AirPods are some of Apple's most successful products of all time. Though Apple doesn't report sales figures, it has been estimated that sales of AirPods brought in revenue of $12 billion in 2020. That's a Fortune 500 company on its own, and more revenue than Nvidia, AMD, Spotify, or Twitter. The middle child of the lineup is now the AirPods Pro, which sits between the standard AirPods and AirPods Max in price and performance.
Is this the right time to buy AirPods Pro, or will you be disappointed when a new model is released in just a few weeks? Here's what we know, and what we recommend.
AirPods Pro: Pricing and specs
Last update: October 2019
Apple first released the AirPods Pro in October of 2019 at a price of $249. There have been no updated versions of the hardware, and no change in the price since then.
In our AirPods Pro review, we found them to be an exceptional product, with a better design and fit than the standard AirPods, slightly better sound quality, and excellent active noise cancellation. In iOS 14, Apple added Spatial Audio for supported video types, and then expanded the feature to Apple Music in iOS 14.6, though that is supported by all headphones, not just AirPods Pro.
While AirPods Pro have not dropped in price, they are frequently on sale for less than $200. AirPods Pro were hard to find at first, and back-ordered for weeks, but are readily available today.
AirPods Pro: Why you should buy
AirPods Pro are a big step up from regular AirPods. The shorter stems and rubberized tips produce a more comfortable fit, and create a better seal that improves sound quality (especially at the low end). The noise canceling is exceptional for such tiny earbuds, and the transparency mode is among the best you'll find anywhere.
Many of iOS's best AirPods features work only with AirPods Pro. Spatial Audio in Apple Music works on all headphones, but enabling the sound in video requires AirPods Pro or AirPods Max. With iOS 15, you'll get expanded Find My support, along with Spatial Audio on Apple TV or M1-based Macs. Since they can now be found under $200 quite easily, it's very easy to recommend them.
AirPods Pro: Why you should wait
The only reason not to get AirPods Pro right now would be if something truly better is right around the corner. The most recent rumors say that the AirPods Pro aren't due for an update until 2022. Reports say the next-generation earbuds could be dramatically different, with a design that sits flush in the ear and brings new health and fitness features.
Regular AirPods are due for a sooner update; we've heard rumors of a 3rd-generation AirPods for over a year. Every time we hear they're going to be announced, they aren't. The latest rumors say that these new AirPods may arrive before the end of 2021 and should come in a shorter, wider case and have shorter stems, along with redesigned buds, broadly mimicking the AirPods Pro.
Macworld recommends: BUY
We think if you want a pair of AirPods, the AirPods Pro are the best buy right now. The new 3rd-generation AirPods Pro, if they happen to be released near the end of 2021, will likely not have all the features of the AirPods Pro, including noise-cancellation. And with an anticipated price of at least $149 and likely constained sales for the first few months, you're not really paying much more to go ahead and get the AirPods Pro now.
AirPods Pro are pretty easy to find for less than $200. They're almost always going to cost you $249 from the Apple Store, but at the time of this writing they're only $189 at Amazon, and they have been as long as $169 in the past. At that price, and with a new generation of AirPods Pro probably not coming until 2022, now is as good a time as any to jump in. Just keep watching Macworld for deal posts on AirPods Pro sales.