Apple unveiled the AirPods Pro 2 at its September Far Out event, and it was interesting to note how fundamentally similar they are compared to the original AirPods Pro (2019)… except that basically every single part of them has changed.
But one major thing stayed the same: the price. You can now place an AirPods Pro 2 preorder for $249 / £249 / AU$399, which means they cost the same as the previous model (actually the UK price has gone up by £10, but if you know how things are with pricing in the UK right now, that doesn't seem so bad).
During this time of a real wage crunch, we might have dreamed of a cheeky price drop from Apple, but actually its decision to keep the price the same is itself an aggressive move, if you look at what's happening with some of its biggest rivals.
Take the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II, for example. Announced literally 10 minutes before Apple announced the AirPods Pro 2, they've gone up in price compared to their predecessors, from $279 / £249 / AU$399 for the original Bose QC Earbuds to $299 / £279 / AU$429.
So Apple has undercut Bose even deeper than before simply by standing still – and it's interesting just how similar the two products are. Both boast improved drivers, a 6-hour battery life, a step up in noise cancellation quality, and (even more specifically) a new transparency mode that adapts to the loudness of outside sounds on the fly.
Or look at the Sony WH-1000XM5. They launched at $399 / £380 / AU$650, whereas their predecessors, Sony WF-1000XM4, launched at $350 / £349 / AU$549. And although the newer Sonys had a jazzy new design, in terms of features and sound quality there really wasn't a vast leap forward.
Even when companies swim against this tide, they can't always manage it completely: the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro launched at $229 / £219 / AU$349, which is the same as the originals in the UK and Australia, but rose by $30 in the US, a similar situation to Apple's.
The price of these flagship products is simply going up in general, and in that context, Apple keeping AirPods Pro 2 at the same price as their predecessors has a similar effect to a price cut, even if doesn't feel like it.
Everything I said above is true when it comes to the flagship products, but there's actually a ton of price-dropping going on among the best wireless earbuds right now.
The Jabra Elite 5, for example, bring most of the features of the AirPods Pro or other noise-cancelling earbuds, but they're launching at $150 / AU$219 – and that's from Jabra, which is not exactly known for skimping on the quality.
The Beats Studio Buds also feature the vast majority of AirPods Pro's features (including most of the Apple-exclusive ones), and they've been dropping steadily in price since their launch. They can now be found for under $100 regularly, instead of their $150 launch price in the US.
And then there's the Cambridge Audio Melomania 1 Plus, which don't feature active noise cancellation, but do give you huge battery life and astounding audio quality in a very small package, and now cost a frankly obscene $60.
And let's not forget the original AirPods Pro (2019) model! If you actually paid $249 / AU$399 for those within the last year, then you got stiffed – they've been $199-$219 pretty much constantly for a long time in the US and dropped to AU$279 in Australia. So, although the price of the new ones is officially the same, in practice it isn't – though I'm sure the price of the new model will come down after a couple years too…
(And I've already written about how the appearance of the new model means that the older AirPods Pro are about to become the bargain of the year while stocks last.)
I mention all this just to say that I'm not claiming the new AirPods Pro are a mega-deal for the ages at their launch price – but I do think that what looks like a very conservative figure is a little more revolutionary than it may seem.
Sign up for Black Friday email alerts!
Get the hottest deals available in your inbox plus news, reviews, opinion, analysis and more from the TechRadar team.
Matt is TechRadar's Managing Editor for Entertainment, meaning he's in charge of persuading our team of writers and reviewers to watch the latest TV shows and movies on gorgeous TVs and listen to fantastic speakers and headphones. It's a tough task, as you can imagine. Matt has over a decade of experience in tech publishing, and previously ran the TV & audio coverage for our colleagues at T3.com, and before that he edited T3 magazine. During his career, he's also contributed to places as varied as Creative Bloq, PC Gamer, PetsRadar, MacLife, and Edge. TV and movie nerdism is his speciality, and he goes to the cinema three times a week. He's always happy to explain the virtues of Dolby Vision over a drink, but he might need to use props, like he's explaining the offside rule.