Apple AirPods Pro 2nd Generation (USB-C)
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The updated AirPods Pro (second generation) have a USB-C charging port, allowing you to charge using USB-C cables you already have for other devices, or even from a USB-C iPhone. You get the same stunning sound quality and active noise cancellation features that you do with the original Lightning version.Pros
- Can charge from your USB-C iPhone
- Lossless audio support for Vision Pro
- Dust resistant
- Almost identical to older version
- Won’t work with your Lightning cables
Apple AirPods Pro 2
A great value alternative
$199 $249 Save $50
The Lightning Apple AirPods Pro (second-generation) offer the same high-quality sound and active noise cancellation features as the new USB-C version, making them (jointly) Apple’s best sounding in-ear headphones. The Lightning cable may be on the way out, but it will still probably be around longer than your AirPods will.Pros
- Works with your existing Lightning cables
- Likely to see significant discounts
- Same great audio and features as the new version
- Won’t support lossless audio with the Vision Pro
- Lightning connector being phased out
Apple has released an update to its AirPods Pro (2nd Generation) wireless earbuds that, well, isn’t really an update at all. The changes are so minimal that the updated model doesn’t even have a new name, leaving us to have to comprehend unwieldy phrases such as ‘the new USB-C Apple AirPods Pro (2nd Generation)’ and ‘the old Lightning Apple AirPods Pro (2nd Generation)’.
As you might have guessed, the biggest change between the two versions of essentially the same product is the type of port in the charging case. There are some other differences, however, some of which are significant. How do the new AirPods Pro 2nd Generation USB-C compare to the old 2nd Generation AirPods Pro from 2022? Let’s find out.
Price, availability, and specs
The AirPods Pro (2nd Generation) with the Lightning port launched in September 2022, at a price of $249/£249. Since the update to the new USB-C version, it’s no longer possible to buy the Lightning AirPods Pro (2nd Generation) from the Apple website. However, you can still buy them elsewhere, with the price falling due to the release of the updated model. Currently, the original AirPods Pro (2nd Generation) are available for $199 on Amazon.
The new USB-C AirPods Pro are $249/£229 from Apple, and are available to order now, with delivery starting from 22 September.
As you would expect, the vast majority of the specifications are the same between the two models, but let’s take a look at some of the key specs.
Apple AirPods Pro 2nd Generation (USB-C) Apple AirPods Pro 2 Battery Life 4.5 hours talk time, 6 hours listening, 30 hours with case 4.5 hours talk time, 6 hours listening, 30 hours with case Noise Cancellation Yes Yes IP rating IP54 IPX4 Supported codecs SBC, AAC, Lossless Audio with Vision Pro SBC, AAC Charging Wireless, USB-C Wireless, Lighting Dimensions 45.2 x 60.6 x 21.7 / 50.8g (Charging Case), 30.9 x 21.8 x 24mm / 5.3g (Earbuds) 45.2 x 60.6 x 21.7mm / 50.8g (Charging Case), 30.9 x 21.8 x 24mm / 5.3g (Earbuds) Color White only White only Chip H2 Chip, U1 Chip in Charging Case H2 Chip, U1 Chip in Charging Case Spatial Audio Yes, Personalised Spatial Audio with Head Tracking Yes, Personalised Spatial Audio with Head Tracking Special features Adaptive Audio, ANC, Transparency Mode, Conversation Awareness, Personalised Volume, Adaptive EQ, Advanced on device controls including volume, Siri Adaptive Audio, ANC, Transparency Mode, Conversation Awareness, Personalised Volume, Adaptive EQ, Advanced on device controls including volume, Siri
What’s the same between Apple’s AirPods Pro 2nd Generation models?
The short answer is almost everything. There are a couple of significant differences which we’ll look at below, but first of all, let’s take a look at what hasn’t changed.
The design remains exactly the same, so if the AirPods Pro (2nd Generation) with Lightning felt good in your ears, the USB-C model will feel equally good. The AirPods Pro (2nd Generation) models both have short stems that are similar in length to the AirPods (3rd Generation), but significantly shorter than on the older models. There’s a vent on the side for pressure equalisation, and a touch sensor on the stem. Both models include two microphones to power the active noise cancellation (ANC) and have silicone ear tips at the end of the head, with four size options available.
Both models use the same touch sensor on the stem to allow you to control your music or calls without needing to touch your iPhone, iPad, or Mac. With the arrival of iOS 17, both models of AirPods Pro gain new controls, with a press of the stem allowing you to mute and unmute calls. Hanging up a call now requires a double press. You can also slide your finger up and down the sensor to turn the volume up or down or hold the sensor to switch between Active Noise Cancellation, Transparency mode or Adaptive Audio mode.
