More durable Apple AirPods Pro 2nd Gen joins the USB-C party

Apple AirPods Pro 2nd Gen USB-C

Hot off the heels of the iPhone 15 announcement, the AirPods Pro 2nd Gen also received an update to align with Apple’s broader transition to USB-C.

This comes in the form of both a hardware tweak alongside software enhancements as a result of iOS 17. Now, the Pro-level AirPods come with a USB-C charging case, meaning you can use the same cable across multiple devices. Previously, recent iPhones and AirPods used Apple’s proprietary Lightning connector, while iPads and Macs have already been enabling USB-C connectivity.

It doesn’t necessarily mean faster charging, however, but only needing a single cable between different types of devices is undoubtedly more convenient. Not the only improvement, the AirPods Pro 2nd Gen USB-C version now has an IP54 durability rating. Previously, despite the earbuds otherwise impressing in our review last year, they only had an IPX4 rating, meaning they were water and sweat resistant but not dust resistant. With this upgrade, they’ll be more durable when exposed to dust, limiting any potential damage from small particles. Don’t dunk them underwater, though, as water resistant doesn’t mean waterproof.

USB-C and improved durability might be the most obvious changes to the AirPods Pro 2nd Gen, but it’s the software enhancements coming soon that’ll have the most impact on the listening experience.

AirPods Pro 2nd Gen software improvements

Adaptive Audio is one of the big changes coming to the current Pro-level AirPods. Available with iOS 17 after its launch on 18 September, Adaptive Audio is a new listening mode that combines Transparency mode and Active Noise Cancellation. It’s designed to block out distractions like nearby conversations and noisy appliances while adjusting the sound so you can still hear important sounds around you, which could be traffic signals while crossing the street and so on.

Conversation Awareness is another audio feature coming with iOS 17, which sounds (excuse the pun) like an extremely helpful everyday option. It’ll automatically turn down the volume of anything you’re listening to when you start talking with someone, and help make the people in front of you sound clearer while blocking out background noise. A machine learning-driven feature called Personalised Volume also takes your volume preferences, factors in environmental conditions, and then automatically adjusts settings over time to suit your needs.

AirPods Pro 2nd Gen adaptive audio
You can’t miss Adaptive Audio with its bright rainbow colouring. An odd choice considering Apple diehards associate rainbow wheels with slow loading times…

Although still a while away, the Apple Vision Pro headset also supports low-latency Lossless Audio when paired with the 2nd Gen AirPods Pro. To be precise, this means 20-bit, 48kHz audio quality, which Apple mentions will provide a “massive” audio latency reduction regardless of the type of content you’re accessing.

With a price tag of $399 in Australia, the USB-C version of the AirPods Pro 2nd Gen is out on 22 September 2023, the same time as the new iPhone 15 series of phones. If you prefer wired earphones without all the bells and whistles, Apple also has the USB-C EarPods available to order now for $29.

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