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Find out how Apple's premium AirPods Pro perform.
A step-up from the standard Apple AirPods, the AirPods Pro offer good ANC, a quick set-up and secure fit.
Released in 2019, the Apple AirPods Pro are the premium earbuds offering from the brand. The wireless earbuds come with a wireless charging case and feature Active Noise Cancellation, touch controls and in-ear detection to stop music playing once you've removed the earbuds.
At £249, there are designed to be a more elevated version of the classic Apple AirPods that have become so popular for the brand.
Here is everything you need to know about the premium earbuds as we test them out in this Apple AirPods Pro review. Covering everything from sound quality and design to features such as voice control, ANC and battery life, we see how these earbuds perform to decide whether they're worth your money or not.
The quick answer? Yes, if you have an iPhone. Otherwise, there are plenty of cheaper ANC alternatives on offer. However, the convenience and quick set-up provided for iPhone users cannot be beaten.
Looking for more product reviews? Try our Apple Watch 6 review, Apple Watch SE review, and Google Pixel Buds review for starters. And to find out more about upcoming Apple products, read our dedicated iPhone 13 review. If your budget is a little lower than that of these luxe-level earbuds, head to our pick of the best budget wireless earbuds.
Like the standard Apple AirPods, the AirPods Pro are designed to be a companion to your iPhone. It's a job that they do well. Featuring Active Noise Cancellation, a Transparency mode for when you need to hear surroundings and touch controls to manage volume, ANC modes and answering calls, they offer a fair amount more than the standard AirPods.
Unfortunately, that does come at a price. While the Apple AirPods (with wireless charging case) cost £199, the Apple AirPods Pro are priced at a substantial £249. Admittedly, you do get the benefit of ANC and the improved fit of the AirPods Pro, but you're largely paying for the quick and simple set-up with an iPhone and the convenience that they offer. If iOS compatibility isn't your priority, there are cheaper options.
Released in October 2019, the AirPods Pro are now over a year old. Offering Active Noise Cancellation and a snug fit, the earbuds keep out unwanted noise and distraction. At £249, they are definitely on the premium end of wireless earbuds, but additional features include 'always-on' Siri for voice control and sweat resistance go some way to justify the cost.
Apple AirPods Pro serve as a premium offering to the standard AirPods made by Apple. Featuring ANC, an improved design and secure fit, the Apple AirPods Pro are an elevated version of your everyday wireless earbuds. The case is wireless charging and offers up to 24 hours of battery life (or a little less if you're using the AirPods Pro for calls).
Due to the popularity of Apple products, the brand does tend to market its products at a slightly higher price point than competitors. However, the fact that they are now a year old has helped bring down the price a little. At most UK retailers, you can now find AirPods Pro for approximately £200. Apple AirPods also feature ANC and sweat resistance (IPX4), which typically increase the cost a little. Overall, the convenience for iPhone users and ANC do make them somewhat worth the price. However, there are cheaper alternatives that offer a similar range of features.
The AirPods Pro are small and compact. With three sizes of silicone tips available, the earbuds fit snug in your ear. This, combined with an IPX4 rating making them sweat resistant, makes the AirPods Pro a good option to use when working out. However, this snug fit did become uncomfortable by the third hour of wearing them.
Touch controls on the stem of the AirPods Pro allow you to answer calls, play and pause music and switch from ANC to Transparency mode when you need to hear surrounding noises. These controls aren't sensitive enough that you are going to accidentally activate them but work well.
The accompanying charging case is shorter and wider than that of the standard AirPods. However, the case is still relatively compact. Unlike the earbuds, which feel well made, the charging case hinge does feel a little flimsy.
For £249, the AirPods Pro offer most of the key features you'd expect from true wireless earbuds. Voice control is provided by an 'always-on' Siri, or there are touch controls that allow you to manage volume levels, play/pause music and answer calls.
Siri is a little slow between the command being spoken and completing the task but is pretty accurate. The touch controls work well, too, and are fairly intuitive to use. These controls on the stem of the earbuds can also be used to switch between the ANC and Transparency mode.
And, the ANC works well. It uses the dual-microphone set-up to detect external noise and counter it with what Apple calls 'anti-noise'. For when you want to hear surrounding noise, have a conversation or listen for traffic, there is the Transparency mode.
