The Apple AirPods 3 — or rather, Apple AirPods Pro — are official, introducing a revised design, noise-cancellation, sweat resistance, and a steeper price tag. We’ve spent some time testing the latest from Cupertino, and let’s cut to the chase: We love ’em. Our Apple AirPods Pro review is blunt about it: “Shockingly good, the AirPods Pro are a huge win for Apple.”
So what’s the deal with the new fruit from the Apple tree? Here’s the low-down — all the details and everything you need to know about the AirPods Pro.
Despite often being misinterpreted as a sign of wealth, the main allure of a set of true wireless earbuds is convenience. They eliminate the one thing that a traditional pair of earbuds can’t shake: A wire. This makes them an invaluable tool for working out — there’s no need to make sure the cord is out the way before benching that last set. Just pop them in and proceed.
But there’s an issue here. If the earbuds you’re wearing aren’t water-resistant and you sweat as much as a leaky tap, there’s a chance — albeit a slim one — the residue could seep in and render them useless. This is why Apple has made the AirPods Pro impervious to the element on the surface (not to be confused with waterproofing, which would mean it could be submerged).
It’s with the introduction of a new design, which sees the toothbrush-like stick shortened, that Apple was able to make the AirPods Pro water-resistant and noise-canceling. Specifically, the latest Pods adopt Active Noise-Cancellation (ANC), which relies on sensitive microphones to pick up low-frequency sound and software to neutralize it before it reaches the ear canal.
However, this wouldn’t be possible without the addition of interchangeable silicone ear tips that produce a snug fit, creating a seal for ANC to work its magic. Apple says that these soft tips also make for a more comfortable shape that: A) ensures the AirPods Pro stay fixed in the ear during vigorous exercise; and B) makes them more pleasant to wear for extended periods.
Of course, ear tips aren’t one-size-fits-all. Thus, Apple includes three different sizes in the box. Users are encouraged to try all three in conjunction with the Cupertino-based firm’s Ear Tip Test, which uses a complex algorithm to determine whether the size you selected is optimal for sound quality and noise-cancellation on a companion iOS device like an iPhone.
“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 to what is coming from the speaker driver”, explains Apple on its website. “In seconds, the algorithm detects whether the ear tip is the right size and has a good fit, or should be adjusted to create a better seal.”
As rumored, the AirPods Pro come part and parcel with a brand new listening mode, called Transparency Mode. When enabled, it allows ambient sound to seep through the various filters. This addresses the main concern with being totally immersed in music: Safety. You need to be able to hear the pedestrians and vehicles around to safely cross a busy street, after all.
With more manufacturers rushing to release true wireless earbuds, Apple had to do something to make the AirPods Pro stand out from the crowd. Its solution? Adaptive EQ, an innovative software tweak that, the company claims, “tunes the low- and mid-frequencies of the music to the shape of an individual’s ear — resulting in a rich, immersive listening experience.”
This is apparently bolstered by the introduction of both a new amplifier and driver that work together to provide consistent, rich bass down to 20Hz.
The AirPods Pro are bundled with a new Wireless Charging Case that’s shorter and thinner than that of the AirPods 2 with Wireless Charging Case. Interestingly, it bundles the exact same 24-hour reserve as the seven-month-old AirPods 2. This translates to a little more than five full charges of noise-canceled solitude for the AirPods Pro (listening time, not talk time).
Those with a flair for math will have figured out that the AirPods Pro last for around four and a half hours with noise-canceling enabled. Turn it off and you’ll be able to squeeze five hours out of each Pod — in line with the AirPods 2. This shouldn’t come as a surprise, though: The AirPods Pro are powered by the same Apple-made W1 chipset as the older model.
The AirPods Pro are available to order from the Apple Store for $249 — $49 more than the AirPods 2.
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