It’s one of those priceless before and after moments. I’m at my regular gym where I don’t particularly approve of the music playlist. Until this moment my only option to filter out the music was to pump up the volume on my second generation AirPods. Not today. It’s the first time I’ve plugged in the AirPods Pro as I settle into a rowing machine routine and suddenly I’m in a different world. It’s the same sense of relief (more than joy) that I experienced at another spot where I always craved for an effective noise cancellation – on a domestic flight with more than the odd passenger who thinks headphones are optional while playing catch up on WhatsApp video forwards.

It’s been over three years since the first AirPods debuted in 2016 along with the iPhone 7. Few gadgets have sparked as much love or loathe like the AirPods back then. Now we’ve got used to iPhones without headphone jacks, the AirPods and their clones have become a ubiquitous sight in gyms, flights and metro trains across India. It’s why we spent a while checking out this device to validate some of Apple’s key selling points on this device. It’s the noise cancellation abilities that are the AirPods Pro’s first big win. While we’ve seen some terrific over the ear headphones with superior Noise cancellation abilities – the Bose 700 is a case in point, we haven’t quite seen this feature play out in ear buds with the exception of products from Sony.

The AirPods Pro manages to shut out sounds with a unique design solution. An outward-facing microphone detects external sound while the AirPods Pro then counter it with equal anti-noise, cancelling outside noise before you hear it. An inward-facing microphone listens inside your ear enabling AirPods Pro to eliminate unwanted internal sound with anti-noise. According to Apple Noise cancellation is adjusted at 200 times per second for what it calls real-time noise cancellation. Just like many other headphones that allow you to quickly tune into external sounds, you can switch to ‘transparency mode’ with a simple flick of a switch – a hard press on the capacitive force sensor (located on the stem) in this case. 

Sound quality takes a big leap from the earlier generations of AirPods with an Apple-designed high-excursion, low distortion driver. You get greater bass extension and very detailed mid and high frequency extension. At its heart is the H1 chip that has been specifically designed for the AirPods. One of our earlier cribs of the AirPods was Apple’s one size approach. That’s changed with the Pro and its customisable fit. The first prompt you receive as you set up the AirPods Pro is to take the Ear Tips Fit Test that tests the ear tip seal and also identifies the best ear-tip size (you can choose from small, medium and large).

Pairing and controlling the AirPods Pro is a breeze with a simple set of presses on the force sensor – a double press for instance lets you skip forward to the next track. The other convenient feature is wireless charging – you can use any Qi certified charger that you use for your iPhone or Android device. I tried it on the Google Pixel stand and it worked without a fuss. You should manage around 4 to 5 hours of battery life with the pods away from the case, while the charging case delivers 24 hours of battery life; similar to the earlier AirPods. There are other thoughtful touches like IPX-4 certification (good for a run in the drizzle but not for a swim) and Voice-activated Siri – you don’t need to tap your AirPods to give Siri orders. 

The AirPods Pro add superior sound quality backed with the convenience of noise cancellation to the convenience of the AirPods’ light form factor and ease of operation. You might not miss those over the ear headphones at the gym given the balance of convenience with an improved audio experience and a call experience that many users rely on their AirPods for. If you’ve not invested in a pair of AirPods recently, then the AirPods Pro is certainly worth the upgrade. 

The Apple AirPods Pro cost Rs 24,900