If you’ve read any of my previous articles regarding the AirPods Pro, you’ll know that I’ve been enjoying them a lot. Their sound, compact size, and instant connectivity to my iPhone make them a perfect portable companion for using them virtually anywhere, including the outdoors. But this made me wonder…
Can I wear AirPods Pro in the rain? According to Apple, the AirPods Pro are sweat and water resistant, but not completely waterproof, with a rating of IPX4. Depending on some scenarios, the AirPods Pro are designed to operate properly around light sweat or water splashes. This is separate of the charging case, which is not sweat, water resistant, or waterproof.
In this article I cover some commonly asked environments and scenarios where the AirPods Pro could be worn, and research whether they are suitable to keep dry enough, and to power on, with its IPX4 rating. I also look at the best way to dry the AirPods Pro in case they do get wet.
But First, Let’s Look at the AirPods Pro Areas Most Prone to Water Damage
There are three crucial areas around the body of the AirPods Pro earbuds that are the most prone to letting water in, and can damage the internal chip and electronics if too much gets in.
Thanks to iFixit, we can get a closer look at a completely torn down AirPods Pro earbud (both left and right are symmetrically identical in terms of design and function) and pinpoint exactly where water can most easily get in.
Noise Cancellation Microphone
First, and a brand new introduction for the AirPods lineup, is an oblong-shaped microphone that lines a portion of the outside of the earbud. This microphone is what controls the noise-cancellation for each bud by listening to how much, and what kind of noise is occurring around the listener. This then tunes the function to pipe in an equal, but opposite, frequency response to effectively cancel outside noise in your ears.
As cool of a technology as this is, it does present a new potential port that can be a vulnerable opening for water to get into.
Unfortunately, as you wear the AirPods Pro, the noise cancellation microphone is wide open and clearly visible from the outside. Also, it’s location of being further down the stem of the earbud itself allows gravity to trace water that falls from above (think rain or shower) to enter into the mic and severely compromise the internal circuitry of the unit.
Earbud Canal/ Speaker Driver
Although the driver that pushes sound into your ear is now more sealed than previous generations of AirPods thanks to included rubber ear tips in the box, this is the largest and deepest opening out of any part surrounding the AirPods Pro, and can still become prone to swear or water damage.
It also house the most technology just under its filter screen, including the swift custom-designed Apple H1 wireless chip and the punchy sound drivers themselves.
Note: Regardless of this article’s topic on water, you want to make sure that you have a proper seal by choosing the right rubber ear tip size for your specific ear canal so that you can get the absolute best performance from the AirPods Pro’s noise cancellation feature.
But even with a good seal, there is still the chance that water and sweat can run along the ear and get in between the ear tip, posing the risk of entering the driver port and really impacting the delicate electronics inside.
The potential for water entering inside the ear canal sound drivers is especially true if you consider wearing them in environments that are extremely humid, in downpours, or create an excess of sweating like heavy workouts.
Inward-facing Adaptive EQ microphone
Similar to the sound drivers, the adaptive equalizer microphone is also located along the inner side of the AirPods Pro earbud, but is more prone to water exposure since it is outside the seal of the rubber ear tip.
Found directly next to where the rubber ear tip is, the adaptive equalizer microphone. Another first for the AirPods family, this neat piece of AirPods Pro technology automatically adjusts the low and mid frequencies based on the shape of your ear for an even more immersive sound. Cool, right?
In order for this microphone to work properly, it rests on the inner part of your ear just outside the ear canal itself to audibly track size and shape while music is playing.
The good part about this feature’s vulnerability to water damage is that it is a much lower risk compared to, say, the noise cancellation microphone, since it is on the inner part of the ear, but is equally located just as close to the electronic smarts of the bud as the outer mic.
In terms of water getting inside this part of the AirPods Pro, a splash or two from outside the ear should not be able to enter this specific mic port, however, heavy showers or workouts where sweat and water can squeeze between the inner section of the ear and the bud can very much enter through the adaptive EQ mic and zap the internals.
Can I Wear AirPods Pro in the Rain?
Considering the most apparent areas of the AirPods Pro where water could get in and cause damage, is it still okay to wear the AirPods Pro in the rain?
