Apple's original high-end AirPods Pro feature several improvements over the second-generation AirPods, including active noise cancellation, improved sound quality, and water and sweat resistance. To help decide between the AirPods 2 and AirPods Pro, read our side-by-side comparison of the earphones below.

AirPods vs. AirPods Pro Differences

AirPods Pro features in bold:

  • $249 vs $129
  • Three Ear Tip Sizes vs. One
  • Noise Cancelation vs. None
  • Water Resistance vs. None

AirPods vs AirPods Pro comparison chart

Design and Fit Differences

AirPods Pro sport an in-ear design with three sizes of soft, flexible silicone tips that click into place, including small, medium, and large. Meanwhile, the standard AirPods have a one-size fits all design. While many people found this adequate, some users had issues with the original AirPods design falling our or hurting their ears. Apple says the new tips are designed to conform to your ear shape, keeping the AirPods Pro secure, while a vent system equalizes pressure to minimize discomfort.

AirPods Pro also have a feature named the Ear Tip Fit Test that checks the fit of the ‌earphones in your ears to determine which size of ear tips provides the best seal and acoustic performance. Ear Tip Fit Test can be accessed by tapping the info icon next to your ‌AirPods Pro‌ in Settings > Bluetooth.

5 1
Apple says advanced algorithms work together with the inward-facing microphones in each AirPod to measure the sound level in the ear and compare it to what is coming from the speaker driver. In just seconds, the algorithm detects whether the ear tip is the right size and has a good fit, or should be adjusted.

AirPods Pro and AirPods both have a familiar white plastic design with a stem dropping below the ear. However, while the regular AirPods are also placed in the ear, they do not have silicone ear tips.

Size and Weight Differenes

AirPods Pro are very slightly heavier than regular AirPods at 5.4 grams per earphone versus 4.0 grams, respectively. Apple says the AirPods Pro are engineered for comfort and fit, something many early reviews back.

AirPods Pro Only: Noise Cancellation and Transparency Modes

AirPods Pro feature active noise cancellation, removing background noise and allowing a user to focus on what they're listening to.

airpodsprocontrolcenter
Two microphones assist with this feature. The first is outward-facing and detects external sound, which the AirPods Pro then cancel out with anti-noise before it reaches the listener's ear. A second inward-facing microphone listens toward the ear so that the AirPods Pro can cancel out any remaining noise detected.

Apple says the noise cancellation feature continuously adapts the sound signal 200 times per second for the best results.

If a user wants to hear something around them, they can simply press and hold the force sensor on the stem of the AirPods Pro to jump between active noise cancellation and "Transparency" mode, which lets outside sound in when necessary, such as when paying for a coffee or talking to someone nearby.

AirPods Pro have a "force sensor" on the stem to switch between active noise cancellation and Transparency mode. Press the force sensor once to play, pause, or answer a phone call; press twice to skip forward; press three times to skip back; and press and hold to switch between the listening modes.

airpods pro force sensor
The regular AirPods do not have a force sensor, active noise cancellation, or a Transparency mode.

Sound Quality Improvements in AirPods Pro

Apple says the AirPods Pro deliver "superior sound quality" thanks to "Adaptive EQ," which automatically tunes the low- and mid-frequencies of the music to the shape of an individual's ear.

Apple on the AirPods Pro:

A custom-built high-excursion, low-distortion driver delivers powerful bass. A super efficient high dynamic range amplifier produces pure, incredibly clear sound while also extending battery life. And Adaptive EQ automatically tunes music to suit the shape of your ear for a rich, consistent listening experience.

Early reviews have generally agreed that the AirPods Pro sound better than the regular AirPods, but there will always be some subjectiveness.

AirPods Pro also feature an expanded mesh microphone port that Apple says improves call clarity in windy situations.

Battery Life Similar

Apple says the AirPods Pro last up to 4.5 hours per charge with noise cancellation and Transparency mode enabled. With those features disabled, the AirPods last up to five hours, consistent with the regular AirPods.

