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Apple AirPods Pro 2 review

With the AirPods Pro 2, Apple has made improvements in almost every area, all while keeping the price the same as the original.

Apple AirPods Pro 2 review© 2023 Versus

The original AirPods Pro came out in 2019 to much acclaim, with features like active noise cancellation (ANC) that far surpassed the original AirPods of the time. In the years that followed, though, they were overshadowed by rivals such as Sony and Bose. It’s safe to say this is no longer the case. Although it took three years for Apple to release the second generation AirPods Pro, it was time well spent. The latest version has improvements across the board, including improved sound quality, battery life, and ANC performance — making them some of the best wireless earbuds you can buy.


Design and controls

The design of the AirPods Pro 2 is practically unchanged from the first generation, which is a bit disappointing considering the design was already three years old when these earbuds launched. That being said, the design has its plus points. When compared to bulkier rivals like the Sony WF-1000XM5 and Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II, the AirPods Pro 2 look relatively small and slim. However, if you’re upgrading from a pair of earbuds such as the Nothing Ear 2, these will feel a little bigger. Speaking of the Nothing Ear 2, those earbuds feature an attractive transparent design that really sets them apart. On the other hand, the AirPods Pro design looks pretty bland and has spawned hundreds of clones, so they certainly don’t stand out from the crowd. Bland is better than bad, though, and the AirPods Pro 2 design still holds up.

Comfort-wise, there are no complaints. Unlike their silicon tip-free siblings — the standard AirPods — these are incredibly comfortable and can be worn for hours without any problems. They also come with four sets of ear tips (including an XS size that the previous generation lacked), allowing you to find the perfect fit. Another thing worth mentioning is that the earbuds have a water resistance rating of IPX4, meaning you don’t have to worry about getting caught in a light rain or wearing them while working out.


When it comes to the controls, there’s not much to complain about. The stem is now touch-sensitive (something the original AirPod Pros lacked), allowing you to change the volume by swiping up and down. Other controls are performed by squeezing the stem. If you’re coming from a pair of earbuds with purely touch controls, squeezing a button to skip a song can feel a bit antiquated and cumbersome, but everything is responsive and works flawlessly. And to be fair, that can’t always be said for earbuds that only use touch-based controls.

Sound quality

Although not the absolute best on the market, the sound quality of the AirPods Pro 2 is superb. They deliver a rich, immersive soundstage that produces clear highs, resonant mids, and deep lows. On top of that, everything generally sounds better thanks to the excellent noise cancellation (more on that later). One thing that is lacking is the ability to change EQ settings, which most competitors offer through their accompanying apps. Instead, the AirPods Pro 2 have an adaptive EQ that does the work for you. It works by continuously monitoring what you hear with the help of inward-facing microphones and then adjusting the levels on the fly, depending on what kind of music you're listening to and the fit of the earbuds. It’s quintessential Apple — limiting the ability to customize things yourself but having everything “just work”, without user input. Whether that's important or not comes down to the individual, but if you’re using Apple products anyway, you probably don’t mind giving up a bit of customization for convenience.

The microphone quality for voice calls is decent, although it can vary depending on your surroundings. In quiet places it works extremely well, but if there’s a lot of background noise (such as traffic), your voice can come through a bit muffled. This is fairly common on wireless earbuds, though, and not really something specific to the AirPods Pro. For some comparisons with competing earbuds, check out our video towards the end of the article.

Noise cancellation & transparency mode

The original AirPod Pros had decent noise cancellation, but Apple have improved it even more for the second generation. They claim it’s now twice as strong, and in our testing that seems about right. Whether you’re trying to block out background noise in the office, during your daily commute, or on a flight, Apple’s H2 chip in the AirPods Pro 2 does an excellent job. One downside is that there's no option to change the level of noise cancellation, something that's possible on most wireless earbuds with ANC. The AirPods Pro 2 are now on the same level as other premium earbuds, perhaps only bested by the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II.


The transparency mode also works incredibly well. When you enable this (with a long press of the stem), it uses the mics to pass through background noise, and it’s so good that it feels like you’re not even wearing earbuds at all. The AirPods Pro 2 also gained a new feature over their predecessor — Adaptive Transparency — which helps to reduce sudden loud noises when using this mode. Apple claims the H2 chip samples environmental noise a staggering 48,000 times per second for this. Although that’s impossible to verify, you can hear the near-instantaneous change when a loud sound occurs.

Battery life

Another area that Apple improved upon over the previous generation AirPod Pros is battery life. The upgrade to Bluetooth 5.3 and the H2 chip has boosted the playback time from 4.5 to 6 hours (with ANC on). When including recharging from the case, the total battery life has increased from 24 to 30 hours. This upgrade puts it in line with similar earbuds from competitors. The total playback time is ahead of most, but some, like the Sony WF-1000XM5, have better battery life from the earbuds alone. However, it’s worth mentioning that the WF-1000XM5 earbuds are much bulkier, so Apple has done a great job here. There’s also a quick charge feature, giving you an hour of playtime after charging the earbuds in the case for five minutes.

  Apple AirPods Pro (1st Gen) Apple AirPods Pro (2nd Gen) Audio-Technica ATH-TWX9 Sony WF-1000XM5 Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 3
Battery life (ANC on) 4.5 hours 6 hours 6 hours 8 hours 6 hours 7 hours
Battery life (ANC on, including case) 24 hours 30 hours 18.5 hours 24 hours 18 hours 28 hours

Battery life of the AirPods Pro 2 compared to the previous generation and rivals


The AirPods Pro 2 run on Bluetooth 5.3 and support two codecs — SBC and AAC. AAC provides excellent audio quality and stability on iOS devices, but on Android, AAC performance wildly varies depending on your device. If you’re an Android user, you might encounter issues and have to fall back on the inferior SBC codec.