On paper, since the AirPods Pro has an official rating of IPX4, these earbuds should be able to withstand some resistance to water and sweat. But the severity of rain that someone who is wearing the AirPods Pro is exposed to can be the difference between just a close call and an AppleCare claim for a damaged device.
If it is only a very light to moderate drizzle, the part on the outside of the AirPods Pro (which is the noise cancellation microphone) should be able to remain unaffected thanks to its rating.
However, anything more than a drizzle like a shower or downpour can accumulate around the noise cancellation mic and create either intermittent issues, or a compromise of the device altogether.
If you live in a climate where it rains constantly, also take note of how often the AirPods Pro are being exposed to the elements. Even if it is just a light drizzle over many days. The accumulation of water inside the mic can lead to excessive wear and corrosion if used in the rain constantly. A one-off instance of being caught in a light session of rain while the AirPods Pro are inside one’s ears should allow them to remain operationally stable over the long run.
Taking another look at heavy downpours, water can not only enter the outside microphone of the unit but also creep to the inside of the ear and get into the adaptive EQ microphone and the sound driver. Giving water more chances to enter the ports increases the probability that the AirPods Pro will incur water damage. If not immediately, damage can occur somewhere further in the lifetime of the device, especially if they are exposed to multiple sessions of heavy downpours.
The wireless charging case that houses the AirPods Pro is not sweat, water resistant or waterproof. Further, it does not have the same official IPX4 rating as the earbuds do. Any water, even in its lightest form, can damage the USB-C charge case significantly, and should be kept dry and out of the rain as much as possible.
Quick Tip: If you find yourself unexpectedly in a drizzle while listening to the AirPods Pro outside, ensure that they will stay dry and out of the rain by putting up a rain hood to cover the buds or shield your ears from the rain above with an umbrella. If you question the rainy environment you’re in with the AirPods Pro, simply put them in a dry pocket or bag until the rain stops. This will allow them to stay corrosion-free for the long term, and an overall peace of mind experience.
Can I Wear AirPods Pro in the Shower?
Unlike rain, where sessions can range from drizzle to heavy downpours, the shower is not and ideal environment to wear the AirPods Pro for two reasons.
First, since the shower is a more enclosed environment than being outside, water of a higher temperature can create steam and result in high humidity. Humidity and electronics do not go hand in hand, especially if they are not specifically rated as being fully waterproof, which the AirPods Pro are not (IPX4 water resistant).
Humidity, such as that that results from warm steam, can not only enter the outer parts of the earbud like the noise cancellation microphone, but also squeeze in between the inner ear and the bud, where water can enter the adaptive EQ microphone and the sound driver itself, resulting in a high probability of damage to the internal electronics of the AirPods Pro.
This includes vulnerability of damage to the sound driver motor and the intelligent Apple H1 chip that powers each earbud.
Second, showers involve more water in one spot (conventionally right above the head) than a light drizzle of rain, which can be deflected by a rain jacket or umbrella.
Water that leaves the shower from directly above the head can not only push liquid directly onto the noise cancellation mic outside, but can run down from gravity and find its way into the more delicate inner parts of the AirPods Pro. The heavier accumulation of water also doesn’t help since it can build up once inside the ear and damage the driver and chip inside the casing of the earbud.
There is also an electrically conductive material that surround the bottom of the AirPods Pro stem, and serves as the charging route when they’re placed in the case. Water that runs down along the stem can gather around at its lowest point where this charging point is and corrode the plates entirely.
To maintain longevity of the Airpods Pro, they should be placed away from the bathroom altogether so that they are as dry as possible. With so much technology packed inside the casing of the earbuds, that’s also connected to the exposed microphones and speakers around the outside, keeping them clear of high humidity and direct water pressure will reduce the chance that moisture will enter and cause any damage.
The AirPods Pro wireless charging case which houses the buds should also be kept away from high humidity and direct water flow, like that of a shower, since they are not designed to be water, sweat resistant, or waterproof. There is also no official rating of water resistance for the AirPods Pro case, so any exposure to water can easily damage it right away.
Are the AirPods Pro Sweat Resistant for Running and Workouts?
Although the AirPods Pro have an official IPX4 rating, which means they are designed to be water and sweat resistant, the exposed noise cancellation microphone found along the outside of the stem, as well as the adaptive EQ microphone and sound driver located inside the earbuds, are all vulnerable to water damage if there is too much water or sweat.
