This story is part Focal Point iPhone 2022CNET’s collection of news, tips and advice on Apple’s most popular product.
The long-talked-about AirPods Pro (2nd Gen) are official. Apple has unveiled its latest true wireless noise canceling headphones as part of its iPhone 14 “Far Out” event. They’re available to pre-order now and will ship from September 23 for $249 (£249, AU$399).
The new AirPods Pro follow the original noise-canceling model that debuted in October 2019. They’re powered by Apple’s new H2 chip, which offers more processing power while being more energy efficient, according to Apple. . The new chip, along with new low-distortion drivers, allows for improved sound that should offer better clarity and depth. Noise cancellation is also improved – Apple claims the new AirPods have “double” the noise cancellation of the original AirPods Pro.
Apple/Screenshot by Sarah Lord/CNET
Pre-orders for the AirPods Pro 2022 model begin September 9, with the first sets of new earbuds beginning to ship September 23.
My first hands-on impressions
I had the chance to try the AirPods Pro 2 for a limited time during the launch event in the loud demo area, with hundreds of people around me. Noise cancellation seems improved, although it was only able to drown out the din in the room. I also thought the headphones sounded cleaner and clearer than the original AirPods Pro while listening to a few tracks on Apple’s iPhone 14 demo phones. (I was unable to use the earphones with my own iPhone and the leads I normally use to test headphones.)
I think getting a tight seal is really important to get the best noise cancellation and sound quality. Apple hasn’t changed the design of its ear tips – with the original AirPods I use the large ear tips and I also use third-party foam tips – but it will now include an extra-small fourth ear tip for those with small ears.
Some people were hoping the new AirPods Pro would be able to stream Apple Lossless tracks wirelessly. Apple hasn’t mentioned anything about it, but some features may be revealed later. With the original AirPods Pro, for example, Apple didn’t introduce Spatial Audio until months after they were released.
On the spatial audio front, Apple says the AirPods Pro now feature 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 feature as well as touch swipe controls on the stems to add to the pinch controls.
Battery life is now six hours on a single charge (up from five), and the case gives you 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.
While some people may be disappointed that Apple hasn’t done more to improve the design of the AirPods Pro 2 (there are some tweaks to the microphone setup and a few other small improvements, including the vents), the AirPods Pro 2nd Gen are largely what I expected them to be: better-sounding AirPods Pro with better noise cancellation, better battery life, and a wireless charging case with improved features.
I’ll have a lot more to say about them in my full review – stay tuned – where I’ll compare them to other best noise canceling headphones including Bose’s new QuietComfort II headphones which were also unveiled this week.
Key Features of AirPods Pro 2
- Same design as previous AirPods Pro
- Powered by Apple H2 chip
- Improved sound with new low distortion drivers
- Improved noise cancellation (Apple says double the amount of ANC)
- Adaptive transparency mode
- Custom spatial audio
- The charging case now has a built-in speaker on the bottom that allows it to play sound using the Precision Find My feature
- 6 hours of built-in battery capacity (1 hour more than the original AirPods Pro) with an additional 24 hours in the charging case
- Touch swipe controls added pinch the controls on the rods
- Can now charge with the Apple Watch charger as well as Qi wireless chargers
- The lanyard can be connected to the case (lanyard not included)
- Price: $249, £249, AU$399
- Shipping date: September 23 (available for pre-order September 9)
Read more: Best wireless headphones for 2022
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