Apple's AirPods Pro Make Me Feel Like I'm Starring My Own Rom-Com
The streets are empty. A resigned but powerful Selena Gomez song swells up to narrate my walk down the avenue. Somewhere Chris Evans is staring at a picture of the two of us, a lone tear rolling down his cheek; it was hard to leave him, but we were only holding each other back. I feel the resolve harden in me — me, the only woman in New York who has ever known love, ever felt true heartbreak, until — until I toggle Apple's AirPods Pro out of "Noise Cancellation" and back into "Transparency" mode, immediately hear the AKDGJLAFDKGJALKDFKG of a nearby construction drill and the wail of a screaming baby and remember that I am no romantic movie heroine, but just a woman equipped with a pair of unnervingly effective headphones whose closest thing to true love is the pizza with extra cheese I had last night for dinner.
But that's the experience of the new AirPods Pro, which launch on Oct. 30 for $249, in a nutshell — so frighteningly immersive that the instant you put them on, you feel like you're starring in your own feature film, where the ambient noise fades so thoroughly that all you can hear is music and your feelings. I moved to New York five years ago (arguably to become a rom-com heroine) and didn't realize how acclimated I was to the noise until I was walking down the street using the AirPods Pro and it was all just ... gone. But this eerie emptiness is exactly what Apple intended when it designed these babies. Inside their teensy shells are two microphones that work together to cancel out noise — one that detects outside noise and creates an "anti-noise" to drown it out before it even hits your ears, and a second one closer to your ear that cancels out whatever noise remains. They're working in tandem when you're in "Noise Cancellation" mode (or what I've dubbed "my life is a movie" mode), and also when you toggle back to "Transparency" mode, which lets the noise of your surroundings filter back in.
The noise factor aside, it's no wonder it's stroking my little rom-com-loving ego — with the AirPods Pro, the music itself is tailored to your body. The first thing your iPhone does when it detects the new AirPods Pro is play a piece of test music and intuitively determine if you're using the right size of the silicone ear tips, which come in three total; it only takes a few seconds, and it will prompt you to change the size both for your own comfort and so that the "seal" between the AirPods Pro and the rest of the world isn't compromised. Then, using an adaptive equalizer, the music itself adjusts frequencies to the shape of your ear. It's basically like having two little DJs attached to your human body.
If you're already an AirPods user, the most striking difference is the noise cancellation. The other notable ones you can expect are that "personalized" feel to your music, and the actual sensation of them in your ears. The silicone was designed to maximize comfort, and the AirPods Pro even include a vent system to make it feel like you're not wearing them at all. While they have a similar battery life to AirPods — up to five hours of listening time — these are water- and sweat-resistant. These also ditch the AirPods' tapping method— with AirPods Pro, you'll squeeze a "Force sensor" instead, using one press to pause and play, two presses to skip forward, and one long press to switch between modes.
The other big difference is, of course, the price. AirPods with a charging case will run you $159, but AirPods Pro hit the market with their own unique charging case on Oct. 30 at a cool $249. If you're on the fence about whether you want to take the Pro plunge, I'd say head over to an Apple store and try them for yourself — sure, it may immediately set up an unrealistic life expectation that you're at the part of your own feature film where you round the corner and meet the love of your life, but maybe that is the precise brand of nonsense thinking that your heart and eardrums deserve.