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AirPods Pro vs AirPods 2: Ten differences (should you upgrade?)

Image shows airpods pro on the left versus airpod 2 on the right

AirPods Pro is the most recent true wireless earbud from Apple. It joins the Powerbeats Pro, AirPods 2, and AirPods 1 as Apple strives to dominate the wireless earbuds market. If you are planning to buy AirPods, it can be very difficult to make a choice. On one hand, you have the AirPods Pro with a ton of features, but they cost a lot more. On the other hand, you have the more affordable AirPods 2, whose features are sufficient for most people. In this article, I will explain the major differences between AirPods 2 and AirPods Pro. After this, it will be easier to determine which one is suitable for you.

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Appearance and design differences

Let’s start with the appearance. AirPods Pro and AirPods 2 have a similar design. However, the AirPods Pro has a shorter stem and ear-tips that make feel a bit more comfortable in your ears. Apple actually includes 3 different sizes of ear tips in the box. Those ear tips also reduce the probability for the AirPods Pro to slip out of your ears. AirPods 2, on the other hand, have a longer stem and no ear tips. Colorwise, Apple only released the white color for both models.

Charging case dimension differences

The AirPods 2 charging case is taller and slightly slimmer with the following dimensions;

AirPods 2 charging case dimensions. Height by Width by Depth. 53.5mm * 44.3mm * 21.3mm.  The case weighs 40grams.
  • Height: 53.5 mm (2.11 inches)
  • Width: 44.3 mm (1.74 inches)
  • Depth: 21.3 mm (0.84 inch)
  • Weight: 40 grams (1.41 ounces)

AirPods Pro charging case is wider and slightly thicker as follows;

  • Height: 45.2 mm (1.78 inches)
  • Width: 60.6 mm (2.39 inches)
  • Depth: 21.7 mm (0.85 inch)
  • Weight: 45.6 grams (1.61 ounces)
AirPods pro charging case dimensions. Height by Width by Depth. 45.2mm * 60.6mm * 21.7mm.  The case weighs 45.6grams.

Active noise canceling

The next major feature that differentiates both is the Active noise canceling on the AirPods Pro. It achieves this by using its two microphones and silicone ear tips. Its ear tips create a physical barrier that blocks our external sounds. The outward-facing microphone listens to external noise from your surroundings and the AirPods cancel it with anti-noise before it reaches your ears. The inward-facing microphone performs the same procedure to cancel unwanted sounds from within your ears. Apple says that the active noise canceling is “continuously adjusted at 200 times per second”. You can turn off active noise canceling and switch to transparency mode if you want to listen to external sounds. The Apple AirPods 2 simply doesn’t support active noise canceling.

This image illustrates how the outward facing microphone on the AirPods Pro listens to external sound and assists in active noise cancellation
Active noise canceling on Apple AirPods Pro | Credit

Physical control differences

If you take a closer look at the stem of the AirPods Pro, you can see an indent on two sides. Those indents mark the location of a pressure sensor that works as a physical button with which you can control your AirPods Pro. A long press would toggle between noise cancellation and transparency mode. More conveniently, you can also switch between the two when you long-press the volume slider, in the control center on an iPhone or iPad. On AirPods 2, there is a different type of physical controls. They are touch-sensitive instead of pressure-sensitive. However, they only respond to a single command, “Double Tap”. Here’s how the controls on both models work.

AirPods 2 touch sensor controls

  • Double-tap to play.
  • Double-tap to skip forward.
  • And double-tap to play answer calls.
airpods 2 touch sensor location
This image illustrates the indent on the stem of the Apple AirPods Pro that houses the force sensor. This force sensor can be used as a physical button to control the Apple AirPods Pro.

AirPods Pro Pressure sensor controls

  • Long press to switch between transparency and active noise canceling modes.
  • Press once to play pause or answer a call.
  • Two presses to skip forward.
  • Press three times to skip backward.

Sweat and water resistance differences

AirPods 2 does not have an official water and sweat resistance rating even though people use them for running and gym (usually without any consequences). AirPods Pro, on the other hand, does have an official sweat and water resistance of IPX4. So it has sweat resistance and silicone ear tips that make them stay better in your ears. And that makes the AirPods pro better than the AirPods 2 for the active lifestyle.

Swappable ear tips

Instead of just a bare plastic tip like on AirPods 2, the AirPods Pro has soft silicone ear tips. Those ear tips improve grip and make the AirPods Pro feel more comfortable than the AirPods 2. Moreover, you can swap them out and change the sizes. Apple actually includes 3 different sizes in the box.

This image illustrates the swappable ear tips of the Apple AirPods Pro. Apple includes three sizes in the box. Large, medium and small.
Apple AirPods Pro ear tip sizes | Credit

Don’t know which ear tip size is good for you? Don’t worry the AirPod Pro app can assist you. When you run the test in the settings menu, it plays a few seconds of music while the inward-facing microphone analysis the sound in your ear canal. If there is too much difference between the original sound and the sound recorded by the microphone, that means the ear tips might be loose. Therefore the app will recommend you change them and try another until you can find the best possible size. This feature is not Applicable to AirPods 2 because they don’t have the ear tips.

A pressure vent

Ear tips are good because they help seal out noise. But while they block out noise, they also trap air and create high pressure inside your ear canal. It makes you feel as if you are underwater and can be quite uncomfortable. AirPods 2 doesn’t cause this issue because it doesn’t use silicone ear tips. But on the AirPods Pro, there are silicone tips. However, there is also a pressure vent that equalizes the pressure between your ear canal and the outside. So you wouldn’t feel that discomfort where you hear your own voice a little too loud when wearing the AirPods.

Adaptive equalizer

AirPods Pro’s adaptive equalizer is simple but revolutionary. It automatically tunes music according to the shape of your ears by using a custom high dynamic range amplifier that. The inward-facing microphone listens to the sound reflected back to it from within your ear canal, then Adaptive EQ adjusts the mids and lows to suit your ear profile. But it only works when active noise cancellation is on. Adaptive Equalizer technology is completely absent in AirPods 2.

Sound quality difference

The sound quality of Apple AirPods 2 is already fairly good. But with improvements such as; silicone ear tip seals, active noise canceling, and the adaptive sound equalizer, the AirPods Pro sounds way better than AirPods 2. That is as long as active noise canceling stays on. Adaptive EQ makes the AirPods Pro better suited for a variety of music styles. Individual instruments also sound clearer in AirPods Pro than in AirPods 2 because its frequency range and sound chamber are a little wider.

Price difference

Apple packed a ton of features that clearly distinguish the AirPods Pro from the AirPods 2. And all these extra features come at an extra cost. The Apple AirPods Pro cost a lot more than the AirPods 2.

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