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Apple AirPods Pro 2 vs AirPods Pro: what’s the difference, and which one should you buy?

If you need to plug your ears with some sweet Apple tech, you probably want to know the main differences between the new Apple AirPods Pro 2, and AirPods Pro. Thankfully, it’s all covered on this page.

The 2022 AirPods Pro (referred to as the AirPods Pro 2 for simplicity), was announced alongside the new iPhone 14 and Apple Watch ranges, becoming the official successor to the original 2019 AirPods Pro earbuds.

With the scene set, let’s take a look at the main differences and what’s changed:

Apple AirPods Pro 2 vs AirPods Pro: price and release date

Announced during Apple’s 7 September launch event, the AirPods Pro 2 are available to pre-order from 9 September, ahead of their 23 September release date. They can be snapped up for $249/£249 — the same as the original model’s launch price. Hooray!

Apple AirPods Pro 2 vs AirPods Pro: design

The AirPods Pro 2 are fairly similar in design to their predecessors, though there are a few notable changes. There’s a smaller XS-sized ear-tip thrown in for starters, letting users with smaller ears find a more comfortable fit. You might also prefer to opt for these smaller tips if you want better passive noise isolation to complement the built-in active noise cancellation (ANC).

The actual physical design of the buds themselves remain similar, with the stem very much returning in full force. There is one huge — and very welcome — internal change though. Thanks to built-in touch controls, you can now change the volume with a mere swipe up or down, saving you from faffing around with your handset.

Case-wise, little has physically changed, although there is now a lanyard loop for extra peace of mind. Cleverly, the case has a built-in speaker too, letting you ping it via your iPhone so you can more easily track it down. Naturally, you can have it engraved with emojis or stickers, if you so choose.

Apple AirPods Pro 2 vs AirPods Pro: features

Beyond the built-in volume controls, there are a few other major features in the AirPods Pro 2 worth getting excited about. The first of these is Apple’s brand new H2 chip, which we’re told will “double” the ANC performance, thanks to some advanced computational processing wizardry.

The Transparency Mode (which lets you hear your external surroundings without having to remove your earbuds) has also been improved. Adaptive Transparency, as it’s known, is able to adjust itself in real-time, so that if there’s a sudden loud noise — like, say, a crane dropping a steel beam into a container of squeaky rubber chickens — the transparency levels will automatically reduce to avoid having your eardrums blown out. Nice.

Interestingly, a new feature will also allow the use of personalised spatial audio, which involves using an iOS 16-powered iPhone or iPad’s true depth camera system to create a personal audio profile based on your ear, to deliver a custom-tuned listening experience. This is in addition to the existing spatial audio feature (found in the AirPods 3), which uses Dolby Atmos magic on supported content to create an effect of 3D space when you move your head.

Overall, there are a fair few new features compared to the original AirPods Pro, though the biggest and most convenient one for most people in day-to-day use will be the built-in volume controls.

Apple AirPods Pro 2 vs AirPods Pro: sound quality

We can’t comment on the quality of the AirPods Pro 2 listening experience until we’ve popped a pair in our own ears for a full review, but we can look at the hardware differences and make an educated guess.

The AirPods Pro 2 land with a new low-distortion driver, along with a custom amplifier. In theory, Apple’s promise of richer bass and crystal-clear sound should be kept, and we expect to hear more detail and clarity compared to the first-gen AirPods Pro.

Apple AirPods Pro 2 vs AirPods Pro: which one should you buy?

While we can make any final recommendations until we’ve properly reviewed the AirPods Pro 2, it’s clear that their new features offer plenty of improvements across the board. If they sound as good as their specs promise, then we see no reason not to grab them at launch. Unless, of course, you’ve found a good deal on the original AirPods Pro and aren’t fussed about the new features.