Apple’s AirPods have defined a generation of wireless, Bluetooth earbuds and their Pro series is an evolution of that well-established design. Boasting active noise-cancellation and improved audio quality, there are a lot of reasons to upgrade over the basic AirPods.
The AirPods Pro isn’t exactly new, but as SPY.com tests the best wireless earbuds, we wanted to write an in-depth review of these flagship earbuds. Apple sent us a pair to review, and we tapped one of our most experienced product reviewers to try them out. Keep reading for our full AirPods Pro review and find out if these earbuds are still worth buying in 2022.
- Easy to set up and use
- Very good noise cancelation
- Sweat and water resistance
- Ideal for Apple users
- Battery life could be better
- Pricey at full price
- New AirPods Pro could be coming soon
Setup and Design
Upon opening the AirPods Pro’s case, you’ll instantly get a prompt to pair them with your Apple device of choice. From there, your device will prompt you to walk through an Ear Tip Fit Test, which helps to ensure you’re got the respective AirPods placed in your ears correctly to form the right seal. It’s important to walk through this step, as a firm seal in your ear canal helps to create better physical sound isolation and increases passive noise reaction. The AirPods will produce a tone and prompt you to press in on each bud, and if the Pods sense any leakage, they’ll ask you to change ear tips. It’s a really handy feature that’s only going to improve your listening experience.
Once you’re all set here, the AirPods will be added to all devices that are linked to your iCloud account, which cuts down on the amount of time it takes to pair them with all your other Apple devices. That’s one handy feature.
When it comes to the overall designs of the earbuds, the Pros are slightly more stubby than the lanky regular version of AirPods, but the overall profile is the same. The blub and stem design Apple popularized is still present here, so it’s not going to look radically different from what you’re used to already. However, the case for the Pros is wider than it is tall, evoking a package of Orbit gum more than a box of Tic Tacs.
Features and Performance
On the feature side of things, the biggest aspect to note is that of the active noise cancelation, which is really impressive. While not quite on the level of Sony’s superlative noise-canceling earbuds, they’re not too far off. Using them on a plane blocked out the chatter and using them on the subway did the same. That, when combined with the impressive passive noise cancelation, makes for a compelling purchase. The transparency mode also works really well if you decide you do need to hear something from the outside world. It’s not pure on or off function but rather a sort of ebb and flowing of noise that trickles in. It’s a subtle touch, but one that I really came to enjoy in my testing.
As previously discussed, I still don’t love the squeeze to control functionality of AirPods Pros, even less so when there’s no ability to change the volume without having to reach for your device. However, this isn’t an issue unique to AirPods, as a majority of earbuds don’t let you do this. Perhaps in an updated version, Apple can find a way to work this functionality into the design. I will say the audible chime that sounds when you turn off the noise cancelation is nice; providing an audible cue makes it clear at what stage you’re at in the process.
Sound-wise, the AirPods Pro is really strong. While not as strong as a set of over-ear-headphones, I was able to pick out some of the individual parts of a track; my beloved Currents still sounded fantastic and full of richness, as did other albums like Pusha-T’s It’s Almost Dry and Vampire Weekend’s Father of the Bride.
Also worth mentioning is the clarity when using the Pros for calls. I could hear, and be heard, much better than some other earbuds I’ve tried. Battery life, however, could stand to be improved upon. I got about 4-5 hours of constant use of the Pros before needing to put them back in their case. Ideally, that lifespan would edge closer to 6 or so, but you can charge the case using a wireless charging pad if you’d like.
Finally, there’s one more feature I have to highlight — sweat and water resistance. This is an important improvement over the first generation of AirPods, and well worth the higher price if you’re an athlete. Otherwise, you’ll need a pair of sports earbuds or bone conduction headphones every time you hit the gym.
Pricing: You Never Have To Pay Full Price
When they were originally released, the new AirPods Pro was priced at $250, which is about average for a pair of flagship earbuds. However, SPY updates its guide to the best AirPods deals on a daily basis, and these earbuds are always on sale via retailers like Walmart and Amazon. Seriously, if you pay full price for AirPods, you’re wasting your money.
As of this writing, Apple AirPods are priced at $174.99, a 30% discount. This discount goes up and down at the margins — and we expect prices to reach a new low during Amazon Prime Day 2022 — but this is a typical price.
Our Verdict: The Best Wireless Earbuds for Apple Users
Even with some slight drawbacks, the AirPods Pro is an absolute must for Apple diehards looking for earbuds with noise-canceling. While the noise-cancelling isn’t quite as strong as other top-tier devices, like the Sony WF-1000XM4 earbuds, it’s certainly no slouch either, and the overall ease of use more than warrants its hefty price tag.
We will add one caveat: new AirPods Pro earbuds are rumored to be arriving later in 2022, so if you can wait six months or so to buy new earbuds, it may be worth waiting. Otherwise, it’s time to add these to your cart.
So Should You Buy AirPods Pro in 2022?
As mentioned, these are a must for Apple users, while your mileage may vary if you’re on another device ecosystem.