AirPods Pro also provide up to 3.5 hours of talk time per charge, up slightly from three hours with the second-generation AirPods.

Both the AirPods and AirPods Pro come with charging cases that provide additional charges for more than 24 hours of total listening time and more than 18 hours of total talk time. AirPods Pro have a wider charging case to accommodate the ear tips, but the battery does not appear to be much larger.

Added Water Resistance in AirPods Pro

AirPods Pro feature IPX4-rated water resistance, while the AirPods have no water resistance rating.

The "4" in "IPX4" means "water splashing against the enclosure from any direction shall have no harmful effect." Apple says the AirPods Pro are "sweat and water resistant for non-water sports and exercise," so the earphones should not be submerged in any amount of water or else damage may occur.

What's in the Box for Each

AirPods Pro come with a Lightning to USB-C cable in the box, whereas regular AirPods have a Lightning to USB-A cable. AirPods Pro also ship with three sizes of ear tips, a wireless charging case, and documentation.

"Hey Siri" and Bluetooth: Same

airpods pro internals
Both the second-generation AirPods and AirPods Pro feature an Apple-designed H1 chip that enables hands-free "Hey Siri" support for calling someone, controlling music playback, having messages read aloud, and more with voice commands. The first-generation AirPods do not support this feature.

Both the AirPods and AirPods Pro support Bluetooth 5.0.

Pricing Difference

In the United States, AirPods Pro are priced at $249 with a wireless charging case. The second-generation AirPods are available for $129. In other words, the AirPods Pro are $120 more expensive than AirPods.

AirPods Pro vs. AirPods Bottom Line

The regular AirPods are a perfectly fine choice for truly wireless earphones, with roughly the same battery life as the AirPods Pro. Choose the higher-end AirPods Pro if you desire improved sound, noise cancellation, and water resistance.

Related Roundups: AirPods 3, AirPods Pro
Related Forum: AirPods

Top Rated Comments

rajador Avatar
60 months ago
I received them this afternoon and after a lot of messing around I'm going to return them.I have the first version of airpods to compare and I expected that the sound would be much better and is imperceptible. Only better bass is appreciated but surely it's because the rubber seals the ear and closes the ear canal. The noise cancellation is minimal, and the most surprising is the transparency mode that is only curious because it gives the effect of not having them in the ear but the feeling of the rubber in your ear all the time ruins the experience. A pity because I wanted them so badly. I would emphasize the design, I love that the rod where the battery goes is smaller and thanks to the angle more closed, looks like glued to the cheek not as in the 1/2 versions that is sometimes pointing out. The case I like it more, more horizontal surface helps to put them back in the case... such a pity ;(
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
squizzler Avatar
60 months ago
Apple customers will always want more expensive, more recent model.

This never-ending debate on audio quality in AirPods is tiresome and needs to be ended. It’s Bluetooth, wireless, everyday casual use headphones. Don’t expect wonders.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Weaselboy Avatar
60 months ago

Is there a document out there on how to clean AirPods Pro? Can’t see one
https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT208729

Here you go.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
mrping Avatar
60 months ago

I received them this afternoon and after a lot of messing around I'm going to return them
Same here, for the same reasons
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Weaselboy Avatar
60 months ago

I’m having a hard time deciding. I have 2nd generation and I’m very happy with them. The Pros are cool but not sure if the cost is justifiable. Regular AirPods are just simple. Put them on and go. I can hear the music or radio show and if someone talks to me I can hear them. Just simple. With Pros I am tempted to use noise cancellation mode but then if someone talks to me I have to fumble in search of way to quickly switch them off or take them out. Just not sure I need all these options. If I need music quality or real noise cancelation I can use my over the ears headphones.

Still confused.
I have the Airpods 2 and just bought the Pro mainly for the noise cancellation. I take a morning walk each day and I wanted the ANC to cut down on the background traffic noise, and they work well for that. But if I did not have that specific need for the ANC, I would have happily just kept using the Airpods 2 model.

