Released in the shadow of the iPhone 14, the Apple AirPods Pro 2 wireless earbuds may be the true highlight of the season. Following an already appealing first generation that struggled to fully convince due to a generic sound, the AirPods Pro 2 rectify this issue masterfully.
What Apple achieves in photography by dramatically improving image quality with the power of its Bionic chips, it now seems to accomplish for portable music listening, thanks to the H2 chip featured in the AirPods Pro 2, combined with custom transducers and amplification.
In addition to these premium acoustic solutions, which we will delve into later, the AirPods 2 boast an active noise cancellation (ANC) system touted to be up to twice as effective, isolating users from surrounding noises and enhancing their music experience.
However, be aware that some features are exclusive to the Apple ecosystem, such as Spatial Audio and its advanced support for Dolby Atmos, as well as spatialization adjustment based on the listener’s head movements. For these functions, an iPhone, iPad, Apple TV 4K, or an Apple Silicon Mac is required. Nevertheless, the AirPods Pro 2 are worth pairing with an Android smartphone or any other source, as their musicality is truly exceptional.
Table of Contents
Apple AirPods Pro 2 Specifications
|Audio Technology||Custom high-excursion Apple driver, custom high dynamic range amplifier, active noise cancellation, adaptive transparency, vent system for pressure equalization, personalized spatial audio with dynamic head tracking, adaptive EQ|
|Sensors||Dual beamforming microphones, inward-facing microphone, skin-detect sensor, motion-detecting accelerometer, speech-detecting accelerometer, touch control|
|Chip||Apple H2 headphone chip, Apple U1 chip in MagSafe Charging Case|
|Controls||Press once to play, pause, or answer a phone call, press twice to skip forward, press three times to skip back, press and hold to switch between active noise cancellation and adaptive transparency, swipe up or down to adjust volume, say “Hey Siri” to do things like play a song, make a call, or get directions|
|Sweat and Water Resistance||Sweat and water resistant (IPX4) for AirPods Pro and charging case|
|Size and Weight (Each)||Height: 1.22 inches (30.9 mm), Width: 0.86 inch (21.8 mm), Depth: 0.94 inch (24.0 mm), Weight: 0.19 ounce (5.3 grams)|
|Charging Case||Works with MagSafe charger, Apple Watch charger, Qi-certified chargers, or the Lightning connector|
|Battery||AirPods Pro: up to 6 hours of listening time with a single charge (up to 5.5 hours with spatial audio and head tracking enabled), up to 4.5 hours of talk time with a single charge; AirPods Pro with MagSafe Charging Case: up to 30 hours of listening time, up to 24 hours of talk time, 5 minutes in the case provides around 1 hour of listening time or around 1 hour of talk time|
|Connectivity||Bluetooth 5.3 wireless technology|
|Accessibility||Live Listen audio, headphone levels, headphone accommodations, conversation boost|
|System Requirements||iPhone and iPod touch models with the latest version of iOS, iPad models with the latest version of iPadOS, Apple Watch models with the latest version of watchOS, Mac models with the latest version of macOS, Apple TV models with the latest version of tvOS|
|Compatibility||iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Mac, and Apple TV models listed in the table|
|Environmental Features||Made with better materials, 100% recycled gold in the plating of multiple printed circuit boards, 100% recycled rare earth elements in all magnets, 100% recycled aluminum in the hinge of the MagSafe Charging Case, 100% recycled tin in the solder of multiple printed circuit boards, 35% or more recycled plastic in multiple components, energy efficient, mercury-, BFR-, PVC-, and beryllium‑free, green manufacturing, responsible packaging|
Apple AirPods Pro 2 Design
In terms of design, the changes are minor: the AirPods Pro 2 are easily recognizable at first glance, as they are very similar to the original AirPods Pro. Their design is quite classic, featuring a shell shaped to fit the ear’s contours, and a stem with a touch-sensitive area that responds to both contact and pressure. The decompression vents, which serve to improve the bass performance of the transducers, along with the microphones, are housed behind thin black grilles.
The build quality appears excellent, both in terms of assembly and the glossy white plastic, which is fairly resistant to fingerprint marks. Finally, the ear tips that insert into the ear canal are finished with silicone tips. Apple provides four pairs in different sizes.
The Apple AirPods Pro 2 are not waterproof, but they are IPX4 certified, meaning they can withstand sweat, rain, and splashes, just like their charging case.
