end of 2021,Apple announced thisa major update to its standard AirPods, with the new earbuds featuring spatial audio, adaptive EQ, force sensor control, sweat and water resistance,MagSafecharging and more.
Should you consider buying the $179 third-gen AirPods, or do you need the high-end model?AirPods Prothat sell for $249? Our guide will help answer the question of how to decide which of these AirPod sets is best for you.
Comparison of the AirPods and AirPods Pro
The AirPods and AirPods Pro share a large number of important features such as spatial audio, sweat and water resistance, and the H1 chip. Apple lists these identical features of the two devices:
- Custom high excursion Apple driver
- Custom High Dynamic Range Amplifier
- Accelerometers with motion detection
- Accelerometer with voice recognition
- Duale Beamforming-Mikrofone
- Inward-facing microphones
- force sensors
- Bluetooth 5.0
- Spatial audio with dynamic head tracking
- Adaptiver EQ
- Automatic device switching
- Listen to live audio
- headphone level
- IPX4 sweat and water resistance
- MagSafe Ladekoffer
- Five minutes in the case gives about an hour of listening time or about 1 hour of talk time
- Individual engraving option
Apple's breakdown reveals that the two AirPod sets share a large number of key features. Still, there are some significant differences between them that are worth highlighting, including design and active noise cancellation.
- skin detection sensor
- Sweat and water resistant IPX4 earbuds and charging case
- Up to six hours of listening time on a single charge (up to five hours with Spatial Audio enabled)
- Up to four hours of talk time on a single charge
- Up to 30 hours of listening time with the charging case
- Up to 20 hours of talk time with the charging case
- In-ear design with silicone ear tips (three sizes)
- Venting system for pressure equalization
- Two optical sensors
- Active noise cancellation
- transparency mode
- conversation boost
- Sweat and water resistant IPX4 earbuds
- Up to 4.5 hours of listening time on a single charge (up to five hours with active noise cancellation and transparency turned off)
- Up to 3.5 hours of talk time on a single charge
- More than 24 hours of listening time with the charging case
- More than 18 hours of talk time with the charging case
The design of the standard AirPods means they simply hook into a user's ears. The "AirPods Pro", on the other hand, have in-ear silicone tips that have to be pushed into the ear canal. The AirPods Pro are also slightly larger and heavier than the standard AirPods.
The silicone tips allow the "AirPods Pro" to create a firm seal in the ear canal to improve audio quality and enable active noise cancellation (ANC), and Apple ships three different tip sizes in the box and offers an in-app fit test. Settings".
Not all wearers like the feel of the silicone tips pushed deep into their ears, and those users might prefer the less intrusive feel of the standard AirPods. Aside from the silicone tips, both AirPod sets look very similar visually.
Active noise cancellation
Thanks to the sealing provided by its silicone tips, the "AirPods Pro" can significantly reduce the volume of background noise using active noise cancellation. If you want to let in sounds from the outside world, enable transparency mode by holding the force sensor on one of the earbuds.
If you plan on using your earbuds in noisy environments like public transit, you might appreciate the AirPods Pro's ability to block out background noise so you can focus on your audio playback. The standard AirPods don't have ANC.
The standard AirPods have onebrand new skin detection sensorto more accurately detect if AirPods are in ear to pause playback. The new skin detection sensor detects the water content in the wearer's skin, ensuring that pockets, tables or other surfaces are not mistaken for skin.
Instead of skin detection sensors in each earbud, the "AirPods Pro" use two optical sensors to detect if they're in a user's ear. While they effectively perform the same function, the optical sensors can simply detect when they're on a surface or covered, and not specifically on the skin. This means that if you put an AirPods Pro earbud in a pocket or on a surface, playback could accidentally resume.
IPX4 sweat and water resistance
While both the AirPods and AirPods Pro earbuds are sweat and water resistant, the standard AirPods' MagSafe charging case is also IPX4 rated.
Conversation Boost is a new accessibility feature in iOS 15 designed to help people with mild hearing difficulties better understand conversations. The feature uses beamforming microphones to increase the volume of someone speaking in front of you, making it easier for you to hear someone chatting with you. Only the "AirPods Pro" have Conversation Boost, and the feature is not available on the standard AirPods.
With active noise cancellation, transparency, and spatial audio disabled, AirPods Pro offer an hour less listening time compared to the standard AirPods. The standard AirPods can deliver six hours of extra listening time with the charging case.
When making calls, the standard AirPods can deliver 30 minutes of extra talk time compared to the "AirPods Pro" and two hours of extra talk time with the charging case. For the best possible battery life, go with the AirPods, but overall there's little difference between the two earbud sets when it comes to battery life.
Other AirPods options
If you're looking for AirPods but the latest third-gen model is out of your price range, there are the second-gen AirPods, which start at $129. These can't be charged wirelessly or with "MagSafe," and they don't have spatial audio, sweat and water resistance, or force sensors.
They still feature the H1 chip, Hey Siri, automatic device switching, motion and speech recognition accelerometers, Bluetooth 5.0 and dual beamforming microphones, as well as up to five hours of listening time on one charge and more than 24 hours of listening time with the charging case. For most users, however, it's still worth shelling out the extra $50 for the third-gen AirPods if you can.
For a higher fidelity audio experience, there's theAirPods max, which are priced at $549. These are over-ear headphones that take the listening experience to the next level with improved sound quality, better active noise cancellation (ANC) and up to 20 hours of listening on one charge.
The standard AirPods are now very similar to the "AirPods Pro" and offer almost all the same features at a lower price. As a result, the third-generation AirPods should be the default choice for most potential buyers.
Only buy the AirPods Pro if you specifically prefer the fit of in-ear silicone tips or need Active Noise Cancellation. It's also worth buying "AirPods Pro" if you could make good use of Apple's Conversation Boost accessibility feature.
AirPods Pro are often discounted to $199 or even less on Amazon and other third-party retailers. Therefore, it might be worth upgrading to the Pro version if you can take advantage of any of these offers. Note that the AirPods Pro have just been updated with the MagSafe targeting for the charging case, but no other changes have been made, so make sure you know which version you're buying. The standard AirPods also often see solid discounts, so it's always worth checking for the best priceUse our deals summary.
If you also have "AirPods Max," which already offer ANC, and are looking for an additional pair of headphones to use while exercising or on the go, the third-gen AirPods are also a great choice.
The first generation "AirPods Pro" are over three years old and have been replaced by a second generation model. The third-generation AirPods are much newer and likely won't be updated or replaced any time soon. If you're planning on keeping your AirPods for several years, it might be worth considering the age of the first-gen "AirPods Pro" in your purchasing decision.
Related Summaries:AirPods 3,AirPods Pro
Buying Guide:AirPods (Neutral),AirPods Pro (Buy Now)