Apple AirPods Pro Truly Wireless Headphones Review

Reviewed Nov 08, 2019 at 10:07 am
Apple AirPods Pro Truly Wireless Picture
Usage Ratings - Version 1.3.1
7.4
Mixed Usage
7.3
Neutral Sound
8.0
Commute/Travel
8.4
Sports/Fitness
7.1
Office
5.7
Wireless Gaming
5.5
Wired Gaming
6.4
Phone Call
Type In-ear
Enclosure Closed-Back
Wireless Truly Wireless
Noise Cancelling Yes
Mic Yes
Transducer Dynamic

The Apple AirPods Pro are a welcome upgrade to the previous models of Apple AirPods. Their in-ear fit makes them much more stable in the ears, as well as improving their sound reproduction significantly, though some may find this design less comfortable. Their active noise cancelling works very well, and is among the best that we've tested on in-ear headphones, making them a good option to use while commuting or at work. While they're smaller than the previous models thanks to their shorter stems, they offer longer battery life and have an easier-to-use touch control scheme. Overall, they are better headphones than the Apple AirPods 2 Truly Wireless 2019, and are much more versatile for everyday use.

Our Verdict

7.4 Mixed Usage

The [nolink:Apple AirPods Pro] are decent mixed usage headphones. They're well-designed truly wireless headphones with a premium look and feel that matches previous models. Their sound reproduction is quite a bit better than the Apple AirPods 2 Truly Wireless 2019, which is a welcome improvement. Their ANC is also one of the best we've tested in a pair of truly wireless earbuds, making them a great choice for commuting or using in the office. They're very portable, stable and quite comfortable, making them a good option for sports as well.

7.3 Neutral Sound

The [nolink:Apple AirPods Pro] are okay for critical listening. Their sound is much better-balanced than previous models and while they're still a bit bass-light, they provide quite a bit more bass than the Apple AirPods 2 Truly Wireless 2019 due to their in-ear design. They're a little bright-sounding, but sound fairly more neutral and should be suitable for a wider variety of music genres. They feel very premium and are quite comfortable, meaning and you should be able to wear them for long listening sessions without any discomfort.

See our Neutral Sound recommendations
8.0 Commute/Travel

The [nolink:Apple AirPods Pro] are very good headphones for commuting. Their ANC works very well and they do a good job at isolating the low rumble of bus and plane engines. They're very comfortable which means you should have no problem wearing them for long commutes or even during extended travel days. Their battery life is slightly improved over previous models, at over five hours, which should be more than enough for most commutes. You may need to take a break to charge over long flights, however. They're also quite small and easy to take around with you.

See our Commute/Travel recommendations
8.4 Sports/Fitness

The [nolink:Apple AirPods Pro] are a great option for sports. Their silicon tip and in-ear design is incredibly stable and should have no problem staying in during strenuous workouts. They are small and lightweight, making them easy to toss in your pocket during workouts. Their bass is improved over previous models, which should help give you a little extra thump to get you motivated. Their ANC will also help keep you from getting distracted even when working out in a busy gym.

See our Sports/Fitness recommendations
7.1 Office

The [nolink:Apple AirPods Pro] are quite comfortable and block out a good amount of ambient chatter, making them good for office use. They're very lightweight and comfortable meaning you should be able to wear them for a full work-day without fatigue. Unfortunately their battery won't quite last a full day of work, and they take a bit longer than previous models to fully charge, meaning you may need to take a break from your music while they charge.

See our Office recommendations
5.7 Wireless Gaming

The [nolink:Apple AirPods Pro] are Bluetooth only and therefore are not recommended for wireless gaming. While they are compatible with a Bluetooth-enabled PC, Bluetooth has high latency which means they aren't ideal for multi-player games. They aren't compatible with either PS4 or Xbox One.

See our Wireless Gaming recommendations
5.5 Wired Gaming

The [nolink:Apple AirPods Pro] are wireless only and therefore cannot be used for wired gaming.

6.4 Phone Call

The [nolink:Apple AirPods Pro] aren't recommended for phone calls due to their poor microphone performance. Their microphone's recorded speech is very thin and muffled sounding. They also have only decent noise handling, meaning it may be hard for those on the other end of the line to hear you in noisy environments.

