AirPods Pro 1 year later: These wireless earbuds hold up long-term

The Apple AirPods Pro are among the best wireless earbuds you can buy, even a year after launch.

Lexy Savvides Principal Video Producer
Lexy is an on-air presenter and award-winning producer who covers consumer tech, including the latest smartphones, wearables and emerging trends like assistive robotics. She's won two Gold Telly Awards for her video series Beta Test. Prior to her career at CNET, she was a magazine editor, radio announcer and DJ. Lexy is based in San Francisco.
Expertise Wearables, smartwatches, mobile phones, photography, health tech, assistive robotics Credentials
  • Webby Award honoree, 2x Gold Telly Award winner
Lexy Savvides
2 min read

The  AirPods Pro  have become the de facto name for noise-canceling true wireless earbuds, even if they no longer rule the roost in the Apple headphone hierarchy thanks to the new $549 AirPods Max. Since their release in October 2019, the AirPods Pro got a new spatial audio feature in iOS 14 that boosts the surround-sound experience and they now offer quick switching between Apple devices. After using the AirPods Pro for a year, we still think they're the jack-of-all-trades: good for calls, listening to music and for watching movies. Read our original AirPods Pro review here.

But there's now more competition than ever if you're looking for true wireless earbuds with active noise cancellation. In this long-term review video, CNET's headphone expert David Carnoy and I discuss our impressions of the AirPods Pro after using them for a year and break down how they stack up against other earbuds, from sound quality to noise cancellation. We also share how we've improved the fit of the AirPods Pro using third-party foam tips and show you what you can do to tweak the sound profile to your liking.

Óscar Gutiérrez/CNET

I haven't been particularly gentle with the AirPods Pro: I've dropped them more times than I'd care to admit and even been soaked by a bucket of water while wearing them to test the IPX4 water-resistance rating. Surprisingly, they still work as they did on day one. The main issue has been a reduction in overall battery life, which is commonplace among wireless earbuds with prolonged use. While we haven't experienced any audio issues with our AirPods Pro over the course of the year, Apple did recently say it would replace models that were experiencing crackling and static for free. 

But the biggest surprise of all was the addition of spatial audio, which unlocked technology inside the earbuds that we didn't know was there at launch. Read more about how spatial audio works and which apps are compatible with it.

Even one year on, the AirPods Pro are still pricey at $249 (£249, AU$399) but you can regularly find them discounted by anywhere from $25 to $35 at a range of retailers.

Read moreBest AirPods deals right now

For more of our thoughts after using the AirPods Pro for a year, watch the video on this page.