Somewhere in the midst of Apple’s Wunderlust iPhone 15 announcement on Sept 12, the tech giant announced a new update for its second generation AirPods Pro, that the case, like the new phone model, would now offer a USB-C connector.
It was an almost blink-and-you’ll-miss-it mention, except that there’s actually more to the new updated AirPods Pro if you take a closer look. Now, the AirPods Pro themselves work in almost the same manner as the original. With a shorter stem than the original AirPods, the Pro models have tighter seal and have gesture controls on the shorter stem, for you to increase the volume, pause and skip songs, and go into audio transparency mode should someone want to talk to you while you’re listening to music.
The biggest draw, Spatial Audio, puts you front and centre of where the audio is directed at you. If you’re watching a movie on your iPad and shift your head, the audio appears to surround you, providing an immersive soundscape based on the content you’re watching, be it a TV show, movie or consent. There’s also head tracking, where the direction of the audio shifts based on the direction of your head in relation to where your Apple device is, placing you directly in the middle of the audio staging.
But the changes here offer a little more. The USB-C model is now rated with a higher IP54 for both the AirPods and the case, up from the original’s IPX4, making it dust, sweat and water resistant. It’s not waterproof, so no swimming with it but this change means the unit is now dustproof, so there’s better protection against dirt entering the unit.
And while there’s MagSafe charging for the unit, a new addition is reverse wired charging. Simply connect the unit to your iPhone 15 with the USB-C cable, and you can use your phone to power the AirPods Pro. Yes, it’s not exactly new, as Samsung Galaxy phones can wirelessly charge its Galaxy Buds, but if you’re ever left the house not realising that your AirPods Pro is low on power, you can juice them up via your iPhone 15. We even connected it to an iPad Pro (5th generation) MacBook Pro 16 (M2 Max) and it started charging. The light on the case lights up for a few seconds, and you can see the charging icon on the Batteries Status widget on the phone.
Apple is also preparing this device for use with next year’s Apple Vision Pro headset. The unit has up to six hours of use (5.5 hours with Spatial Audio and head tracking), and offers up to four hours using Lossless Audio with ultra-low latency with Apple Vision Pro. The Vision Pro, which was announced at WWDC 2023, is a mixed reality headset that works independently from any computer, but if you pair it with an AirPods Pro, you’ll get an immersive visual and audio experience that merges Spatial Audio in a powerful way.
Alas, we are not able to test the updated AirPods Pro with the yet-to-be-released Vision Pro, but after the demo we had earlier this year, the combination is something we can’t wait to take a deep dive into when it goes on sale in early 2024.
Still, the only reason why you’ll want this AirPods Pro is mainly for the USB-C connector, which simplifies all the cable management as there is no need to bring on another Lightning cable just to charge it. Unfortunately, you can’t just buy a USB-C AirPods Pro case for your existing AirPods Pro.
Our guess is that with this new model out, prices for the current models with Lightning connectors might start going on sale, as retailers want to clear stocks, which makes this the best time to pick one up.
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