A charging case that chimes when charged
The charging case for the Apple AirPods Pro 2 is particularly compact and easy to handle. It features a Lightning port for recharging its battery, but it can also be charged wirelessly with a Qi charger or an Apple Watch MagSafe charger.
Apple has equipped it with a transducer that emits a sound at the beginning and end of the charging cycle. This chime can be disabled (with an Apple device). Furthermore, the AirPods 2 Pro case incorporates a U1 chip, which allows for easy location using the iOS Find My app. This feature is, once again, only available with an iPhone, iPad, or Mac.
A charging case that chimes when charged
The charging case for the Apple AirPods Pro 2 is especially compact and easy to handle. It is equipped with a Lightning port for recharging its battery, but it can also charge wirelessly with a Qi charger or an Apple Watch MagSafe charger. Apple has added a transducer that emits a sound at the beginning and end of the charging cycle. This melody can be disabled (with an Apple device).
Moreover, the AirPods 2 Pro case features a U1 chip, which makes it easy to locate using the iOS Find My app. This functionality is, once again, only available with an iPhone, iPad, or Mac.
Additionally, apart from a small status LED on the front, the case has a lanyard attachment point. However, no lanyard or charging cable is included. Lastly, regarding the charging case, it can be engraved with a name or emoji for free if the earbuds are purchased directly from Apple.
Apple AirPods Pro 2 Usage and Application
The Apple AirPods Pro 2 are very easy to put on and remain comfortable to wear, even after several hours of listening. One can walk, run, and jump without risking losing them, as they are securely fastened to the ears. Their control touch zones respond to finger sliding and pressure.
To operate, pinch the earbud stem between the thumb and index finger, which can then slide up or down to adjust the volume. Each slide changes the volume by one increment and is accompanied by a soft confirmation sound. Pausing playback and answering calls require pressing the stem, skipping to the next track requires two presses, and returning to the previous track requires three presses.
Activating ANC or Transparency mode requires a long press on either earbud. There is no app for managing the Apple AirPods Pro 2. On iOS, the earbuds have a settings page accessible by pressing the “i” next to their name in the list of Bluetooth devices.
This page offers an option to program the long press for invoking Siri, as well as the ability to choose the left or right earbud microphone for calls – automatic by default – and even disable the wearing detection feature. This is where noise reduction and Transparency mode can be enabled, although this setting is also available when pressing and holding the volume bar in an iPhone’s Control Center.
On Android, no settings are offered, and one must rely on the earbuds’ touch zones. Consequently, it is not possible to activate Google Assistant or enable wearing detection. Some third-party apps exist, often paid and without a guarantee of proper functioning.
Features of the new AirPods Pro 2 case
The new case for the AirPods Pro 2 wireless headphones from Apple is splash resistant (IPX4) and has a U1 chip for precise location tracking when the case is lost. It also has built-in speakers to help the user locate it when the battery is low or it is paired with an Apple device. Users can choose to have a name or emoji engraved on the case when purchasing the new AirPods Pro 2.
Spatial Audio, the Apple AirPods Pro 2 advantage
The AirPods Pro 2 earbuds incorporate Apple’s Spatial Audio technology. To enjoy this feature, an iPhone, iPad, Apple TV 4K, or a Mac with Apple Silicon SoC is required. Only these devices can add spatial positioning metadata to the audio stream transmitted to the earbuds, which will be processed by the H2 chip integrated into the AirPods Pro 2. Spatialization is impressive with Dolby Atmos sources from Apple Music or movies and series in Dolby 5.1 or Dolby Atmos, for example, on Netflix.
Spatial Audio also works with stereo programs, but the user must activate it. With an iPhone or iPad, press the volume bar in the Control Center; on macOS, expand the sound options in the taskbar. The impact of Spatial Audio mode on stereo tracks is far from marginal: the soundstage suddenly expands in width, height, and depth, with an added punch. A guaranteed “wow” effect. In most cases, this spatialization brings a real plus.
Head Tracking turns heads
Like their predecessors and the AirPods 3, the AirPods Pro 2 feature a Head Tracking function. This is an optional mode that must be activated in addition to Spatial Audio. With their built-in gyroscope, the AirPods Pro 2 can detect and track the listener’s head movements (horizontal) and dynamically position certain audio elements. This technology, combined with Spatial Audio, works only with an iPhone, iPad, Apple TV 4K, or a Mac with an Apple Silicon chip.
