5 reasons why Apple's new USB-C AirPods are a worthy upgrade

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If you can't decide whether to stick with your existing AirPods Pro 2 or upgrade to the new USB-C version, then Tom's Guide is here to help. 

I've been using AirPods Pro 2 since they arrived last year, and I think many would agree with me that they are some of the best wireless earbuds in the world right now. As such, I've been eagerly anticipating the next update— but the latest version wasn't quite what I expected. 

Initially announced at the Apple event 2023 on September 12, I've had almost a couple of weeks to consider the advantages the new version will bring. Adaptive audio features could have been the biggest reason to upgrade to the new version, but these are also available to existing AirPods Pro 2 owners via iOS 17 which makes the distinction between the earbuds a relatively blurred line. 

So why should you upgrade to the new Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation) with MagSafe Case (USB‑C)? Following a week of hands-on testing, here are five reasons to choose the new USB-C AirPods Pro 2.

1. Next-gen version for the same price as the original

Apple AirPods Pro 2 USB-C next to AirPods Pro 2 (2022) on a keyboard

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

By way of introduction, it's worth pointing out that the new Apple's AirPods Pro 2 version went on sale on September 22 at the exact same price ($249 / AU$399) as Apple launched the 2022 version at. Interestingly for U.K. buyers though, the new AirPods Pro 2 are on sale for £20 less than the 2022 launch price. 

In these challenging economic times, Apple's consistently stable pricing (or even reduced pricing in some territories) for its flagship earbuds is unique among its wireless earbud category rivals. Recent model launches from the likes of Sony, Bose, and Devialet have all seen significant price increases for their next-gen flagship models. In fact, Apple continues to surprise us all by sticking with a price tag that hasn't changed since the original AirPods Pro went on sale in October 2019.

  • Additionally, even though the new model has only just been released, I've already found them discounted to $199 at Best Buy. That's $50 off!

2. Top-ups from iPhone 15

Apple AirPods Pro 2 USB-C with iPhone 15

(Image credit: Apple)

With a USB-C port fitted to the charging case, the new AirPods Pro 2 have an advantage for iPhone 15 owners which is the very first iPhone to use USB-C. That’s right, after more than 15 years of using proprietary connections, the iPhone is finally using the same charging port as every other premium gadget on the planet — including Apple's iPads and MacBooks.

Owners can use their iPhone to top-up the new AirPods, which supports USB Power Delivery at up to 4.5 watts. Although that's not nearly as speedy as using a 20W USB-C charger to juice up your AirPods, it's handy for top-ups should you find yourself in a tight spot. 

3. Improved durability

Apple AirPods Pro in charging case in palm of reviewer's hand with pool in the background

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Apple has improved the durability rating for the AirPods Pro 2 USB-C. Previously rated to IPX4 for the earbuds and the charging case, this has been increased to IP54 meaning that they're better protected against dust and dirt ingress. 

Although they still lag behind some of the most durable models such as the recently introduced ultra-rugged Jabra Elite 8 Active wireless earbuds rated at IP68 for the earbuds and IP54 for the charging case, it's a significant upgrade. The new protection level doesn't make them any more water resistant, which is still on par with the likes of the new Sony WF-1000XM5 wireless earbuds, but does suggest that Apple is taking durability more seriously by offering stronger protection that should see them last longer. 

4. Lossless Audio support

Apple has told us that the USB-C AirPods Pro 2 support an all-new 20-bit/48kHz lossless audio protocol, claiming ultra-low latency that's designed to work with the $3,500 Apple Vision Pro expected to arrive in 2024. The new ultra short-range audio technology doesn't officially have a name yet, but it sounds like a no brainer. It will give any Vision Pro buyer the ability to experience lossless audio with Apple's powerful mixed-reality headset, which is undoubtedly a vital part to making the experience as convincing as possible. I can't wait to try it out. 

5. AirPods Pro for the future

While Adaptive Audio features via the iOS 17 update have managed to give existing AirPods Pro 2 owners a bunch of new features to take advantage of, it's the new USB-C version that will be Apple's AirPods future. The two models may look identical on the outside, but I'm convinced that with Apple's H2 powerful processing chip and the comments suggesting some internal changes to the acoustic architecture, that there's a whole lot more going on inside, and more enhancements to come. 

The new version's full potential may not have been realized outside of Apple just yet, but I'm convinced that the USB-C AirPods Pro 2 are the most advanced model Apple has produced, built with a high level of external and internal robustness that could see them able to receive generational upgrades for several years to come.

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Lee Dunkley
Audio Editor

As a former editor of the U.K.'s Hi-Fi Choice magazine, Lee is passionate about all kinds of audio tech and has been providing sound advice to enable consumers to make informed buying decisions since he joined Which? magazine as a product tester in the 1990s. Lee covers all things audio for Tom's Guide, including headphones, wireless speakers and soundbars and loves to connect and share the mindfulness benefits that listening to music in the very best quality can bring.