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Apple AirPods Pro review: nice and comfortable, but not the top

Headphones have become an almost necessary accessory; all or almost all have a pair, whether they are flush, over-ear, in-ear or true wireless. In fact, this sector has diversified a great deal in recent years, so as to respond to the most disparate needs of users and make up for the increasingly frequent departure of the expensive and old audio jack. Apple knows that he put it the new AirPods Pro have been on the market a few weeks ago, a model that is added to the previous generation which therefore remains in place.

Obviously the intrinsic nature of AirPods changes, now to be considered real in-ear headphones thanks to the proprietary silicone rubber tips which allow you to partially isolate from external sounds, with greater adherence than the old version and a plus called noise canceling. The first time you see this technology at Apple and one more reason to ask for a greater outlay for those who want to take these headphones home with them. Justified? Let's see.

READ MORE AND ESPECIALLY COMFORTABLE

Fundamental condition is to be able to keep them and not have any particular problems, in-ear headphones are not in fact loved by everyone for their "invasiveness" and the rubber pads themselves play a fundamental role. Apple includes three pairs in a pack for different sizes, all in silicone and with a proprietary coupling system; on the iPhone it is also possible to perform a test that evaluates the adherence of the pair under test, but beware of false positives since it is common to have "the ok" with two or all three alternatives.

I generally find these rubbers very comfortable, I only regret that the Cupertino house has not included foam alternatives as he did instead Sony with direct competitors WF-1000XM3. Too bad, this is perhaps a detail but this material is certainly more sophisticated and comfortable, able to adapt even better to the auditory canal where it is going to be inserted.

The design has changed a lot in this generation and for the better: I personally have never loved AirPods and I find this Pro model more discreet, balanced and aesthetically pleasing. Each earpiece weighs 5.4 g and is 30.9 mm long, compared to the 40.5 mm of an AirPods, a centimeter less that makes the difference if placed in such a particular context. They can be kept in the ear without discomfort even for a few hours, in fact, I didn't find any particular excessive pressures and instead I used them comfortably for a long time listening to music.

PRECISE CHECKS BUT THE FORCE TOUCH HAS A BIT

We must always let an initial period pass before reaching conclusions, we must inevitably get used to certain movements and controls. At this point, I think I am ready to express my disappointment at the integration of the force touch alone for interaction: no tap or touch, literally squeeze the little leg. In itself I do not find it wrong, after a few weeks of use it is in fact natural and I spout (almost) always the indicated point, but it is equally true that a touch surface would have helped and not a little.

I think about the competition, at Galaxy Buds e to Sony WF-1000XM3 that by now have reached an excellent sensitivity e allow quick interaction, rather precise even when we are on the move. Imagine, for example, running with AirPods Pro and wanting to change tracks, you will need two short presses on one of the legs to give the order and the possibility that you move the cap is very high. I am therefore sorry that they have not thought about keeping a touch surface in addition.

CANCELLATION OF NOISE AND ENVIRONMENT MAKE THE DIFFERENCE

Finally, the cancellation of background noise also arrives at Apple, still available in a few true wireless headphones and always appreciated. The mere fact that the new AirPods integrate this technology, which studies the surrounding noise and tries to contrast it with equal but opposite waves, and are in-ear enough to elevate the experience by two steps compared to the past generation.

The noise canceling works well, it is activated from the iPhone or with a prolonged pressure on the little leg and actually manages to cut many of the most classic sounds: be it the noise of the engine of an airplane or a background noise, the result is quite satisfactory. If I had to compare it with the one offered by the competition I would say that we are certainly under the Sony, which among the consumer solutions are the most equipped on the subject.

What surprised me instead is the "Environment" mode or "Transparency", a middle way that allows you to keep the headphones on your ears and talk or listen to all the surrounding sounds. The presence of the grommets isolates from the outside by definition, but the microphones on AirPods Pro capture external sounds and reproduce them at low volume, without any lag, so that our brain thinks we listen to natural noises or voices. You have to try it to fully understand this feeling.

ANDROID SOFTWARE AND COMPATIBILITY

Those who buy AirPods Pro do so also for the ecosystem, therefore it is useless to add that only on the products of the apple the maximum software integration is had, even if this doesn't necessarily cut off who owns an Android smartphone. Just open the case to see a nice animation appear on iOS that indicates the charge level of homes and headphones, immediate pairing and only on iPhone it is then possible to have the possibility to customize controls, sequences and modes.

