AirPods vs AirPods Pro

AirPods vs AirPods Pro: Which Should You Buy?

Apple AirPods have been a wildly popular success since shaking up the wireless earbud market back in 2016. Fast forward to now and there’s no longer just one option for you to choose from. So which set of AirPods should you go for?

Apple AirPods: What are the options?

Currently, there are four sets of AirPods for you to choose from:

  • 2nd generation AirPods
  • 3rd generation AirPods
  • AirPods Pro (second generation)
  • AirPods Max

Below we provide an overview of each pair, with a comparison at the end.

AirPods (2nd generation), $249 RRP

These are the entry-level AirPods and, in many ways, look like the classic Apple headphones with the wires removed. While they provide good sound quality, five hours of battery life, and are ideal for anyone who can’t stretch their budget any further, they do have drawbacks. Notably, they aren’t sweat or water-resistant. So they aren’t suitable to take out on a run.

Currently, these are the only ‘old generation’ AirPods being sold. Since their release they’ve been usurped by the release of the 3rd generation AirPods, which boast a host of new features that create a significantly better experience.

AirPods (3rd generation), $329 RRP | $349 with MagSafe Charging 

These are a big departure from 2nd generation Airpods, and sport a significant change in design and a host of improvements. Aside from general improvements to sound quality, 3rd generation AirPods add:

  • Personalised Spatial Audio with dynamic head tracking
  • Sweat- and water-resistant AirPods and charging case
  • Improved battery life (up to six hours on a single charge)
  • The option to add a MagSafe charging case (additional cost)
  • Adaptive EQ, which uses an inward-facing microphone and computational audio to create an accurate sound profile for every wearer.

Overall, 3rd generation AirPods share a lot of similarities with AirPods Pro. However, there are a few differences…

AirPods Pro, $479 RRP

The biggest difference between AirPods and AirPods Pro is noise cancelling. For most people, this is the one feature that dictates whether they stick with the AirPods or step up to the Pros.

This is emphasised by the fact that AirPods Pro have some of the best noise cancelling out there.

But aside from noise cancelling, there aren’t too much differences between 3rd generation AirPods and AirPods Pro. Although Pros do boast the H2 chip (as opposed to the H1) and they have a neat feature that allows you to control the volume by swiping the stem.

AirPods Max NZ, $999 RRP

AirPods Max are a little different because they aren’t earbuds, they’re headphones. They look amazing and have skyrocketed in popularity due to being as much a fashion accessory as they are a pair of headphones.

In terms of sound quality and performance, there isn’t a huge amount of difference between these and the Pros. Reviews suggest the noise cancelling is a little bit better than the already excellent noise cancelling of the Pros, and that high-end sounds are a little better overall.

The AirPods Max’s microphone is excellent, as is its battery life (up to 20 hours of non-stop use), but the headphones do have the big downside of not being sweat and water-resistant.

→Related article: Apple Music vs Spotify: Should You Make the Switch?

Which should I buy?

This comes down to your budget and needs.

If all you can afford are the 2nd generation AirPods, then they are by no means a bad choice. Although, for what is essentially an entry pair of earbuds, they aren’t exactly cheap. So it might be worth exploring non-Apple products.

If you can stretch your budget, then the 3rd generation AirPods give you a significantly better product, and (budget permitting) I’d probably recommend this be your starting point.

However, the AirPods Pro are an excellent product for those who want noise-cancelling earbuds. They look great, feel comfortable, have a host of great features (transparency mode, stem slide volume control) and boast the H2 chip (as opposed to H1 in the standard earbuds). They’re not cheap by any means, but you do feel like you’re getting a great product for the price.

The AirPods Max are very expensive, and for many will simply not be worth the money. Sure, they look and sound great, but it ultimately comes down to whether you love how they look. Because if you’re willing to spend that much money on a pair of headphones, there are probably some better (and cheaper) non-Apple options out there (purely in terms of the listening experience).

However, for Apple users, there are likely none that offers a more seamlessly integrated or more stylish listening experience.

If you want a comprehensive side-by-side breakdown of features, be sure to visit the Apple website

Are AirPods good for Android users?

AirPods are not ideal for anyone not using Apple products. Sure, they work (as they connect via Bluetooth) but many of the features won’t work.

For starters, quick pair won’t work. For Apple users simply opening your AirPods case will pair the earbuds to your device. For Android users, you’ll have to go the stock standard route of connecting to a Bluetooth device.

You also won’t be able to customise controls (for example, choose what double tapping the AirPods will do) and ear detection won’t work, either. This is when the music automatically stops when you take out an AirPod, and automatically resumes when you put it back in.

The good news is that Samsung has its own range of propriety earbuds, the Galaxy Buds, which are optimised for Samsung devices.

Streaming takes data

If you’re going to be streaming music and watching videos on the go, you’ll need bucketloads of data.

And as part of that, you’ll want the best phone plan. That’s where Canstar Blue can help. We compare phone plan providers, to get you the best deals on your data. To learn more, or start comparing, just click the button below:

Compare mobile plan providers with Canstar

author andrew broadley

About the author of this page

This report was written by Canstar Content Producer, Andrew Broadley. Andrew is an experienced writer with a wide range of industry experience. Starting out, he cut his teeth working as a writer for print and online magazines, and he has worked in both journalism and editorial roles. His content has covered lifestyle and culture, marketing and, more recently, finance for Canstar.

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