The most obvious difference is the new design. The pro models feature three silicon tip sizes, whereas the older versions didn’t use silicon tips at all. This gives a superior seal, which improves sound isolation and cuts down on leakage. They also prove far more comfortable for those who dislike the one-size-fits-all approach of the older AirPods.
The new AirPods have Active Noise Cancellation (ANC). Two microphones and advanced software combine to remove background noise, allowing you to enjoy your tunes in peace. Even in a loud environment like on a train station or in a crowd, you can listen to your AirPods Pro without background noise intruding and spoiling your fun.
Another new feature, Adaptive EQ (Equaliser), automatically tunes the low- and mid-range frequencies of the music to the shape of your ear, custom-tuning the sound to suit. Throw in a consistent, rich bass which goes all the way down to 20Hz and you have the makings of a great sound. Just don’t ruin it with over-compressed MP3s.
For times when you don’t want to cut out ambient noise, like when you’re on a train and need to hear the announcements or are out for a run and don’t want to block out the traffic sounds, there’s Transparency Mode. This lets through important background noises while still cutting down on distractions. A brand new force sensor on the step of one of your AirPods Pro switches between Noise Cancellation and Transparency Modes.
There are a few drawbacks. While AirPods Pro offer the same five-hour battery life as the previous AirPods, this is cut to four and a half hours if you’re using Active Noise Cancellation or Transparency Mode. They also need iOS 13, which in turn demands an iPhone SE or 6s/6s Plus or later, while their predecessors only needed an iPhone 5s or later. Even so, the raft of improvements make the new AirPods Pro a significant step up from the second-generation AirPods.