Head Tracking provides the best results with 5.1 audio tracks in movies and series from streaming services, as well as Dolby Atmos tracks from Apple Music or Tidal. In this case, the positioning of various audio elements with the AirPods Pro 2 is excellent.
In practice, the audio elements of the central audio channel, primarily voices but also sometimes drums and other instruments, are dynamically moved. When turning the head to the right, some audio elements slide symmetrically to the left, and vice versa when turning the head to the left.
AirPods 2 Head Tracking can also work with stereo programs, but Spatial Audio mode must be forced, again by activating it with a long press on the iPhone’s volume bar. In this case, the iPhone’s Bionic chip analyzes the music in real-time and determines the various audio elements, which are tagged with metadata transmitted to the earbuds with the audio stream. The separation is logically less precise than with 5.1 audio tracks, but voices and various audio elements do move well with head movements.
Head Tracking is often impressive and suffers from no latency, greatly enhancing the listening experience. Indeed, one quickly finds oneself turning the head to position audio elements in space. In a way, Head Tracking allows remixing the music being listened to. Finally, mobile audio elements are automatically re-centered after about ten seconds of not moving.
Audio sharing with other earbuds on iOS
The Apple AirPods Pro 2 are equipped with a Bluetooth 5.3 controller and can automatically switch between multiple Apple sources. However, they are not compatible with multipoint Bluetooth and cannot connect to multiple devices simultaneously. When close to an iPhone, iPad, or Mac, they automatically declare themselves, and a dialog box appears on these devices to invite connecting to the earbuds.
Once the AirPods Pro 2 are paired with an Apple device, all devices linked to the iCloud account can automatically connect to the earbuds without pairing. With an iPhone or iPad and Apple Music exclusively, sharing current playback with a second pair of earbuds or an Apple headset is offered. With any other Bluetooth device, especially Android, Bluetooth pairing must be initiated by opening the charging case and pressing the button on the back.
I had no connection difficulties with my iPhone or Huawei P30 Pro, nor any stability issues during audio transmission, even through a wooden floor or thin partition and up to about 10 meters. As for Bluetooth latency, it is 179 ms in SBC transmission and 183 ms in AAC. Thus, one should avoid playing with these earbuds, lest they be bothered by a delay between image and sound. As a reminder, synchronization is ensured for video content on both iOS and Android, thanks to a slight intentional delay in video display.
Apple AirPods Pro 2 Active Noise Reduction
Thanks to the H2 chip, the Apple AirPods Pro 2’s noise reduction system performs better. The AirPods Pro 2’s ANC turns a diesel engine into an electric one when traveling by car, and makes the bus’s hum disappear impressively, but don’t expect it to eliminate all noise.
Clearer noises, such as peak-hour traffic, are inevitably heard, though they seem distant and don’t interfere with music listening beyond 50% volume. In a waiting room with dozens of adults and children talking and playing, the AirPods Pro 2’s ANC creates a calm bubble for the listener.
Undoubtedly, the Apple AirPods Pro 2 rank high in this aspect. Furthermore, wind noises, such as when cycling, are reasonably well managed, audible but minimally disruptive.
Apple AirPods Pro 2 Audio
What sets the Apple AirPods Pro 2 apart from other earbuds by the American brand is the use of exclusive amplification and dynamic transducers. Apple highlights this because it understands that its approach is uncommon and offers significant acoustic benefits. Most earbud manufacturers rely on specialized brands, such as Knowles for transducers or Qualcomm for Bluetooth-DAC-amp SoCs.
By customizing the AirPods Pro 2’s transducers based on the H2 chip’s capabilities, Apple achieves a level of personalization that allows for near-perfect acoustic performance. Devialet, once associated with Apple, follows a similar approach with its SAM digital amplifiers. The idea behind amp-transducer matching is to correct specific frequency diffusion delays, as perfect transducer temporal alignment results in pure audio pleasure.
The H2 Chip: Best for Dolby Atmos
The H2 chip is responsible for the impressive spatialization of the AirPods Pro 2. Thanks to it, Apple has gained a significant lead over its competitors, which won’t be easy to close. This chip, first introduced with the AirPods Pro, AirPods 3, and AirPod Max, was specifically developed for Spatial Audio and has a unique connection with Apple devices (Bionic and Apple Silicon chips). Although Apple is tight-lipped about it, it’s likely that the iPhone transmits spatial positioning metadata in addition to the audio stream. Theoretically, this is impossible, as no conventional audio codec (SBC, AAC, aptX) allows it…
However, it wouldn’t be surprising if Apple developed a Bluetooth audio codec, quietly integrated into its various OS and supported only by the H1 and H2 chips. While there’s no official confirmation, the AirPods Pro 2 could potentially utilize this codec. To be convinced, compare listening to a Dolby Atmos track on an iPhone and an Android smartphone (Dolby Atmos compatible).