  • 7.4 Mixed Usage
  • 7.3 Neutral Sound
  • 8.0 Commute/Travel
  • 8.4 Sports/Fitness
  • 7.1 Office
  • 5.7 Wireless Gaming
  • 5.5 Wired Gaming
  • 6.4 Phone Call
Pros
  • Comfortable and stable fit.
  • Great ANC performance.
  • Decent audio reproduction.
  • Premium, well-built design.
Cons
  • Poor customization options, especially on Android.
  • Mediocre microphone performance.
  1. Update 11/21/2019: Converted to Test Bench 1.3.1.
  2. Update 11/11/2019: Converted to Test Bench 1.3.

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Video

Test Results

perceptual testing image
Design
Design
Style

The Apple AirPods Pro have a very similar style to the previous models, with some minor changes. The stems are now quite a bit shorter, but still retains the iconic AirPod look. They still have the same premium feel of previous models and look well-made.

7.5
Design
Comfort
Weight 0.01 lbs
Clamping Force
0 lbs

The Apple AirPods Pro are quite comfortable for in-ear headphones. They come with three sizes of silicon tips, and don't enter too deep into the ear canal. They are very lightweight and put no pressure on your ears, meaning they are barely noticeable.

6.3
Design
Controls
OS Compatibility
N/A
Ease Of Use Good
Feedback Decent
Call/Music Control Yes
Volume Control No
Microphone Control No
Channel Mixing
N/A
Noise Cancelling Control Yes
Talk-Through
Yes
Additional Buttons Voice enabled controls

The controls on the Apple AirPods Pro aren't bad. They don't have physical buttons but have an indented force sensor on the stem of each earbud. While it doesn't make a tactile sound, there is audible feedback through the headphones. The controls allow you to play/pause or answer phone calls with one tap, skip track forward with two taps, and skip back to the previous track with three taps. By default, a long press will activate the ANC, though this can be configured on an iOS device to activate Siri instead. Unfortunately, the long press can be a little difficult to activate, though this may be by design to prevent accidental clicks. All controls work on Android devices, though a long press will only activate ANC and cannot be configured to trigger other virtual assistants.

9.2
Design
Breathability
Avg.Temp.Difference 0.8 C

Like most in-ear headphones, the Apple AirPods Pro don't trap heat inside your ears, which makes them a suitable option for sports. You won’t notice a difference in temperature when wearing them and won’t sweat more than usual.

9.6
Design
Portability
L 1.2 "
W 0.9 "
H 0.9 "
Volume 1.0 Cu. Inches
Transmitter Required N/A

These truly wireless headphones are very portable. The earbuds are smaller than previous models, and are very lightweight.

9.0
Design
Case
Type Hard case
L 1.8 "
W 2.4 "
H 0.9 "
Volume 3.6 Cu. Inches

The case of these headphones is excellent. It's extremely small and portable, measuring only slightly larger than previous models. Like the Apple AirPods 2, it supports Qi wireless charging as well as a Lightning port. It should protect the headphones well against minor falls and scratches, but not against water damage.

8.0
Design
Build Quality

The AirPods Pro have the same build quality as previous models. They have a premium feel thanks to their high-quality plastic finish and should be durable enough to withstand a few accidental drops or bumps without sustaining too much physical damage. Unlike the Apple AirPods 2 Truly Wireless 2019, Apple has rated these headphones IPX4 for water and sweat resistance, which should help them survive through tough workouts, though we don't test this.

8.0
Design
Stability

These in-ear headphones have one of the most stable fits of any in-ears without stability fins that we've tested so far, and shouldn't fall out of your ears when working out or running. They don't move at all in your ears and don't break the seal, making them a good option for physical activity.

Design
Headshots 1
Design
Headshots 2
Design
Top
Design
In The Box

  • Apple AirPods Pro headphones
  • Charging Case
  • USB C-to-lightning cable
  • Three tip size options
  • Manuals

Sound
Sound
Sound Profile
Bass Amount
-3.2 db
Treble Amount
-0.79 db

Update 01/10/2020: After updating to Firmware 2C54, we retested the headphones and our results showed some minor changes to their sound reproduction. This review reflects these changes.

