Airpods Pro: An honest (and lengthy) review from an Apple devotee
Please know…I am an apple devotee in a real way. New top spec iPhone every year new top spec work MacBook Pro laptop every 3.5 years…I have the OG iPad Pro…daily Airpod user…I believe in Apple products and rely on them daily in my professional and personal life.
I was hoping these were going to be announced at the iPhone event in September. Announcement hits that Airpods Pro are out earlier this week, and they were an instant preorder for me. They arrived on 10/30. I was so hopeful, these would be ‘the ones’.
Bit of background: My Airpods are my goto when traveling around the city and for multiple work calls a day. I truly believe that as a phone headset, there is nothing that comes close in the wireless domain. I’ve learned to accept the audio quality for music, but the Airpods (2nd gen), are not going to ‘move’ you from an audio quality perspective, and I am totally fine with that. I have other headphones (wired and wireless that I use when I want top notch audio quality) Phone/business calls first, music second for this device…but due to sheer convenience they are in my ears more than any other headphones I own by a massive margin.
Here is my honest review of the Airpods Pro:
1. The case is about 10% larger, noticeable in close fitting jean pockets, this is an obvious one and easy to deal with
2. It is more than ‘just a bit’ more challenging to remove Airpods Pro from the new case. I struggle to not drop them in a serious way versus the previous case and form factor. I have similar problem putting them back in, the previous form factor was just robotic, in/out, boom no problems. The way they fit in the case almost feels like it’s the reverse of the way it was previously. This is a real tough one for me.
3. I believe I am in between the small and medium tips, size wise. The ear tip test, passes for both small and mediums tips for me, yet there is a noticeable improvement in sound (music and calls) quality with the small tips. The sounds is quite a bit improved over Airpods, but after 10ish mins of wear time, they seem to not maintain a tight seal. Medium’s remain tight but the sound quality is noticeably inferior and more ‘tinny’ and similar to the airpods. Another tough one for me, but not a universal issue.
4. I ride my bike, and boosted rev with my Airpods in…the play/stop and skip functions are all accessible by simply single or double tapping the Airpods…the new mechanic of having to grab on to the stem is much, much more cumbersome, and clumsy, especially when moving. Previously just take your knuckle and tap away. This existing mechanic wins by a long shot over the stem squeezes.
5. NYC winter is approaching, gloves are required. The stem mechanic becomes then again more clumsy with gloves on, I’ve tested this with my biking gloves (very little bulk to these gloves) and while it’s workable, it’s inferior to the previous generation and with more bulky gloves getting that stem press just right is challenging
6. The sound quality is definitely improved throughout the spectrum…lows still leave you wanting, but mids and highs are improved over the Airpods…At 250 dollars you are at the same price point of another pair of in ear full wireless: The Sennheiser Momentum true wireless which have magically wonderful sound quality, but are really not so great when talking on the phone. Yes they are large, and can get uncomfortable after extended wear, but they are the top IMO for in ear true wireless audio quality. I digress.
7. Noise cancelling is really quite good. Transparency mode is cary good. I own the Sony WH1000XM3 and it’s tough to compare Airpods Pro to over the ear ANC cans, but I’m happy with the active noise cancelling and with the transparency mode, transparency mode is astonishingly good, to the point it feels like you have super hearing. I was ordering food with transparency on, and while in line, could very distinctly hear a conversation a customer was having with the cashier 10-15 feet away from me. I would likely put the transparency mode of the Airpods Pro in a tier slightly above the XM3s.
8. The shorter stem length is nice aesthetically, but really lacking functionally. The beauty of the long stems on the Airpods was you could so quickly just snag them out of your ear. Walking down the street in NYC and someone comes up to you asking for directions…fumbling with the squeezing stem mechanic, or using your phone to turn on transparency is awkward and not instant…plucking the airpod out of your ear by the stem is instant.
Most of the issues I’m experiencing are mostly coming from the previous generation. Perhaps if you did not use the previous generation day to day, much of this would be non-relevant. My guess is a large portion of consumers are coming from the previous generation though. Rock and hard place as to whether or not I will keep them at this point.