The new Apple AirPods Pro (2022) are more tick than tock

Apple's best buds just got better.

AirPods Pro 2
Apple AirPods Pro (2022)
4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5
Chip
H2
Battery life
6 hours per charge, 30 hours total
RRP
$399
Fergus Halliday
Digital Content Editor
Read More
October 12, 2022
6 min read

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Quick verdict: Apple AirPods Pro

The new AirPods Pro are just as impressive as the original premium true wireless earbuds. The noise cancelling is top-notch, the sound quality remains standout, and the stem-based control scheme offers up a tangible advantage on everything else in the market. Add in a few iOS exclusive features and the sum total is easy to get along with.

pro
Pros
pro Smart design tweaks
pro Better noise cancelling
pro More battery life
con
Cons
con Still quite pricey at $399
con Has to be used with iOS or macOS to access the best features
con Uses Lightning cable for wired charging

While it isn't exactly unusual for the company to wait a healthy three years before refreshing a product like the AirPods Pro, the fact that the premium true wireless earbuds have continued to hold sway over that period is a testament to just how much Apple got right the first time around.

Chances are that you could walk out of an Apple Store with a set of AirPods Pro today and probably come away pretty happy with the results they deliver. Part of that is down to how Apple has shored up the capabilities of the earbuds through software updates over time. Most of it is due to just how compelling and balanced the $399 earbuds are to begin with.  The original AirPods Pro were never billed as cheap, but they delivered heartily on the promise of convenience and capability without compromise. 

While the bar for true wireless earbuds has moved over the past three years, it hasn't moved that much. These circumstances have suited the original AirPods Pro nicely. However, they place the new second-generation model in an odd spot. Beyond the obvious, there aren't many clear ways for the AirPods Pro to be better without being different.

Faced with that dilemma, Apple has come up with an unsurprising answer.

AirPods 2 Pro review header

How much does AirPods Pro (2022) cost in Australia?

Apple's best earbuds still command a high price

In Australia, the new Apple AirPods Pro have a recommended retail price of $399.

More than just a match for the original, this price point puts the new earbuds on the higher side of the market, and on par with fare like the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 3. Still, as with those earbuds, it can pay to look around. Check out the table below for a round-up of Australian pricing for the new AirPods Pro.

Retailer
Price
More info
Apple
$399
Amazon
$398
Mwave
$399

Apple AirPods Pro (2022) - Design and features

AirPods Pro S or AirPods Pro 2?
AirPods 2 Pro review 1

The new AirPods Pro are a restrained reinvention of the original, with small distinctions adding fresh character to a familiar form factor. As far as product refreshes go, it's more tick than tock.

Like the first-generation, the new AirPods Pro are a sleeker and glossier take on the standard AirPod earbuds. They've got a pearly white exterior and a stemmed design that stands out from the more nubbish ergonomics seen elsewhere. The microphone grille has been repositioned, but the new premium earbuds are otherwise a dead-ringer for the predecessor.

For the most part, Apple has opted to stick with what works and exactly what you expect. The updated model feels nice to handle in the same way that its predecessors did. The build quality and design here isn't significantly better, nor is it worse.  The new AirPods Pro sometimes feel expensive, but rarely fragile. They're comfortable to wear and IPX4-rated against water damage.

As with the old model, the visual palette that Apple have used here can make the inevitable build-up of blemishes and gunk hard to miss. There are upsides and downsides to this visibility, but it's usually best to give the AirPods Pro a quick wipe-down before showing them off to anyone.

Under the hood, the second-generation version of the AirPods 2 come armed with Apple's new H2 processor. Stepping in where the H1, the Apple-made chip comes complemented by a new low distortion driver, custom amplifier and the promise of additional detail and clarity.

The haptic controls on the outside of the AirPods Pro remain intact, not to mention a clear highlight.

As someone who has reviewed dozens of true wireless earbuds over the years, the ergonomics of the AirPods Pro's squeeze-based control are still best-in-class. This time around, you can slide a finger up or down the stem on the AirPods Pro to adjust the volume. It's a smart addition that adds the one piece of intuitive functionality missing in the original implement without losing any of the charm that comes with a control scheme this simple.

In line with the conventions of the category, the new AirPods Pro are stored in a compact case with rounded edges and the same clean aesthetics of the earbuds inside them. Relative to the earbuds themselves, this carry case offers up a bevy of small but visible design tweaks.  There's a new lanyard loop and a new built-in speaker that allows you to track a wayward case down using Apple's Find My app.

While the AirPods Pro still opt for wired charging via a Lightning cable rather than the more universally accepted USB Type-C, the new model offers support for wireless charging via Qi, Magsafe and even an Apple Watch charger. I really appreciated this additional flexibility during my time testing these earbuds.

Apple AirPods Pro (2022) - Performance and battery life

A surefire bet with brilliant sound
AirPods 2 Pro review 4

Used with an Android device, the new AirPods Pro sounded more than solid. I used my original set of AirPods Pro as my "everything earbuds" until they gave out, so it didn't take long for me to fall back into the habit. Still, pairing the new AirPods Pro with something made by Apple is something that you'll want to do instead if you want to get the best performance and the fastest pairing possible. 

