Your AirPods Pro 2 are about to get an upgrade, and it’s a big deal



Christina Darby/ZDNet

If you’ve Googled “What are the best earbuds?” you may have stumbled across the Apple AirPods Pro 2 and the Sony WF-1000XM5 earbuds. Most people will rave about both, making the choice between the two uniquely challenging.

On September 18, Apple will officially release iOS 17, its latest installment of the iPhone operating system. But within iOS 17 are some major software updates for the AirPods Pro 2, closing the gap Sony between its earbuds and Apple’s earbuds software.

Also: Everything Apple announced today: iPhone 15, Apple Watch Ultra 2, AirPods 

Additionally, Apple announced that the AirPods Pro 2 will have a USB-C charging port, leaving the Lightning charger behind. Sony released the XM5 earbuds with a USB-C charging port, and both pairs of earbuds are compatible with Qi-certified wireless chargers.

Here’s why these new iOS 17 features are a big deal.

Prior to iOS17, the WF-1000XM5 had more premium features than the AirPods Pro 2, including Speak to Chat and Adaptive Sound Control. 

Sony’s Speak to Chat feature pauses the wearer’s music when the earbuds detect the wearer is conversing with someone. The earbuds automatically switch to Ambient Sound mode, allowing the wearer to converse without removing their headphones.

Also: iPhone 15 Pro vs iPhone 13 Pro: Should you upgrade and why? 

Adaptive Sound Control learns the wearer’s frequent locations and automatically adjusts headphone settings like volume and noise cancelation based on surrounding noise levels. If the wearer tends to have noise cancelation on while walking to the bus stop, the WF-1000XM5 will adjust accordingly.

Until iOS 17, the AirPods Pro 2 didn’t have either one of these useful features. Now, Apple’s Conversation Awareness and Adaptive Audio features operate in the same manner as Sony’s Speak to Chat and Adaptive Sound Control features.

These two software upgrades eliminate key differences between the two earbuds, leaving only three major differences to influence your decision: A $50 price difference, earbud shape, and device integration.

Sony WF-1000XM5 in black against a brick wall

Jada Jones/ZDNET

At full price, the Sony WF-1000XM5 retail for $300, while the AirPods Pro 2 are $249. However, both earbuds are often sold for a discounted price at Best Buy and Amazon.

Sony’s WF-1000XM5 earbuds are rounded, omitting stems that dangle from the ear. On the other hand, Apple’s AirPods Pro 2 sport the traditional bud-attached-to-stem design. 

Also: How to choose the best AirPods for you: ZDNET’s buying guide

Like all Apple devices, the AirPods Pro 2 work best with other Apple devices. If you don’t have Apple devices, you’ll miss out on key features such as Personalized Spatial Audio and automatically switching your AirPods from one device to another.

But the WF-1000XM5 earbuds have multipoint connection, and the Sony Connect companion app offers comprehensive EQ settings no matter your device’s operating system. 


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