The difference is night and day! With the iPhone, the soundstage is vast and instrument separation is extraordinary. With the Android smartphone, the sound is clean but incomparable. If both the iPhone and Android smartphones transmitted sound in AAC, the playback should be similar. The difference in AAC encoding quality on the iPhone and Android alone cannot explain this qualitative leap.
Dolby Atmos Listening Impressions
Testing the Apple AirPods Pro 2 allowed for rediscovering old hits remixed in Dolby Atmos. In many cases, the remix is akin to a reinterpretation. Billy Idol’s “Rebel Yell” in Dolby Atmos is a festival of surround effects and staggering dynamic contrasts, with guitars and synthesizers intensifying as the track progresses. The song is completely rediscovered and sounds much better this way.
The same goes for A-ha’s “Take On Me,” with airy choirs like never before, overlapping synths that don’t get tangled, and a drum set that can be followed from beginning to end without straining. Elton John’s “Rocket Man” in Dolby Atmos is a delight, making one wish to have always heard it this way: the vocals are so much better positioned, closer, with powerful drums and crystal-clear choirs.
And then there’s always the mind-blowing dynamics that immerse you in the music, often with authoritative sub-bass. Another outstanding sensory experience is Serge Gainsbourg’s “Melody,” with the listener’s head sandwiched between the drums on the left and the guitar and violins on the right. On some verses, you can hear the tape hiss on which the artist’s voice is recorded.
Test Configuration and Sound Signature (without Spatial Audio)
The AirPods Pro 2 are not only valuable for their spatial audio performance when paired with an Apple source. They are excellent for conventional stereo listening, even with an Android smartphone. For this test, I listened to the AirPods Pro 2 with an iPhone 13 Pro Max (iOS 15.7) and a Huawei P30 Pro, using Apple Music and Netflix.
The Apple AirPods Pro 2 have a remarkably balanced sound from bass to treble. Although our frequency response measurement curve shows a presence peak around 2 kHz, a frequency to which our ears are very sensitive, there is no harshness in the midrange, bass, or treble. There are no whistling or smearing sounds in the vocals, and no acidity on the snare drums or cymbals – the sound is ultra-clean across the entire audio spectrum.
Another essential aspect is the tonal balance, maintained regardless of the listening volume, thanks to adaptive equalization, which particularly strengthens the lower spectrum at high volumes. In short, the sound is always balanced.
- Bass: Impressive extension into sub-bass, with a wide range, good articulation (not dragging), and consistent power reserve
- Midrange: High precision and smoothness, serving both vocal textures and instrument timbres
- Treble: Clear and accurate, contributing significantly to the overall finesse of sound reproduction
Dynamic Behavior and Soundstage
In terms of dynamic range, the AirPods Pro 2 are at the forefront: they meticulously respect both small and large dynamic contrasts. Even heavily compressed studio music is reproduced with an abundance of unusual details. As for tracks with a genuinely dynamic mix, they are played with extraordinary power, without ever causing ear fatigue. Quite an accomplishment!
Both in Spatial Audio and classic stereo, the spatialization of the Apple AirPods Pro 2 earbuds is spot-on. Even with an Android smartphone, which doesn’t make full use of the H2 chip like an iPhone, the soundstage is wide and deep, with excellent layering of sound planes. This is evident with any track played. Simply put, the performance is always excellent.
Apple AirPods Pro 2 Microphone
The Apple AirPods Pro 2 are equipped with two microphones for capturing the user’s voice during phone calls or video calls. The noise reduction applied to surrounding sounds is not exceptional and significantly mutes the voice.
Apple AirPods Pro 2 Battery Life
Apple claims up to 6 hours of battery life in classic stereo mode and up to 5 hours and 30 minutes with ANC and Spatial Audio active, at 50% volume. Used under these conditions, with a playlist containing stereo and Dolby Atmos tracks, the Apple AirPods Pro 2 lasted just over 5 hours. The AirPods Pro 2’s battery life is quite satisfactory, and if you do run out of power, a five-minute charge is enough to revive them for an hour.
A full charge takes about 2 hours. As for the charging case, it also requires two hours for a complete recharge, using the supplied Lightning cable, the Apple Watch Magsafe charger, or a generic Qi charger.
