Apple has launched AirPods Pro, an upgraded version of the AirPods that feature active noise cancellation, sweat and water resistance, and in-ear design. AirPods Pro is priced $249 and will be available in the US from October 30. Apple says that the AirPods Pro has an H1 chip, which “features 10 audio cores and powers everything from sound to Siri”. The headline feature of the AirPods Pro has to be active noise cancellation, which means this pair of headphones can minimize ambient noise and allow you to listen to audio at lower volumes even in noisy environments.
But the new AirPods also have a feature called “Transparency Mode,” similar to the Ambient Mode feature on Samsung’s $130 Galaxy Buds, which, for example, will let you hear the captain’s greeting or some other announcement on an airplane at the same time you’re listening to a song. You can switch modes by apparently squeezing a force sensor along the stem that hangs down from your ear lobe. You can also use that sensor, Apple says, to skip tracks or answer and end phone calls. Siri can also handle such tasks, via a “Hey, Siri” voice command.
Apple is claiming about five hours of listening time between charges, same as on existing models, or about a half-hour less if active noise cancellation is activated. The new models support wireless charging. And by charging them in their wireless charging case, Apple says you’ll get more than 24 hours of listening time or over 18 hours of talk time.
The earbuds come with three different sizes of soft, flexible silicone ear tips to help provide a comfortable fit. We’ll be putting a pair in our own ears to determine just how comfy that is, while also judging the most important consideration for would-be buyers, sound quality.
For those people who don’t want to spend quite so much, Apple will still be selling AirPods with a conventional charging case for $159, and models with a wireless charging case for $199.