Nearly three years after launching the first generation of AirPods Pro, Apple has unveiled the second generation model alongside the iPhone 14 lineup and several new Apple Watches. Although the second-generation AirPods Pro features the same design as its predecessor, it improves on features like active noise cancellation, in-ear detection, and battery life, while introducing new functions like adaptive transparency, touch controls to adjust volume, and precision finding.
In late 2021, Apple announced a major update to its standard AirPods, with new earbuds featuring Spatial Audio, Adaptive EQ, force sensor controls, sweat and water resistance, MagSafe charging, and more.
Should you consider buying the $179 3rd generation AirPods or need the high-end AirPods Pro model that sells for $249? Our guide helps answer the question of how to decide which of these sets of AirPods is best for you.
AirPods vs AirPods Pro
AirPods and “AirPods Pro” share a slew of important features such as Spatial Audio with dynamic head tracking, sweat and water resistance, and skin-detection sensors. However, there are some important differences between them that are worth highlighting, including the design and active noise cancellation.
3rd Generation AirPods
- Semi-in-ear design
- Force sensor controls
- H1 . chip
- Bluetooth 5.0
- Up to 5 hours of listening with Spatial Audio enabled
- Up to 4 hours of talk time on a single charge
- Up to 20 hours of talk time using the MagSafe charging case
- MagSafe Charging Case with Find My
- MagSafe Charging Case Compatible with MagSafe Charger, Qi Wireless Charging Mats, and Lightning
AirPods Pro 2nd Generation
- In-ear design with silicone ear tips (four sizes)
- Pressure equalization vent system
- Force sensors and touch controls to adjust volume
- H2 . chip
- Bluetooth 5.3
- Active Noise Cancellation
- Transparency and adaptive transparency
- Conversation Boost
- Up to 5.5 hours of listening with spatial audio enabled
- Up to 4.5 hours of talk time on a single charge
- Up to 24 hours of talk time using the MagSafe charging case
- MagSafe charging case with built-in speaker for Find My, U1 chip for precise tracking, and lanyard loop
- MagSafe Charging Case compatible with Apple Watch charger, MagSafe charger, Qi and Lightning wireless charging mats
Standard AirPods are now very similar to AirPods Pro, offering almost all the same features at a lower price. As a result, 3rd generation AirPods should be the default choice for most potential buyers. If you also have AirPods Max, which already offer ANC, and are looking for an extra pair of headphones to use while working out or on the go, third-generation AirPods are also a good choice.
You should only buy AirPods Pro if you prefer the proper and enhanced sound that the silicone in-ear tips can provide, or you need active noise cancellation. It’s also worth buying AirPods Pro if you can make good use of Apple’s conversational accessibility feature. Other than that, improvements in the H2 chip, minor improvements in battery life, and adaptive transparency might not be a worthwhile set of improvements over standard AirPods.
You often see “AirPods Pro” huge discounts on Amazon and other retailers, so it might be more beneficial to go for the Pro version if you can take advantage of one of these deals. Standard AirPods also often have strong discounts, so it’s always worth looking for the best price using the Deals Report.