AirPods Pro 2 were released back in September, and they’ve been universally praised by reviewers and consumers since then. With third-party retailers already offering aggressive discounts, AirPods Pro 2 are set to be one of the top-selling gifts of the holiday season. If they aren’t already at the top of your wishlist, here’s why I think they should be…

What’s new with AirPods Pro 2?

The original AirPods Pro were released way back in 2019 and were incredibly impressive. Compared to the standard AirPods, they offered a more comfortable and versatile in-ear design, improved sound quality, active noise cancellation, Transparency Mode, and more. AirPods Pro 2 build on all of these features with a number of quality-of-life improvements, plus some other additions.

Internally, AirPods Pro 2 are powered by Apple’s latest H2 audio chip. This powers some new features, but one of the biggest things I’ve noticed is improved performance and pairing with my other devices. The original AirPods Pro were pretty quick and easy to pair, but every so often there’d be some quirks and connectivity issues. I’ve yet to experience anything like that in my two months with AirPods Pro 2.

Beyond improvements to connectivity performance and reliability, the H2 chip in AirPods Pro 2 have a ton of other benefits as well:

  • Active noise cancellation now cancels up to twice as much noise
  • Improve audio quality thanks to H2 chip and a new low-distortion audio driver and custom amplifier
  • Adaptive Transparency Mode:  reduces loud environmental noise — like a passing vehicle siren, construction tools, or even loud speakers at a concert — for more comfortable everyday listening
  • 1.5 hours of additional listening time over the first generation, for a total of up to six hours with Active Noise Cancellation
  • Paired with the charging case, you get up to 30 hours of total listening time with Active Noise Cancellation

Adaptive Transparency mode is something that’s particularly interesting, with a wide-range of use cases. It can be used for something as simple as dynamically reducing the sound of a siren as it passes you. The feature can also be used in far more interesting ways.

Tim Toda, a photographer and producer who has spent much of the last year on tour with Coldplay, gave us a glimpse into his experience with AirPods Pro:

Adaptive transparency mode is pretty incredible even in a concert setting. I’ve only used it a handful of times during a concert/soundcheck for work, but it seems like the AirPods Pro filter the noise really cleanly.

You can noticeably tell a difference between your naked ears and wearing your AirPods. It’s quite strange because your brain is telling you it should sound incredibly loud, but you’re hearing sound that is completely bearable. I can’t say I’d replace these for proper earplugs, but they would be better than no earplugs.

Apple engineer details how the company improved the audio quality of AirPods Pro 2 without Lossless

Two other big improvements with AirPods Pro 2 include volume controls on the stem for the first and changes to the charging case. The volume controls on the stem allow you to swipe up or down to adjust the volume, so you don’t have to use Siri or the volume buttons on your iPhone to do so.

The new charging case features a built-in speaker and deep integration with the Find My app thanks to a U1 ultra-wideband chip inside. This means it’s now far easier to find your AirPods Pro if you lose them, either by using the Precision Finding feature in the Find My app or by simply playing a sound via the charging case’s new speaker. The new case also includes a built-in lanyard holster for the first time.

‘AirPods for Christmas’ take two

AirPods have always been an incredibly popular holiday gift. Back in 2018, AirPods went viral around Christmas. Those who received AirPods as a gift took to social media to flaunt their new wireless earbuds, leading to “AirPods for Christmas” going viral on Christmas Day. AirPods were pitted as a “status symbol” with people joking that they were “somehow elevated into higher social classes” because of them.

Since then, AirPods have topped holiday wishlists as well as post-holiday “best seller” lists every year. Given that the original AirPods Pro were released in 2019 and went three years between upgrades, there’s a lot of pent up demand for the new model.

Perhaps most notably, AirPods Pro 2 are priced the same as the first-generation model at $249, despite the notable upgrades and broader price increases for everything else in the world. Additionally, AirPods Pro 2 are already seeing hefty discounts at third-party retailers. Amazon, for instance, has regularly been selling AirPods Pro 2 for less than the $249 retail price – a rare discount on a current-generation, just-released Apple product.

With the positive reviews, aggressive sales, and big quality-of-life improvements like the new charging case and improved battery life, AirPods Pro 2 are an excellent gift whether you’re shopping for a first-time AirPods buyer or someone who already has the first-generation AirPods Pro or another AirPods model.

Are you planning to gift someone AirPods Pro 2 this year? Are AirPods Pro 2 at the top of your holiday wishlist? Let us know down in the comments.

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About the Author

Chance Miller

Chance is an editor for the entire 9to5 network and covers the latest Apple news for 9to5Mac.

Tips, questions, typos to chance@9to5mac.com