The Apple AirPods Pro have a fairly neutral sound profile, although a bit on the brighter side as they lack a bit of bass, but not as much as the standard Airpods models which are open-backs. Note that the AirPods Pro don't have the best frequency response consistency, so users might hear this differently.

9.3
Sound
Frequency Response Consistency
Avg. Std. Deviation
0.14 dB

Update 01/10/2020: After retesting the headphones upon updating to Firmware 2C54, we found their frequency response consistency to be significantly better. This review reflects these changes.

The frequency response consistency of the AirPods Pro is just okay. There is some noticeable variation throughout the range, which means people might not hear the same thing when using the same headphones, with small differences in bass and treble.

Sound
Raw Frequency Response
8.6
Sound
Bass Accuracy
Std. Err.
1.93 dB
Low-Frequency Extension
17.31 Hz
Low-Bass
-2.12 dB
Mid-Bass
-2.84 dB
High-Bass
-0.08 dB

Update 01/10/2020: After updating to Firmware 2C54, we retested the headphones and our results showed a fairly significant improvement to bass accuracy. This review reflects these changes.

The bass accuracy of the AirPods Pro is excellent. Thanks to their closed-back design, they don't have low-bass issues like the Apple AirPods 1 Truly Wireless 2017 and Apple AirPods 2 Truly Wireless 2019. However, the response is still a bit under our target curve, meaning some people might feel like they are a little light on bass.

8.1
Sound
Mid Accuracy
Std. Err.
2.59 dB
Low-Mid
1.75 dB
Mid-Mid
1.37 dB
High-Mid
3.72 dB

Update 01/10/2020: After updating to Firmware 2C54, we retested the headphones and our results showed a very slight reduction in mid accuracy, though it's quite minor and could simply be due to testing. This review reflects these changes.

The AirPods Pro have a very accurate mid-range performance. The reproduction of vocals and lead instruments is fairly well-balanced, although a bit over our target, especially in low-mid. This might sound a bit cluttered and forward, but most people won't notice this.

8.7
Sound
Treble Accuracy
Std. Err.
2.57 dB
Low-Treble
0.58 dB
Mid-Treble
-1.64 dB
High-Treble
0.35 dB

Update 01/10/2020: After updating to Firmware 2C54, we retested the headphones and our results showed a very slight reduction in treble accuracy, though overall the frequency range is a bit flatter, with fewer peaks. This review reflects these changes.

The treble on the AirPods Pro is extremely accurate and follows our curve well. Vocals, lead instruments, and sibilants will have the right amount of detail and brightness and will sound natural.

8.0
Sound
Peaks/Dips
Peaks
1.17 db
Dips
1.31 db

These headphones have a well-balanced response that doesn't have too many peaks and dips. The overemphasis in low-treble might clutter vocals a bit, but this won't be noticeable for most people.

8.3
Sound
Imaging
Weighted Group Delay
0.12
Weighted Amplitude Mismatch
2.11
Weighted Frequency Mismatch
1.38
Weighted Phase Mismatch
2.86

The stereo imaging of the AirPods Pro is great. The group delay graph shows it's under the audibility threshold, resulting in a tight bass and treble reproduction. The L/R drivers of our unit were also well-matched, with a slight mismatch in amplitude, but most people wouldn't notice it with real-life content as it's very minor. Note that these results are only valid for our unit and yours may perform differently.

0.8
Sound
Soundstage
PRTF Accuracy (Std. Dev.)
N/A
PRTF Size (Avg.)
N/A
PRTF Distance
N/A
Openness
1.9
Acoustic Space Excitation
2.3

The soundstage of the AirPods Pro is bad. This is because creating an out-of-head and speaker-like soundstage is largely dependent on activating the resonances of the pinna (outer ear). The design of in-ears and earbuds is in such a way that fully bypasses the pinna and doesn't interact with it. Also, because these headphones have a closed-back enclosure, their soundstage won't be perceived to be as open as that of open-back earbuds like the Apple AirPods 2 Truly Wireless 2019.

