Apple AirPods Pro 2 review: Hitting all the right notes

Apple AirPods Pro 2 review (Image: APPLE)

The original AirPods Pro have been a monumental hit for Apple with these mini music makers bringing full Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) to the firm’s popular range of wireless earbuds. Now the AirPods Pro have had a much-needed reboot with the latest buds getting superior sound blocking, improved audio playback, longer battery life and better ways to find them when they disappear down the side of the sofa.

Along with being able to pause tracks and switch off the ANC, there are now full volume controls on the stem of each AirPod which finally saves having to reach for your iPhone when you want to pump the bass.

The case has also been updated with an option to refill it via an Apple Watch charger and it now features a lanyard loop so you can attach a strap.

We’ve been wearing the new AirPods Pro 2 for the past week and they certainly sound impressive. Audio is rich and full of depth plus the improved ANC cuts out almost all annoying background noise.

We were already huge fans of the original AirPods Pro and this refresh has only made things better.

Yes, at £249 they are ludicrously expensive and it’s a shame Apple hasn’t introduced any extra colours – they still come in white and that’s it. Unlike some other wireless earbuds, there’s no way to adjust the audio to suit your specific tastes and although the battery life is improved there are rival buds that still last a lot longer.

But, if you own an iPhone, iPad or MacBook and want a seamless music experience then the AirPods Pro Gen 2 are pretty pitch-perfect and very tough to beat.

AirPods Pro 2: Full Review

Apple has fully refreshed its popular AirPods Pro with new audio features, longer battery life and an even smarter charging case that should be pretty hard to lose.

However, like all of the latest devices launched by the technology firm, the new AirPods Pro are now more expensive than ever with these wireless earbuds costing £249. That’s a lot of money especially as you can still buy the original AirPods Pro for under £190.

So, are these latest music makers worth all that cash? Here’s our full AirPods Pro Gen 2 review.

Apple AirPods Pro 2 review

The new AirPods Pro feature improved ANC (Image: EXPRESS NEWSPAPERS)

Active Noise Cancellation and Sound

Apple has upgraded both the ANC and audio quality of its new AirPods Pro and the results are seriously impressive. The firm’s original earbuds were already good at blocking out background sound but this reboot takes things to a whole new level.

As long as you have the correct tip attached (Apple now offer four sizes including an extra small and there’s a Fit test which reveals if things are right for your ears) you’ll hardly hear anything of the world around you.

We’ve tested both old and new in busy areas such as the gym and people-packed coffee shops and there’s no question that the new ANC is way better than before.

Of course, for those times when you do want to hear what is going on a quick press on the stem can switch the noise cancellation off or turn on the improved Transparency mode which lets sound flood into the ear canal.

Apple AirPods Pro 2 review

The AirPods Pro now ship with four tips including a new XS accessory for smaller ears (Image: APPLE)

So that’s the new ANC but what about the overall sound experience?

Apple has introduced a low-distortion audio driver and custom amplifier which are tucked inside each ‘bud. This really boosts things but the real secret sauce of the AirPods Pro is the software that’s constantly altering and tweaking the sound.

The results of this new technology are seriously impressive with playlists sounding rich, detailed and packed full of bass.

Pump up the volume and things don’t get distorted with music always sounding crystal clear.

Of course, the new AirPods Pro also get clever Spatial Audio, which places sounds within the physical space around the listener – giving the impression of being sat in the middle of a surround sound system.

Find some Spatial Audio compatible music or watch a movie that has this technology and it really does work with sound appearing to hit your ears from all directions. This feature can also now be customised with users simply taking a photo of their ear using the front-facing camera for the ultimate experience.

If we have one gripe about the AirPods Pro 2, there’s no way to customise the audio to your personal tastes. Some of Apple’s rivals now offer EQ settings which can be tweaked to add more bass or boost the treble but that’s not an option on Apple’s buds.

