Buying Guides iPhone and iPad

Apple AirPods vs. AirPods Pro: Which Is Right for You?

Brent Dirks 06-11-2019

Apple’s hugely popular AirPods are going Pro. The AirPods Pro take what made the AirPods a hit and add in a few twists, most importantly active noise cancellation technology.


We’ll take a look at the major features of the AirPods Pro and see how they compare to the original AirPods so you can decide which one is right for you.

Customizable Sound on the AirPods Pro

The Apple AirPods Pro look similar to the AirPods, but with some big differences. The most obvious is the silicone tip at the end of the earbud.

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For the most comfortable fit possible, and to help with the active noise cancellation feature, Apple includes three different sizes of ear tips—small, medium, and large.

AirPods Pro Tip Sizes


And there’s no need to guess the best size for your ear, thanks to the Ear Tip Fit Test. After the initial pairing with your iPhone, head to Settings > Bluetooth and select the name of your AirPods Pro. Scroll down and then select Ear Tip Fit Test. The test will begin after you place your AirPods Pro in both ears.

After a quick pause, you’ll see whether the ear tips are the right size and creating a good seal. If not, the test will recommend a different size until you find the perfect option for both ears.

A good fit in your ear is also a big part of providing active noise cancellation How Do Noise-Cancelling Headphones Work? Want to get the most from your music collection? Noise cancelling headphones are a good option, but how do they work? Read More . Usually found in traditional headphones, active noise cancellation uses a microphone that listens to external noise and then cancels that out with an anti-noise wave. The AirPods Pro are the first earbuds on the market with the active noise cancellation technology.

Apple takes this even further with another microphone facing in toward the ear to listen for any more noise to cancel. The noise cancellation is adjusted 200 times per second.


Another big feature to better customize the music to your ear is Adaptive EQ. Apple says that it will automatically tune both low and mid frequencies to the shape of your ears.

AirPods Pro Transparency Mode

Unlike the AirPods, the AirPods Pro are water and sweat-resistant. That makes them a perfect choice for outdoor activities, including running.

Instead of only having the option to turn active noise cancellation on or off, the AirPods Pro also include a “Transparency” mode. This combines your connected audio with what’s happening around you.

There are multiple ways of switching between modes. Perhaps the easiest is with the force sensor on the stem of either AirPod Pro. Instead of using a tap like the AirPods, the force sensor requires a small squeeze.


With the sensor, you can also play, pause your AirPods 4 Ways to Pause Your AirPods We look at how to pause AirPods using several different methods so you can play and pause your music easily. Read More , or skip tracks while listening to music. In addition, this allows you to answer and hang up on phone calls without needing to interact with your iPhone.

On your iPhone or iPad, you can press on the volume slider in Control Center to switch between active noise cancellation and Transparency. You also have the option to turn both modes off.

AirPods Pro Control Center

Using an Apple Watch, just select the AirPlay icon to cycle between modes.


Thanks to the H1 chip in the AirPods Pro, you can switch modes by using the hands-free “Hey Siri” option. You can also talk to the virtual assistant to accomplish tasks like changing the volume, making calls, and more.

AirPods Pro Battery Life and Other Details

Even with the added active noise cancellation technology, the battery life of the AirPods Pro is almost identical to the AirPods. On a single charge, the AirPods Pro can provide up to 4.5 hours of playback with the active noise cancellation or Transparency mode active.

With both of those off, the headphones can go for up to five hours. And expect up to 3.5 hours of talk time on a single charge of the AirPods Pro.

The Wireless Charging Case with the AirPods Pro is shaped a bit differently the AirPods case. However, it can provide more than 24 hours of music and 18 hours of talk time before a recharge is needed.

AirPods Pro Charging Case

In a pinch, five minutes in the charging case provides around one hour of music playback or talk time.

Comparing the AirPods and AirPods Pro

When trying to decide between the AirPods and AirPods Pro, the best way to pick is determining how you plan to use wireless headphones. Both the AirPods and AirPods Pro offer the same easy pairing with Apple devices, great battery life, and a handy charging case.

If you’re looking for a simple pair of wireless earbuds, it’s hard to go wrong with the Apple AirPods.

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While the AirPods with Wireless Charging Case is a nice plus, the wireless case isn’t a must-have. The base AirPods case can still be charged with a regular Lightning cable.

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There are a couple of reasons to consider the AirPods Pro. While the AirPods are comfortable and fit well in the ear for most, there are a lot of people who would rather have a more customizable fit. And the AirPods Pro provide that.

Once you find the correct size of ear tip using the fit test, the AirPods Pro stay comfortably in your ear no matter what you’re doing.

The great fit, along with the water and sweat resistance of the AirPods Pro, also make those earbuds something any athlete or gym rat should take a look at. While the earbuds won’t survive a dunk in the pool, there’s no need to worry about a sudden rainstorm or heavy sweat from a workout ruining the electronics.

If you have a bit more money to spend, the active noise cancellation and Transparency modes should be music to your ears.

While the sound of the AirPods Pro isn’t better than the AirPods, the active noise cancellation technology is great. If you work in a busy office, or just want to tune out the world and focus on audio, that’s definitely worth the extra cash.

Picking the Best AirPods for You

It’s a great time to be a fan of wireless earbuds. Whether you pick Apple’s AirPods Pro or AirPods, enjoy rocking out to music, videos, and more. And if you select the classic AirPods, make sure to take a look at these great AirPods accessories that protect against damage The 5 Best AirPod Accessories That Protect Against Damage AirPods are the best wireless headphones for iPhone users. Here are the best AirPod accessories to keep yours safe from damage. Read More .

Related topics: Apple AirPods, Buying Tips, Headphones, Noise-cancelling Headphones.

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