The sound quality is also exactly the same for both models of AirPods Pro (2nd Generation). A custom driver and amplifier help to reduce distortion when compared to the original AirPods Pro, so you get clearer highs and deeper bass, no matter the volume level. The Active Noise Cancellation is excellent and can reduce intrusive sounds such as screaming babies or power tools, as well as background noise like general conversation. Your Apple Watch can even show you how much the sound level has been reduced by thanks to your AirPods Pro (2nd Generation).
Listening to music, you get an even wider soundstage than on the original AirPods Pro, with noticeably richer bass, and more clarity. You can also use Personalised Spatial Audio that’s tailored to your ears, and head tracking that will move the sound mix as you move your head.
Both models use the same H2 chip that enables features such as improved noise cancellation and overall better sound quality than the original AirPods Pro that use the H1 chip. It also gives the AirPods Pro (2nd Generation) better battery life than the original AirPods Pro were able to offer. Apple claims that the H2 chip enables twice the level of noise cancellation as you got with the original AirPods Pro.
Both models of AirPods Pro can give up to 6 hours of listening time, which drops down to 5.5 hours if you have Spatial Audio with head tracking on. If you’re making calls, you can get up to 4.5 hours of talk time with the active noise cancellation turned on. The charging case allows you to get up to 30 hours of listening time between charges, or 24 hours of talk time. Just five minutes in the charging case will give around an hour of listening time or talk time.
What’s different between Apple’s AirPods Pro 2nd gen models?
So far, so exactly the same. Is there anything different about the USB-C version of the AirPods Pro (2nd Generation). Well, yes, there is, and it’s not just the charging port.
Wireless charging case
The most obvious difference between the new AirPods Pro (2nd Generation) USB-C and the old AirPods Pro (2nd Generation) with Lightning is that the charging case on the former has a USB-C port instead of the Lightning port on the original version. Even then, you’d barely know to look at them, with the ports being very similar in size. However, the new case allows a handy feature that isn’t possible with the Lightning case; with a USB-C to USB-C cable, you can charge your AirPods directly from a USB-C iPhone such as the iPhone 15 or iPhone 15 Pro. Both model offer wireless charging and they are both compatible with MagSafe too.
Another small difference between the two versions of AirPods Pro (second generation) is that the new USB-C version has a slightly different IP rating, which is a measure of ingress protection. The older version is rated at IPX4, which means that they can withstand sweat and the occasional splash without too much issue. The USB-C version is rated at IP54, which means that they have exactly the same level of moisture protection but are also protected against the limited ingress of dust.
The new AirProds Pro (2nd Generation) with USB-C come with a second generation of the U1 chip built in, while the Lightning model has the first generation of the U1 chip. The second generation of the U1 chip allows for Find My with Precision Finding to accurately locate your charging case rather than only telling you the distance to a couple of metres. You’ll need an iPhone 11 or newer with an ultra-wideband chip inside in order to use this feature, however.
Vision Pro support
The final difference is quite a significant one, and one that may irk owners of the original AirPods Pro (2nd Generation) with Lightning. That’s because when the Apple Vision Pro is finally released at some point next year, owners of the AirPods Pro (2nd Generation) with USB-C will be able to listen to audio from their mixed reality headset in 20-bit, 48kHz lossless audio. This is the first time that any AirPods will be able to wirelessly play lossless audio.
If you own the AirPods Pro (2nd Generation) with Lightning then you’re out of luck, as they won’t support lossless audio with the Vision Pro. If you’re planning on shelling out the significant price tag of the Vision Pro, you might feel a little aggrieved to have to also upgrade your otherwise identical 2nd Generation AirPods Pro, but unfortunately, that’s the case.
Conclusion: To USB-C or not to USB-C?
If you don’t already own the older version of the AirPods Pro (2nd Generation) then you have a decision to make. The ability to charge your AirPods Pro from your iPhone could be very useful, and if you’re going to get a Vision Pro, it’s a no-brainer as the lossless audio support is only available with the AirPods Pro 2nd Generation with USB-C.
Apple AirPods Pro 2nd Generation (USB-C)
$200 $250 Save $50
If you’re not fussed about these features, however, then you’ll likely be able to get your hands on the old-style AirPods Pro (2nd Generation) with Lightning for a significant discount. And if you already own some AirPods Pro 2nd Generation with a Lightning charging case, then there’s very little reason to upgrade them, unless you’re planning to invest in the Vision Pro when it launches. The new charging port and dust protection really aren’t big enough reasons to ditch your otherwise excellent AirPods and fork out for a new pair that sound identical.
Apple AirPods Pro 2
Great value alternative
$199 $249 Save $50