Breaking down Apple's AirPods Pro: 8 features that set them apart

Posted:
in iPhone edited December 2019
After a release on Monday, Apple's AirPods Pro are available for purchase at retail now. There are some features that set them apart from Apple's previous offerings and we take a look at all of them.

Apple's AirPods Pro
Apple's AirPods Pro

Wind-proofed Mic

The microphones on the new AirPods Pro now reside on the outside of the earpiece.






It now has an expanded mesh microphone port versus the older AirPods, which drastically improves call quality while out and about. In our testing so far in a variety of fall weather conditions, including sun, wind, and rain, the mic relocation and mesh have made a big improvement in audio quality based on feedback from our call recipients.

Improved microphones cut down wind during phone calls
An improved microphone cuts down wind during phone calls

Audio Transparency mode

The microphone array on the AirPods Pro don't just improve call quality, they make Transparency Mode possible. Transparency Mode allows users to hear what is going on around them while AirPods Pro are in their ears by passing through the audio from the external microphone and mixing it with what's being played.

Pass-through Audio Transparency mode
Pass-through Audio Transparency mode


For instance, in an office Transparency Mode can be utilized to hear if someone is trying to talk to you while you've got your AirPods in. Additionally. pedestrians or cyclists can use the mode to keep an ear out for vehicles while on the go.

Active noise cancelling

Coming to AirPods for the first time is Active Noise Cancellation (ANC). Apple's ANC technology uses the microphones to monitor external noises, and block them out with a combination of software and hardware. This functionality is best with droning or repetitive noises, like background noise on a plane, the buzz of traffic you hear while walking down the street, or the hum of appliances at home.

Turning on ANC from Control Center
Turning on ANC from Control Center


Not only does it block out those noises, but it does so with a high-quality version of ANC. Instead of using feed-forward ANC which only uses an external microphone, it has a secondary internal microphone that listens inside your ear to cancel out any other internal noise it hears so audio isn't impacted.

Apple says it samples and corrects itself up to 200 times every single second to ensure the best possible noise cancellation.

Apple H1 chip

Baked into all of Apple's latest headphones is the H1 chip. It debuted with the AirPods second-generation earlier this year and has since shown up in other headphones such as the PowerBeats Pro.

This Apple-designed system-in-package is what handles everything for the headphones including audio processing, "Hey Siri" support, and noise cancellation. It is packed with ten audio cores for incredibly low latency and real-time noise cancellation.

It allows for the simple setup process with an iPhone, iPad, or Mac, and the effortless hand-off. It is unique to Apple and one of the biggest benefits any model of AirPods have, even if it isn't visibly noticeable from the exterior.

Force sensor

Within each of the AirPods Pro stems is a force sensor. This new sensor replaces the tapping gesture found on the original AirPods that could be awkward or dislodge the earpiece.

AirPods Pro force sensor
AirPods Pro force sensor


One squeeze can play/pause music or answer a call, two squeezes will skip to the next song, three squeezes will go back, and a long hold will change modes from noise-canceling to transparency.

Not much pressure is required to activate. When you've done so, you can hear a tiny click from the earpiece.

USB-C

This time around, Apple has included a USB-C to Lightning cable in the box -- same as with the iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max. This is a great addition for owners of Apple's newest hardware. Every Mac currently shipping has a USB-C port, and the iPad Pro does too.

Lightning to USB-C cable is included
A Lightning-to-USB-C cable is included


Of course, AirPods Pro can charge wirelessly with any Qi-enabled charging mat, but it is nice to have a cable included to work with all of Apple's latest gear. You could even use the cable to charge your AirPods Pro from the bottom of your USB-C iPad Pro.

Sweat resistant

Apple has given the AirPods Pro an IPX4 water and sweat resistance rating which means whether you are deep in a heavy workout at the gym, or getting caught in the rain, AirPods Pro will hold up.

AirPods Pro after getting caught in the rain
AirPods Pro after getting caught in the rain


You can't wear them swimming. You probably shouldn't wear them in the shower. But, you don't need to worry about sweat or a rain shower breaking them.

Available now

Apple AirPods Pro retail for $249 and are carried by these top retailers:

AirPods and AirPods Pro specifications

AirPods (Second Generation)AirPods Pro
Dimensions (inches)1.59 x 0.65 x 0.711.22 x 0.86 x 0.94
Weight (ounces)0.140.19
Case Dimensions (inches)2.11 x 1.74 x 0.841.78 x 2.39 x 0.85
Case Weight (ounces)1.411.61
Battery Life (AirPods)5 Hours 4.5 House with ANC, 5 with ANC off
Battery Life (with Case)More than 24 HoursMore than 24 Hours
ConnectivityBluetooth 5.0Bluetooth 5.0
MicrophonesDual BeamformingDual Beamforming, Single Inward-Facing
SensorsDual Optical Sensors, Motion-Detecting Accelerometer, Speech-Detecting AccelerometerDual Optical Sensors, Motion-Detecting Accelerometer, Speech-Detecting Accelerometer, Force Sensor
Sweat and Water ResistanceNoIPX4
Active Noise CancellationNoYes
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 26
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 10,699member
    Ummm...
    Are you saying that you can't charge them from a standard Apple brick anymore?   That you need USB-C port?
  • Reply 2 of 26
    I’d just like to share, Andrew, that you look good with the AirPods Pro in your ears. Speaks a lot not only of that photo (portrait) of you, but of the new design of the devices. Bravo!
    edited October 2019 AppleExposedGeorgeBMackevin keewatto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 26
    Ummm...
    Are you saying that you can't charge them from a standard Apple brick anymore?   That you need USB-C port?
    A "standard Apple brick" is no longer standard. Both recent iPhones and recent MacBook Pros have USB-C charging bricks.
    AppleExposedfastasleeplolliverwatto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 26
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 11,761member
    Ummm...
    Are you saying that you can't charge them from a standard Apple brick anymore?   That you need USB-C port?
    If you intend to use the cable in the box. If you have an existing cable & charger from an existing device, you can continue to use its cable on this as well, as the case is Lightning. The important part is this continues to be a Lightning device, regardless of which USB cable type you use.
    edited October 2019 GeorgeBMacmike1fastasleeptmaylolliverwatto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 26
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 5,820member
    Ummm...
    Are you saying that you can't charge them from a standard Apple brick anymore?   That you need USB-C port?
    My GF just received her iPhone11 Pro.  It came with a USB-C charger, along with a USB-C -> Lightning cable.  Seems pretty standard now.

    This USB-A/USB-C debate gets tiring.  Apple is moving on, so should you.  My GoPro uses USB-C.  I have peripherals that now USB-C exclusive.  I also have electrical-receptacles in my house that have USB-A ports in them.  I also have a bunch USB-A -> Lightning cables and chargers so it's costs many of us nothing.

    Just let it go.  Are you still hung up with the disappearance of the floppy drive too?
    StrangeDaysAppleExposedfastasleepRayz2016lolliveruraharawatto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 26
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 10,699member
    Ummm...
    Are you saying that you can't charge them from a standard Apple brick anymore?   That you need USB-C port?
    If you intend to use the cable in the box. If you have an existing cable & charger from an existing device, you can continue to use its cable on this as well, as the case is Lightning. The important part is this continues to be a Lightning device, regardless of which USB cable type you use.
    Yeh, that's a good point.   I hadn't thought it through -- but Apple had.  (If ya gotta brick ya probly gotta cord to go with it).
  • Reply 7 of 26
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 10,699member
    sflocal said:
    Ummm...
    Are you saying that you can't charge them from a standard Apple brick anymore?   That you need USB-C port?
    My GF just received her iPhone11 Pro.  It came with a USB-C charger, along with a USB-C -> Lightning cable.  Seems pretty standard now.

    This USB-A/USB-C debate gets tiring.  Apple is moving on, so should you.  My GoPro uses USB-C.  I have peripherals that now USB-C exclusive.  I also have electrical-receptacles in my house that have USB-A ports in them.  I also have a bunch USB-A -> Lightning cables and chargers so it's costs many of us nothing.

    Just let it go.  Are you still hung up with the disappearance of the floppy drive too?
    Are we supposed to be impressed?
    agilealtitudechemengin1
  • Reply 8 of 26
    sflocal said:
    Ummm...
    Are you saying that you can't charge them from a standard Apple brick anymore?   That you need USB-C port?
    My GF just received her iPhone11 Pro.  It came with a USB-C charger, along with a USB-C -> Lightning cable.  Seems pretty standard now.

    This USB-A/USB-C debate gets tiring.  Apple is moving on, so should you.  My GoPro uses USB-C.  I have peripherals that now USB-C exclusive.  I also have electrical-receptacles in my house that have USB-A ports in them.  I also have a bunch USB-A -> Lightning cables and chargers so it's costs many of us nothing.

    Just let it go.  Are you still hung up with the disappearance of the floppy drive too?
    Are we supposed to be impressed?
    You could have objected to sflocal's tone, but instead you object to the part that says USB-C is a prevalent connection type these days? Are we supposed to be impressed with your "Are we supposed to be impressed" response?
    edited October 2019 fastasleepcornchiplolliveruraharawatto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 26
    Why is nobody talking about the sound quality?  Yeah, I'm sure the noise cancellation is handy, but what's the sound quality like compared to the prior AirPods or other wireless earbuds on the market?
    flyingdpcaladanianOferbaconstanguraharawatto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 26
    I don't understand how squeezing (which requires both the thumb and forefinger) is better than tapping.  What if I'm wearing gloves?  I can easily tap with gloves, but how am I supposed to get my thumb between the AirPod and my ear without pulling the AirPods out of my ear if I'm wearing gloves?.  It seems to me that squeezing is "harder" in that it takes more time to do than just tapping. 

