Airpods vs Airpods Pro

Although I am an avid Android fan/user, I am equally fond of Apple’s Airpods. I have used the original and V2 Airpods with great success over the last few years and can’t imagine using anything else to pair with my phone for audio.

I purchased the AirPod Pro a few weeks ago and have been using them exclusively and I am not quite sure if I want to stay with them or go back to the V2 Airpods.

I have never liked headphones with silicone tips. They create an odd feeling of pressure in the inner ear that feels strange to me. And I also don’t love noise cancellation when I am out and about, which is where I use the Airpods.

On planes and in the office, where noise cancellation is something I quite like, I use over-ear Bose headphones with noise cancellation instead of the AirPods.

I also don’t love the larger charging case, which I typically have on me while I am out and about.

And, I don’t think the Bluetooth pairing (which is how they connect to Android phones) works as reliably as the Bluetooth pairing on the V2 Airpods.

I am going to give the Airpods Pro a few more weeks before I make a final call, but I am leaning towards going back to the V2 Airpods right now.

I am curious to hear what others think about these two Airpod products. I wonder if I’m in the minority or the majority on this.


Comments (Archived):

  1. Craig Cramer

    AirPods Pro Bluetooth connection works MUCH more reliably for me (with iPhone) than non-pro version. Don’t notice additional size of the case, and I take them everywhere. Overall fantastic device for it’s ease of use in every way. Although, fit test doesnt work consistently for me with any of the three tip sizes. But, I also dont notice a difference in sound or noise cancellation when the fit test says good or not good seal.

  2. kenberger

    Of course in the spring (whatever that means) we’ll have the pixel buds 2, which will have some Android-specific tricks. Vaporware for now but I’m confident they’ll at least be much better than the first generation which was a disaster.

    1. fredwilson

      So bad

  3. jason wright

    Why ‘pods’?I don’t like things in my ears. Not natural. Uncomfortable.

  4. Richard

    Hey Fred – you can toggle the noise-cancellation between noise cancellation & transparency mode (increases surrounding noise – great for walking out and about) by holding down the stem of either airpod. You will hear a sound when the switch is confirmed

    1. fredwilson

      Yup. Have done that. Probably need to do not all the time. Would be great if I could change the default

      1. John Frankel

        With Siri you just ask it to switch between modes.

  5. Charlie

    I find the Pros less secure in my ears than the v2 Airpods. I’ve experimented with all 3 tips sizes and can’t seem to get past the feeling that they are precariously loose. Never had this issue with the v2 Airpods, which felt very secure. Anyone else have a similar experience?

  6. Jeff J

    Going to have to argue with you on a few of these points Fred.I have all three versions of the AirPods.I’ve had the Pro version since they launched, they are vastly superior to the originals and V2. They have better soundstage, bass response/sub bass and instrument separation compared to V1 and V2. Largely this is due to the silicon tips giving better passive isolation.The ANC is quite amazing. I used them on a flight a few days ago and compared them to my original Bose QC35s (V1). The ANC was comparable in a much smaller case. I didn’t have the QC35 2s or the newer 700s, so I can’t comment.The AirPods Pro have an external vent to allow for pressurization and equilibration. 3 hour flight, wore the Pros without ear pain or headache. Can’t say the same for any over ear ANC headphone I’ve ever owned.So to recap, an N of 1 since it’s just my experience, better soundstage, better instrument separation, better bass and layering. Same excellent phone call quality. Excellent, for their size and comparable to my QC35 (V1s), ANC. 4.5-5 hour battery life and 24 hours of charges in the case.And lastly seamless BT switching between my iPhone 11 Pro and the Samsung Galaxy Fold. I can’t recommend them highly enough

  7. LIAD

    first few days had decided the same thing. didn’t find them comfortable to wear, ears felt plugged having them in, lack of ambient sound was discerning.decided to persevere. key for me was changing the tips to large from the medium that came as default – super comfortable now – but always aware you have them in, whereas previous version you didn’t they just were. being able to turn on noise cancellation on underground – pure magic. sticking with pros. – have you tried turning off noise cancellation or activating transparency mode? or is that only available via ios hardware?

    1. fredwilson

      Yes. It is available. Maybe I just need to be more proactive about that.

