The Apple AirPods Pro 2nd Generation are the best Bluetooth earbuds that I have used. Apple seems to know how to provide a user the complete package and offer a near flawless integration with their entire ecosystem. The entire experience has been well thought of, but I do have some minor gripes. What other manufacturers of Bluetooth earbuds fail in is providing a great app or UX and/or good sound and microphone quality. Apple seems to have this nailed down, even Google is no where near as good as Apple with their own Google Pixel Bud line but come very close and are getting better.
My very first Bluetooth earbuds were the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless earbuds. In my opinion they produced some really good quality audio and they felt extremely comfortable to wear for extended periods of time. However, the Android app was very buggy and had a poor UI/UX, the earbuds could never truly turn off either and would drain while in the case. Also, after one of the updates to them I would have to constantly keep re-pairing them to my Android phone as it would forget the device. For the price that I paid for them I was very disappointed. The Apple AirPods Pro absolutely destroy these earbuds in nearly category. The only thing that these come close to compared to the AirPods Pro is the sound quality.
The next Bluetooth earbuds that I purchased were the Google Pixel Buds. While they did not produce the same sound quality as the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless earbuds, they had a giant leap in overall UI/UX. I never had pairing issues; the battery did not drain when they were in the case, etc. Overall, I was extremely happy with the Google Pixel Buds, but the battery life of the earbuds are not quite what they used to be and now I can barely get through a two-hour podcast before one of the buds dies (normally it is the right earbud). When I switched to using an iPhone, I could no longer use the Google Assistant that the Google Pixel Buds provided integration for, so some functionality was lost (which is a little sad). Between not being able to take full advantage of what the Google Pixel Buds provide and the poor battery capacity now it was time to move on.
Now that I have several Apple products it only made sense to purchase a pair of Apple AirPods. From my friends who do have a pair (either the standard AirPods or AirPods Pro) they all rated them, and when Apple announced the new Apple AirPods Pro 2nd Generation, I knew I needed to buy these. I would have full integration and capabilities with the earbuds and would have a nice pair of new earbuds.
I’ll start with the aesthetics. The case is perfectly pocketable much like the Google Pixel Buds case. I do appreciate that there is a quick access pairing button at the back, a speaker to allow for finding the case when lost, and the ability to charge the case using the Apple Watch charging pad. However, I wish that the case had a more matte finish like the Google Pixel Buds case as I find the Apple AirPods Pro case is far too slippery and having a lightning port for wired charging in 2022 is inexcusable. The wired charging should really be done through USB-C. One more gripe that I have with Apple is that the actual cable they had provided in the box is a lightning to USB-A cable. Now most of the charging bricks that I have only have a USB-C port and even my new Apple MacBook Pro only has USB-C ports. What they need to do is have some port consistency here, especially if they don’t want to include charging bricks with their products or have people purchasing additional charging bricks for “environment reasons”.
The actual AirPods Pro fit in my ears extremely well and I appreciate the different sized ear tips in the box however the medium sized ear tips are perfect for me. The seal is good and very little sound leaks. The stems of the earbuds are not annoying or don’t get in the way either and was a concern that I had as these were the first earbuds that had stems. If there was one thing that I wished Apple would do was provide these in different colours as I would in a heartbeat buy these in black. I mean Apple does allow you to add an engraving to the case (which I did by the way). The different controls that can be triggered on the stems can take some getting used to unfortunately. Right now, I have the left stem controlling the different transparency levels and active noise cancellation while on the right stem I have Siri access. Sometimes turning active noise cancellation on and off does not work, perhaps I am not holding it for long enough; and changing the volume level using a swiping gesture is very hit and miss. I find that I am correctly moving my index finger up and down the stem and the volume does not change all the time. These gestures will take some more time to get used to and I perhaps need to pay more attention to what I am doing when the volume does change. I never had these gesture issues with my Google Pixel Buds though.
The sound quality that the AirPods Pro produce is pretty good. I am not an audiophile, but I have used a variety of headphones (wired and wireless) and some earbuds, so I have experienced the good and bad regarding sound quality. The vocals are clear and crisp, and you can hear all the different instruments. I am impressed how Apple can provide an earbud that can produce such good sound quality. Out of the three different Bluetooth earbuds that I have used these provide the best sound experience followed closely by my original Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless earbuds. Regarding the microphone quality, it is passable but not amazing. I didn’t have anyone complain about how I sounded when on Zoom calls and neither when I was taking a call. However, the microphone is no where near as good as any wired headset like the Apple wired headset. The active noise cancellation is good on these and transparency mode also does its job well. I am not a massive fan of the spatial audio feature (when available) currently. Admittedly I need to listen to a little more music to see how I truly feel about the spatial audio feature.
Overall if you are in the Apple ecosystem then you should instantly buy a pair of AirPods or if you want to spend a little more and get some more features then the AirPods Pro are the way to go; you will have no regrets about it. I would not recommend another pair of earbuds. Apple have spent a good amount of time ensuring that the entire UI/UX experience from pairing to switching between your multiple Apple devices is seamless and fluid. Nothing will beat these if you are in the Apple ecosystem; however, if you have an Android device then these would be an okay purchase but there are several other earbud manufacturers out there like Sony, Bose and even Google that offer a better experience with your device (this has been relayed to me from friends and family that have Android devices but AirPods or AirPods Pro).