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 the pandemic hotspot back in KL. This is the longest period I have been away from home with nothing but a few clothes and my laptop. The idea of working from home is nothing strange to me - I have been working from home and almost anywhere else with an internet connection. However, since I didn’t bring any other work gear with me, I had to repurchase some necessary items to help me stay productive.

In the name of productivity, or rather as a fancy excuse to justify the spending, I bought a Tribit Xtune Free Bluetooth headphones, an inexpensive gaming mouse, and two sets of AirPods - the regular AirPods and AirPods Pro. Initially, my plan was to purchase only the AirPods, but since I had the option to return them if I didn’t like them, I ended up buying the AirPods Pro as well.

There are some other items as well, but I don’t think it’s necessary to list them all here. Additionally, I have a few shipments that were stuck in Singapore, and only recently have they started shipping back to me.

First impression

RM999 for the Pro features.

AirPods are a straightforward product, essentially being wireless EarPods. They possess the same sound stage, physical design, which some people dislike, and similar features. Personally, I believe Apple should consider bundling AirPods with the iPhone since they complement each other so well. However, doing so would likely increase the price, and not everyone would end up using them.

But what truly took my breath away is the AirPods Pro. I am thoroughly impressed with its sound performance, which is noticeably superior to the regular AirPods. The active noise cancellation (ANC) feature is amazing and it truly enhances the overall experience. It’s remarkable how such a compact device can pack so many impressive features.

Typically, active noise cancellation (ANC) is commonly found in headphones and high-end earphones. However, the experience with ANC on AirPods Pro is quite unique. Unlike other ANC devices that have a small enclosure for housing the AAA battery to power the noise cancellation, AirPods Pro offer a simpler and more streamlined design. Many people are willing to overlook the complexity of ANC in favor of a more straightforward solution. Additionally, the charging case for AirPods Pro is nearly the same size as the original AirPods, except for the landscape lid. This compact size allows for convenient carrying alongside the iPhone in the same pocket.

Pairing the AirPods or AirPods Pro with an iPhone is incredibly easy. Simply opening the case will prompt them to appear on your iPhone, and you can easily select them to connect. During the initial pairing process, AirPods Pro provides more detailed introductions compared to AirPods, highlighting the differences between the two. In my opinion, if you are already comfortable with EarPods, you will likely love the AirPods. On the other hand, if you desire improved sound quality, you will truly appreciate the AirPods Pro.

While the original AirPods do not require any additional settings, the same cannot be said for AirPods Pro. AirPods Pro offers an isolation test in the settings menu, which allows you to check if the earbuds fit properly in your ears. This test only needs to be performed once, and once AirPods Pro verifies a good seal, you’re all set. This step is crucial for ensuring the active noise cancellation feature functions correctly.

On the AirPods, double-tapping on either side will activate Siri by default. However, on AirPods Pro, you need to double-press the stem until you hear a click to invoke Siri or switch between Noise Cancellation and Transparency modes. The latter mode allows audio from the outside to be channeled through the microphone, eliminating the need to remove the AirPods Pro. Reinserting them may require some practice to ensure a proper seal. Nevertheless, many users find it natural and polite to briefly remove the AirPods Pro to engage in conversation or listen to their surroundings. Additionally, the audio will automatically pause when the AirPods Pro are detected as being taken off and will resume playback as soon as they are put back in place.

The battery life of the original AirPods is approximately 5 hours, while the AirPods Pro lasts for about 4.5 hours with ANC enabled. However, it is important to note that most people do not typically use the AirPods continuously for longer than 2 hours before taking them out and placing them back in the case. In my everyday usage, I have found that a single charge of my AirPods is sufficient for my needs, and I have not experienced a complete depletion of the battery during a typical day. With a fully charged charging case, you can enjoy a total of approximately 24 hours of playtime before needing to recharge the case.

Now, with that being said, even though I appreciate what the AirPods Pro has to offer, I have ultimately made the decision to return them and stick with the AirPods. Allow me to explain the reasons behind my choice:

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

- AirPods have a sleek and minimalist design that blends seamlessly with everyday outfits and activities. They are lightweight, unobtrusive, and offer a more casual aesthetic.

2. ANC is optional.

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

3. Headphones still have the best overall sound quality.

- I already have a collection of headphones for when I want to enjoy an immersive audio experience without any drawbacks.

The reason why I chose to buy AirPods over alternative Bluetooth earbuds is because of the seamless experience they provide with the iPhone. Additionally, I appreciate the convenience of being able to use them with my MacBook or iPad since they are synced with my iCloud account.

If you’re having second thoughts about getting AirPods, especially if you feel like your EarPods are sufficient, I encourage you to reconsider. I had a similar mindset initially but ended up loving the AirPods because of the freedom they provide without wires. While the price may be a bit steep for some, I believe it’s worth investing for the AirPods especially if you’re already using an iPhone.

Notes :

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

I made a mistake by purchasing AirPods clones called Blackpods from both Lazada and Shopee. Unfortunately, both of them turned out to be faulty right out of the box. One of them failed to pair successfully, and the other had a very poor battery life. While I was able to get a refund for the purchase from Lazada, I was not successful in obtaining a refund from Shopee. I consider this experience as a lesson learned, and I would advise others not to make the same mistake I did by purchasing cheap knockoff versions. It’s important to prioritize purchasing genuine and reliable products to ensure a satisfactory user experience.

Posted June 21, 2020