Apple AirPods Pro (2nd Gen) Review: 2022’s Best Wireless Earbuds
October 28, 2022 Andrew Cheng

The original Apple AirPods Pro, even though it was released three years ago in 2019, still has a strong presence in the wireless earbuds market. It was one of the first true wireless earbuds to feature active noise cancellation (ANC), and it offered reasonably good audio quality as well.

Fast forward to today, we have the new and improved 2nd generation AirPods Pro. Though it looks identical to the previous model, it brings a slew of upgrades under the hood, including superior ANC, longer battery life, and more importantly, the same RM1,099 price tag.

Yes, it is not a particularly affordable pair of wireless earbuds, but in my opinion, the 2nd gen AirPods Pro is worth every penny. In fact, I’d even consider it to be 2022’s best wireless earbuds.

What It Is

One of the biggest changes (under the hood) to the 2nd generation AirPods Pro is the new H2 chip that promises “up to double the noise-cancelling power” of the original AirPods Pro. Though I don’t have access to the first AirPods Pro, I can say that the ANC performance of the new model is easily on par (if not better) with the best wireless earbuds in the market now.

Battery life of the new AirPods Pro has also been improved by 1.5 hours for a total of up to six hours of use on a single charge with ANC activated. With the charging case, Apple said the new earbuds can deliver up to 30 hours of total listening time.

Aside from that, this iteration of the AirPods Pro finally gets volume control on the stem.

Naturally, the audio quality of the updated AirPods Pro is better now too. With all of these upgrades in mind, it’s quite surreal that Apple is retaining the RM1,099 price tag, though that’s not exactly a budget-friendly price either.

The Good Stuff

My favourite quality of the 2nd gen AirPods Pro has to be its audio quality. Sporting a custom‑⁠built driver and amplifier, I love the tuning of these earbuds. It has strong, punchy bass; forward, full-sounding vocals with the elevated mids; and subdued highs to avoid sibilance, though this also comes at the cost of reduced airiness and sparkle in the treble region.

Basically, the new AirPods Pro has a warm, “soothing” sound signature that’s right up my alley. Its technicalities are quite good too, in my opinion – it sounds more resolving than other wireless earbuds I’ve tried.

And then there’s the ANC performance of the AirPods Pro, which is pretty darn impressive. It can cancel out ambient noise very well – the sound of an air-conditioner or a rumbling engine, for example, is barely audible – and even human voices are drowned out quite well.

Compared to its main competition like the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro, the AirPods Pro is noticeably better at isolating ambient noise. This can be attributed to the better seal of the AirPods Pro in my ears; I can’t quite get the same amount of isolation with Samsung’s Buds 2 Pro.

Another feature of the updated AirPods Pro that I’m incredibly impressed with is transparency mode. Everything sounds so natural and lifelike with the mode enabled; it feels almost like I’m not wearing the earbuds at all. I also appreciate the fact that transparency mode can now automatically reduce the volume of loud sounds like sirens and power tools.

As mentioned, the battery life of the 2nd gen AirPods Pro sees quite an improvement. Apple quotes up to six hours of use with ANC activated, and I managed to get this level of battery life quite easily. The charging case can also recharge the earbuds quite quickly in between listening sessions.

Last but not least is the new volume control of the AirPods Pro on the stalk, which feels very intuitive to use. It can recognise up and down swiping motions to increase and lower the volume respectively very well, and never did I accidentally pause or skip a track while trying to adjust the volume.

The Bad Stuff

To get good audio quality with a pair of earbuds, it’s important to get a good seal. In this regard, I do manage to get a good (and comfortable) seal out of the AirPods Pro’s four different ear tip sizes – I went with the medium one – but some folks may find that none of them will fit their ears adequately.

Given the proprietary design of the AirPods Pro’s ear tips, you won’t be able to use aftermarket tips with these wireless earbuds. I don’t find this to be an issue, since the medium tips work well for me, though your mileage may vary.

Other than that, the AirPods Pro’s same old design isn’t particularly exciting either, even if there are a ton of upgrades under the hood. The AirPods Pro’s slippery, glossy finish makes it quite hard to get a good grip on the earbuds too, not to mention the fact that the case still charges via a lightning connector.

Is It Worth It?

Despite the unchanged design and proprietary ear tips, the 2nd generation AirPods Pro remains an excellent pair of wireless earbuds. It has a pleasant, warm sound signature, good audio fidelity, long battery life, excellent ANC performance, and lifelike transparency mode.

For these reasons, the new AirPods Pro gets our Nextrift Recommends badge. It is our way of endorsing products for their unique appeal and refinement, and in the case of the AirPods Pro, it gets the badge for its winning qualities as a premium pair of wireless earbuds – best one yet of the year, in my opinion.

In short, the 2nd gen AirPods Pro can certainly demand the RM1,099 price tag.