airpods pro 2 case

Three years after debuting — and landing in the ears of seemingly everyone you know — Apple’s mega-popular AirPods Pro are finally getting a refresh. Available for preorder now and launching on Sept. 23, the AirPods Pro 2 promise such major upgrades as improved active noise cancellation (ANC), a wider range of fit options, more expansive touch controls and longer battery life.

However, the second-generation AirPods Pro still carry the same familiar design — and the same steep $249 price tag — as their predecessors, meaning that they might not be the right upgrade for everybody.

While we’ll have to test the AirPods Pro 2 for ourselves to truly gauge how much better they are than before, here’s a quick overview of what’s new to help you figure out if Apple’s new high-end wireless earbuds are for you.

AirPods Pro 2 vs. AirPods Pro at a glance


Apple H2

Apple H1

Active noise cancellation



Transparency mode

Yes (adaptive)


Spatial Audio

Yes (personalized)


Battery life (rated)

6 hours (earbuds only); 30 hours (with case)

4.5 hours (earbuds only); 24 hours (with case)

Charging case

MagSafe Charging Case with speaker and lanyard loop; wireless charging

MagSafe Charging Case; wireless charging

Memoji engraving




Pinch and touch controls

Pinch controls

Sweat and water resistance

IPX4 (case and earbuds)

IPX4 (earbuds only)

Ear tip sizes

Extra small, small, medium, large

Small, medium, large

Price $249.99 $179.99

You should get the AirPods Pro 2 if…

You’re upgrading from standard AirPods (or you’re getting your first pair)

New Project (90).jpg

The AirPods Pro 2 seem like an especially smart pick for those ready to step up from any version of the standard AirPods — or folks who are getting AirPods for the first time and want the best of the best. Those still rocking the OG AirPods will finally enjoy ANC, better sound quality and a more secure silicone fit complete with swappable ear tips for different ear sizes.

And if you’ve held off on the original AirPods Pro, you should be in for an even bigger treat this time around. Apple’s new premium buds promise to cancel out twice as much noise as their predecessor, and offer an adaptive Transparency mode that will regulate overly loud sounds — such as nearby construction — while still amplifying the sounds you need to hear to stay alert. This feat of audio engineering is made possible by the headphone’s new H2 chip, which promises a big overall performance leap compared to the original model’s H1 processor.

The AirPods Pro 2 are also designed to deliver better sound quality than last generation, and offer personalized Spatial Audio that uses your iPhone camera to tune things to your ears. This means that any compatible 360-degree music, movie or show should sound even more immersive. You should also expect more battery life, as the AirPods Pro 2 are rated to provide six hours of continuous playback, a decent bump from the AirPods Pro’s four-and-a-half-hour estimate.

These changes should all add up to an especially big upgrade for classic AirPods owners, but even some existing AirPods Pro owners may find a reason to make the switch, especially if they wish their current earbuds canceled out just a bit more noise or lasted longer.

You’re especially worried about losing your buds

airpods pro 2 lifestyle

Some of the biggest upgrades to the AirPods Pro 2 can be found on the case, which now sports a handy lanyard loop that you can use to attach it to your bag, keys, pants and so on. The case also features a built-in speaker, which can emanate a noise to help you find them via the Find My app in the event they slip under a couch cushion (on the original AirPods Pro, only the buds themselves can beep).

And while it might not be a selling point for everybody, the AirPods Pro 2 now offer an optional Memoji engraving, which lets you personalize your charging case with a silly Apple emoji of your choosing. This add-on is currently available for free through the Apple store.

You have small ears

airpods pro 2 ear tips

If the AirPods Pro felt too big for you, the AirPods Pro 2 might work out this time around. Apple’s latest earbuds now include an extra-small ear tip option, giving you four total choices of fit alongside the returning small, medium and large tips.

You should skip the AirPods Pro 2 if…

You’re on a budget

airpods pro 2 lead

The AirPods Pro 2 carry the same $249 price tag that the original AirPods Pro launched at, which is pretty steep by today’s standards. If you can live without all of the new model’s bells and whistles, the 2019 AirPods Pro are almost always discounted — and are still fantastic. As of this writing, they’re $179 on Amazon and have dropped lower in the past.

It’s also worth considering the many great (and cheaper) noise-canceling alternatives that have popped up since the AirPods Pro first hit the scene, including the $199 Sony LinkBuds S, the $149 Jabra Elite 5 and Apple’s own $199 Beats Fit Pro.

You already have the AirPods Pro (and are looking for something truly different)

airpods pro 2 up close

As we mentioned above, we’ll have to test the AirPods Pro 2 for ourselves to truly gauge how much better they are than the classic AirPods Pro. And while there are some compelling upgrades on paper — particularly the promise of twice-as-good noise cancellation — the latest AirPods Pro still look like more of the same for existing owners. The design is virtually unchanged, and is still limited to the same ol’ Apple white in terms of color options. These are still also virtually made-for-iPhone, so Android owners hoping for a more agnostic feature set may be disappointed.

febfavs Hayley - Beats Fit Pro

If you want a newer pair of earbuds that offer something different while still playing nice with the Apple ecosystem, the Beats Fit Pro are well worth considering. They offer virtually all the same perks as the classic AirPods Pro — including noise cancellation, Transparency and Spatial Audio — but within a sportier, more secure design that comes in a range of attractive color options (including the new neutral tones made in collab with Kim Kardashian). And unlike the AirPods, they work nearly as well with Android as they do with iPhone, thanks to a robust Beats companion app.

For those who may not be full-on Apple devotees, Bose’s QuietComfort II noise-canceling, true wireless headphones start shipping on Sept. 15 for a slightly steeper $299.

We’ll have a much better idea of whether the AirPods Pro 2 are worth the upgrade — and how they stack up to the competition — once we put them through their paces in a full review, so stay tuned for more.