The ANC does do some damage to the battery life, though. With the charging case, the earbuds have up to 24 hours of charge but last just 4.5 hours on a single charge. If you're on a lot of calls, this will be closer to 3.5 hours. The case does charge wirelessly, but you do have to buy the wireless charger separately. However, a Lightning to USB‑C cable is provided.
If you’re looking to use them for workouts, you’ll be pleased to know that they are sweat resistant. With an IPX4 rating, they're not waterproof but are protected against a splash of water (no matter the direction) and should cope with light rainfall or a sweaty workout. It's not the highest rating achievable but should be fine for everyday use.
We were pleasantly surprised by the sound quality of the AirPods Pro. Featuring a custom-built speaker driver, music is well-balanced and sounds crisp across various genres. They're not overly bass-heavy but are a significant step-up from Apple's wired EarPods (as it should be for the price difference).
There's no option to personalise the EQ settings, but they do feature 'Adaptive EQ', which is meant to automatically tune the music to the shape of your ear. And, we enjoyed the result.
They performed well when it came to speech as well. With the help of ANC, podcasts and audiobooks were extremely clear even when on a noisy commute. Unlike the standard Apple AirPods, we didn't feel the need to increase the volume to compensate for external noise.
If you have an iPhone, setting up AirPods Pro takes a matter of seconds. When you open the charging case with Bluetooth on, a notification will automatically pop up on your screen. Simply follow any prompts, and you're done.
With an Android device, it takes a couple of moments more. With Bluetooth on, hold down the pairing button on the back of the charging case. In your Bluetooth settings, you should then be able to pair with the earbuds. We had no problems with connecting first time.
One small issue we found was that the silicone tips are pretty tricky to remove from the earbuds. As they click into place, it requires some brute force to change the tips for a different size. It is unlikely to be a dealbreaker for most, but it may be problematic if you have any issues with dexterity.
If you're thinking about buying Apple AirPods Pro, you have likely considered the cheaper Apple AirPods too. So what does paying an extra £50 get you? The most significant difference is ANC. Not available with the standard AirPods, Active Noise Cancellation keeps out unwanted noise. And, it works pretty well on the AirPods Pro.
As part of this, AirPods Pro also have a different shape. Designed to have a snug fit, the premium offering doesn't really budge once they're in. The fit on the Apple AirPods is definitely a little looser. However, many people might find this more comfortable over long periods of time. In comparison, we found the AirPods Pro became a little uncomfortable after the third hour of wearing them.
However, some elements remain the same. First is the IP rating. Both models have an IPX4 rating which means that the earbuds are sweat-resistant but not waterproof.
The set-up for both earbuds is also incredibly simple. Designed to work in partnership with an iPhone, the handset will automatically detect when the earbuds are nearby and suggest pairing. This convenience continues with how Siri can be used with both for voice control.
If you're simply looking for a casual pair of earbuds for everyday use, the classic Apple AirPods will probably serve you well. However, if you think you'll benefit from ANC or intend to use them for workouts, the AirPods Pro may be a better option.
If you have an iPhone, you're unlikely to find a pair of earbuds that work better with your phone. Designed to be the perfect companion to iPhones, the AirPods Pro have a set-up that takes a matter of seconds. The sound quality was also surprisingly good, and the ANC worked well, even if the snug fit did become a little uncomfortable over long periods. The 'always-on' voice assistant in the form of Siri is also super useful, and touch controls make it easier to pause or play music without taking out your phone. The 4.5 hours of battery life is a little disappointing for the price, which is definitely on the expensive end. There are cheaper alternatives available, including plenty with ANC, but you are partly paying for the convenience the Apple eco-system offers. If you don't have an iPhone, these probably aren't for you, but they offer a lot for those that do.
Some categories (sound quality and features) are weighted more heavily.
Sound quality: 4/5
Value for money: 4/5
Overall rating: 4/5
AirPods Pro are available from a number of retailers, including Amazon.
Searching for Apple deals? Try our guide to the eBay certified refurbished hub for how to find the best offers. If you're upgrading your phone, check out our best iPhone guide, or see how the new flagship compares in our iPhone 13 vs iPhone 12 explainer.