I haven’t been listening to audio in any form while running for awhile. That changed when the pandemic struck and the stay home orders were issued. While my running routes didn’t change much, my ability to stay out of my head while running took a bit of a nosedive. So I decided to try my relatively new Apple AirPods Pro out and see how they did. I had already been enjoying them as a way to focus on my work while working from home, super happy I had them for that. Now it was time to see how they did on my short runs.
These are an in-ear style earpod, unlike the previous AirPods which fit identically to the wired EarPods that come with an iPhone. I have not been a fan of in-ear headphones, until now. Whatever magic Apple has done to dissipate the pressure like feeling is really good. Additionally, their fit test allows you to see whether the ear tips you have chosen are working or not. That means that you can even see whether or not you would need different sizes for each ear. That said, the fit while running was of concern to me, but I barely notice they are there. They are light, sit well in my ear, and have not fallen out.
I love listening to music, but I am by no means an audiophile. To that end, when speaking about their primary function: listening to music, I am going to speak only to my impressions of how the AirPods Pro sound without any technical details. First I want to talk about one of the main selling features of the AirPods Pro: transparency mode. This feature allows you to hear your surroundings, while also allowing Apple to utilize the in-ear design that typically blocks out surrounding noise. In short, transparency mode works and works well. In fact, since it does slightly amplify the sounds around you, I will typically wait to put them in until I am ready to head out the door for my run. The first few times I pulled a shot of espresso while wearing them in transparency mode was enough to make me wait. Perfect for the ambient road noises that you need to hear as a runner, not so great for already loud noises like the sound of a coffee grinder.
When it comes to listening to music, I really like the AirPods Pro. For a pair of in-ear buds, they have a great sound. I was slightly concerned that in transparency mode I would need to turn them up higher than I might want to hear the music, like the original AirPods or wired EarPods, but that is not the case. Additionally, since Apple Health tracks dB levels, those have been consistently lower since switching from the AirPods to the AirPods Pro.
Those lower dB levels are in part due to the other main feature: active noise cancellation. The noise cancellation works and works well. For that reason, I highly recommend keeping the AirPods Pro in transparency mode when outdoors. Certainly when needing to hear your surroundings is important. That said, when you need to tune out the surrounding noise, the ability to turn on active noise cancellation is fantastic. It has made riding the bus a much more pleasurable experience. And it certainly has made working from home a much less distracting experience then it could have been without the noise cancellation.
One other function that I like is that you can set Siri to automatically read messages that you receive through the AirPods. This is not exclusive to the AirPods Pro as it works with 2nd generation AirPods and newer. Of course, you also have “Hey Siri” integration with the AirPods Pro. Specifically, this allows you to say “turn it up” or “turn it down” or “skip”, or have Siri play you a specific album, playlist, or artist. Working with Siri using AirPods is definitely better than just with the microphone on the iPhone. That said, I will sometimes have to slow to a walk to get it to understand what I am saying.
I think it would be interesting if Apple allowed you to adjust the volume on how much you could amplify external sound when in transparency mode. This could allow the AirPods to operate as a hearing aid in some situations. Another feature request would be better battery life. That said, you can use one side and charge the other, so that is one workaround.
Overall I really like the AirPods Pro. I barely notice I have anything in my ear, and that is really one of the main reasons I keep using them on my short runs. The music sounds really good, and the Bluetooth connection between the AirPods Pro and my iPhone is the best I have ever experienced with a pair of wireless headphones, except for the original AirPods. No disconnects, no static, no all of a sudden only playing out of one ear. Before I wrap up, it is important to note that if you are not part of the Apple ecosystem, these are not the headphones for you.
However, if you own an iPhone and have been on the fence about whether these are worth the money, I say buy them without hesitation.
Purchase directly from Apple here.
- Active Noise Cancellation
- Transparency mode
- Adaptive EQ
- Vent system for pressure equalization
- Custom high-excursion Apple driver
- Custom high dynamic range amplifier
- Dual beamforming microphones
- Inward-facing microphone
- Dual optical sensors
- Motion-detecting accelerometer
- Speech-detecting accelerometer
- Force sensor
- H1-based System in Package
- Press once to play, pause, or answer a phone call
- Press twice to skip forward
- Press three times to skip back
- Press and hold to switch between Active Noise Cancellation and Transparency mode
- Say “Hey Siri” to do things like play a song, make a call, or get directions
Sweat and Water Resistant
- Sweat and water resistant (IPX4)
Size and Weight (Each)
- Height: 1.22 inches (30.9 mm)
- Width: 0.86 inch (21.8 mm)
- Depth: 0.94 inch (24.0 mm)
- Weight: 0.19 ounce (5.4 grams)
AirPods Pro Case
- Height: 1.78 inches (45.2 mm)
- Width: 2.39 inches (60.6 mm)
- Depth: 0.85 inch (21.7 mm)
- Weight: 1.61 ounces (45.6 grams)
- Works with Qi-certified chargers or the Lightning connector
- Up to 4.5 hours of listening time with a single charge (up to 5 hours with Active Noise Cancellation and Transparency off)
- Up to 3.5 hours of talk time with a single charge4
AirPods Pro with Wireless Charging Case:
- More than 24 hours of listening time5
- More than 18 hours of talk time6
- 5 minutes in the case provides around 1 hour of listening time7 or around 1 hour of talk time
- Bluetooth 5.0