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Six Colors

by Jason Snell & Dan Moren

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By Dan Moren

Apple introduces AirPods Pro

Note: This story has not been updated for several years.

And so the AirPods join the iMac, MacBook, and iPad in devices that have gone Pro, as Apple announces the latest version of its wireless headphones. Boasting a new design with flexible ear tips, the AirPods Pro add the highly-anticipated Active Noise Cancellation feature to remove background noise and provide better sound. That’s accompanied by a new Transparency Mode that lets users hear their music as well as the world around them by adjusting the noise cancellation feature—users can switch into that mode by using a “force sensor” on the stem1, which is also used for play/pause/skip and answer/hang up commands.

Apple claims that the AirPods Pro will feature the same five hours of listening as their predecessors, though if you turn on noise-cancelling, that will drop to four and a half hours. But using the charging case, Apple still says you can get 24 hours of listening time or 18 hours of talk time. Plus it seems the AirPods Pro will come with a Qi-enabled charging case by default.

As someone who hasn’t invested into AirPods because of concerns about fit, I’m most interested in the “Ear Tip Fit Test” that Apple says uses an algorithm to figure out whether the ear tip you’re using is the right fit for your ear, based on the sound level in your ear versus what the drivers are actually outputting.

Of course, all of that Pro branding comes at a premium: the AirPods Pro cost $249, compared to the $159 AirPods (or $199 if you buy them with the wireless charging case). Shipping of the new AirPods Pro starts this Wednesday, October 30, and they’ll be available in stores later this week (availability varied by country and region, of course).

  1. Use the Force sensor, Luke. 

[Dan Moren is the East Coast Bureau Chief of Six Colors. You can find him on Mastodon at or reach him by email at His latest novel, the supernatural detective story All Souls Lost, is now available for pre-order.]

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