Apple AirPods Pro
Apple AirPods Pro is a higher version of Apple AirPods (2019), with better noise reduction and slightly better sound quality. They cost more, but have additional features – including adaptive equalizer, active noise cancellation, and support for surround sound.
- Better noise reduction
- More convenient
- Dolby Atmos Spatial Audio is fantastic
The Apple AirPods remain decent wireless earbuds. There is not much difference in sound performance, but they are less convenient and have no extra features. Even so, their advanced age means you can often find decent discounts, making them great value for money.
- Similar sound performance
- Same battery life
- Great value for money
- Less comfortable
- No extra features
Are you having trouble choosing between Apple AirPods and AirPods Pro (2019)? We understand why you are attracted to these two pairs of best Apple headphones, but there are some differences you need to be aware of.
Genuine Apple AirPods are instantly recognizable and very popular. Still, the AirPods Pro (2019) are the culmination of years of work on true wireless technology, meaning they’re a higher version of Apple’s headphones – and at a higher price to match.
The AirPods Pro (201) are much more convenient and offer a host of great features, including adaptive equalizer, active noise cancellation, and support for surround sound. That’s why they’ve rounded up the best true wireless earbuds of 2022. It’s worth mentioning that there is now a newer version of the Pro headphones, the AirPods Pro 2, which brings big improvements in both functionality and audio performance.
In this comparison, it may seem like we suggest that the AirPods Pro (2019) are always a better choice than regular AirPods. But there is more to consider. They’re way more expensive than standard AirPods, which has led many people to wonder if it’s worth upgrading to the AirPods Pro (2019) or if they should stick with the cheaper AirPods Apple updated in 2019.
To learn more about both pairs of buds, take a look at our Apple AirPods (2019) review and our Apple AirPods Pro review. But if you’re short on time, see the key differences between them to find out which AirPods model is right for you.
Difference # 1: AirPods Pro (2019) have noise reduction
The most noticeable difference between the two headphones is that the AirPods Pro use active noise cancellation, rather than relying only on passive noise reduction.
The level of noise reduction with Buds Pro can be adjusted and even set to “transparent mode”, which allows you to hear what is happening around you without removing the headphones from your ears.
Unfortunately, regular AirPods don’t offer any level of active noise reduction. Instead, there is a noise reduction effect due to the seal they create in the ear canal. However, the effect is negligible as they don’t have silicone or foam ear tips.
Difference # 2: AirPods Pro (2019) are waterproof
If you want to take your Apple headphones to the gym, go for the more expensive AirPods Pro. They have an IPX4 rating which means they are sweat and water resistant compared to the non-water resistant AirPods.
This doesn’t mean you should take your new high-end AirPods Pro headphones with you to the pool – if they fall out or stay submerged for too long, they will be damaged. If you’re looking for something to take to the pool, you’ll need a pair of the best swimming headphones instead.
Difference # 3: The AirPods Pro (2019) have custom earbuds
For a perfect fit, the AirPods Pro offer more personalization options than the one-size Apple AirPods. You’ll find several ear tips in the box, and if you’re not sure which one to use, Apple can even help you find the right fit with a Quick Audio Test and adjust the sound to the structure of your ear.
Since the tips of the AirPods are plastic, you’ll get stuck with them – although some find them more comfortable than the silicone ear tips you have to put in your ear.
Difference # 4: The AirPods Pro (2019) have a pressure valve inside
If you’ve ever felt uncomfortable wearing earbuds, it could be due to a slight, annoying, but not life-threatening build-up of pressure in your ear. To remedy this, the AirPods Pro uses a tiny pressure valve to relieve pressure in the ear – a feature Apple borrowed from the Powerbeats Pro.
This is a minor benefit of the Pro series headphones, but worth considering, especially if you are sensitive to pressure build-up.
Difference # 5: The AirPods Pro (2019) have an adaptive EQ
Inside the headphones themselves are internal microphones that can measure the volume. They are crucial for effective noise reduction, but as a bonus, they can also be used for features like Adaptive EQ, which optimizes sound quality for your physiology.
How it’s working? According to Apple, the AirPods Pro “automatically tunes low and mid frequencies” with a custom high dynamic range amplifier that “produces clean, incredibly clear sound while extending battery life.” Clever!