Previous AirPods did not have a microphone for either noise cancellation nor an adaptive equalizer even though they were also sweat and water resistant. Keeping this in mind, the AirPods Pro can be seen as less sweat and water resistant than older generations.
So what does this mean for the defense of the AirPods Pro against sweat during running and working out at the gym?
If the workout or run is light, meaning sweat will not result, or that running and working out doesn’t lead to any sweat no matter what, you should be fine wearing the AirPods Pro during these sessions. The biggest concern is keeping the three crucial areas of the earbuds as dry as possible, which are the noise cancellation microphone (outside), adaptive EQ mic (inside), and the speaker (ear canal).
Even sessions of light sweat should not accumulate anywhere are the noise cancellation mic, and should be insulated from entering the adaptive EQ mic and speaker with no issues whatsoever.
Heavier workouts and runs, or users that are known to sweat to the point it can enter around and inside the ears should consider looking at purchasing the AirPods Pro’s corporate cousin, the Powerbeats Pro.
These earbuds have a special sweat resistant casing and are not surrounded by any obvious exposures of microphones like that of the Airpod’s noise cancellation and adaptive EQ. This makes the Powerbeats Pro a much better workout companion for heavy sweater’s, or if you prefer a more secure fit with a clip around each ear.
Keep those AirPods Pros dry: Even if you think there’s not a lot of sweat that’s going to accumulate around the ear and impact the resistance of the AirPods Pro during a run or workout, you should always remember to give them a quick and gentle wipe down after every session to maintain their longevity. Make sure to wipe in and around the crucial areas that are prone to sweat damage and corrosion (noise cancelling, adaptive EQ mics, and speaker canal)
Are AirPods Pro Waterproof?
Since the AirPods Pro have an official rating of IPX4, this signifies that they are water-resistant, but not waterproof. By looking at the design of these earbuds, there are three areas where water can enter, accumulate, and damage the device, and should therefore not be submerged under water.
The noise cancellation microphone that lines a portion of the stem on the outside has a screen, but is not sealed from water getting in. This part is directly connected to the electronics that are inside the AirPods Pro and should not be under any water.
For the other two vulnerable pieces, the speaker and adaptive EQ microphone are also not coated or sealed with any kind of water protection. They are visibly open with just a filter screen to resistant some water and sweat, but will damage the inside of the earbuds if enough water gets inside either part.
The charge case does not have an official IP rating for any water resistance, and should therefore be clear and away from any areas of moisture. Because of this, the AirPods Pro wireless charging case should also not be submerged under water.
Three areas of the charging case that can be damaged from water include the USB-C charge port along the bottom, the wireless charging contacts inside the case that charge the AirPods Pros earbuds, and the Bluetooth pairing button on the back side.
These areas all are directly connected to the electrical components inside the wireless charging unit and should not be exposed to water, as there is no coating or seal that allows them to be waterproof.
What Do I Do if my AirPods Pro Gets Wet?
If you find your AirPods Pro accidentally got wet and are afraid that they might be damaged, follow these steps to make sure that they are as dry as possible.
- Remove the AirPods Pro from the wet or humid environment immediately and make sure they are out in the open and not stored in the charge case until they are completely dry again
- Grab a soft, dry, lint-free cloth and wipe around the AirPods Pro. Don’t forget to wipe inside the three vulnerable areas that can be prone to water damage, including the noise cancellation microphone on the outside stem, the Adaptive EQ microphone on the inner part of the ear bud, and the speaker screen inside the canal.
- Note: To ensure drying the speaker and sound driver completely, remove the rubber ear tip from the housing by pinching and pulling until it detaches from its round plastic snap clip. Be sure to wipe the rubber ear tip inside and out while it is removed from the earbud.
- Keep them outside the case and in the most dry environment possible until they are free from any signs of moisture. If you feel they are dry enough, place them back into the charge case and attempt to test them for sound and operational stability.
These Are The Helpful Products Mentioned In This Article:
- Airpods Pro (here on Amazon): With noise cancellation, a sleek profile design, and a longer-lasting battery, the newest members of the Apple AirPods family are a great set of buds for anyone that wants to tune out the world and listen out to their music without any of the extra bulk.