    That said, I did pre-order my AIrPods Pro, so I guess I'll find out soon.  Still, it's disconcerting. 
    razorpitwilliamlondonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 26
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 9,628member
    I don't understand how squeezing (which requires both the thumb and forefinger) is better than tapping.  What if I'm wearing gloves?  I can easily tap with gloves, but how am I supposed to get my thumb between the AirPod and my ear without pulling the AirPods out of my ear if I'm wearing gloves?.  It seems to me that squeezing is "harder" in that it takes more time to do than just tapping. 

    That said, I did pre-order my AIrPods Pro, so I guess I'll find out soon.  Still, it's disconcerting. 
    Well, one can always find something to be disconcerted about I guess.
    StrangeDaysRayz2016lolliver
  • Reply 12 of 26
    AppleExposedAppleExposed Posts: 1,805unconfirmed, member
    What I like about Apples ecosystem is, they all borrow from and adapt to each other. I can see the wind screen and ANC coming to iPhone and other products.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 26
    HeliBumHeliBum Posts: 129member
    It would be nice to know the dB rating on the noise isolation and cancellation.
    caladanianwatto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 26
    Why is nobody talking about the sound quality?  Yeah, I'm sure the noise cancellation is handy, but what's the sound quality like compared to the prior AirPods or other wireless earbuds on the market?
    Mine arrived this afternoon and i can only be subjective, but compared to my airpods 2 the sound quality seems much more detailed.  The noise cancellation probably accounts for a lot of that, but there’s more.. the bass seems way better.  
    They are comfortable to wear and also IMO look less quirky - I’m pleased. 
    The fit is also more solid with the silicon tips - Giving them a squeeze with gloves on might well be possible depending on what kind of gloves you’re wearing
    edited October 2019 caladanianbhorseshivas ironslolliverwatto_cobra
  • Reply 15 of 26
    I've beat up on AirPods in the past but I have to say these are pretty solid. They feel much more secure in my ears and I don't think the active noise canceling has been reviewed fairly in some of the videos I seen. I had them on in my office, which has an open floor plan, and I didn't hear a thing going on around me - with my head down facing the screen I couldn't even tell I had 20 people around me talking and doing their thing.
    fastasleepcornchiplolliverwatto_cobra
  • Reply 16 of 26
    jcs2305jcs2305 Posts: 1,222member
    Ummm...
    Are you saying that you can't charge them from a standard Apple brick anymore?   That you need USB-C port?
    A "standard Apple brick" is no longer standard. Both recent iPhones and recent MacBook Pros have USB-C charging bricks.
    That isn't true actually. Only the newest iPhone and iPad Pro's come with the 18w usb-c charging brick. Iphone 11, Ipad, Ipad Air as well as Airpods 1st and 2nd gen come with lightning to USB and USB power adapters. So at this point it looks like only their 'Pro" line of products has made the jump to USB-C bricks and USB-C to Lightning cables at this point. 
    chemengin1
  • Reply 17 of 26
    Informative but....my biggest issue with the old ones is their fit or lack thereof.   It appears this new design fixes that but I’d love to hear it for sure. 
    baconstangwatto_cobra
  • Reply 18 of 26
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 9,628member
    jcs2305 said:
    Ummm...
    Are you saying that you can't charge them from a standard Apple brick anymore?   That you need USB-C port?
    A "standard Apple brick" is no longer standard. Both recent iPhones and recent MacBook Pros have USB-C charging bricks.
    That isn't true actually. Only the newest iPhone and iPad Pro's come with the 18w usb-c charging brick. Iphone 11, Ipad, Ipad Air as well as Airpods 1st and 2nd gen come with lightning to USB and USB power adapters. So at this point it looks like only their 'Pro" line of products has made the jump to USB-C bricks and USB-C to Lightning cables at this point. 
    So what? The devices themselves have Lightning ports. You can charge them however you want with the “standard” brick or the USB-C brick or Qi wireless. 
    edited October 2019 lolliverwatto_cobra
  • Reply 19 of 26
    sdw2001sdw2001 Posts: 17,741member
    sflocal said:
    Ummm...
    Are you saying that you can't charge them from a standard Apple brick anymore?   That you need USB-C port?
    My GF just received her iPhone11 Pro.  It came with a USB-C charger, along with a USB-C -> Lightning cable.  Seems pretty standard now.

    This USB-A/USB-C debate gets tiring.  Apple is moving on, so should you.  My GoPro uses USB-C.  I have peripherals that now USB-C exclusive.  I also have electrical-receptacles in my house that have USB-A ports in them.  I also have a bunch USB-A -> Lightning cables and chargers so it's costs many of us nothing.

    Just let it go.  Are you still hung up with the disappearance of the floppy drive too?
    Are we supposed to be impressed?
    I don’t really see why that comment is necessary.  
    cornchipwilliamlondonmuthuk_vanalingamlolliverwatto_cobra
  • Reply 20 of 26
    OferOfer Posts: 107unconfirmed, member
    Why is nobody talking about the sound quality?  Yeah, I'm sure the noise cancellation is handy, but what's the sound quality like compared to the prior AirPods or other wireless earbuds on the market?
    I second this comment. What’s the sound quality like?
    watto_cobra
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