Apple AirPods Pro 2 review

You may be wondering why the AirPods Pro aren’t featured on our list of the best running headphones, especially given so many users take them to the gym.

It’s not that they’re especially bad for working out, it’s just that the lack of additional ear fin, or ear hooks, means they’ll often slip out.

On the other hand, for general, all-purpose use, the AirPods Pro (2nd generation) are one of the most popular earbuds around — and for good reason. These little marvels offer great audio quality, plenty of forward-facing features, and a case that even learned a new trick during its upgrade.

While we’d still recommend the Beats Fit Pro if you’re looking for workout-specific earbuds, the AirPods Pro remains an easy recommendation for casual podcast listeners, audiophiles and pretty much anything in between.

AirPods Pro (2nd generation): Functionality

Putting the AirPods Pro (2nd Generation) in your ears immediately moves audio playback to earbuds, and opening the case near your Apple device will show how much battery is left in the buds and the case.

When the buds are depleted, they pop into the case, which has enough juice for 24 hours of battery — more than enough for a working day or two. As per the standard AirPods, removing a bud will pause playback, too.

Their sweat resistance here isn’t quite as good as the Beats Fit Pro, so if you are running (we wouldn’t recommend it) or outside in inclement weather, you may cause some issues further down the line.

AirPods Pro (2nd generation): Set-up and design

The AirPods Pro (2nd generation) case

The AirPods Pro (2nd generation) earbud case has a small speaker which makes a chirping noise to help you find it if you’ve misplaced it. (Image credit: Lloyd Coombes)

AirPods of all shapes and sizes still offer a delightfully simple pairing and setup that’s arguably only possible because Apple controls everything in your phone’s software and hardware.

Pop the case open near your phone, connect with the on-screen prompt, and that’s it — you can switch between your Mac, Apple Watch, and iPad wherever you’re playing audio. That switching gets better each year, too.

The AirPods Pro (2nd Generation) also offers a handy ear-fit test, allowing you to swap between included tips to find the perfect fit for you and to provide the best noise cancellation.

In terms of design, the AirPods Pro (2nd Generation) look almost identical to their predecessors, save for an additional ‘vent’ on each bud, and the subtle addition of a speaker on the case that allows for it to emit a chirping noise to help you find it if you misplace it.

Despite the popularity of AirPods, they’re still only available in white. We’d have liked the option of even a sleek Space Gray alternative.

AirPods Pro (2nd generation): Controls

AirPods Pro (2nd generation) in the hands of the reviewer

Most controls are handled by squeezing the stem of the bud — once you’re used to it, it becomes second nature. (Image credit: Lloyd Coombes)

The AirPods Pro offer a variety of touch and pinch gestures for easily managing your audio playback while on the move. You can invoke Siri by saying the voice assistant’s name, or swipe up and down on either stem to increase or decrease volume.

Much of the controls are handled by squeezing the stem, which feels a little strange at first but is definitely something that becomes second nature. For example, one press to play or pause, two presses to skip a track.

Switch between listening modes with a brief hold of either stem, moving from Transparency to Noise Cancellation.

AirPods Pro (2nd generation): Fit

An AirPods Pro (2nd generation) bud in the right ear of the reviewer

The author wearing the AirPods Pro (2nd generation) in his ears. (Image credit: Lloyd Coombes)

While we loved using the AirPods Pro (2nd generation) in pretty much any situation, including traveling via train, working in a busy coffee shop, and even flying, they lack the staying power required for all but the most relaxed workouts.

You may be able to use them for yoga, for example, but if you’re running or even cycling, you will likely see them slip out of your ears. We found bench workouts were awkward too, with the AirPods slipping and dropping to the floor mid-set — ruining our flow somewhat.

Four ear tip sizes are included, and the handy ear fit test on your Apple device at least makes it easier to work out which ones provide the optimal seal for your ear.

AirPods Pro (2nd generation): Sound quality

The first AirPods Pro were hardly slouches when it came to audio quality, but we remain impressed by the second generation nonetheless.

The soundscape here is finely balanced, whether you’re listening to orchestral tracks, heavy metal, or anything in between. Even podcasts sound crystal clear. While the Beats Fit Pro offer just a smidge more bass, we prefer the AirPods Pro (2nd generation) for their more unopinionated audio quality.

This is assisted by smart features like adaptive audio, added as a new feature in iOS 17. This will customize your noise cancellation to your local environment, letting in just the right amount of audio to fall halfway between Active Noise Cancellation and Transparency mode. It’ll even lower the volume when it detects you’re speaking.

This new addition, coupled with Spatial Audio for what is essentially surround sound provided by earbuds, is a huge boon for anyone looking to get lost in music or even while watching a movie on their phone.

AirPods Pro (2nd generation): Performance

When testing any wireless product, there’s the expectation that the battery will begin to decay over time — it’s pretty standard and leads to more time on the charger.

As it happens, the AirPods Pro (2nd generation) simply haven’t started to drop in this respect, even after around a year of usage. They continue to be ready to go at any moment, whether for a walk to the store or a day of work and podcasts.

The second generation we tested sadly still used a Lightning charging port (though this has since (in September 2023) been reviewed to USB-C charging. Hurrah!) You can also charge using wireless charging and even the puck from your Apple Watch charger.

AirPods Pro (2nd generation): User reviews

At the time of our review, the Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation) score 4.7/5 on Amazon, with 87% of reviewers giving the full five stars.

Many users note the ease of use, excellent audio quality and easily pocketable case.

Should you buy AirPods Pro (2nd generation)?

If you’re an iPhone user who wants a pair of earbuds for work, long walks, or just enjoying your favorite records, the AirPods Pro will handily fill that role for you — and do so with aplomb.

That said, active users may want something a little less slippery for their fitness and cardio sessions.

If theAirPods Pro (2nd generation) aren’t for you:

If you’re looking for the same functionality but in a format that’ll remain in your ears during exercise, we recommend the Beats Fit Pro, or the Treblab X3 Pro that offer excellent value for money, a great fit and USB-C charging.

If you’re looking for a cheaper Apple product, you can forgo the noise cancellation and opt for the third-generation AirPods instead.

AirPods Pro (2nd generation): How we tested

We tested the AirPods Pro (2nd Generation) for everyday listening and during workouts. For the former, we used them for walking for up to an hour and a half at a time, sitting at a desk for multiple hours of the day, and switching between different Apple devices.

For the latter, we connected them to an iPhone for music and podcast playback at the gym, running on the treadmill and lifting weights both upright and on a bench.

This post was originally published on Live Science

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