AirPods Pro 2 vs. AirPods Pro: What are the differences?

AirPods Pro 2
(Image credit: Apple)

The AirPods Pro 2 are here, and they are practically perfect. But how do they stack up against the original AirPods Pro?

Because sure, AirPods Pro delivered on all fronts: an upgraded H2 processor, updated touch controls, better active noise cancellation, longer battery life, and more. And heck, you can regularly see them with $50 off the list price.

But more often than not, you can cop the original pro-tier earbuds at around $150 depending on stock, which given Apple doesn't produce these anymore, is dwindling fast.

So, let's answer two key questions with this in mind. If you own the original AirPods Pro, is the second generation worth an upgrade? And if you're new to the AirPods family, is the additional cost of Pro 2 worthwhile? Let's get into it.

AirPods Pro deals

AirPods Pro 2 vs. AirPods Pro: Specs

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Header Cell - Column 0 AirPods Pro 2 AirPods Pro
Price$249 Roughly $150
Wireless charging caseYes (included)Yes (included)
ProcessorH2H1
Battery life (rated)6 hours, 30 hours (with charging case)4.5 hours (ANC on), 5 hours (ANC off), 24 hours (with charging case)
IPX ratingIPX4IPX4
Size and weight (buds)1.22 x 0.86 x 0.94 inches, 0.19 ounces1.22 x 0.86 x 0.94 inches, 0.19 ounces
Size and weight (charging case)1.78 x 0.85 x 2.39 inches, 1.79 ounces1.8 x 0.9 x 2.4 inches, 1.6 ounces
Special features: Active noise cancellation, Adaptive EQ, Touch control, Personalized Spatial Audio, automatic switching, audio sharing, announced messages with Siri, Enhanced Find My, “Hey Siri” voice-activated assistance, Live Listen, Lost Mode, MagSafe charging case with speaker and layered loopActive noise cancellation, transparency mode, adaptive EQ, Spatial Audio, automatic switching, Ear Tip Fit Test, audio sharing, announced messages with Siri, Enhanced Find My, “Hey Siri” voice-activated assistance, Live Listen, MagSafe charging case (2021 version)

AirPods Pro 2 vs. AirPods Pro: Price

If you're after the AirPods Pro 2, the price is still $249/£249 — same as what the original AirPods Pro costed at launch. Well, only if you're planning a purchase on Apple's official website. 

(Image credit: Apple)

While the AirPods Pro have always been $249, plenty of third-party retailers have dropped the price well below $200, especially during big sales.

For first generation AirPods Pro, your choices are quite limited. Sometimes, you'll see some new stock appear. But this will be inventory leftovers, as Apple doesn't make these anymore. Most of the time, they will be refurbished and cost around $150, which is pretty impressive value for money for what you get.

AirPods Pro 2 vs. AirPods Pro: Design

If you enjoyed the design of the AirPods Pro, then you'll be delighted to hear they haven't really changed. Although, you can expect a few updates to the touch controls. 

(Image credit: Alex Bracetti/Future)

There were rumors that Apple was working on making the AirPods Pro 2 smaller and more like the stemless Beats Studio buds. However, the AirPods Pro 2 are nearly identical to their predecessors. However, the stems have a few new controls, thanks to the new Touch Controls. While you'll still need to squeeze the tiny stems to play, pause, and skip forward or backward, you can now swipe up or down to adjust the volume.

One extra design change comes with the added silicone ear tip. The AirPods Pro 2 will now come with an XS ear tip to allow for a better tip for more people. 

(Image credit: Alex Bracetti/Future)

The charging case, however, underwent a small change that makes a big difference. The first is the addition of a small speaker near the bottom, which will play a loud sound when Find My is activated, making it that much easier to find the wayward case. Plus, there's a new loop so you can attach a lanyard so they don't get lost in the first place. 

