With the holiday season fast approaching, you couldn’t find much better on the market than Apple’s AirPods Pro for those that are attached to their earphones – be it the budding musician, multiple gadget user or work-from-homer. Although these earphones are just over a year old now, they are still unmatched in design and performance compared to other similarly priced alternatives. With prices dropping and end-of-the-year sales inbound, now is the perfect time to give your ears a luxury experience they’ve been missing.
The AirPods Pro are not only compatible with a variety of electronic devices (although Apple functionality will be more seamless), they will also enhance your experience with whatever it is you are using. Use them to tune out external noise at home using the noise cancelling feature while you are on a conference call. Or, make sure every word on that podcast or Kendrick verse is coming out crisply while commuting to your destination. Fitness lovers will surely enjoy the in-ear aspect of the earphones as well. For instance, I found them to be very stable once situated in my ears and they didn’t feel like popping out once when on a treadmill or doing calisthenics (which would be an issue with my regular AirPods during rigorous exercise). IPX4 water and sweat resistance further ensure they can handle the wear and tear that will inevitably come to them being exposed to the elements.
First off, let’s go over what to expect when unboxing the AirPods Pro. Inside the typical all-white packaging you’ll find the necessary things you need to get started. Under the AirPods Pro themselves you’ll find a Lightning cable to charge the case, three differently sized silicone tips, and an instruction manual. Getting started with them is easy – as soon as they are powered on and charged, if they notice a Bluetooth-compatible device in their vicinity it will ask you if you want to automatically connect and sync. This seamless process extends to whenever you take the AirPods out for future wears, as the Bluetooth connectivity is nearly instant and makes sure you are ready to go before you even put them in your ears. One minor gripe I had is with the material of the silicone tips – they aren’t flimsy, but they get misshapen often and I have to fix it before putting them back in the charging case.
For iPhone and iPad users, the AirPods Pro are fully compatible with Siri. A unique feature to the AirPods is “Announce Messages” which allows Siri to read your texts out loud to you so you can pick up where you left off in your conversations or get alerted of new text/voice messages. You don’t even have to use the classic phrase “Hey Siri”, and after she is done reading she will automatically be in a responsive mode to assist you with whatever you have to ask. Voice messaging to others and Siri assistance have never been easier with the AirPods Pro.
You can customize your AirPods Pro to respond how you want them to based on your touch, such as making the left earphone a pause button and the right earphone a skip button. In addition, holding either the left or right AirPod will allow you to trigger Active Noise Cancellation on and off. If you choose to have it off the AirPods will enter a “Transparency Mode” which lets in outside sound slightly more for when you need to hear traffic or other people for instance.
Sound-wise, the quality of the AirPods Pro is about what you can expect from a pair of higher-end wireless earphones at this price range. What you are really paying for is the Active Noise Cancelling, but considering these are wireless the audio quality is nonetheless excellent and just a grade below audiophile plug-in earphones. Pop and rock music sound exceptionally bright with instruments and vocals resonating distinct and whole, while bass-heavy hip hop sounds just as good and punchy. Make sure to turn on the Adaptive EQ feature which automatically adjusts lower and middle audio frequencies based upon the shape of the wearer’s ear. On calls, voices sound quite clear transmitted through the earphones and I’ve gotten positive feedback from those listening to me speak with the AirPods Pro’s dual mic system (there is one inward and one outward facing mic for maximum filtration of sound).
Charging the earphones to full is rather quick and takes just under 20 minutes, while charging the case to full takes around 1 hour. A fully charged case was able to charge my earphones on their own about four times before I had to charge them all again with the Lightning cable (or a wireless pad, if you own one). On a full charge, expect the AirPods Pro to offer up to 5 hours of listening time (4.5 hours with Active Noise Cancellation enabled) and 3.5 hours of call time. One issue I did find is it is rather difficult to get the headphones close enough together in battery life throughout their usage. This results in one earphone running out of juice quicker than the other and vice versa which can be a setback when you’re on the move and don’t have access to a charger.
It is the highlight H1 chip that powers the AirPods Pro’s Active Noise Cancelling, Adaptive EQ, and hands-free Siri mode. All of these features in tandem make for a seamless experience when switching between what you are doing, be it listening to messages and music or making a call on the spot. Especially in a time where distance from others is encouraged and we have a lot of time to spend with our own thoughts, the AirPods Pro will make sure the experience is more stimulating and less drab.