8.2
Sound
Weighted Harmonic Distortion
WHD @ 90
0.214
WHD @ 100
0.078

The weighted harmonic distortion performance of the AirPods Pro is great. This results in a clean and pure audio reproduction, and the bump in the treble range shouldn't be audible for most people. There's also no big jump under heavier loads, which is good.

Isolation
8.1
Isolation
Noise Isolation
Isolation Audio
Overall Attenuation
-21.91 dB
Bass
-15.9 dB
Mid
-22.97 dB
Treble
-27.59 dB

Update 01/10/2020: After updating to Firmware 2C54, we retested the headphones and our results showed a fairly significant drop in isolation performance, primarily in the bass-range. This means that with ANC turned on, these headphones won't do nearly as good a job blocking out the low engine rumbles of planes or buses as they did before this update. This review reflects these changes.

Update 12/04/2019: After receiving multiple reports of the ANC being worse than before after the 2B588 firmware update, we retested the Apple AirPods Pro's noise isolation performance and didn't get noticeable test result differences. Apple might have tweaked the ANC, but not enough to noticeably impact the overall performance.

The noise isolation of these headphones is impressive. They do a good job isolating the low rumble of bus or plane engines, making them good for commuting. Their mid-range performance is also great, making them excellent for blocking out ambient chatter. Their weakest isolation performance is in the treble range, though this is the least important for most situations and they still do a decent job.

8.2
Isolation
Leakage
Leakage Audio
Overall Leakage @ 1ft
32.59 dB

The leakage performance of these headphones is very good, and much better than previous models due to their in-ear design. They leak the most sound in the treble range, meaning the leaking will be thin-sounding. It's unlikely that these headphones will bother those around you.

Microphone
Microphone
Microphone Style
Integrated
Yes
In-line
No
Boom
No
Detachable Boom
N/A

The microphone on the Apple AirPods Pro is unremarkable. Speech recorded with the microphone will sound very thin and muffled. The microphone performs best in quiet environments like conference rooms or on quieter streets. In louder environments, like busy streets or on the subway, the microphone will have a tough time separating speech from background noise.

5.4
Microphone
Recording Quality
Recorded Speech
LFE
630.82 Hz
FR Std. Dev.
5.29 dB
HFE
22988.02 Hz
Weighted THD
204784053.405
Gain
7.31 dB

The recording quality of the Apple AirPods Pro's microphone is passable. Speech recorded sounds very thin and muffled, though you should still be able to make out what's being said.

6.4
Microphone
Noise Handling
Speech + Pink Noise
Speech + Subway Noise
SpNR
16.18 dB

The noise handling of the Apple AirPods Pro's microphone is mediocre. In quiet environments you should have no problem, but in noisier situations like on busy streets or on the subway, it will likely have a hard time separating your voice from background noise.

Active Features
6.8
Active Features
Battery
Battery Type
Rechargable
Continuous Battery Life
5.3 hrs
Additional Charges
5
Total Battery Life
31.8 hrs
Charge Time
1.1 hrs
Power Saving Feature
Standby mode
Audio While Charging
Yes
Passive Playback
No
Charging Port Lightning

The battery life of the Apple AirPods Pro is decent at just over five hours with ANC turned on. This is about an hour longer than previous models, even with the addition of ANC and a smaller form factor. The case will also give you an additional 5 charges and lets you charge one earbud while you use the other, which is convenient. Unfortunately, they take longer to fully charge, though they're still quite fast at just over one hour. On the upside, the battery charged to around 70% in only 20 minutes, meaning a quick charge should get you around 3-4 hours of playback. When not in use, these headphones enter a standby mode which will help conserve battery a bit, but not completely as they still stay on.

