency
3 different ANC modes to toggle. (From Youtube/SuperSaf)
3 different ANC modes to toggle. (From Youtube/SuperSaf)

The “Transparency” mode works like the Samsung Galaxy Buds’s ambient mode where you can adjust the level of ambient sound you let into the ear.

5. Shorter but wider charging case

The AirPods Pro’s charging case is shorter but wider than the first-gen AirPods. I know, mind-blowing fact. But every bit counts when you want to justify that price tag.

Charging case comparison: AirPods (L) and AirPods Pro (R). (From Youtube/MKBHD)
Charging case comparison: AirPods (L) and AirPods Pro (R). (From Youtube/MKBHD)

6. Position of the Capacitive Touch Control

The touch control is now brought downwards onto the stem area. I guess this design choice is made to accommodate the black grill found on the original spot of the controls.

The new position of the AirPods Pro's touch control. (From Youtube/SuperSaf)
The new position of the AirPods Pro’s touch control. (From Youtube/SuperSaf)

7. IPX4 Certified

Finally, the AirPods gets a certified water-resistant IPX rating. Of course, that didn’t stop people from exercising with the first-gen AirPods. Remember that the water-resistant is not waterproof. You still cannot go swimming in it.

For waterproof headphones, you should read our “Best Waterproof Headphones for Swimming” guide.

Conclusion

MKBHD wearing the AirPods Pro (From Youtube/MKBHD)
MKBHD wearing the AirPods Pro (From Youtube/MKBHD)

Alright, that’s a wrap. So what do you think?

Are these features good enough for it to be labeled as “Pro” version? Will you pay $250 for it?

Let us know in the comments below.