AirPods versus AirPods Pro

Apple has been a much beloved brand since its establishment in 1977. It revolutionised the mobile industry, offering products consumers didn’t even know they wanted. Its global success has launched a number of phones and accessories. In this article, we review and compare their wireless earphones - the AirPods and AirPods Pro

Last updated: 5th Aug 2020 at 9:15am

History of Airpods

If you’ve been an Apple fan from the start, there’s no way you missed their 2016 AirPods announcement. This was Apple’s answer to Bluetooth-enabled wireless headphones, and of course they were met with both praise and ridicule

The original AirPods became the certified ‘first generation’, as three years later in March 2019, Apple released the ‘second generation’. Not even a year later, the AirPods Pro were released in October 2019, forming the trio of Apple wireless earphones on the market today. 

There are multiple differences between each version of AirPods; let’s take a look at what separates them so you can pick the best one for you. 

Design

Apple has a signature aesthetic that it doesn’t tend to stray from. Its phones are predictably sleek, with the circular home button and soft edges being a staple of the brand. 

Like its wired earphones, the wireless version uses the same shape that Apple is known for. The plastic, canal-shaped earphones are a one-size only feature of the first and second generation. 

If you don’t find those comfortable, or they just don’t fit properly in your ears, the AirPods Pro feature silicone cushions that cup the end of the earphone, which makes for a softer fit and more customisable than the standard version. 

Both versions can have engravings on the case for a personalised touch.

Cost

As expected, the newer the model, the more expensive it is. 

The AirPods range in price from £130 - £160, depending on the retailer you purchase from. Sometimes companies like Amazon and John Lewis offer Apple products a few pounds below its retail price, so if you are comfortable ordering from non-Apple websites, this could be a great way of saving money. 

The AirPods Pro can be picked up between £200 - £250, (again) depending on the retailer. Although they retail for almost £100 more, the Pro dooffer a few extra features which you might deem worth it. 

Wireless Connection and Processor

All models are 100% wireless, removing the need for plugs and headjacks. However, with Bluetooth, delays and interruptions can sometimes occur. Each version of the AirPods has a processor which functions with the rest of the headphone to supply a faster connection. 

 

Processor Chip

Benefits

AirPods [1st gen]

W1

Simple, standard connection

AirPods [2nd gen]

H1

2x faster when switching between devices

 

1.5x faster connection time for phone calls 

 

30% lower gaming latency

AirPods Pro

H1

Controls listening levels for noise cancellation

 

Low audio processing latency due to employment of 10 audio cores

The H1 chip also allows Siri to be activated, so you can use your earphones to correspond with your AI voice, rather than your phone. 

In terms of wireless connection, they have been known to pair very easily to any Apple device. Their processor chips increase the speed of any Bluetooth connection, and customers are typically pleased with the efficiency of the pairing. 

Sound Quality

The original AirPods attribute their high-quality sound to the speed of their processor. 

The speech-detecting accelerometer filters out external sound when you are on a phone call so your voice is clear and not muffled. 

The flagship feature of the AirPods Pro is their noise cancelling ability, which allows you to pick between transparency mode to hear the environment around you, and noise cancelling to fully immerse yourself in the music. 

The Pro earphones are able to achieve this noise cancelling technology through a variety of design features: the cushion fit around the earphone blocks out external noise, an outward microphone detects external sound and counters it with anti-noise technology, and Adaptive EQ is used to tune music to the shape of your ear. 

The high-excursion, low-distortion speaker driver installed inside its hardware also allows for high quality music playing, with deep bass and clear sound. 

Playback Features

To enhance the audio experience, the AirPods have multiple playback features. They have optical sensors, which assist in controlling your audio experience by pausing music when the earphone is taken out, accessing the microphone when a phone call comes through, and playing sound as soon as they are in your ears. 

The AirPods Pro also allows the user to pause, play, rewind, and skip music just with taps. This ensures an easier user experience, so you don’t have to keep adjusting in order to answer calls or alter the volume. 

Battery

A lot of Apple reviews praise the longevity of their battery life. Both the AirPods and AirPods Pro deliver high-performing batteries with decent listening time on just one charge. 

 

Listening Time (on one charge)

Battery Life (charging case)

AirPods (1st and 2nd)

Up to 5 hours of listening time before needing to be plugged back into the case to recharge 

 

Up to 3 hours of talk time 

More than 24 hours of battery life you can use to charge your earphones, before needing to recharge the case itself 

 

(15 minutes of charging = 3 hours of listening time / 2 hours of talk time)

AirPods Pro

Up to 4.5 hours (slightly less due to the extra noise-cancelling features)

More than 24 hours (15 minutes of charging = 3 hour of listening time)

AirPods 2nd Generation

The earphones come with a wireless charging case, which can be placed on a Qi certified charging mat. Or, if you’d prefer to charge it with a wire, you can use a Lightning port and plug it into the mains. 

AirPods Pro

These are wirelessly charged, and come with the case included. You will have to buy a wireless charger or you can charge them with a Lightning port. 

Overview

The first and second generation of AirPods don’t have too many differences, other than a slightly faster processor chip. With the release of the AirPods Pro and rumours of new AirPods possibly making an appearance in 2021, the first generation has vanished slightly as Apple themselves have stopped selling them. They are only available through external retailers. 

If you’re looking for noise cancelling earphones, then the upgraded Pro might be the ones for you. Otherwise, if you’re not too bothered by external sound, or simply don’t want to pay as much money, the AirPods are still a reliable option for good sound and versatile features. 

 

Interested in other Apple products? Feel free to read our posts on the iPhone XI and our guide to the iPhone 11, 11Pro and XR

No contracts, no limits
No contracts, no limits

With no contract you have the freedom to flex your usage whenever you need to

Roam like you're home
Roam like you're home

Use your bundle in 50 european destinations for no extra cost

Speed and reliability
Speed and reliability

Powered by the nations largest network you can relax knowing you have the best coverage

Extremely helpful staff Alexandria was very helpful. The hold music was LIT! :) keep up the good work!

Alex, Gosport

The lady i dealt with was excellent, she could not have been more helpful, i am very pleased and very impressed, she was wonderful, thank you very much.

Allan, Cumbernauld

Excellent service.. advisor sounded alive and positive... Big thumbs up

Andrew, Gloucester

Without wishing to sound cheesy, the customer service is the main reason I stay with Asda mobile. Your staff are a delight to deal with.

Colum, Northern Ireland