Apple has just announced the latest version of its wireless headphones – the Apple AirPods Pro, retailing at £249.
The company says ‘AirPods are the best-selling headphones in the world. The one-tap setup experience, incredible sound and iconic design have made them a beloved Apple product, and with AirPods Pro, we’re taking the magic even further.’
Below we take a look at the AirPod Pro’s new features and how they compare with the original AirPods, as well as alternatives from key rivals Samsung and Amazon.
Want to know which are the best in-ear headphones you can buy? Skip straight to our headphone reviews.
Apple AirPods Pro – what’s new?
Apple says AirPods Pro have been specifically engineered for comfort and fit. Each earbud comes with three different sizes of soft, flexible silicone ear tips that fit to the contours of each individual ear.
This is a new feature compared with the current AirPods you can buy, and should help with comfort and also achieving the critical seal that is needed for the next new feature.
To help ensure users get the best audio experience, Apple says the Ear Tip Fit Test helps improve the quality of the seal in the ear and identify the best ear tip size for the user. After placing AirPods Pro in each ear, advanced algorithms work together with the microphones in each AirPod to measure the sound level in the ear and compare it with what is coming from the speaker driver.
We’ll be putting this feature to the test in our full review which we will publish on 19 December, just in time for Christmas.
Active Noise Cancellation
The new Active Noise Cancellation feature on AirPods Pro uses two microphones combined with advanced software to continuously adapt to each individual ear and headphone fit. This removes background noise and should allow you to focus on what you’re listening to — whether it’s a favourite song or a phone conversation.
The first microphone is outward-facing and detects external sound to analyse environmental noise. AirPods Pro then create an equivalent anti-noise that cancels out background noise before it reaches the listener’s ear. A second inward-facing microphone listens toward the ear, and AirPods Pro cancel remaining noise detected by the microphone. Noise cancellation continuously adapts the sound signal 200 times per second.
Apple says Transparency Mode provides users with the option to simultaneously listen to music while still hearing the environment around them, whether that’s to hear traffic while out for a run or an important train announcement during the morning commute.
According to Apple, switching between Active Noise Cancellation and Transparency modes is simple and can be done directly on AirPods Pro using a force sensor on the stem.
Performance and battery life
Apple claims that the AirPods Pro will have the same five hour battery life of the current AirPods, and that in noise-cancelling mode they will last four and a half hours. By using additional charges from the wireless charging case, Apple says these headphones can deliver more than 24 hours of listening time and 18 hours of talk time.
You’ll have to wait for our full review, which we will publish just before Christmas, to see how these claims stack up.
Alternatives to Apple’s AirPod Pro headphones
Samsung Galaxy Buds, £120
Samsung Galaxy Buds are well over £100 cheaper than the new Airpods Pro, and Samsung claims that they offer ‘clear, high-quality sound’ that has been tuned by long-time audio specialists AKG.
It claims these in-ear headphones are so comfortable they’re ‘designed to be worn all day, every day’. They don’t have noise cancelling technology, but they’re light and comfortable.
Find out whether these headphones are a worthy rival to the Apple AirPods Pro in our Samsung Galaxy Buds expert review.
Amazon Echo Buds, £120
Coming soon to the UK, Amazon Echo Buds will cost £120. They’ll have noise cancelling technology, will work with Amazon Alexa, and claim to have a lengthy five hour battery life, which amounts to 20 hours when combined with the charging case.
Like the Apple AirPods Pro, they also come with three different ear tips so that you can achieve the perfect seal.
We’ll be testing these as soon as they launch, so keep your eyes peeled.
Apple AirPods, £159
They don’t have noise cancelling technology and only come with one size of ear tip, but they promise superior sound and an impressive battery life.
We’ve already put these headphones to the test in our tough lab tests so we can tell you exactly how good the sound is, what they’re like to wear and ultimately whether they’re better than the rest. Read our Apple AirPods review to find out.
How we test headphones
Which? examines everything that matters for headphones, including sound quality, comfort and how well they work in real life – so you’ll know exactly what to expect. Our unique, comparative lab tests mean you can trust our Best Buy and Don’t Buy verdicts and choose with confidence.
- What’s the sound quality like?
- What’s the comfort and fit like?
- Do they suffer from sound leakage?
- Does noise cancelling actually cancel out unwanted noise?
- How durable are they?
- Should I buy them?
Get the answer to all of these questions, and more, by heading to our headphone reviews.