Apple AirPods Pro 2 review

The AirPods now have a lanyard loop but Apple doesn’t ship a cord in the box (Image: APPLE)

New Case and Battery Life

Although the little white charging case might look the same as before there are some major changes going on inside. Firstly, it now features an in-built speaker which can boom out an alert should you lose your AirPods and can’t track them down. Amazingly, each bud can also belt out a sound meaning it should be much easier to find them under the treadmill or behind the sofa.

Things get even better with the AirPods Pro featuring Precision Finding, via Apple’s U1 technology, which means you can launch the Find My app and get precise directions to their location.

Along with less chance of losing them, there is also a new way to refill the battery with Apple adding support for its Apple Watch charger. It’s a nice addition and means there are now multiple ways to boost the power pack including through a wired Lightning port and Apple’s MagSafe technology.

The other main change is the addition of a lanyard hook which now allows you to attach a cord to the case. Annoyingly, Apple doesn’t include any kind of strap in box so if you want to tie your AirPods Pro to a bag you’ll need to buy a cord separately.

When it comes to overall battery life things are definitely better with the new AirPods Pro lasting for around six hours before they’ll need to be popped back in their case.

It’s a big improvement but still can’t match some rivals with firms such as Sony now offering buds that can last around 10 hours.

Apple AirPods Pro 2 review

The AirPods Pro now last for six hours before needing a refill (Image: EXPRESS NEWSPAPERS)

Updated Touch Controls

The AirPods have always offered basic touch controls with users able to pause tracks and turn off the ANC via taps and squeezes on the stems. Now things are being improved thanks to the ability to raise and lower the volume without needing to reach for your iPhone.

This is made possible via gentle strokes up and down each stem. You have to be pretty delicate when using this feature and it takes a little getting used to but it’s something we’ve been wanting since the AirPods first launched and it’s great to see Apple finally including volume controls.

Another bonus that has launched as part of iOS 16 is easy access to the AirPods’ settings. Once they are in your ears, you’ll now see your buds appear at the very top of the Settings menu. Here you can check the battery life, change the touch controls, perform the Ear Tip Test and switch on Automatic Ear Detection which stops the music when you remove the buds from your head.

The Price

There’s no hiding the fact that the AirPods Pro 2 aren’t cheap with anyone wanting a pair needing £249 in their bank account. This is actually the same price that Apple charged when it launched its originally Pro earbuds back in 2019. However, those older buds can still be picked at stores such as Amazon for around £189 which makes the new AirPods Pro 2 seem pretty expensive.

There’s no doubting that this update offers plenty of nice features, you’ll just need to decide if it’s worth paying the extra £60 for that improved audio, longer battery life and boosted ANC.

Apple AirPods Pro 2 review

Apple AirPods Pro 2 review: The Verdict (Image: APPLE)

Apple AirPods Pro 2: Final Verdict

Apple AirPods Pro 2 review – at a glance

What We Loved

  • They Sound Truly Epic
  • ANC is Much Improved
  • Longer Battery Life
  • New Case is Harder to Lose
  • Finally You Can Control The Volume

What We Didn’t

  • No Lanyard Strap In The Box
  • Expensive – Especially As Original Pro Still On Sale
  • No Way To Adjust The Sound To Your Preference

We’ve been blown away by these new Pro buds from Apple. They sound truly epic, offer a big improvement to the ANC and can keep the tunes playing for longer before needing a refill. In fact, you’ll get over an hour longer than before plus there’s rapid charging meaning five minutes in the case provides around one hour of additional listening time.

The new case, which now features a loud siren and improved tracking, also makes them much harder to lose and other upgrades such as volume controls on the stems, more rubber tip sizes in the packaging and Apple Watch charging are all welcome additions.

At £249 they are very expensive and there’s no way to adjust the sound to suit your specific tastes. We also think Apple could have included a strap in the box to take advantage of the new lanyard hook.

Other than those niggles there’s little to loathe and plenty to love with the new upgrades making what were already excellent wireless earbuds even better.

Yes, you can save some money and buy the Gen 1 AirPods Pro from Amazon but there are definitely enough extra features to justify the higher price.

The AirPods Pro 2 are quite simply brilliant buds that hit all the right notes.

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