AirPods Pro 2 Price
The new Apple AirPods Pro 2 wireless headphones are available in white for $249. When purchased, they come with a free 6-month subscription to Apple Music.
Apple AirPods Pro 2: Verdict
The Apple AirPods Pro 2 are undoubtedly the best earbuds on the market for listening to music, movies, or series in Dolby Atmos and are possibly the best True Wireless earbuds currently available. The exceptional spatialization work performed by the H2 chip, the dynamic qualities of the transducers, and the integrated amplifier impress with every track, even in simple stereo. Add to that excellent active noise cancellation and an impressive transparency mode, and the Apple AirPods Pro 2 become the benchmark in the category.
Apple AirPods Pro 2 Pros
- Exceptional sound performance
- Exemplary dynamic behavior
- Tonal balance maintained regardless of volume
- Impressive Dolby Atmos reproduction thanks to Spatial Audio
- Highly effective active noise cancellation
- Unrivaled wearing comfort
- Battery life
Apple AirPods Pro 2 Cons
- Spatial Audio and Head Tracking not available on Android
- No support for voice assistants other than Siri
- Average noise reduction for calls
The Best Features of Apple AirPods Pro 2
- H2 processor for improved sound quality and clearer voice
- Redesigned microphone for better call quality
- Up to twice the noise cancellation of the previous generation
- Four silicone tips, including a smaller size for a better fit
- Adaptive Transparency feature for hearing surroundings while listening to music
- Touch control for media and calls
- Customizable spatial sound
- Up to 6 hours of battery life with an additional 30 hours in the charging case
- Case supports wireless charging through MagSafe and Qi chargers
- Case has built-in speakers and can be located using the Find My feature
- Earbuds and case are splash resistant
- Easy to pair with devices
- Supports sharing audio and interacting with Siri
How do the AirPods Pro 2 compare to the original AirPods Pro in terms of sound quality?
The AirPods Pro 2 offer significant improvements in sound quality compared to the original AirPods Pro. The new H2 chip, custom transducers, and amplification contribute to a more refined and balanced audio experience. While the original AirPods Pro had a more generic sound, the AirPods Pro 2 provide enhanced audio clarity, deeper bass, and better overall musicality. If sound quality is a priority for you, the AirPods Pro 2 would be a worthwhile upgrade over the original AirPods Pro.
Is it possible to use the AirPods Pro 2 with non-Apple devices?
Yes, you can use the AirPods Pro 2 with non-Apple devices, as they connect via Bluetooth 5.3 wireless technology. However, it’s important to note that some features, such as Spatial Audio and advanced support for Dolby Atmos, are exclusive to the Apple ecosystem and will not be available when paired with non-Apple devices. Nevertheless, the AirPods Pro 2 still provide exceptional sound quality and are compatible with Android smartphones and other Bluetooth-enabled sources.
What is the battery life of the AirPods Pro 2, and how long does it take to charge them?
The AirPods Pro 2 offer up to 6 hours of listening time on a single charge, or up to 5.5 hours with spatial audio and head tracking enabled. For talk time, they can last up to 4.5 hours on a single charge. When used with the MagSafe Charging Case, the AirPods Pro 2 provide up to 30 hours of listening time and up to 24 hours of talk time. A quick 5-minute charge in the case can provide approximately 1 hour of listening time or 1 hour of talk time. Charging the case itself can be done using a MagSafe charger, an Apple Watch charger, a Qi-certified charger, or the Lightning connector.
How does the active noise cancellation (ANC) on the AirPods Pro 2 compare to other wireless earbuds?
The AirPods Pro 2 feature an active noise cancellation (ANC) system that is claimed to be up to twice as effective as the previous generation. This enhanced ANC performance enables the earbuds to better isolate users from surrounding noises, providing an improved listening experience. While individual experiences may vary, the AirPods Pro 2 ANC system is considered to be highly competitive compared to other high-end wireless earbuds with ANC capabilities.
Can I use the AirPods Pro 2 for workouts and other activities where they might get wet?
Yes, the AirPods Pro 2 are sweat and water-resistant with an IPX4 rating, making them suitable for workouts and activities where they might be exposed to moisture. This rating means that they can withstand sweat, rain, and splashes. However, it’s important to note that they are not waterproof and should not be submerged in water. It’s also worth mentioning that the charging case is sweat and water-resistant with the same IPX4 rating.