Apple has unveiled higher-end AirPods Pro with several improvements over the regular AirPods, including active noise cancellation, improved sound quality, and water and sweat resistance. To help decide between the AirPods 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 $199
  • 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 all-new 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 with a wired or wireless charging case for $159 or $199, respectively.

In other words, the AirPods Pro are $50 to $90 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, AirPods Pro
Related Forum: AirPods

Top Rated Comments

rajador Avatar
20 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: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
squizzler Avatar
20 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
20 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
20 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
20 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
20 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)

Top Stories

General Music and AirPod 3 Feature

Rumor: Apple to Announce Third-Generation AirPods and HiFi Apple Music Tier on May 18

Thursday May 13, 2021 10:32 pm PDT by
A new rumor suggests that Apple will announce the third-generation AirPods and the recently rumored HiFi, or high-fidelity Apple Music tier, on Tuesday, May 18, via a press release on its website. The new rumor comes from Apple YouTuber Luke Miani who shared the alleged exclusive news with the AppleTrack website. According to the YouTuber, Apple plans to release the next-generation AirPods...
apple park drone june 2018 2

Apple Fires Newly Hired Ex-Facebook Product Manager Following Revelations of Past Misogynistic Comments

Thursday May 13, 2021 12:10 am PDT by
Apple has fired Antonio García Martínez, an ex-Facebook product manager and author of the controversial book "Chaos Monkeys," following public and internal calls for removal and investigation due to past misogynistic statements, The Verge reports. Apple hired Martínez earlier this week to join its ads team, however, comments that Martínez made in the past sparked condemnation from users...
imac m1 blue isolated 16x9 500k

M1 iMac is Up to 56% Faster Than Prior-Generation High-End 21.5-Inch iMac

Wednesday May 12, 2021 10:03 am PDT by
Apple's M1 iMacs are set to start delivering to customers next week, and ahead of the official launch day, benchmarks for the machines have been showing up on Geekbench, likely from reviewers who are testing them. It will come as no surprise that M1 iMac benchmarks are right on par with benchmarks for the M1 MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, and Mac mini, coming in with an average single-core score...
2021 mbp hdmi slot 3d

2021 MacBook Pro Leaks Confirm Returning MagSafe and Ports

Friday May 14, 2021 3:06 am PDT by
Apple's upcoming MacBook Pro models are expected to feature a number of major changes such as larger display options and powerful new Apple silicon chips. Among the more surprising updates to this year's MacBook Pro models is the return of three ports that have been missing from the machines for over five years. Expected to come in 14- and 16-inch sizes, the 2021 MacBook Pro models are...
fortnite apple logo 2

Judge in Epic vs. Apple Case Floats Potential Compromise

Wednesday May 12, 2021 3:54 pm PDT by
In the ongoing legal battle between Apple and Epic Games, the two companies are this week calling up their expert witnesses to argue their points before Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers, who will make a decision in the case after a three week trial. Expert testimony is not as exciting as some of the leaked App Store documents that were highlighted last week, especially as much of what's being...
google photos

PSA: Google Photos Unlimited Storage Ends Next Month, Here's How to Export Your Pictures to iCloud

Thursday May 13, 2021 5:26 am PDT by
For as long as it's existed, Google Photos has offered free unlimited storage for uploading images at a reduced yet good enough quality for most users. From June 1, 2021, however, all photos and videos uploaded to Google accounts will count against users' cloud storage. If you've been relying on Google to back up your media library, it may be time to move that content elsewhere. This article...
AirTag in Envelope Feature 2

AirTag Used to Successfully Track a Mailed Package Across the UK

Wednesday May 12, 2021 8:44 am PDT by
An Apple customer in the United Kingdom has successfully used Apple's Find My network to track an AirTag as it was being sent by mail to a friend in a completely different city. Outlined in a blog post at Intego, Kirk McElhearn said he taped an AirTag to a piece of card, wrapped it inside a small bubble envelope, and then sent it on its way. Kirk lives in the small town of...
m1 ipad pro chip

M1 iPad Pro Over 50% Faster Than Previous Generation in Early Benchmarks

Tuesday May 11, 2021 11:56 am PDT by
Last month, Apple introduced a new iPad Pro with the same M1 chip found in the latest Macs, and early benchmark results indicate that the M1 iPad Pro is over 50% faster than the previous-generation iPad Pro. Based on five legitimate Geekbench 5 results (here's the fifth) for the fifth-generation 12.9-inch iPad Pro with the M1 chip, the device has average single-core and multi-core scores of...
prosser macbook air colors stacked

Images Reveal Colorful New MacBook Air Design

Tuesday May 11, 2021 5:06 am PDT by
Apple's next MacBook Air will feature a completely new design and come in a range of colors like the 24-inch iMac, according to leaker Jon Prosser, who has now released supposedly accurate renders of the new machines based on leaked images. In a new video uploaded to YouTube channel Front Page Tech, Prosser elaborated on his previous prediction that Apple's next-generation MacBook Air models ...
iPhone 13 Camera Backs

iPhone 13 Models Will Be Slightly Thicker and Will Have Larger Camera Bumps

Monday May 10, 2021 10:41 am PDT by
Apple's upcoming iPhone 13 models will be slightly thicker than the iPhone 12 models and will also feature larger, thicker camera bumps with lenses that protrude less, according to iPhone 13 schematics seen by MacRumors. The new iPhone 13 and 13 Pro models are expected to feature a thickness of 7.57mm, up from 7.4mm in the iPhone 12 models. That's an increase of 0.17mm, which won't be hugely ...