AirPods Pro - Not for me!

Pro in the name.

I spent 75 days working remotely from my hometown to avoid being in the center of pandemic hotspot back in KL. This is the longest period I have been away from home with nothing than a few clothes and my laptop. The idea of working from home is nothing strange for me - I have been working from home and almost anywhere else with internet connection, but since I didn’t bring other work gear with me I had to re-purchase some necessary stuff to help me stay productive.

In the name of productivity or rather a fancy excuse to justify the spending, I bought a Tribit Xtune Free bluetooth headphones, an inexpensive gaming mouse and two AirPods - regular AirPods and AirPods Pro. My initial thought was just to get the AirPods, but since I have the option to return it in case I did not like it then I bought the AirPods Pro as well.

There are some other stuff as well but I don’t its necessary to list it all here. I also have few of my shipments stuck in Singapore and only recently they started shipping back.

First impression

RM999 for the Pro features.

AirPods is a dead simple product, its the EarPods without wires. It has the same sound stage, same physical design that some people hates and same features. I personally think Apple should just bundle the AirPods together with the iPhone since its so much of experience together, but again it will drive the price up and not everyone will end up using one.

But what really had my breath away is the AirPods Pro. I am impressed with the sound performance, it is noticeably sounding a lot better than AirPods. The active noise cancellation (ANC) feature is amazing - its really what brings all together, especially considering the size and the features it packed with such a footprint.

Typically you will see ANC in headphones and high-end earphones, but it did not have the same experience as the AirPods. Some of them have a small enclosure to house the AAA battery to power the noise cancellation, each comes with its own complexity that most people are willing to overlook the ANC feature for something far more simple. The charging is almost the same size with original AirPods except from landscape lid, so you can really carry it together with the iPhone in the same pocket.

Pairing the AirPods/AirPods Pro with an iPhone is as easy as opening the case, it will appear on your iPhone and just choose to connect. AirPods Pro has more introductions compared to AirPods during first pairing, as it show what’s the different compared to regular AirPods. My take here, if you are already comfortable with the EarPods, you will love the AirPods. And if you wish AirPods to have better sound quality, then you’ll appreciate the AirPods Pro.

While original AirPods did not required any more settings, the same can’t be said with AirPods Pro. There is isolation test in AirPods Pro’s setting under Settings > Bluetooth to see if the earbuds will fit your ears properly. You only need to do this once, and as soon as AirPods Pro verified you have a good sealed, you’re good to go. This is important for the ANC feature to work correctly.

On the AirPods, double tapping on either side will invoke Siri by default. On AirPods Pro, you need to double press until you hear a click to invoke Siri or switching between Noise cancellation and Transparency mode. The latter will channel audio from outside through the microphone, avoiding the need to taking out the AirPods Pro since putting it back require a bit of practice seal. But I guess that’s what most users will do since its very natural to do so (and polite, must I say). The audio will automatically pause when it detect your taking it off, and will resume playback as soon as you put back it.

Battery life is about the same, with 5 hours for original AirPods and 4.5 hours for AirPods Pro with ANC switched on. While the scenario for the AirPods is usually benchmarked by flying hours, I don’t think most people will keep it on longer than 2 hours before they take it out and put it in the case. I have yet until this very day, managed to deplete the battery on my AirPods during my everyday usage. With charging case fully charge, you can have a total about 24 hours playing time before requiring the case to be recharged again.

Now with that being said, as much as I love what AirPods Pro can offer, I decided to return it and keep the original AirPods instead. And here’s why :

1. Using AirPods feels a lot more casual compared to AirPods Pro.

- I can just plug it in and go with my day. With AirPods Pro, I have to make sure I have good fits, and that add unnecessary delay.

2. ANC is optional.

- I fly a lot less nowadays. Plus I live in environment where its already quiet, so its something that I can live without right now.

3. Headphones for sound quality.

- I already have few collection of headphones in case I want to enjoy immersive audio experience without any drawback. With wires, of course.

The reason why I bought AirPods compared to alternative bluetooth earbuds is how seamless the experience with the iPhone. And I can use it with my MacBook or iPad since its synced with my iCloud.

If you still have a second thought about getting AirPods especially when you felt like your EarPods will do, think again. I had the same thinking but ended up liking it so much because it free me to move around without wires. The price might be a bit off to some people, but if you are using iPhone then I say its worth to get one. Unless your iPhone still has 3.5mm audio jack.

Notes :

I have to say, it sure looks nice in black.

I made mistakes by buying AirPods clone called Blackpods from both Lazada and Shopee. Both of them turned out faulty on the spot, one did not pair successfully and one has crap battery life. I managed to get a refund from Lazada but not from Shopee. I considered that as a RM129 ticket for buying cheap. Please do not make the same mistake as I did.

Posted June 21, 2020