5.5
Active Features
App Support
App Name N/A
iOS Yes
Android No
macOS Yes
Windows N/A
Equalizer
No
ANC Control
Yes
Mic Control N/A
Room effects
No
Playback Control
No
Button Mapping Yes
Surround Sound No

The Apple AirPods Pro don't really have a companion app, just a settings screen on iOS devices. They have slightly more customization options than the Apple AirPods 2 Truly Wireless 2019, with ANC and transparency mode toggle, and the ability to change long-press on each earbud to either ANC control or Siri activation. The app also allows you to do a Fit Tip Test to help find which size tips give the best fit, though we had mixed results from this. There are no customization options for Android devices. However, if you do prefer having a bit of customization, check out the Amazon Echo Buds and their 3-band EQ or the Anker SoundCore Liberty Air 2 with their 20 available presets.

Connectivity
7.1
Connectivity
Bluetooth
Bluetooth Version
5.0+H1 chip
Multi-Device Pairing
No
NFC Pairing
No
Line of Sight Range
171 ft
Default Latency
227 ms
aptX Latency
N/A
aptX(LL) Latency
N/A

These are Bluetooth-compatible truly wireless headphones. They use the H1 chip for Apple Devices which helps with pairing, connection strength and latency. Unfortunately, our testing dongle doesn't support Bluetooth 5.0 or interact with the H1 chip so you may experience better overall performance when paired to an Apple device. If you want more gaming-oriented truly wireless headphones for non-iOS devices, check out the Razer Hammerhead True Wireless.

0
Connectivity
Non-Bluetooth Wireless
Non-BT Line of Sight Range
N/A
Non-BT Latency
N/A

These headphones are only Bluetooth compatible.

0
Connectivity
Wired
Analog Audio
N/A
USB Audio
N/A
Detachable N/A
Length N/A
Connection N/A
Wired Latency
N/A

These headphones can't be used wired, which is expected with truly wireless headphones. They charge via the included USB-C to Lightning cable, but don't include a charging power brick.

Connectivity
PC / PS4 Compatibility
PC / PS4 Analog
No
PC / PS4 Wired USB
No
PC / PS4 Non-BT Wireless
No

These headphones are compatible with PC via Bluetooth if your PC is Bluetooth-compatible or you have the correct USB dongle. They aren't compatible with PS4.

Connectivity
Xbox One Compatibility
Xbox One Analog
No
Xbox One Wired USB
No
Xbox One Wireless
No

These headphones are Bluetooth only and are not compatible with Xbox One.

2.2
Connectivity
Base/Dock
Type
Charging Case
USB Input
No
Line In
No
Line Out
No
Optical Input
No
RCA Input
No
Dock Charging
Yes
Power Supply
Lightning

The charging case for these headphones is very premium feeling and is rather small considering its battery capacity. It charges via Apple's Lightning port or any wireless Qi charging pad.

Compared to other headphones

Comparison picture

The Apple AirPods Pro are decent truly wireless earbuds that look and feel premium and have great ANC. Their sound reproduction may not be as good as some similarly-priced options from competitors, but they are a big improvement over the Apple AirPods 2 Truly Wireless 2019. We suggest taking a look at our recommendations for the best truly wireless earbuds, the best noise cancelling earbuds, and the best wireless earbuds for iPhone.

Sony WF-1000XM3 Truly Wireless
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

The Apple AirPods Pro offer similar performance to the Sony WF-1000XM3 Truly Wireless but have much better ANC. Their sound profile is similar, though the Sonys are much more consistent among users. The Sony also provide longer battery life and a much more customizable app with a full graphic EQ for both Android and iOS. The Apple, on the other hand, are more comfortable in the ear and feel significantly more stable.

Bose SoundSport Free Truly Wireless
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

The Apple AirPods Pro Truly Wireless are better truly wireless headphones than the Bose SoundSport Free Truly Wireless. They have a great ANC feature that blocks ambient noise and their case is noticeably smaller and more portable. The Bose are bigger and have an earbud design, and aren't quite closed-backs, meaning you'll be able to monitor your surroundings, which is great for outdoor runners. The SoundSport also sound a bit more neutral with a more accurate bass performance.

Samsung Galaxy Buds Truly Wireless
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

The Samsung Galaxy Buds Truly Wireless are similarly performing earbuds to the Apple AirPods Pro. Their sound profile is very similar, though they are much more consistent among different users. They offer Android users lots of customization options including EQ presets, while the Apple have very minimal customization overall. Their battery life is also significantly better. The Apple, on the other hand, offer ANC which gives you much better noise isolation. They also provide seamless pairing for Apple users thanks to their H1 chip.

