Why You Probably Don’t Need to Buy the ‘New’ AirPods ProReading Time: 3 minutes
AirPods Pro finally support USB-C charging, but that’s about it.
Today might seem like it’s all about the iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Pro, but Apple made plenty of other notable announcements too. One of those concerns AirPods Pro. While the company didn’t exactly revolutionize its premium wireless earbuds, there is one big change coming: support for USB-C charging.
The biggest change with this AirPods Pro release is the charging case, which now features a USB-C charging port instead of a Lightning port. This switch follows Apples changeover from Lightning to USB-C on the iPhone 15, a circumstance forced upon the company by the E.U.
Apple may not have added USB-C to its devices willingly, but regardless, it’s a great change for us. The more USB-C compatible devices you own, the fewer cables you need to lug around. This is especially nice for anyone who is new to the Apple ecosystem (or willing to upgrade everything at once), since iPhone 15 owners will be able to use the same cable to charge their phone and their earbuds. (And their MacBook, and their iPad.)
Not too much, actually. These earbuds are now rated for dust resistance, which the previous version wasn’t (new models have IP54 resistance, versus the older IPX4). And if you have one of the new iPhone 15 models, you can charge your AirPods Pro (2nd Generation) directly from your phone using a USB-C to USB-C cable.
The earbuds themselves haven’t changed: They’re still the same AirPods Pro (2nd Generation) that launched last year alongside the iPhone 14 series. That’s not a bad thing, as the second-gen Pros have a lot going for them. The case has a built-in speaker, a U1 chip with Precision Finding (which makes locating your AirPods Pro easy via the Find My app), a lanyard loop, and support for both Qi-certified wireless charging and MagSafe charging. You can, of course, also charge with a wired connection to the USB-C port. Battery life is good, too: You’ll get up to 30 hours of listening time from the charging case, and up to six hours on the earbuds themselves.
The earbuds are powered by the Apple Silicon H2 chip, which has an Adaptive EQ that automatically adjusts your music to suit your ear shape. They also offer Active Noise Cancellation, Transparency mode, touch controls, and Spatial Audio support with dynamic head tracking.
When using these AirPods Pro with an iPhone running iOS 17, you’ll get access to features like Adaptive Audio, a new listening mode that combines Transparency mode and Active Noise Cancellation, so the noise level is adjusted based on your surroundings.
There’s also Conversation Awareness, which lowers your audio content volume and enhances the voices in front of you when you’re talking to someone. The new Personalized Volume feature uses machine learning to better understand environmental conditions and anticipate the volume you tend to set your AirPods to so it can craft a better listening experience for you over time.
At the end of the day, these are simply second-gen AirPods Pro with a USB-C charging case. While that is certainly convenient, it’s not an upgrade, at least not at the $249 price tag. If you already have a pair of second-gen AirPods Pro, or even a working first-gen pair, you shouldn’t feel compelled to shell out the money just for USB-C compatibility.
If you’re newly in the market for AirPods Pro, there’s never been a better time to buy them. A USB-C charging case makes your tech life even easier, and the added dust resistance is great. If you buy an iPhone 15, you may even like charging your AirPods while using your phone.
But at the same time, you may find discounts on AirPods Pro (2nd Generation) with a Lightning case, since they’re ‘old news.’ As the AirPods themselves are identical to the USB-C model, you won’t be losing out on any crucial features. You may still need to carry a Lightning cable with you, but depending on the discount, the hassle could be worth it.
The Apple AirPods Pro (2nd Generation) with USB-C are up for pre-order now for $249, and will start shipping on Sept. 22.
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