Spatial Audio is still something of a novelty, but the AirPods Pro make a surprisingly moving case for the format. Even familiar songs like Benee's "Supalonely" and Måneskin's "Supermodel" offered up new depth and detail when listened to in this way. It's by no means a substitute for proper hi res or lossless formats, but if you're the kind of person who doesn't believe they're able to the difference then the AirPods Pro might be the earbuds that convinces you otherwise.

The fact that the noise cancelling here is as good as it is should not be a surprise, given the first-generation AirPods Pro. The isolation offered by the sequel is similarly accomplished.

Used at home or out and about, the new AirPods Pro cut out the vast majority of noise and other distractions. Providing a blank sonic canvas in a pinch, the earbuds provided a superb sound stage for music, audiobooks and podcasts alike.

The noise cancelling here was so good it makes other true wireless earbuds seem bad by comparison. The AirPods Pro made it possible to immerse myself in audio content even surrounded by the hustle and bustle of my local gym and could even keep up with a crying baby sitting near me on a recent flight to Melbourne. When it comes to noise cancelling, I can think of no higher praise than this.

Still, as with other true wireless earbuds, we put the new AirPods Pro to the test with a playlist designed to tease out the limits and strengths of the hardware inside each earbud.

This process struggled to find a situation where the new AirPods Pro fell short. Bass-heavy tracks like Carly Rae Jepsen's "I Didn't Just Come Here To Dance" fared just as well as the trebbley "Humming" by Portishead. Every test track I threw at these earbuds was served back into my ears as an exquisite listening experience.

As for the microphone on the new Apple AirPods Pro, it sounded just as crisp and clear as the one found on the older model. I struggled to find much of a difference in the recording quality. Granted, it's hard to complain too much about this when the bar is set as high as it is.

The first-generation AirPods Pro were distinguished when it came to battery life at the time of their original launch, but that aspect of the hardware hasn't aged as well as the noise cancelling has. Thankfully, the new Apple AirPods Pro are a solid upgrade when it comes to battery life.

You're looking at 6 hours of playback on a single charge, with thirty hours of listening time overall via the charger case. Even if this is not the absolute highest battery life you can find, it's more than enough for most people and more than most for enough people to sell them on the premium price.

Apple AirPods Pro 2 vs Apple AirPods Pro 1

Newer is better, but not necessarily worth an early upgrade

Whether you should spend the full $399 on the new AirPods Pro 2 or go looking for a discounted set of the first-generation model is going to come down to how much you care about the specific improvements that Apple has made here.

If you don't care that much about improved noise cancelling, you probably don't need the newer model. Same goes if you've only had your current earbuds for a short time. On the other hand, if ready to spend more, you probably won't regret investing in the second-generation AirPods Pro once you stick 'em in your ears and turn down the volume on the world around you.

For a full breakdown of how the two earbuds compare, check out our head-to-head comparison of the original Apple AirPods Pro and their 2022 model.

Are the Apple AirPods Pro (2022) worth buying?

A double down that doesn't smudge the smart stuff
AirPods 2 Pro review 2

Apple's new AirPods Pro don't reinvent the wheel, but it's hard to begrudge them for this adherence to a formula that works this well. In the absence of significant competition or innovation elsewhere, the sin of sticking with what works is far easier to forgive.

Every tweak that Apple has made here is for the better. Absent a price hike, these improvements leave the new AirPods Pro poised to take the reigns from the original as the best obvious choice for iPhone users who want a nice set of true wireless earbuds.

How do the new Apple AirPods Pro compare?

Product
Rating
Active noise-cancelling
Water resistance
Availability
Jabra Elite Active 4Jabra Elite 4 Active
3.3 out of 5 stars
3.25
From
$179
6 hrs (buds)
28 hrs (case/total)
propro
Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 ProSamsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro
4 out of 5 stars
4
From
$349
5 hrs (buds)
23 hrs (case/total)
propro

Disclaimer: Pricing and deal information only accurate as of the last page update. 

How we review true wireless earbuds

When we review earbuds, broadly speaking, we're looking at five main considerations:

  • Sound: Obviously. Do they sound good? 
  • Comfort & Design: Are they nice to wear? 
  • Features: Is the battery good? Is the connectivity reliable? What's the noise-cancelling like?
  • Vibe: What's the overall experience like? 
  • Value: Are they good for the money?

While audio products can be quite subjective for many reasons, we have standardised testing procedures across the team designed to help us look at the category in a consistent way. You can read more about how we review wireless earbuds here

Apple AirPods Pro (2022) FAQ

Here are the most frequently asked questions about Apple AirPods Pro (2022)
Which AirPods are best?

If you're looking for the best AirPods, look no further than the AirPods Pro. They have noise cancelling, plus more features and battery life than the standard AirPods.

Which AirPods are the best for iPhone?

Apple has put a lot of effort into making the process of using the AirPods and AirPods Pro with the iPhone as painless as possible. If you're looking for the best AirPods, the Pro are what you're after. However, if you're not a stickler for sound quality, it's hard to go too wrong for the conveniences offered by the standard model.

Which AirPods are the newest?

The most recent AirPods to hit the market at the time of writing are the new AirPods Pro, which launch in Australia in October 2022.

Fergus Halliday
Written by
Fergus Halliday
Fergus Halliday is a Digital Content Editor for Reviews.org who specialises in technology, entertainment, gaming and pop culture. His work has been published in Gizmodo, Kotaku, Press Start Australia, The AU Review, Screen Rant, Superjump and more. You can follow him on Twitter.

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