AirPods Pro 2 Hands-On: Clearer sound, better noise cancellation

AirPods Pro 2 Hands-On: Clearer sound, better noise cancellation

This story is part of Focal point iPhone 2022CNET’s collection of news, tips and advice on Apple’s most popular product.

The long-rumored AirPods Pro (2nd generation) are official. Apple unveiled its latest true wireless noise canceling headphones as part of its iPhone 14 “Far Out” event. They are available for pre-order now and will ship starting September 23 for $ 249 (£ 249, AU $ 399).

The new AirPods Pro follow the original noise-canceling model that debuted in October 2019. They are powered by Apple’s new H2 chip, which offers more processing power while being more energy-efficient, according to Apple. The new chip, combined with the new low distortion drivers, allows for better sound which should offer greater clarity and depth. Noise cancellation has also improved: Apple says the new AirPods have “twice” the noise cancellation of the original AirPods Pro.

Apple / Screenshot by Sarah Lord / CNET

Pre-orders for the AirPods Pro 2022 model begin on September 9, with the first sets of new earbuds starting shipping on September 23.

My first practical impressions

I had the chance to try the AirPods Pro 2 for a limited time at the launch event in the noisy demo area, with hundreds of people around me. The noise cancellation seems to have improved, although it was able to muffle the din in the room so much. I also thought the earbuds sounded cleaner and clearer than the original AirPods Pro while listening to some tunes on Apple’s iPhone 14 demo phones. (I have not been able to use the earbuds with my iPhone and the tracks I normally use to test the headphones.)

I think it’s really important to get an airtight seal to achieve optimal noise cancellation and sound quality. Apple hasn’t changed the design of its earbuds – with the original AirPods, I use the large earbuds and also use third-party foam tips – but it will now include an extra-small fourth earbud for those with smaller ears.

The second generation AirPods Pro earphones are powered by Apple’s new H2 chip.


Some people were hoping that the new AirPods Pro would be able to stream Apple Lossless tracks wirelessly. Apple hasn’t mentioned anything about it, but it’s possible that some features will be revealed at a later time. With the original AirPods Pro, for example, Apple didn’t introduce Spatial Audio until a few months after their release.

On the spatial audio front, Apple says the AirPods Pro now have custom spatial audio that creates a more personalized listening experience for your ears. Transparency mode is also improved and adapts to the ambient noise you encounter, and there’s a new custom spatial audio function along with touch swipe controls on the stems to add to the pinch controls.

Battery life is now up to six hours on a single charge (up to five), and the case offers four additional charges. Additionally, the case now has a built-in speaker, allowing it to play sounds for use with Apple’s precision Find My feature.

The AirPods Pro 2 case now has a lanyard option

The new case has a point to attach a lanyard, but Apple doesn’t include one with the new AirPods Pro.

David Carnoy / CNET

While some people may be disappointed, Apple hasn’t done more to update the design of the AirPods Pro 2 (there are some changes to the microphone setup and other small refinements including the vents), the second-generation AirPods Pro are largely what I expected will be: Better sounding AirPods Pro with better noise cancellation, better battery life, and a wireless charging case with some advanced features.

I’ll have a lot more to say about them in my full review – stay tuned – where I’ll compare them to other better noise canceling earbuds, including The new Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II which were also revealed this week.

Main features of AirPods Pro 2

  • Same design as previous AirPods Pro
  • Powered by the Apple H2 chip
  • Sound improved with new low distortion drivers
  • Improved noise cancellation (Apple says double the amount of ANC)
  • Adaptive transparency mode
  • Personalized spatial audio
  • The charging case now has a built-in speaker at the bottom that allows it to play a sound using the precision Find My feature
  • 6 hours of built-in battery capacity (1 hour more than original AirPods Pro) with 24 hours more in the charging case
  • Added touch-swipe controls pinch the controls on the stems
  • Now you can charge with Apple Watch charger along with Qi wireless chargers
  • Lanyard can be attached to the case (lanyard not included)
  • Price: $ 249, £ 249, AU $ 399
  • Shipping date: September 23 (available for pre-order on September 9)

The second generation AirPods Pro earphones are powered by Apple’s new H2 chip.


Read more: The best wireless earbuds for 2022

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