Which Apple wireless earbuds are better?

Apple is known for its high-end electronics, so you might be wondering how its two flagship wireless earbuds stack up against each other. The AirPods and the AirPods Pro are considered hot commodities as two of the most popular wireless earbuds around, but which pair is better?

There are several factors everyone should consider when comparing earbuds. While there are some similarities between the AirPods and AirPods Pro, a few key differences in features and price can help sway you toward one or the other if you’re having trouble choosing between the two.


AirPods 3nd generation

The AirPods were the first Apple wireless earbuds and were an instant hit, particularly among Apple iPhone users. They retained the fundamental design of Apple’s original wired earphones, making them appealing to those who wanted something similar without a cumbersome wire.

AirPods are expensive, especially if you want the latest version, the 3rd Generation AirPods, which retail for $150-$180. However, you can still find the 2nd Generation AirPods at a more affordable price, usually selling for $100-$160.

AirPods pros

AirPods have a basic design and don’t have earbud cushion tips that some find invasive and uncomfortable. It’s also easier to hear ambient sound since they don’t seal off the ear the way AirPods Pro earbuds do, making them excellent for cyclists and outdoor joggers.

AirPods support spatial audio through Dolby Atmos and offer great software features. Users can seamlessly switch between devices linked to the same iCloud account, so there’s no need for constant Bluetooth disconnecting and repairing. Also, when synced with another Apple device such as an iPhone, the sophisticated H1 chip allows for access to Siri and a stable AAc-codec connection, meaning high-quality music streaming sounds smooth and won’t stutter.

The 3rd Generation AirPods offer some features you won’t find on the 2nd Generation earbuds, such as a spatialized stereo feature, a tighter fit and an IPX4 water-resistance rating, making them great for exercising as they can withstand sweat.

AirPods cons

AirPods are expensive for wireless earbuds, and there are other products with comparable audio quality at the same price point or lower.

Jabra Elite Active 75T Wireless Sports Earbuds

The best alternatives include the Jabra Elite Active 75T Wireless Sports Earbuds and the OnePlus Buds Pro, both of which are cheaper and support noise-canceling and boast a higher dust and water protection rating.

Since AirPods don’t have a sealed fit, they don’t offer noise-canceling, and audio quality is noticeably inferior to earbuds with a sealed fit design. They also tend to fall out more easily than the AirPods Pro. Also, AirPods last around four hours on a full charge, while other earbuds such as the AirPods Pro and others can last five to seven hours.

AirPods Pro

AirPods Pro

The AirPods Pro are essentially an upgrade of the AirPods and were first released in 2019. However, unlike the AirPods, there haven’t been any revisions, so technically, they’re still a first-generation device. They’re similar to the AirPods in many ways but considerably more expensive, retailing for $230-$250.

AirPods Pro pros

AirPods Pro have a shape and design that looks like most other wireless modern earbuds. They have silicone ear tips that create a sealed fit, so audio quality and bass reproduction are superior and more pronounced than AirPods. Also, there are three different ear cushion sizes, and many find the overall fit of the AirPods Pro to be more comfortable and not as easy to move out of place.

Other than price, the most significant difference between AirPods and AirPods Pro is active noise-cancelation. AirPods lack this feature, making the AirPods Pro the better earbuds for those who want to drown out exterior noise. They also have a Transparency mode for listening to music while ambient noise isn’t tuned out, so users can be more aware of their environment.

They have an adaptive EQ feature that fine-tunes music for a superior listening experience, and the case supports Qi wireless charging. They have an intuitive force sensor for taking calls and controlling music, and while the AirPods have a similar tapping function, some users find it awkward. Like the 3rd Generation AirPods, these earbuds have an IPX4 protection rating, so they’re resistant to moisture.

AirPods Pro cons

AirPods Pro can be used with Android devices, but they don’t work as seamlessly compared to how they sync with Apple devices. For example, AirPods Pro might not deliver a smooth listening experience from a high codec streaming source when paired with an Android device. Also, active noise-canceling decreases battery life significantly.

Some features such as Siri are unavailable on Android devices, and there’s no built-in support for other voice assistants such as Alexa or Google Assistant. AirPods Pro also have a slightly more robust build than the AirPods and a distinct shape, which some users find clunky or heavy.

Should you get AirPods or AirPods Pro?

The AirPods are excellent if you want basic wireless earbuds to sync with an Apple device. They’re more lightweight but don’t sound as good as the AirPods Pro, and unless you get the 3rd Generation model, they’re not water-resistant either, so they’re not ideal for exercising.

The AirPods Pro are superior to the original AirPods in every category, except comfort, which is subjective. Some users prefer a sealed fit, while others prefer a looser, less invasive fit, but if you have the money and don’t mind the cushioned earbud design, the AirPods Pro are a much better buy.

With the AirPods Pro, you’ll get active noise-canceling, transparency mode, three ear tip sizes and a much better listening experience as audio quality is noticeably smoother with more impressive bass. Also, unlike the AirPods, they come with a wireless charging case.


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Kevin Luna writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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