  8. Jonathan Washburn

    I have just had the pros a bit over a week, but so far they are *much* better re: Bluetooth connection – and much better about quickly switching between devices. I agree re: case size – and have found myself leaving the case in a bag instead of my pocket. Didn’t love that a couple of times when I took them out and then realized I forgot the case…I don’t usually want noise canceling on the go; however the ability to turn it on or off has been convenient. On the street, I have noise canceling turned off, but in a closed environment may turn it on. I also surprisingly found myself using them on the plane and didn’t bother to switch to my Bose…I have found the silicone tips to be more comfortable for longer periods of time…the older pods would start to bother my ears after more than 45 minutes I think. Pros were in for several hours without any irritation.Finally, for calls, I often had quality complaints on the old pods; not so now. The charger form factor is annoying, but Bluetooth connectivity and phone call sound quality have me committed.

  9. Sue

    Speaking for the minority giant ear canal crowd, old AirPods float around loosely in my ears. No chance I could use them or any earbud Apple has ever released. Hoping that with the large Size silicon attachment, pros will work, but not sure that solution would be better than the first aid tape hack I’ve seen recommended for the V2 model. Still on the sidelines with my old school wired buds. The only time those really bug me is working out.

  10. Will Rossiter

    Like you, I use Bose over-the-ear for planes and noise cancelling–although the hot-head-earmuff effect often steers me to my AirPod Pros. I made an unfortunate discovery with AirPod Pros while cycling that the shape of the headphones increases wind noise . . . that is piped directly into your earholes, which incited some temporary hearing issues for me. I mention this because it led me to discover aftershokz (sic.) bone conduction headphones, which don’t go into or cover the ears. They don’t have the sound quality or volume of in-ear headphones, but it’s a bizarre experience to hear the world perfectly via eardrum/cilia, while also listening to music or a podcast via ear bones. Probably the closest you can get to living with a soundtrack. (“Fred walked into the grocery store. Cue Vince Staple’s Street Punks.”) Oddly, they also arbitrate multiple bluetooth connections better than my AirPod Pros.

  11. Allen Ackerman

    I’ve had all 3 iterations of the Airpods and the Pros about a week. So far so good with the Pros (and iphone 11pro). They do fit better in my ear and I think the sound is noticably superior to the 2s. While the silicone tips take some getting used to I feel they keep the pods more secure and I do forget they are in sometimes.I think the NC and transparency modes are incredibly well executed. I’ve never had airbud NC b4. I love the convienience of having NC in such a small package and turning it on while waiting for the subway to cut down on some of the ear splitting train noise is a joy.- Calls sound better and I believe sound better for the recipient as well. – Battery seems to go quicker which is to be expected. – BT switiching and activation is fast although I have had some hiccups.I look forward to testing them on a plane however by all indiocations they are keepers.

  12. Adrian Lu

    In regards to comfort and fit of silicone tips, I just read yesterday that you can use third party earphone tips on the AirPod Pros like Comply Foam which are designed for comfort. I’ve used these myself on other headphones where the original ear tips were uncomfortable or had a poor seal. I’d definitely look into these before giving up on the Pros.

  13. Dennis Murashko

    I returned my AirPods Pro (the first apple product I’ve ever returned) a week ago for the reasons you note: the silicon tip bothers my ear, while the original AirPods design works beautifully; noise cancelation is so much better on over-the-ear Bose headphones, and where I need it most is on airplanes, which makes bringing the larger Bose ones not an issue; the charging case is awkward—something about the way the pods fit made them tricky to get out.

  14. Trader_View ROBBIE

    same feeling. V2 Airpods for my daily use, QC35 for flights.

  15. John Frankel

    Firstly, I use an iPhone, whereas I think you are an Android user. If so, that makes a huge difference,I carry both. The new Pros are amazing in 90% of my situations, and thus the default. I still carry the non-Pros for talking in the office: why? Because I can hear a reverb in one ear, and because my own voice sounds distorted to me. But, for the 90% of the other time the noise cancelling (and ability to switch to transparency mode) is close to ‘magic’, and I can have them at normal volume in otherwise noisy situations.The Pro’s work really well for me on flights, and lighten my hand luggage.The connection to an iPhone has been flawless for me with the Pro’s and better than the non-Pros.

  16. Nigel Walsh

    I’m with you – I loved the old ones, have 2 pairs. The new ones – the seal makes me hear my own heartbeat. Im not a huge fan of the Transparent mode and when exercising they keep falling out. The old ones never did this! I may be donating these to my wife!

  17. Matt Zagaja

    I haven’t used AirPods Pro but my friends that have picked them up have reviewed them favorably. I too have over the ear headphones with noise cancelling i use in the office and on airplane flights. My regular AirPods can get drowned out in places where there is lots of outside noise and so I think the Airpods Pro tried to engineer for that.

  18. BillMcNeely

    Thanks for all the great feedback. I’ll be sure to share with my enjoyer!