AirPods Pro review: Are these popular Apple earbuds actually worth it?

Audio & Video Accessories

Apple AirPods Pro have a transparency mode, in which users can enjoy music while still hearing the world around them. The mode is popular for commuting and outdoor exercising, and helps conserve battery power.

BestReviews is reader-supported and may earn an affiliate commission. Details.

Apple AirPods Pro review

While there are dozens of wireless earbuds on the market, tech consumers have found that many fall short of expectations. As a result, it’s hard to experience sound in its finest form, especially when they’re listening to their favorite music or taking Zoom calls for work. 

Apple claims their AirPods Pro give consumers exactly what they’re looking for: a high-quality, immersive sound experience. These premium wireless earbuds have Apple’s signature performance and cutting-edge engineering with features like active noise cancellation, Adaptive EQ, lightning-fast charging and more. Apple AirPods Pro are marketed as dynamic and versatile, especially with more customizable settings than many competitors’ earbuds.

We wanted to see whether Apple AirPods Pro could truly deliver immersive sound, so we put them to the test. Here’s what we found. 

How we tested AirPods Pro

We tested Apple AirPods Pro with someone who used them daily for a couple of months. They leveraged all of the features while listening to music, media and podcasts, as well as taking Zoom calls and exercising. The tester compared their experience to other wireless earbuds they’ve used, including the original Apple AirPods. 

What are AirPods Pro?

Apple AirPods Pro are wireless earbuds designed to deliver personalized immersive sound experiences. Not only do they feature some of Apple’s latest audio engineering and technology to achieve high-quality, high-clarity sound, but the AirPods Pro also offer a near-custom fit with unique contouring and the choice of three silicone tip sizes. 

How to use AirPods Pro 

Apple AirPods Pro are compatible with iPhones 6S and above that are running on the latest iOS version. Additionally, they work with most newer iPad, Mac, Apple Watch and Apple TV models. Because they have Bluetooth 5.0 connectivity, they pair with other Bluetooth devices like PCs and some tablets. 

Setting up AirPods Pro is a seamless task that involves little more than unboxing, charging and device pairing. After that, users select which silicone ear tips they’d like to use. Those unsure of which ear tips are best can use the Ear Tip Fit Test, which recommends size based on how well the tips seal off the ear canal. The test is accessible through Settings > Bluetooth on iOS devices.

AirPods Pro have onboard press-and-hold action functions whose settings can be personalized on iOS devices. They allow users to answer calls, transition between active noise cancellation and transparency modes, pause media, and skip forward and backward. However, AirPods Pro users can only adjust volume from iOS devices. 

Key features of AirPods Pro

Active noise cancellation

Apple AirPods Pro have an active noise cancellation feature that blocks ambient noise. This is achieved through two microphones that continuously adapt to external noise and filter out trace sounds. It’s ideal not just for listening to music, but also for answering calls in busier, louder areas. 

Adaptive EQ

One of the AirPods Pro’s top features is Adaptive EQ, which automatically tunes music to the shape of the ear. Users can select their preferred EQ (equalizer) settings among 24 options on iOS devices. Adaptive EQ improves sound quality with high clarity and rich tones, which is great when listening to music, movies and podcasts.

Custom fit

These Apple earbuds come with three silicone ear tip sizes, and their flexible designs offer a comfortable, near-custom fit. Because they’re removable, it’s easier to clean the ear tips and the AirPods Pro compared to wireless earbuds with integrated designs. 

Battery

The charging case offers more than 24 hours of listening and up to 11 hours of talk time. The AirPods Pro charge quickly, and after 5 minutes of being inside the AirPods Pro case, they pick up an hour’s worth of listening or talk time. The charging case connects to Apple and PC devices via lightning to USB-C cable for charging, and it’s optimized for wireless charging on Qi-certified chargers. 

AirPods Pro vs. original AirPods

We felt the Apple AirPods Pro were a notable upgrade from the original Apple AirPods. Not only was the sound quality richer, but the new active noise cancellation feature also delivered more immersive listening experiences. The AirPods Pro were more comfortable to wear as well. Besides a more secure fit with flexible ear tips, they have shorter stems that are less bothersome to earlobes, especially when wearing earrings or beanies.

Other best wireless earbuds

Bose QuietComfort Noise-Cancelling Earbuds

Bose QuietComfort Noise-Cancelling Earbuds

In addition to noise cancellation and high-fidelity audio that delivers premium sound experiences, these high-end Bose earbuds offer easy navigation with onboard controls that adjust volume, songs and stations. The earbuds have an IPX4 rating and are sweatproof, waterproof and mostly weatherproof.

Sold by Amazon

Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro

Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro

The Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro earbuds are equipped with Voice Detect, a feature that seamlessly switches from active noise cancellation to ambient sound when it detects your voice. The earbuds charge up fast; just five minutes of charge delivers an hour of playtime.

Sold by Amazon

JBL Tune 125TWS True Wireless Earbuds

JBL Tune 125TWS True Wireless Earbuds

While affordable, the JBL earbuds are known for their Pure Bass sound that brings music and movies to life. They also have a Dual Connect feature that allows users to listen and make calls with one or two earbuds.

Sold by Amazon and Kohl’s

AirPods Pro price

The Apple AirPods Pro have a retail price of $249.99. The package includes the earbuds, a charging case, a lightning to USB-C cable and three sizes of silicone ear tips. 

Where are AirPods Pro sold?

Apple AirPods Pro

You can find the Apple AirPods Pro at Amazon and Kohl’s

AirPods Pro benefits

Apple AirPods Pro’s top features — active noise cancellation and Adaptive EQ — delivered exceptional sound for music, media and even Zoom calls. AirPods Pro excelled at enhancing podcast audio, particularly speakers who were occasionally muffled or whispery. 

We were impressed with Apple AirPods Pro’s connectivity, which included its compatibility and ease of pairing with several devices. They have a notably longer range than other wireless earbuds, a convenient feature that resulted in fewer dropped calls or cut-out audio.

The charging case is a high point. It charges the AirPods Pro faster than expected; the case itself charges more quickly when connected to a power source than is the case with other wireless earbuds. Additionally, we were pleased to see that the case is optimized for wireless charging. 

AirPods Pro drawbacks

Apple AirPods Pro lack onboard volume controls. Instead, users need to make adjustments on the devices themselves. However, this seems to be prevalent among wireless earbuds in general, regardless of price point.

A few users have reported some quirks for AirPods Pro, including ill-fitting ear tips and occasional cut-out audio. The AirPods Pro are also somewhat challenging to keep clean, as their design may trap dust and ear wax. 

While it’s possible to pair Apple AirPods Pro with certain Android and Windows devices, some users say setup may be more involved than expected. It may require additional research and trial and error. 

Should you get AirPods Pro?

Based on our experience, we feel Apple AirPods Pro live up to their promise for delivering immersive, high-quality sound. They impress with both performance and consistency, as well as their level of personalization. Because they lend themselves to dynamic use, from casual listening to Zoom calls, Apple AirPods Pro emerge as premium all-purpose wireless earbuds.

 

Sign up here to receive the BestReviews weekly newsletter for useful advice on new products and noteworthy deals.

Sian Babish writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

Copyright 2021 BestReviews, a Nexstar company. All rights reserved.

Most Popular