Jabra Elite 75t Truly Wireless
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

The Apple AirPods Pro Truly Wireless perform similarly for mixed usage to the Jabra Elite 75t Truly Wireless. They're equally comfortable, but the Elite 75t have a much better control scheme, a better microphone, and a customizable sound profile. On the other hand, the Apple feel slightly more premium, fit more stable, have slightly better overall battery life, and have a better-balanced and more neutral sound profile out-of-the-box.

Beats Powerbeats Pro Truly Wireless
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

The Beats Powerbeats Pro Truly Wireless have better sound reproduction than the Apple AirPods Pro. They also have a better control scheme, great battery life, and a more sports-friendly ear-hook design. On the other hand, the Apple feel a bit more premium, have significantly better noise isolation thanks to their ANC, and a much smaller and more portable design that still feels just as stable in the ear.

Amazon Echo Buds Truly Wireless
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

The Apple AirPods Pro Truly Wireless are slightly better truly wireless in-ears than the Amazon Echo Buds Truly Wireless. They're more comfortable, feel better built, have a much smaller case, and have better ANC. On the other hand, the Echo Buds have access to a 3-band graphic EQ and charge quicker.

Bose QuietComfort 35 II/QC35 II Wireless 2018
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

The Bose QuietComfort 35 II/QC35 Wireless 2018 and the Apple AirPods Pro Truly Wireless are two great products, but for different uses. The QC35 II's over-ear design is more comfortable and the ANC blocks more ambient noise. On the other hand, the Apple are more portable and better for sports thanks to their better stability and breathability performances.

Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

The Apple AirPods Pro Truly Wireless are better truly wireless headphones than the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless. They're more comfortable and also features a great ANC feature that blocks ambient noise. They're also more stable for sports, and have a more neutral out-of-the-box sound profile.  The Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless look a bit more high-end and barely leak any noise at high volume. They also have volume control, which the Apple lack.

Anker SoundCore Liberty Air 2 Truly Wireless
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

The Anker SoundCore Liberty Air 2 are similar truly wireless in-ears to the Apple AirPods Pro. The Apple are more comfortable, have a better case, feel better-built, and have ANC. On the other hand, the Anker have better controls, a more bass-heavy sound profile, and a better dedicated app.

Sony WH-1000XM3 Wireless
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

The Sony WH-1000XM3 Wireless and the Apple AirPods Pro Truly Wireless are two very different headphones. Some may prefer the comfort of over-ears while some would prefer the portability of a truly wireless design. When it comes to noise isolation, both are great, but the Sony are better in this regard thanks to their amazing ANC feature. On the other hand, the Apple are more neutral sounding and are noticeably more stable and breathable, which is great for sports.

Razer Hammerhead True Wireless
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

The Apple AirPods Pro Truly Wireless are better truly wireless in-ears than the Razer Hammerhead True Wireless as they're much more comfortable, feel more premium, and have a much better-balanced sound profile. On the other hand, the listening experience is more consistent among users with the Hammerhead, and with gaming mode enabled, their latency is lower on non-iOS devices.

Apple AirPods 2 Truly Wireless 2019
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

The Apple AirPods Pro are much better than the Apple AirPods 2. Their sound reproduction is much better, especially in the bass range, and their in-ear design and ANC provides significantly better noise isolation. They have an easier-to-use control scheme and feel much more stable in the ear. On the other hand, the non-intrusive fit of the AirPods 2 may be more comfortable to some people, and they charge much quicker.

Anker SoundCore Life P2 Truly Wireless
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

If you can afford them, the Apple AirPods Pro are better truly wireless headphones than the Anker SoundCore Life P2 Truly Wireless. They are more comfortable, feel much more premium, and have ANC to help block ambient noises. On the other hand, the Anker have a similarly well-balanced sound profile and offer good overall value if you don't want to pay the premium price for the Apple.

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Apple AirPods Pro Truly Wireless Price

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