AirPods Pro: what you need to know about the next AirPods model
It's official: the next AirPods model will be called the AirPods Pro – and in case you thought it was still a while off, we can confirm the AirPods Pro will be dropping on October 30.
The official Apple product website now lists the AirPods Pro alongside the 2019 AirPods model, along with a slick new video introducing the true wireless earbuds and the various new features for the range.
The AirPods Pro have even got their own tab on the Apple website, alongside AirPods, iPad, iPhone and otherwise – meaning they seem to be treated very much as their own product and not a replacement for the still-new 2019 AirPods. New features include active noise-canceling, IPX4 water resistance, and even customizable silicon tips – a first for the AirPods range.
Admittedly, the new AirPods (2019) do have some cool new features, like the ability to charge wirelessly. Still, they aren't quite the all-out AirPods 3 reimagining we were hoping for, and they don't beat rivals like the Sony WF-1000XM3 Wireless Earbuds and the Cambridge Audio Melomania 1s in terms of noise-cancelation and audio quality.
The AirPods Pro will look to scratch the itch for those after more premium features then, and we'll be able to give a final verdict on the earbuds when we've put them through the testing process.
We'd heard various rumors about the AirPods Pro for months now, though an incoming AirPods Pro release was cited in a report by China Economic Daily, which said the new AirPods were expected to launch before the end of October, which has now been proven right. There was no mention of any 'AirPods 3' at Apple's iPhone launch event in September though, which saw in the iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max – and many wondered if that pointed to a 2020 release instead.
One of the best sources of Apple AirPods rumors came from a 2018 report from TF International Securities’ analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. He said that we could be getting two more headphones before 2020 – an updated version of the original Apple AirPods (check) and the brand new AirPods 3, now officially named the AirPods Pro. Again, very on the money.
So what are the AirPods Pro, how much do they cost, and what brand new features will be included?
Apple AirPods Pro: Cut to the chase
- What are they? The long-awaited AirPods 3 – now named the AirPods Pro – acting as a premium sibling to the 2019 AirPods (not to be confused with the recently updated AirPods (2019) true-wireless earbuds.)
- When are they out? October 30
- How much will they cost? $249 / £249 / AU$399
Apple AirPods Pro release date
However, a spate of leaks over the last couple of months seemed to make a late-2019 release more likely – and the official product page has now vindicated this with the AirPods Pro getting an October 30 launch date.
AirPods Pro price and availability
The AirPods Pro are not a replacement for the 2019 AirPods model, and that's reflected in the price point.
You can order the AirPods Pro for $249 / £249 / AU$399 – which is a decent step above the AirPods' $159 / £159 / AU$249 / AED679 (with charging case), and even the $199 / £199 / AU$319 / AED829 pricing with the AirPods' Wireless Charging Case bundled in.
Interestingly, the AirPods Pro only ships with a Wireless Charging Case, which partially explains the higher price point – and points to Apple's plans for wireless charging going forward.
- Can't wait? Here are the best true wireless AirPod alternatives on sale now
What's new with the AirPods Pro?
New design and silicon tips
The AirPods Pro will offer a slate of new features, both on the inside and the outside.
Visually, the general shape and form hasn't changed much, with the same ear-stick design popularized by previous models. This time, though, there'll be three silicon tip options for a customizable fit.
Adaptive EQ for improved sound
While there isn't a boost in audio processing, the AirPods Pro do use an EQ algorithm to tweak low- and -mid frequencies based on the shape of your ear.
Ear tip test
Your AirPods Pro will even be able to tell you if you're using the right fit ear-tip, with an algorithm that measured the sound levels recorded in your ear. Try each one and see which your AirPods thinks is appropriate.
Wireless charging case
The Wireless Charging Case that made up the more expensive AirPods package, and is compatible with Qi-compatible charging mats to power the case without having to stick a cable in – though you still get a Lightning cable to do so if you wish.
Water and sweat resistance
For the first time, there'll also be IPX4 water and sweat resistance, meaning the earbuds can take some light rain, splashes of water, or some sweat during exercise. A deep puddle or being dropped in a storm drain will likely be too much for them though.
H1 chip (that we've seen before)
Inside the buds there's a newly-designed H1 chip which Apple has built specifically for its 2019 models. It improves connectivity pairing times, the efficiency of the battery life, and allows for hands-free 'Hey Siri' functionality.
Active noise cancelation and transparency mode
Interestingly, the AirPods Pro only offer 4.5 hours of use, compared to the 5 hours of the AirPods (2019) – though this is with active noise cancelation enabled, which cancels out outside noises by playing contrasting frequencies within your ear.
A new transparency mode also allows uses built-in microphones to record and playback outside sounds, meaning you can listen to your surroundings without taking your pesky earbuds out.
- Apple AirPods (2019) vs Apple AirPods: what's the difference?
Apple AirPods 3 into AirPods Pro: all the rumors we heard
Most recently, the design of the so-called AirPods Pro was leaked by phone accessories manufacturer ESR. Spotted by MacRumors, a listing on the site for an 'AirPods Pro Cover' showed a wider carrying case than we've seen for previous AirPod models.
The new Apple AirPods 3 will reportedly come with noise cancelation and a comfier fit, with silicone or rubber tips giving listeners more choice when it comes to their Apple earbuds.
The design of the so-called AirPods Pro might have just been leaked by phone accessories manufacturer ESR; a listing on the site for an 'AirPods Pro Cover' shows a wider carrying case than we've seen for previous AirPod models.
We've also heard that black and green could join white in a choice of up to eight colors for the next-generation AirPods.
SlashLeaks has shared a hazy image from contributor Leakspinner that it says shows the AirPods 2 "in the wild".
If this leaked image is genuine, we could be in for an even more compact Apple AirPods charging case – and potentially smaller earbuds. It would make sense, as true wireless earbuds are getting smaller as the technology improves, and the AirPods' long stems was subject to ridicule when they were first revealed in 2016.
We're not totally convinced though – the image is so blurry, there's no way of confirming whether its a legitimate Apple prototype. You can check out the image below and decide for yourself.
Previous trademark filings suggest that the second generation AirPods would be a health and fitness device, in addition to being a pair of true wireless earbuds. Now we know that the updated AirPods don't have these features, we think we will see them in the AirPods 3 in 2020.
Back in July 2018 Apple filed a patent for biometric sensors, which would allow the AirPods 3 to take on fitness tracking capabilities like those seen in the Jabra Elite Wireless. This followed another patent filed in March, which further fueled the rumors.
We also heard separately that the AirPods 3 would come in black and white, be both waterproof and offer active noise-cancellation, features that have similarly been predicted by Bloomberg. Another patent from July suggested that Apple was working on some pretty nifty tech for how the earbuds handle outside noise as well as dissipating pressure from inside the ear canal.
The patent outlined a valve system that would allow sound to escape your ear canal to avoid that weird reverberating effect that occurs when you speak with earbuds in your ears.
It then goes on to describe how the earbuds would handle ambient noise, using a microphone to filter in noise from the outside world so that you can remain aware of your surroundings while still hearing your music.
One rumor that did prove to be accurate however was wireless charging and Bluetooth 5.0 – but instead of being an improved thanks to an updated W2 chip, Apple has designed a brand new H1 chip, which is made for headphones specifically.
- Prefer Samsung? Check out our Samsung Galaxy Buds review