So IMO unless you think your usage pattern will really benefit from the ANC, there is little reason to upgrade.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Weaselboy Avatar
60 months ago

Is there any documentation on what you can ask Siri to do with the headphones? Like raise/lower volume, skip song, noise cancellation, etc?
I watched the iJustine review and she demo'd everything you listed there with the new model.
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Popular Stories

iOS 18 Mock iPhone 16 Feature Gray

Revealed: iOS 18 Works With These iPhone Models

Monday June 10, 2024 3:57 am PDT by
iOS 18 will be compatible with the same iPhone models as iOS 17, according to a post on X today from a private account with a proven track record of sharing build numbers for upcoming iOS updates. iOS 18 will be compatible with the iPhone XR, and hence also the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max models with the same A12 Bionic chip, but older iPhone models will miss out. Here is the full...
ios 18 tile summary

Apple Announces iOS 18 With New Customization Features, Redesigned Photos App, and More

Monday June 10, 2024 10:17 am PDT by
Apple today previewed iOS 18, the next major update to the operating system for the iPhone, with new customization features, a redesigned Photos app, and more. iOS 18 features new customization tools for the Home Screen. App icons now feature Dark Mode and users can tint them with a color to create a unique look. Apps can also now be placed anywhere on the Home Screen freely. The Control...
WWDC24 Live Coverage Article

WWDC 2024 Apple Event Live Keynote Coverage: iOS 18, Apple's AI Push, and More

Monday June 10, 2024 9:20 am PDT by
Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) starts today with the traditional keynote kicking things off at 10:00 a.m. Pacific Time. MacRumors is on hand for the event and we'll be sharing details and our thoughts throughout the day. We're expecting to see a number of software-related announcements with a focus on Apple's efforts to infuse AI throughout its operating systems and apps....
iOS 18 Siri Integrated Feature

Massive iPhone Upgrade Coming This Week But These Devices Will Miss Out

Sunday June 9, 2024 1:25 pm PDT by
Apple is planning a major AI overhaul in iOS 18, with a feature set it is referring to as "Apple Intelligence." However, these new features will not work on older iPhones, even if they do appear on the new operating system's device compatibility list. Apple's initial AI roadmap for iOS 18 is said to come in two parts: Basic AI features that will be processed on-device, and more advanced...
ios 18 button bulge

iOS 18 Adds Pop-Out Bezel Animation When Pressing iPhone Buttons

Tuesday June 11, 2024 10:40 am PDT by
iOS 18 includes a small but interesting change for the buttons on the iPhone, adding more of a visual element when changing volume, activating the Action button, or locking the screen. When you press an iPhone button in iOS 18, the display bezel bulges outward slightly. This feature is available for the volume buttons, Action button and the power button, and it will also likely be used for...
Next Gen CarPlay WWDC24 1

Apple Provides Updated Look at Next-Generation CarPlay at WWDC 2024

Monday June 10, 2024 7:11 pm PDT by
Apple today shared a few WWDC 2024 coding sessions related to its upcoming next-generation CarPlay system ahead of its launch later this year. The sessions include lots of updated next-generation CarPlay images, with one revealing new Vehicle, Media, and Climate apps in action for the first time. MacRumors previously discovered evidence of these apps in the iOS 17.4 beta. Next-generation...
iPad Air 5

New: iPadOS 18 Drops Support for These iPad Models

Monday June 10, 2024 4:16 am PDT by
iPadOS 18 will drop support for iPad models equipped with the A10X Fusion chip, according to a post on X today from a private account with a proven track record of sharing build numbers for upcoming iOS and iPadOS updates. In other words, iPadOS 18 will drop support for the 10.5-inch iPad Pro and the second-generation 12.9-inch iPad Pro. Support for the sixth-generation iPad, which uses the...