Apple has still not added any kind of Hi-Res audio codec to the AirPods Pro, which is slightly disappointing. The choice is a bit jarring, considering Apple Lossless audio is included with a subscription to Apple Music. Although the option would be nice, the average person struggles to distinguish between standard audio and Hi-Res/lossless anyway, so the omission isn’t a dealbreaker. iOS also lacks support for anything besides SBC/AAC, but if you're an Android user seeking Hi-Res audio, you should look elsewhere.

Switching between different Apple devices with the AirPods Pro 2 is seamless and works incredibly well. Once you pair them to one device, the earbuds can connect to any other Apple device that's using the same Apple ID.

Charging case

When it comes to the charging case, there’s very little to complain about. It’s solidly built and compact, measuring just 45mm x 61mm x 22mm. Like the earbuds, it’s also rated at IPX4 water resistance, which is a nice addition that you don’t often find on cases. There’s also a built-in speaker that gives little audio cues depending on its charging status. Personally, I found those to be so annoying that I muted mine straight away, but the speaker does have other uses. It can be used to play a sound if you can’t find your AirPods, so if you’re the kind of person who misplaces things a lot, you might find it useful.


Speaking of losing things, one of the more unique features of the AirPods Pro 2 over rival offerings is the inclusion of Apple’s Find My technology. This is essentially like having an AirTag in the case, and allows precision location tracking. You’ll also get a notification on your phone if you accidentally leave your earbuds behind.

Although Apple is inevitably going to switch to USB-C (possibly with the release of the iPhone 15 in 2023), we’re still living in the era of the Lightning cable. This is the quickest way to charge the case, but you can also charge wirelessly — either with Apple’s MagSafe charger, Apple Watch charger, or any Qi-compatible charging pad.


Like the iPhone, you can wake up Siri anytime by using the “Hey Siri” command. Although it doesn't sound like a big deal, most competitors with Google Assistant integration require pressing a button to wake the assistant. Although the implementation on the AirPods Pro 2 is good, Siri is still a pretty bare-bones voice assistant that hasn’t changed much over the years – we’re not living in Her just yet.

One of the most understated features of the AirPods Pro 2 is Siri’s Announce Notifications. As you might guess from the name, enabling this allows Siri to read notifications to you when they come in on your phone. It’s a great way to stay informed of your messages without having to pull out your phone all the time, and it’s especially useful if, like me, you spend a lot of time cycling and can’t get your phone out to check a message anyway. On top of that, you can also reply to notifications hands-free.


Android support

If you’re thinking of purchasing the AirPods Pro 2 as an Android user, you should be aware that there’s a distinct lack of Android support. Although you can connect over Bluetooth and use the earbuds as normal, you’ll be unable to change any settings unless you have an iOS device. Additionally, the AAC codec has varying performance across Android devices, and you’ll also miss out on other features such as the ear fit test and Spatial Audio. That being said, people who don’t care about extra features or tweaking the EQ will get along with the AirPods Pro 2 just fine. We even have an Android/AirPods Pro 2 user in the Versus office, and he reports no issues whatsoever.


As with the first generation AirPod Pros, the latest version is priced at $249 / €299 / £249. Considering the substantial upgrade over the previous generation, the fact that the price remained the same is undoubtedly welcome. It’s also a wise move on Apple’s part, as although this puts them firmly in the premium wireless earbuds range, they're priced competitively when looking at their rivals. For comparison, both the Sony WF-1000XM5 and the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II will set you back $300.

Comparison with competitors

  Apple AirPods Pro (1st Gen) Apple AirPods Pro (2nd Gen) Audio-Technica ATH-TWX9 Sony WF-1000XM5 Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 3
Battery life (ANC on) 4.5 hours 6 hours 6 hours 8 hours 6 hours 7 hours
Battery life (ANC on, including case) 24 hours 30 hours 18.5 hours 24 hours 18 hours 28 hours
Wireless charging Yes Yes Yes Yes No Yes
Codec support SBC, AAC SBC, AAC SBC, AAC, aptX, aptX Adaptive SBC, AAC, LDAC, LC3 SBC, AAC SBC, AAC, aptX, aptX Adaptive
Water resistance IPX4 (earbuds only) IPX4 (earbuds and case) IPX4 (earbuds only) IPX4 (earbuds only) IPX4 (earbuds only) IPX4 (earbuds only)
Multipoint No No Yes Yes No Yes
Ear tip sizes S, M, L XS, S, M, L Short (XS, S, M, L), Standard (XS, S, M, L), Long (XS, S, M, L) XS, S, M, L S, M, L (plus wing tips) XS, S, M, L (plus wing tips)
Price $249 (no longer sold by Apple) $249 $299 $299.99 $299 $279.95 (currently $179.95)


Final thoughts

Overall, the Apple AirPods Pro 2 are a significant upgrade over the first generation, featuring improved battery life, sound quality, and ANC performance. There’s also the addition of Adaptive Transparency, better in-ear detection, and touch controls for volume adjustments. The earbuds are not the only thing to get an upgrade, however, as the 2nd gen case gained IPX4 water resistance and precision location tracking using the Find My network. All of these improvements culminate in an excellent pair of true wireless earbuds, and for Apple users, it’s hard to recommend anything else.

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