Like iphone 11 Pro, Macbook Pro, Airpad Pro; the "Pro" denotes a higher end product.
Compared to the Airpods (version 2) highest end model (with wireless charging case*); the Airpods Pro is $50 more MSRP.
Compared to the non wireless case version it's $90 more
*Airpods Pro does have wireless charging case by default. Only one version.
Let's go through the differences
1. Physical Appearance:
Shorter Stem, but larger bud or head
There's a large black airflow grill
A mic inside and outside the Airpods
Case is same thickness, a lot wider, but shorter. Still uses lighting cable to charge, but it does come with a lighting to USB-C cable
2. In-ear, instead of on-ear
If your ear has a small cavum and the original airpods fit perfectly, then the Airpads Pro may be a tight fit/more uncomfortable, but seeing the in-ear design, the ear piece will go into the ear canal and the rest will float in place.
Those with normal or larger cavum it'll fit well.
Some may not like the ear piece going into their ear canal
These ear phones are more for a closed environment than an open one
Seeing that it's an in-ear design, you may feel this hollow air effect going on unless you turn on transparency mode (more on this later) or play music with active noise cancelling on
Seeing that it's in-ear, it has a tighter grip, better for joggers, those who shake their head around a lot for some reason, or if you run up stairs often. If you have an intense workout regimen and/or do extreme sports and not mindful it still can fall out
There's a Ear Tip Fit Test on app. There's several ear tips in box. When you turn on this feature in app it'll calibrate and suggest what ear tips are best listening experience for you
If you lose the tips or get them dirty overtime, you can go to the Apple store and get replacement pair for around $4 or get cheaper 3rd party ones when they come out
3. Squeeze instead of tap
Instead of tapping on the earbuds, you are pinching or squeezing the stem.
1x to play, pause, and answer calls
2x to skip forward tracks
3x to skip back tracks
Press and hold to switch between active noise cancel and transparency mode
Still able to say "Hey Siri" to do voice commands/adjust volume anytime
No physical volume controls on buds
4. Battery life
Battery life varies depending on how far away you are from the device and volume you set. Battery depreciation over time. These are just rough estimates
Pro in general has 4.5 listening time with active noise cancelling or transparency on. Airpods version 2 has 5 hours. Note Airpod version 2 does not have active noise cancelling or transparency mode. You can get 5 hours with noise cancelling and transparency off, but most likely you're not going to unless you're really desperate for battery
Pro has 3.5 talk time. Airpods have 3 hours
Case both old 24 hours battery life
Pro: 5 mins in case = 1 hour talk or listen time. Airpods 15min in case = 3 hours listen, 2 hours talk
5. Water/sweat resistant
Now you can go to the gym and do cardio with them on.
As mentioned before, tighter grip seeing that it's in-ear
May survive light rain. Do not recommended going in the shower or dunk in the pool with it though
6. Active noise cancellation, Transparency mode
Airpods pro has 3 modes: Active noise cancellation, off and Transparency mode
Active nose cancellation tries to block out outside noise while listening to music. I'd say it drowns out may 70%. If you focus to outside or aren't focused to music; you still may be able to pick out what's going on, but in general it does it's job.
Off is just like the standard in-ear headphones, but with the hollow air sound when no music is playing
Transparency mode. The black airflow grills let in outside sound so you're able to hear both outside sound and music same time. Think of it as open ear headsets.
Unlike some in-ear headsets the black airflow grills prevent you from hearing yourself in your head when you talk
7. Sound Quality
Better than the previous version seeing the active noise cancelling and in-ear with more focused sound direcly into your ear canal. It's not $250 audiophile quality sound. Better quality sound in lows and mids compared to non-pro version. If you ever tried the Power Beats Pro, it sound very similar to those
You can hear callers better in a noisy environment and less likely raise your voice
Other than that, all other features are the same. Meant to be used on Apple devices. Very good ease of use for Apple users, and is in-style these days (shows social status). Sound quality is better that the non-PRO version, and you do get noise cancellation. There are other headphones that do it better sound in this price range, but may not be as convenient with pairing to Apple devices.