The AirPods Pro 2 are here, three years after the original launched, sporting an updated feature set and all-new charging case.
How do they compare to the AirPods 3, and if you’ve been on the fence about upgrading from your older AirPods, which model should you go for?
Price and availability
The AirPod Pro 2 have an RRP of $249 / £249 / €299 / CA$329 / AUS$399. Pre-orders start on September 9th with general availability on September 23rd.
The AirPods 3 are less expensive have a RRP of $179 / £169 / €199 / CA$239 / AU$279.
Obviously as the AirPods 3 are the cheaper headphone. If you were simply looking to get an Apple-branded true wireless then they’d be the less expensive option. But they don’t boast noise cancellation, which the AirPods Pro 2 do…
The AirPods 3 model underwent a redesign, and the result is they look similar to the AirPods Pro. The AirPods Pro 2 haven’t changed all that much so the main difference between the two is the same as it was with the older Pro model. The AirPods Pro 2 come with ear-tips, with a new XS size available to help find that fit and seal for smaller ears. Apple says the passive noise isolation is better than before.
Apple has stuck with the force sensor stem for playback and accepting calls, but the main difference between it and the AirPods 3 is that there is a capacitive touch sensor onboard to adjust volume. On the AirPods 3 you have to use Siri voice control or adjust within the app you’re using.
Battery life for the AirPods Pro 2 has been extended over the original, but compared to the AirPods 3 there are exactly the same: six hours per bud and 30 hours in total.
The main differences in the feature set is the announcement of the new H2 chip (the AirPods 3 have the H1 chip), with Apple claiming the new chip offers more advanced computational audio processing that doubles the power of the noise cancellation and improves the audio performance.
The AirPods 3 don’t support transparency mode as their design is open, meaning sound is let in all the time. That’s not the case for the AirPods Pro 2, but sound can be filtered through the enhanced Adaptive Transparency. It can react in real-time to sudden spikes to reduce high decibel sounds for a more comfortable experience.
The Personalised Spatial Audio that was announced with AirPods 3 has made its way to the AirPods Pro 2. Also receiving an upgrade is the MagSafe charging case which has Qi wireless charging support, a lanyard loop to keep the case close by and a built-in speaker to deliver louder tones to help find them. Users with a U1-enabled iPhone can now locate the case with guided directions. For added convenience, the AirPods Pro 2 can also be charged by an Apple Watch charger.
Of course, without a review sample at hand we can’t yet judge on the audio quality of the new AirPods Pro but it does seem as if both the AirPods 3 and AirPods Pro 2 have converged in terms of spec. Each has a low distortion driver and custom amplifier for clearer, more detailed sound quality across the frequency range and richer bass performance.
The difference, we suspect, lies in the integration of the new H2 chip, which Apple says offers “an exceptional acoustic experience” with its extra processing. We’ll have to wait and hear if that claim is on the money once we get a review sample in our hands.
The AirPods 3 and AirPods Pro 2 are aimed at a different type of person. The AirPods 3 are for those who want all-day awareness of their surroundings, while the Pro 2 offers isolation from the outside world. If you don’t like the feel of ear-tips then the AirPods 3 would be the preferred option.
The feature set, aside from the noise cancellation and adaptive transparency mode, appears to cover similar ground, the ANC and new H2 chip is mainly what’s giving the Pro 2 a higher price point.
In the end it comes down to whether you want noise cancellation or can live without it. We’ll be looking to get a better impression of what the AirPods Pro 2 can do when we get a sample in for review.
Specs of AirPods 3 and AirPods Pro 2 compared