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The Best Apple AirPods to Buy in 2023

The fantastic AirPods Pro (2nd Generation) deliver some of the strongest noise cancellation performance of any earphones we've tested and offer a pleasing sound signature that emphasizes bass and high-frequency clarity. Their Adaptive Audio (transparency) mode is also good. We like that the case uses a USB-C charging port. Our gripes are relatively minor—an IP54 rating means the case and earphones can withstand only light splashes, while the lack of an adjustable EQ continues to be an annoyance. Complaints aside, the latest AirPods Pro are the best in-ear AirPods thus far.

The second-generation AirPods Pro are Apple's premium in-ear wireless earbuds, offering a range of features including precision finding, touch volume controls, and more. Refreshed in September 2023 with a USB-C port, the second-generation AirPods Pro are new in Apple's product lineup and the company does not release new AirPods models often, so it is a good time to buy.

Apple has now debuted six different versions of the AirPods, giving a sign of how often AirPods are updated. Apple released new AirPods Pro in October 2019 and September 2022, indicating that the company updates the product around every three years - a time frame that aligns with the other AirPods models. Apple did, however, update the AirPods Pro 2 with a USB-C port in 2023 alongside the iPhone's transition to USB-C.

With a $249 price tag, AirPods can be more expensive than some of its direct competitors, but it's important to note that the H2 chips inside the AirPods offer a seamless and fully integrated pairing and device-switching experience for iPhone, iPad, Mac, and Apple TV users, which competitors are unable to match. The H2 chips also enable features like Adaptive EQ and spatial audio with dynamic head tracking. This means that when used with Apple devices, AirPods seem to be the best option for earbuds when it comes to features.

Apple in September 2023 refreshed the AirPods Pro, introducing a new version of the AirPods Pro 2 that initially came out in September 2022.

Apple did not introduce any design changes for the updated AirPods Pro 2, but they do have a USB-C port instead of a Lightning port. Apple also added support for Lossless Audio when the USB-C AirPods Pro 2 are paired with the upcoming Apple Vision Pro headset, and improved dust resistance. Aside from these features, the USB-C AirPods Pro 2 are identical to the AirPods Pro 2 with Lightning port that came out in 2022.

The AirPods Pro feature a rounded design with silicone ear tips and a short stem that harken back to the first AirPods. As with all AirPods, the AirPods Pro come only in white, with no other color options available.

Apple added an updated H2 chip that enables new capabilities, including Active Noise Cancellation that's twice as good. Noise-cancelling microphones and a rear vent detect sound coming in, countering it before it reaches the ear. Apple says the second-generation AirPods Pro reduce noise by sampling incoming sound at 48,000 times per second.

Transparency mode has been updated with an Adaptive Transparency feature that is designed to reduce loud environmental noise without blocking out all sound. It can cut down on the sound of a passing vehicle siren, construction tools, loud speakers at a concert, and more. This is done using on-device processing enabled by the H2 chip.