AirPods Pro 2 vs. AirPods Pro: Audio

The audio quality, balance, and clarity on the AirPods Pro are already good, but the AirPods Pro 2 aim to heighten the quality to another level. This is through a number of improvements, namely thanks to the new H2 processor over the H1 in the last-gen model.

The biggest feather in Apple's cap is that active noise cancellation (ANC) is getting better performance. More precisely, "2x more" ANC over the AirPods Pro. With noise-cancelling microphones and a rear vent, the AirPods Pro 2 can detect sound coming in and reduce how loud it is. 

(Image credit: Alex Bracetti/Future)

The newly introduced Adaptive Transparency is a breakthrough moment for transparency modes on any earbuds. In fact, this could be the best transparency mode in the category (more testing will determine its ranking). 

Working in my “office,” I was able to keep tabs on the little one and listen to music simultaneously. The mics also captured vocals well to hear and communicate clearly with people. The technology also does a plausible job of reducing blaring sounds (e.g., jackhammers, sirens).

There's also personalized Spatial Audio and adaptive EQ, but the latter is not anything new compared to the original AirPods Pro that boast the same. Of course, thanks to the H2 processor, responsiveness to head movement is a little quicker, but its good to know these are present in both.

This works through iOS 16 and the TrueDepth camera on your iPhone — creating a personal spatial audio profile that is unique to the size and shape of your head and ears. The result is impressive.

I pulled up Earth, Wind, & Fire’s “September” and was immediately enthralled from the start with the horns blowing vibrantly. Apple’s dynamic head-tracking exhibited superb accuracy, with all instruments transitioning smoothly from left to right ear whenever moving my head in each direction. 

Speaking of, that H2 chip is said to deliver lower distortion during playback, along with deeper bass and crisper highs. That's thanks to the H2 working with a new custom-built driver and amplifier.

AirPods Pro 2 vs. AirPods Pro: Additional features

AirPods Pro 2 vs. Beats Fit Pro

(Image credit: Alex Bracetti/Future)

As for the charging case, it's now compatible with Find My with Precision Finding, thanks to U1 chip. Your iPhone will be able to navigate to where you last left it, and the speaker will emit a loud tone so you can find out where it's hiding, too. 

Plus, the speaker will indicate charging, pairing, and low battery. That's a huge jump over the AirPods Pro case, which really just charges the AirPods and keeps them nice and cosy, without any of these useful features.

AirPods Pro 2 vs. AirPods Pro: Battery life

The original AirPods Pro had a rated battery life of 4.5 hours. Apple has extended the battery life to a much-needed 6 hours. Paired with the charging case, you get over 30 hours of battery life, making it one of the longest-lasting wireless earbuds on the market (identical to the AirPods 3, in fact). 

(Image credit: Apple)

Sadly, the AirPods Pro 2 are still Lightning dependent (for now, until the EU's USB-C law kicks in). However, you can now charge the case via an Apple Watch charger in addition to a MagSafe or a Qi charger.

Outlook

So, this is a pretty foregone conclusion. If given the choice between AirPods Pro and AirPods Pro 2, pick the latter. 

The improvements are significant enough across both the audio quality and the user friendly features to make these an obvious buy. With the H2 chip, enhanced touch controls that let you swipe for volume adjustment, better ANC, and improved Transparency mode, these earbuds offer the upgrades many AirPods fans have been looking for.

Plus, with the regular discount bring them down to less than 200 bucks, it makes that $150 purchase of a refurbished pair of Pro 1s a whole lot less enticing.

Where things get a little sticky, though is when you compare the AirPods Pro 2 with Nothing ear (2)...

Jason England
Content Editor

Jason brings a decade of tech and gaming journalism experience to his role as a writer at Laptop Mag. He takes a particular interest in writing articles and creating videos about laptops, headphones and games. He has previously written for Kotaku, Stuff and BBC Science Focus. In his spare time, you'll find Jason looking for good dogs to pet or thinking about eating pizza if he isn't already.