Obviously it is possible to call Siri into question and interact with the virtual assistant, which is to ask for a song to play or a contact to call and more, exactly as in the past. Headphones that are not at all relegated to just pairing with a smartphone, both new-generation MacBooks and new-generation iMacs detect them quickly and allow connection.

Everything works on Android but a dedicated application is missing which offers the adjustments available on the iPhone, there is no support for a different virtual assistant. But the force touch works anyway and allows you to change tracks, pause / play and follow up on all the usual combinations. With a long press you can then switch from noise cancellation to Transparency. However, the third scenario is missing, the one that does not include any of these two solutions (called "No" on the iPhone) and lets only the sounds that the silicone caps allow, without any technological interaction.

Note: although the audio quality in input is almost the same, the fact remains that the best smartphone to use AirPods is an iPhone, because only the latter treat differently the AAC format supported by Apple headphones and used on iTunes.

ON CALL REMAINS ONE OF THE BEST SOLUTIONS

The Achilles heel of true wireless always remains the same: outgoing calls. The small size and the physical distance between the ears and the mouth does not change and the only solution to make the audio better is to develop more precise and sensitive microphones. Despite the difficulties, Apple has always managed to provide excellent support for calls, with pleasant and moderately clean sound, confirmed also in this round.

In fact, I didn't find any particular differences between the new and the old generation, even comparing audio recordings made in a call with the two pairs of headphones. Even more interesting instead the comparison made with the direct competition mentioned in this review, do not miss then? T = 452 ">the video at 7:31 min that sees called AirPods Pro, Galaxy Buds and Sony WH-1000XM3.

I anticipate that these last ones are the best thanks to a more full-bodied, warm sound, in fact they boast of the bass that on AirPods Pro almost completely lack. The Apple solution is as valid but pushes a lot on medium and high, still gaining second place. Finally there are the Buds, certainly the cheapest and least valuable, the comparison is in fact a bit 'learn and we will be happy to revive a challenge as soon as it arrives the new version.

AUTONOMY AND HOUSES

I do not think there is to despair if the declared autonomy is half an hour less than the previous AirPods Pro, already 4 hours and 30 minutes are many and almost never spend so much time with headphones without pauses. Here comes into play the case, slightly larger than in the past (by 15 percent) but still among the smallest in the segment and with an integrated battery that guarantees up to 24 hours of listening and 18 hours of conversation.

In short, just enough to never run dry, complete with wireless charging and a small front LED that helps us understand when charging is in progress. The case is only 21.7 mm wide and weighs 45.6 grams, fits well in your pocket and I find it more comfortable than many others; see Buds and Sony, with the latter pointing to the Guinness Book of Records as a footprint. What I find instead difficult to digest is the Lightning socket at the bottom, a choice in my opinion unfortunate given the openness that Apple has also shown towards the USB Type-C.

The discussion is always the same and in my opinion it will have to be an institution like the European Community, which has been in battle for years for the producers of technological devices to conform to a single standard. Users require it, the environment requires it; But I understand also that the Linghting door is the best choice for those who own an iPhone, as long as the battle on this front is not won I do not foresee changes.

CONCLUSIONS AND PRICE

My experience with AirPods Pro is definitely positive, it is true that they do not excel in any particular sector but remain nonetheless among the most complete true wireless consumers: background noise cancellation, comfortable in-ear (also suitable for sports), good audio input quality, excellent on call, satisfactory autonomy and well done transparency mode. In short, many small ingredients that together outline the profile of this product.

I would have liked to have a double choice to interact with the headphones and not leave the only force touch there waiting for me, I find then excessive positioning at ? 279 which raises the claim so much compared to the competition, even if all the 50 ? more are required if you look at Apple (AirPods with wireless charging houses costs ? 229). The alternatives certainly are not lacking and the difference with other similar headphones is too strong: it is true that the Sony WF-1000XM3 have a list of ? 250 but we have already witnessed some offers that have almost halved the cost (temporarily).

I would never spend more than ? 200 for a pair of true wireless, above this threshold I would point to a different category like over-earphones, capable of far different audio quality for listening to music and lowering the noise. But it is clear that then everything changes there, the strength of the AirPods Pro (and similar) is to use them and forget in short to have them on.

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PROS AND CONS

PRICE LIGHTNING DOORA FEW RUBBERS (ONLY IN SILICONE)CONTROL ONLY WITH FORCE TOUCH