Apple AirPods vs AirPods Pro: Is it worth the upgrade?


For me, AirPods Pro rapidly increase the gold standard in true wireless headphones. They have a unique construction that fits in your ear, they sound great powered by adaptive EQ, and they fit like a glove in the Apple ecosystem. However, they’re not cheap at $249 – and still not super cheap when discount to $179.99.

But long before AirPods Pro, Apple only had standard AirPods. Oops, I even waited in line for the original pair in December 2016! AirPods offer simple personal sound in a design that fits everyone. And after months of working from home testing and literally trying more than a dozen pairs of headphones, I’ve put the AirPods Pro aside and come back. Standard AirPods.

You may be wondering why, but there are a few core reasons. For starters, they’re much more affordable with an MSRP of $159, but they’re often available for much less. right away Amazon has them for $115. And that’s just the starting point – AirPods Pro has the same built-in features as the Apple Pro, a powerful soundstage, and strong connectivity. Oh, and it’s all packed into a smaller box. So let’s find out why I’m back to the standard AirPods.

Jacob Krol / CNN

Standard AirPods have a more extended structure than AirPods Pro. They will stick out of your ear more and instead of sitting tight in your ear, they just drift and nestle into the tube. You won’t find the ear tips in the box, as Apple offers a one-size-fits-all solution for regular AirPods.

Still, it’s a design that works for many. Once in your ears, you probably won’t notice them too much – that is, unless the stem touches your face. That’s entirely possible, but they also don’t weigh as heavily on your ears as some other earbuds on the market. The standard AirPods weigh 0.14 ounces each, and that’s not too much of a weight. By comparison, the AirPods Pro are slightly lighter at 0.11 ounces but more compact.

In my eyes, they’re still very comfortable, and the choice to not have earplugs gives them a little more fluidity. Do I do a heavyweight endurance workout with these? The answer is no, as they are not resistant to sweat or water. I’ve never had an AirPod problem, but my colleagues and friends online can assure you it’s not an unprecedented outcome. However, the standard AirPods feel quite good in the ear through the design and don’t cause as much vibration.

You also don’t control anything with the stem here – it’s all touch controls on top of the AirPods. Double-tapping an AirPod can interact with Siri, play or pause a track, and go forward or backward. You can customize this in Settings on your iPhone when AirPods are connected. It’s not a selective touch surface like on the Galaxy Buds family, which we found annoying, but a fairly direct area that’s responsive.

And more AirPods Pro you need to squeeze to click on the trunk, which in the end isn’t really all functional. It also requires more specificity with how you press than a simple tap or double tap on the AirPods themselves.

Jacob Krol / CNN

Standard AirPods features a custom-made Apple H1 chip, which, interestingly, is the same chip found in the AirPods Pro. This supports Bluetooth connectivity (and music streaming), quick pairing, and Simple switching that AirPods offer. This way, you can still keep them next to your iPhone for the initial setup, have them sync with your Apple ID, and then connect to them from any synced Apple device. your.

It’s pretty handy, and still worked well in my testing on several iPhones, iPad Pro, MacBook Pro, eighth-generation iPad, and Apple TV 4K. Then allow me to have some private listening without disturbing anyone else. There’s quite a bit of functionality, and for whatever reason, the standard AirPods seem to be less picky about switching between devices than the AirPods Pro.

And connectivity remains strong with Bluetooth 5.0 inside the standard AirPods. You will certainly experience disconnections for more than two years, but in my experience few and far between.

Now with connectivity, AirPods are super handy when paired with any Apple device. For starters, you can say “Hey Siri” whenever you want to quickly complete a task like sending a message or starting a call. You can even ask Siri to announce messages (by reading them aloud) and give you a chance to reply back – completely hands-free. This is especially helpful when wearing them indoors or when going out. It basically allows me to leave my phone in my pocket when completing these tasks.

Better yet, when we can travel again, you can easily share audio with another pair of AirPods. I remember sharing music with friends and even sharing a movie while on a plane last year. It’s not just AirPods to AirPods either; it could be AirPods to AirPods Pro or even AirPods to AirPods Max and AirPods Pro. Basically, all the key features of AirPods are here and working smoothly.

Jacob Krol / CNN

Perhaps the biggest difference between the standard AirPods and the AirPods Pro (aside from the design) is the sound quality. And let’s be clear: the standard AirPods don’t outperform the Pros in this area. There’s a major reason for this, as the AirPods don’t seal your ears, which doesn’t create a single space for sound. AirPods Pro use silicone ear tips that fit snugly into your ears to create a seal, deeper immersion, and more powerful sound.

Even so, the standard AirPods made me feel less claustrophobic – especially compared to the AirPods Pro when they were only passive with Transparency or active noise cancellation (ANC). The result of not having the seal was just for these to sit still in my ears and allow me to remain aware of the world around me. It also doesn’t make the sound quality any worse or worse here. Are from my original review in 2019 and to double check over the past few weeks, the AirPods still offer a wide soundstage that aims to create a clean and balanced mix. The bass can be lacking at times, but for the most part, it’s a powerful combination that evenly illuminates all parts of the track.

Regular AirPods still give a strong push with an audio track like “Born to Run” by Bruce Springsteen. With a more dynamic song like Olivia Rodrigo’s “Brutal”, it’s typical for earbuds to mash several elements together, but the AirPods did a good job of layering Rodrigo’s vocals on top, supporting the elements in the middle and the main drum below.

As for the battery, AirPods meet the same standards as AirPods Pro. I got close to five hours of listening time, while the carrying case can provide up to 24 hours of listening through a quick recharge. You also have to decide between buying AirPods and a standard charging case Or with a wireless one. I think the former is too much for most people unless you already use wireless chargers in your world. It’s an easy way to save some money, and you’ll be able to charge using the Lightning port on the bottom of the case – which I might add is more pocket-friendly than the AirPods Pro.

Between the lower price tag and the design that fits your ears, there’s still a lot to like with the standard AirPods. I quickly realized this after reviewing them and stuck with them longer than I anticipated. The sound quality is still excellent and offers a wide soundstage that works with all genres. Battery life comes standard, and the core AirPods features are here to stay.

If you choose AirPods over AirPods Pro, you’re missing out on a more customizable design that fits snugly in your ears for better sound and comfort, along with noise cancellation and Clarity. transparent. This is important for some people, but turning up the volume on regular AirPods can help cut out some of the everyday noise.

You can save quite a bit and get an experience that’s still impressive, especially if you’re in Apple’s ecosystem, with the standard AirPods. Better yet, they’re on sale for only $114.99 with standard carrying case or $149.99 for wireless charging case.

For me, when I return to air travel and even longer road trips, I can opt for the AirPods Pro to shut out the world around me without turning the volume to 10 on the standard volume. standard. For exercise too, I prefer the AirPods Pro because of its sweat resistance. But for everything else, I’m using my standard AirPods for a simpler build, better controls, and all the core features that are affordable.

That said – when the AirPods 3 come out, I’ll probably be using them for a spin.


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