on Monday introduced its newest wireless AirPods, called AirPods Pro, which feature a new design and active noise cancellation. (Read our in-depth AirPods Pro review here.) The $249 (£249, AU$399) wireless earbuds can be ordered online and in the Apple Store app as of Monday and will be available in stores starting Wednesday. The AirPods Pro are Apple's first earphones to feature a noise-isolating design with "three different sizes of soft, flexible silicone ear tips that conform to the contours of each individual ear."
Until now, Apple earbuds -- the wired EarPods and totally wireless AirPods -- have had an open design with hard buds that don't seal off your ear canal. The new design could help solve one of the biggest issues with the AirPods -- that they don't fit in all ears securely. Apple also said the AirPods Pro are sweat and water resistant.
They should sound significantly better, with improved bass performance. With an open design, you tend to lose some bass, particularly outdoors in noisier environments. And Apple said the Pro's Adaptive EQ "tunes music to the shape of your ear for a rich, consistent listening experience."
Like Sony's WF-1000XM3, the AirPods Pro have adaptive active noise-cancelling as well as a Transparency Mode that allows sound to leak in while you're listening to audio so you can hear traffic around you or train announcements. Apple said the Pro's noise cancellation "continuously adapts the sound signal 200 times per second."
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To switch between the two modes -- noise cancellation and Transparency -- AirPods Pro features a new "force sensor" on the stem of the earbuds (you pinch the stem between your fingers to switch modes). This will also allow people to play, pause or skip music, as well as hang up on phone calls, directly on the AirPods Pro.
Like the earlier AirPods and Beats Powerbeats Pro and Beats Solo Pro, this model is equipped with Apple's H1 chip and also features always-on voice recognition, which lets you say "Hey Siri," to summon the digital assistant. Apple owns Beats and this model will compete directly with the popular Powerbeats Pro, which lists for $250 but has recently been on sale for $200.
According to Apple, the AirPods Pro have the same battery life as AirPods, with up to five hours of listening time on a single charge. In active noise cancellation mode, the AirPods Pro will deliver up to four and a half hours of listening. Some new true wireless ear buds with active noise-cancelling, such as the Master & Dynamic MW07 ($300), deliver significantly better battery life.
The $249 price tag includes a wireless charging case, which charges on any Qi-compatible charging mat. The AirPods Pro require a device running iOS 13.2 or later, iPadOS 13.2 or later, WatchOS 6.1 or later, TVOS 13.2 or later or MacOS Catalina 10.15.1 or later.
Originally published Oct. 28, 9:22 a.m. PT.
Update, 1:00 p.m. PT: Adds battery life of a competing model.