Difference # 6: … and they offer a wider soundstage and a slight increase in clarity
While you won’t find a huge difference in sound performance between the two AirPods, many people have noticed a slightly wider soundstage (how the individual instruments can be clearly heard) and a slight increase in overall clarity when using the AirPods Pro. That’s probably because the AirPods Pro’s buds have a slightly larger frequency range and a slightly larger chamber that allows the sound to expand more.
Difference # 7: AirPods Pro (2019) are shorter and more powerful than AirPods
It’s more of an aesthetic than a functional difference, but the AirPods Pro are slightly shorter and thicker than regular AirPods. The iconic tips of the headphones do not reach as far into the ear as the Pro, but will cover more of the ear due to their larger housing.
However, both have a slightly futuristic look that some find unattractive – and many others love. Either way, both models are undoubtedly “Apple”.
Difference # 8: AirPods Pro (2019) are expensive, way more expensive
Finally, a category where regular AirPods stand a chance: At $ 249 / £ 249 / $ 399, the AirPods Pro are significantly more expensive than regular AirPods.
Since the launch of the AirPods 3, the second-generation Apple AirPods have had a steady drop in prices and now cost $ 129 / £ 119 / $ 219.
Previously, they cost $ 159 / £ 159 / $ 249 with the standard charging case and $ 199 / £ 199 / $ 319 with the included wireless charging case. You can still buy the wireless charging case separately for $ 79 / £ 79 / $ 129.
If you’re looking to swap a regular case for a wireless charging case, the price of regular AirPods jumps to $ 199 / £ 199 / AU $ 319 putting them within reach of your AirPods Pro.
However, these prices keep dropping down regularly – especially for regular AirPods headphones. Below you can check out the best AirPods and AirPods Pro deals we found in your region:
Difference # 9: AirPods Pro (2019) support surround sound
AirPods Pro with noise reduction received an update from iOS 14, which allowed for surround sound.
This feature works on 5.1, 7.1 and Dolby Atmos systems, which position the sound around you in a virtual sphere – this means that if you are watching a Dolby Atmos movie showing an airplane flying overhead, it will sound as if the airplane is passing over you.
In addition to enabling clever virtual Dolby Atmos, AirPods Pro can track the movement of your head and device to ensure that audio always seems to come from the right position.
Read our Surround Sound Guide and Dolby Atmos Guide to learn more about these advances in audio technology.
Difference # 10: AirPods Pro (2019) come with Conversation Boost
Conversation Boost is designed to help you hear your conversations more clearly when talking to people face to face.
When this feature is turned on, the microphones in the AirPods Pro isolate voices from other ambient sounds. You can adjust the gain, transparency and tone levels of what you hear.
Apple introduced this feature with iOS 15, and your device will need to run this software in order to work. To turn on Conversation Boost, go to Settings> Accessibility and tap Audio / Video under Hearing. Then turn on the accommodation in the headphones and turn on the transparency mode. Finally, scroll down to Conversation and turn it on.
Apple AirPods vs AirPods Pro (2019): Are There Any Similarities?
So far we’ve focused on the differences, but two true wireless earbuds have a lot in common.
Both are true wireless earbuds with a similar-sized housing and a battery life of around 3.5 hours on a single charge and over 24 hours with the battery case.
They also have fairly similar sound quality, with slight differences in the soundstage / clarity – until surround sound is turned on. Both use the new Apple H1 Wireless chip, which enables hands-free “Hey Siri” functionality, seamless compatibility with iOS, and is integrated with the Apple Find My network.
Apple AirPods vs AirPods Pro (2019): Which AirPods Should You Buy?
If you’re bothered by outside noise while working or commuting, need a waterproof for the gym, or are sensitive to pressure build-up in your ears, it’s probably worth paying a little extra for the Apple AirPods Pro.
But if your main concern is audio quality or battery life, you can save a ton of money by sticking with the basic AirPods.
If you’re looking for a happy middle ground between the two models read our Apple AirPods 3 review. Or, if you’re convinced you want the best of the best sound, take a look at the recently launched Apple AirPods Pro 2 instead.