In Depth

Apple AirPods Pro: first reviews, specs, price and UK release

New flagship earphones introduce noise cancelling and water resistance

Apple introduced a new Pro version of its AirPods earlier this week, on the back of a string of leaks that all but revealed the high-fidelity wireless earphones. 

AirPods Pro, commonly referred to as AirPods 3 ahead of their release, boast a brand new design that swaps the all-plastic body on the current regular AirPods for one with silicone earbuds.

There are plenty of hardware improvements, too. Among the key upgrades is a noise-cancelling mode and improved audio playback that should add an extra kick to drum tracks and bass lines. 

Unlike with Apple’s new mobile devices, such as iPhones and iPads, audiophiles won’t have to wait a week to get their hands on the company’s latest product. Apple has now started stocking the earphones in its stores, while online orders should take around three to five days to deliver.

Here’s what you need to know about AirPods Pro:

Design and tech

AirPods Pro has only just made its official debut, but the design of Apple’s premium earphones was leaked well in advance.

Apple news site 9to5Mac discovered a “glyph” of the new earphones hidden in the code of the latest version of iOS 13, revealing that AirPods Pro would adopt a multi-element design as opposed to the single-piece AirPods. 

While the new body is made of plastic, Engadget reports that AirPods Pro come with silicone earbuds “that offer a better seal” in the ear than the rigid, all-plastic design of Apple’s standard earphones. 

The silicone buds are “essential” for AirPods Pro’s noise-cancelling technology, the tech site claims. The earphones employ two microphones that analyse the user’s surroundings 200 times a second to eliminate background noises, though the feature can be deactivated if desired. 

Sound quality has also been improved, courtesy of a new “adaptive EQ [equaliser]” that automatically modulates bass and mid-range frequencies “based on the shape of a person’s ear”, Gizmodo reports. There are also custom amplifiers to deliver better sound fidelity.

As for battery life, AirPods Pro can last for around 4.5 hours on a single charge with noise cancellation on, or five hours with the feature switched off, the tech site notes. The latter figure matches that of the regular AirPods, which do not come with a noise-cancelling mode. 

The earphones are water resistant, too, making them ideal for those planning to wear them at the gym.

Reviews

You’ll notice a difference between the AirPods Pro and Apple’s regular earphones almost immediately, says Engadget. The improved sound quality delivers “bassy” low frequencies and “a bit more warmth and presence” compared to the standard AirPods. 

Flick on the active noise cancelling feature and the sound quality becomes clearer still. The high-fidelity earphones are “more than capable of quieting the noise of a raucous office,” the tech site says, though they “won’t render a packed subway car completely silent.”

Some users dislike in-ear devices as “they feel pressure when wearing them”, according to The Verge. To prevent this, Apple has designed a “vent” system that “equalises pressure on both sides of each earbud so you never have that buildup of air.”

Overall, says T3, AirPods Pro “look like a slam dunk” for audiophiles fans that want “brilliant-sounding headphones with the slickest possible experience on your iPhone”.

Price and UK release

AirPods Pro are available to order now for £249, a premium of £90 over Apple’s regular earphones. 

Unlike the standard AirPods, however, the Pro earphones come as standard with a charging case that can be wirelessly topped-up and an assortment of silicone tips for different ear shapes.

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