AirPods Pro’s painful truth: it hurts literally and figuratively to move on.

Paul Alvarez

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I wrote about how AirPods have changed my life about a year ago and that still has not changed. You can argue that they have actually grown to be even more essential in my life. Since working from home that have not only been my go to headphones for personal use but I also use them for work almost everyday.

The technology and innovation that the AirPods originally brought was so exciting at the time. I may take it for granted more now since I have had them for so long but still, even to this day, I really appreciate what the AirPods provide for me. I am reminded when I can’t find them or the battery is dead on them at how much I rely on them everyday to be my source of audio whether for work or personal use.

I was perfectly happy with the Original AirPods for a very long time, and actually used a pair of the Pros once before actually purchasing them again and deciding to replace my AirPods with them. I never really hated the Original AirPods but did prefer the in-ear type headphones that the Pros offered at the time over the style that the Original AirPods provided.

Since purchasing the AirPods Pro back in July of last year, they have been my almost exclusive pair of headphones. Before I had the Bose QC25 and the Original AirPods so would just swap between the two when I needed noise cancelling. When I got the AirPods Pros I just used them exclusively.

I chose the AirPods Pro over the Bose QC25 and the Original AirPods since I could get better sound quality and great features, like Transparency Mode and Noise Cancellation, all in one. I like keeping my setup minimal so if I was able to reduce two gadgets with one I was ready for. Especially when that one gadget provided so much over what I had before. The AirPods Pro were a joy for the first few months of owning them, I loved and used them more than the Original AirPods that I had.

That was until my poor ears could no longer take the pain they cause.

I have tried swapping out all three sized tips that the AirPods Pro provide, but after a few days of heavy use, the inside of my ears literally become sore. Sometimes I feel like maybe they have been scratched or scabbed due to how sensitive it can sometimes feel, but I have never been able to see anything that extreme.

This started happening, I would say, a couple of months after purchasing the AirPods, but since I started using them for work more, connecting them to my work laptop for Zoom meetings, the pain is beginning to happen more frequently.

Instead of continuing the swapping of the ear tips, I started to take a break from them. After buying my Sony WHXB900N, I took even more frequent breaks and began to feel like my ears are back to normal again. I started to try and use the Sony XB9’s exclusively, but the convenience of AirPods is challenging to replace.

Which made me strongly consider buying the AirPods Max. What Max would bring is the minimalist setup that I would want in not needing two different pairs of headphones since I would get the technology that I love from the AirPods Pro but the comfort, maybe even more comfort, of the over ear headphones that I get from the Sony XB9’s.

The only problem is the extremely high price of the AirPods Max. At $550, that are almost double the cost of regular AirPods and the Sony XB9’s together. Having slightly better sound quality, Transparency Mode, and Noise Cancellation just isn’t enough for me to justify paying that much for headphones.

It saddens me that my relationship with the AirPods Pro has come to this. Thinking about how useful they have become when doing my Fitness+ workouts, not worrying about them falling out when doing yard work, or hearing my wife ask me something when I am doing the dishes, has bonded me to these tiny friends.

But the pain is no longer worth it. At one point, I put a little pain relief ointment on a q-tip to help with the soreness. It was after I painted a whole weekend and listened to an entire audiobook plus a ton of podcasts through the AirPods Pro when I realized I had had enough. The pain just wasn’t worth the convenience and the features any longer. Luckily Apple still provides another option that I could go with.

I sold my AirPods Pro for pretty cheap and got myself a pair of the regular AirPods. Luckily since the regular AirPods are still somewhat affordable compared to the Pros, I was able to buy a pair without having to come up with that much more from my earnings in selling the Pros. The best part is that my ears are pleased, but the sad thing is my soul is shattered. The loss of Transparency Mode and Noise Cancellation sucks, and the sound quality of music is sad in comparison.

Sure, I will eventually move on, and there is still a lot to like about the regular AirPods. I like tapping an AirPod pause instead of squeezing the stem — oh my, I forgot how long the stem is on these original AirPods — and I do like how small the charging case is compared to the AirPods Pro.

I am sure Apple will announce new versions of the AirPods now that I just bought a pair. But I am happy to use AirPods still and not have to worry about my ears aching as I try and fall asleep — I don’t sleep with the AirPods Pro but this is when I notice the pain most after wearing them all day. Maybe the new version of the Pros will be more comfortable; until then, the Non-Pro AirPods are back to being my everyday go too headphones.

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My passion is in technology. I write reviews about gadgets that interest me but also provide some kind of value in my toolset to achieve my goals. Most of my writing is surrounded by technology and how it plays a role as a tool, help with productivity, and also provide mindfulness for a more fulfilled life.

Turlock, CA
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