Apple AirPods Pro: The in-ear buds to beat!
Ever since the launch of the first iPhone, Apple has always been interested in wireless-earphones, going so far as to announce one in 2007.
When Apple announced the first set of AirPods in 2017, it seemed as though the lifetime of the iPod line was complete. From a 5GB device in 2001 dedicated to music, now it was reduced to wireless earbuds, easily interchangeable between your Apple devices.
Ever since, people have been clamouring for better AirPods; better connectivity between devices, noise-cancellation, and ever-more able to fit in more ears.
Last October, these wishes were answered with the ‘AirPods Pro’, and now that we’ve had a set to try out with, here’s our thoughts.
This reviewer owned the first generation AirPods in 2017 alongside buying a new iPhone 7 Plus, and what made a great first impression was the pairing. A notification would rise from the bottom on the iPhone, and would just, pair.
The process was the same here, but you could also go to its settings within ‘Bluetooth’, and make sure that the buds were properly in your ears. This was another great touch, because for someone who isn’t usually keen on wearing something in-ear, it was great to make sure that they were properly in and ready to go.
There’s also two other sizes of buds that you can place on the AirPods Pro, and this happened here, going from the ‘medium’ size to the ‘small’, and it instantly felt more comfortable.
They come in a larger case this time to hold the two buds correctly, and what was nice here, is that the case itself is QI-charging compatible, so if you have a few wireless chargers around the house, just place them on a pad and it can give them a quick charge.
Admittedly, three weeks on, there’s times where some re-adjusting is needed, but it’s a small price to pay for how well these are, especially when you’re jogging through the wind and rain on mornings and weekends.
A quick note here, is that switching between Apple devices with the AirPods Pro is much faster this time; going to ‘Control Center’ on another device and selecting them, enables them in less than 5 seconds. If you’re about to go from working on the iPad to walking to the shop with your Apple Watch, the fast pairing is incredibly helpful here.
This time, instead of tapping on the buds to pause, skip, or go to a previous track, it’s a click on the tips. Due to the reduced size of the buds, you can find yourself trying to find the exact point on them to control the track you’re currently listening to. Sometimes it can be frustrating, especially if you’re trying to do this while jogging or in the middle of an errand, but eventually you get used to it. One other annoyance here is that you can’t customise the clicks, so when you long-press now it can change between ‘transparency’ and ‘noise cancellation’, and if you wish, you can only switch this to ‘Siri’. A shame really, as it would have been great to reduce and increase volume with a press, rather than Siri.
Finally, Siri. It’s been long known of how inconsistent Apple’s voice assistant can be, especially compared to Amazon’s Alexa and Google’s Assistant, but it’s surprisingly worked well here. For example, this writer had to mow the garden this week, and the volume needed to be increased for a podcast. As the phone was in the house, a quick ‘Hey Siri, raise volume to 80%’ was said, and lo and behold, volume was increased.
When it works, it works well, especially now that the service can work with third-party apps such as Spotify. It can also announce any new messages, so anytime you receive one from Apple’s ‘Messages’ app, it will read it out, and you can reply back. Useful and so far, no embarrassing dictation errors when replying.
Pairing between devices is much faster this time, if you own more than one Apple device.
With a name like ‘AirPods Pro’, the sound improvements need to justify the ‘Pro’ name, and it does, just about.
Let’s go into the elephant in the room; noise cancellation. For earbuds, they work surprisingly well. As this writer lives off Lincoln High Street, it wasn’t a challenge to test out just how well the feature blocked out the sound. After testing this out multiple times with the long-press, it was surprisingly good to say the least. Cars driving past were blocked out, alongside a flock of birds in the sky and an individual walking past, blaring out the latest ‘New Weekly’ playlist but did not distract this writer at all. This will be the point where you will decide whether the AirPods Pro are for you.
Another new mode is ‘Transparency’. It’s a way of listening to the people around you when needed. If, for example, you are about to go to a coffee shop and you’ve been having ‘Spiceworld’ play in noise-cancellation mode, a long-press can switch to transparency, and you will be able to hear what the barista is saying, while ‘Who Do You Think You Are’ plays in the background. Very useful, and it saves you from having to take an AirPod out.
As general sound goes, it’s a lot better compared to the first-gen AirPods. There’s more bass while everything else sounds ‘louder’ and much more ‘punchy’ if that’s valid.
Even answering calls and responding to Siri when needed was fantastic; any recipient when asked, thought that this reviewer was simply holding the phone up to their ear.
Yes, ‘Stop’ by the Spice Girls sounds much better this time with AirPods Pro.
When it comes to the AirPods themselves, they last an impressive amount of time. With noise-cancellation on, you can expect to have them last for 10 hours, while without the setting, around 15.
Pairing them between different Apple devices can also be a factor in this, but overall, you can expect to use them over the course of a working day, and if there’s times where you want to just keep to yourself, then you will have no problem in just wearing them for 8 hours at the least.
Due to the case, you will find yourself just placing them on a wireless charger nearby, or plugging them in, just because. But when you forget to, expect to have them last for a week; which is impressive in itself.
If you want to block out that co-worker for a whole work-day, look no further.
Fantastic Noise-Cancellation and Transparency features
Comfortable to wear for long periods
Incredible 15-hour battery
The tips to change tracks aren't customisable
Buds may need to be adjusted for long periods if they don't fit
We’ve come a long way since 2007.
These are a fantastic improvement over the previous two AirPods; the noise-cancellation is much more impressive than Apple give credit for, while the faster-pairing between devices is very welcome. If you couple that with the improved sound and noise-cancellation features, you’ve got one of the best in-ear earbuds on the market.
What holds it back is the software itself; Siri is still hit and miss when it comes to requests, and not being able to customise the double and single taps is a shame, but these can be fixed through a firmware update if Apple deems the change necessary.
Granted, you will be finding them at a price for around £249.99 on Amazon and other places, but if you’re already locked into the Apple-ecosystem, your question for buying these should really be; ‘Why haven’t you bought these yet?’
The earbuds to beat, lets just hope that Siri gets even better with them in iOS 14.