AirPods Pro One Week Review

My lovely wife got me a pair of AirPods Pro as a birthday gift. I had been trying to figure out a way to justify asking for them, so she beat me to the ask. I have been playing with them for a week and here is what I think about the newest device from Apple.

First, my short review:

My amazing wife got me a pair of Air Pods Pro for my birthday. They arrived yesterday and I have been using them today. My micro review: Transparency mode is very cool. Sound quality is good, maybe better than original. Removing from case is fiddly. Overall: 👍

So, how do they rate after a week of usage?

The noise cancellation is good, and does isolate one from most of the low level background noise, including a noisy vent in my office, and the general noise on an airplane. Using the “squeeze” gesture to switch between noise cancellation modes is nice, means that I can switch between them, which is nice, particularly when the ambient noise is variable. Switching between transparency mode to noise cancelling, and even to the “off” setting are nice as each one has its use. Transparency is great for being outside when I need to be aware of traffic, off is generally okay for minor isolation, and noise cancellation can really isolate me from the noise, which is great. I cycle through them to find the one that is right for the situation.

The different shape sit well in my ears and after using the medium tips, I ultimately switched to the small. The medium tips started to cause my ears to ache after extended wear. The fit test shows good isolation with the small tips and the fact that they are all in the box is good, although, now that I have switched, I don’t know if I will ever need the medium or large tips, and they will undoubtably get lost in my desk.

I find the sound quality to be similar to the AirPods that came before, but I am not much of an audiophile. Adding the ear tips and noise cancellation, I find the overall quality to be richer, but that is probably due to the isolation. The subtle sounds that Apples uses to indicate operations on the AirPods are very good. The “squeeze” click is so well done that it is hard to believe that the stalk of the AirPod doesn’t actually flex. The three chimes that are used to indicate the three states of noise cancellation are very satisfying and give an indication of the mode they are entering, high pitched to transparency, low pitched for off, a combination of the two for noise cancelling. Overall, I’m happy with the sound that these little things can put out.

The case shape is fine in the pocket, and the new shape doesn’t make any difference to me. The wireless charging is very nice, amplified by the fact that I have embraced wireless charging in my office and throughout my home. Essentially, being able to drop the case on my desk means that I will not be worrying about the battery status of my AirPods. My minor gripe about the case, is that the charging LED on the exterior of the wireless charging case, and I’m sure I would have the same complaint about the wireless charging case for the standard AirPods, means that I am less able to customize my case to differentiate it from my wife’s. On my previous AirPods case I put the 1-inch Daring Fireball star sticker, so it was very easy to tell the difference. She didn’t get a pair yet, but I can see a time when she does and we grab the wrong set when getting ready to walk out the door.

The only complaint that I have about the AirPods Pro is the insertion and removal of the AirPod from the case. The original AirPods have an easy removal, that can with enough practice be done one-handed. A flick open of the case, a shove of the thumb, and pinch of finger and thumb that simultaneously grabs the AirPod and closes the case. But the AirPods Pro don’t feel like that is possible. The new shape of the AirPod is very smooth and the interior of the case is too well shaped to it. There is almost no place to wedge my thumb under the AirPod to move it out without feeling like I am going to send the tiny ear piece flying. I’m not sure if I will feel differently, or if I need to practice, but the motion doesn’t feel possible as it was on the previous non-Pro AirPods.

The last minor quibble that I have is Apple’s insistence upon having everything be white. I first had an issue with color on the original AirPods. My pockets are full of lint, I imagine most are. The hinge of the AirPods case could collect fine lint and cleaning the schmutz out, was difficult, I could never get it all. On occasion I would pull an AirPod out and there would be some earwax, understandable given the nature of the environment it was in, but the underside of the AirPod, which would rest on my ear would get covered in ear grime. This funk collection was so great that I have a regularly occurring task to clean my AirPods. The ear tips that are now being shoved deeper into my ear, come out with regularly speckled with ear wax. Sure, it may be an indicator that I should clean my ears with a Q-Tip more, but if the tips were black, I would not feel grossed out every time that I pull them out and put them in my case. After market tips that are different colors will be on my shopping list as soon as they start appearing.

After reading all this, you might think that I am not happy with the AirPods Pro. That is not the case at all. I very much like them. They are the best AirPods there are, and the addition of noise cancelling is very nice. Now I can take them on a flight, on a run, or just use them around the house. All of my issues with them are minor, and just stand out to me when I am trying to be analytical about what positives and negatives of the device. Overall, my initial rating and my week later rating are the same: 👍

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