As the shuttle bus trundled towards Birmingham International Airport, my Apple Watch Ultra tapped me on the wrist.
“You’ve left your AirPods Pro 2 behind,” it said. After a brief second of immediate panic, I tapped both jeans pockets.
Phew! I could feel the familiar bulge of the AirPods Pro case residing in my right pocket. Panic over; must be a weird Find My bug – nothing to worry about.
Only, it wasn’t – as I’ll explain in a moment. But my brush with a lost pair of AirPods Pro earlier this week has prompted me to update you all on my experience with Apple’s latest earbuds.
For a product I wasn’t even going to review to begin with, they keep giving me things to talk about, and I’ve got five of those things to share with you today.
1. Everyone loves them
I’m yet to read or watch a review of AirPods Pro 2 that is anything less than glowing. Everyone seems to be both in love and surprised by Apple’s latest noise-cancelling earbuds.
The one thing I’m not surprised by is this collective reaction. They are, quite simply, a revelation.
The original AirPods Pro were superb, don’t get me wrong. They combined the best of the non-pro AirPods (convenience, Apple ecosystem integration, and smart charging) with better sound, superior comfort, and surprisingly good noise-cancelling.
AirPods Pro 2 have added to that list even better sound, a far more helpful case, and noise-cancelling and transparency modes which are almost on a level par with the over-ear alternatives.
If the Apple Watch Ultra hadn’t been released at the same time, AirPods Pro 2 would have been Apple’s product of the year.
2. The lanyard was a good shout
I scoffed at the lanyard option for the new AirPods Pro 2 case. Here comes another ludicrously expensive Apple accessory, I thought. Not so. Although Apple has chosen to carve a small chunk out of the case and insert a metal lanyard loop, you can’t buy an Apple-branded lanyard. Instead, you’ll need to opt for something from a third party.
You’ll be glad you did, though, because it’s a very cool little addition.
After far too much searching (finding the right size of lanyard is surprisingly tricky), I opted for these finger straps on Amazon. They’re just the right size for the AirPods Pro 2 case, and you get five different colours in the pack if you fancy switching things up occasionally.
The addition of a lanyard to your AirPods Pro case isn’t exactly life-changing, but it does make them a bit more personal, and, more importantly, more grabbable when retrieving your case from the depths of your backpack or trouser pocket. It’s a cute update, and I’m more in love with it than I thought I’d be.
3. I’m less inclined to use my over-ear headphones
When travelling, I’ll usually pack both my AirPods Pro and a pair of over-ear noise-cancelling headphones. This time around, I decided to ditch the latter.
The noise-cancelling is so good on the AirPods Pro 2 that it makes the need to carry yet another heavy item in your backpack highly questionable. Why take up all of that space with a great big case for your over-ear headphones when Apple’s earbuds are knocking on the door of their noise-cancelling abilities?
I’ve even found myself doing this at home during my early morning writing sessions. Rather than place the admittedly brilliant Sennheiser Momentum 4 cans on my head, I’ve been more inclined to reach for the AirPods Pro 2 instead.
I shouldn’t get carried away here – nothing beats a great pair of over-ears when it comes to the best possible noise cancellation (especially if you’re in windy or particularly noisy environments). But, boy do the new AirPods Pro come close!
4. I forgot to moan about the lack of USB-C
I still can’t believe I forgot to mention this during my original review of the AirPods Pro 2, but I’ll just blame how distracted I was by their best features.
Unfortunately, the worst feature of the second-generation AirPods Pro – by an absolute country mile – is Apple’s ludicrous decision to stick with Lightning for charging. And I’m glad I waited until now to write this blog post because Tim and co. have given me even more reason to get unnecessarily angry about this.
We’ve just been ‘treated’ to a new Apple TV 4K which is, by and large, exactly the same as the last one. There are some differences, though, including a slightly refreshed Siri Remote… which now comes with USB-C charging.
That’s right – Apple decided to add the most common charging method to the latest version of the Siri Remote but decided against adding it to the AirPods Pro 2. Let’s not forget that AirPods Pro 2 sit within a product category where all (honestly – literally every single one) of the competitors use USB-C for charging.
Can anyone explain the logic here?
5. They still fall out of the case
Back to the airport.
Birmingham was surprisingly busy at 4am that day and the queue for boarding passes threatened to ruin my breakfast plans. I’d had grand ideas of sailing through security, heading towards one of those places that will either serve you a cappuccino or pint of Stella before dawn (I’d opt for the former, obviously – it was a work trip) and ordering the biggest Full English on the menu.
Alas, that clearly wasn’t going to happen. What was ahead of me was a long queue and an inevitably frantic dash to the gate after seeing the perilous words ‘FINAL CALL’ on the departure board.
To overcome my breakfast blues, I decided to listen to a podcast while waiting for my place in the queue to worm its way towards the KLM check-in staff. Retrieving the AirPods Pro case from the pocket in which I knew it safely resided, I flipped open the lid only to find two vacant spaces.
No AirPods. All I had in my possession was an AirPods Pro case without the most important element inside.
I grasped my iPhone from the opposite pocket and fired up Find My. This is the image I was greeted with when I tapped on the location of my second-generation AirPods Pro:
The case was now separated from its AirPods by nearly a mile and one of Birmingham AirPort’s runways. Retrieving them with a little over an hour to go before my flight’s scheduled departure would be impossible.
It dawned on me; I knew exactly what had happened. Earlier that morning, in a bleary-eyed haze, I’d dropped the AirPods Pro onto the floor of my hotel room. I didn’t think anything of it; when retrieving them from the floor, the case was still closed shut and all appeared to be fine.
But it wasn’t, was it? Because I’d forgotten the first rule of AirPods Pro Drop Club – the case lid always opens on impact, jettisons the AirPods and then closes itself immediately afterwards. If you miss that event, there’s a very good chance you’ll assume all is well and leave your stranded AirPods Pro behind.
As noted earlier, the AirPods Pro 2 were the only audio device I’d brought with me for this trip, which meant I had two whole days ahead of no in-ear music, podcasts, or video editing. The good news is that the lovely hotel staff retrieved my AirPods and kept them safe for my return – but, still, I’d love that lid to be a bit more impact-friendly next time around.
If Apple hadn’t released the Apple Watch Ultra this year, AirPods Pro 2 would be its product of 2022 – hands-down.
This still surprises me; it was such an innocuous, seemingly boring update to an already great product. I still wonder if Apple knew this would be the reaction, or if, like the rest of us, assumed the latest generation of AirPods Pro would slip quietly into the national conscience.
I’m fairly sure it’s the latter. I think we all know that Apple has some big stuff in the works for 2023, and products like the second-generation AirPods Pro have been more of a ‘let’s get them out there and move on’ affair. Thankfully, and, I think, unwittingly, this latest version of AirPods Pro has pulled off one of the biggest surprises of the year.
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