AirPods Pro Compatibility Feature Image

I was apprehensive to commit my purchase for the new AirPod Pros when I saw the officially supported hardware list. I upgraded from my mid-2015 Catalina machine about a year ago, but I still use it for certain work, so I wanted to be sure I could make the most of the AirPods purchase on all my computers. What’s strange is that the new AirPod Pros are “compatible with the latest version of macOS and iOS,” but not all of the listed supported devices can run those newest system versions.

At the bottom of the AirPods Pro specs webpage, there is a tiny footnote mark that discloses that they “can be used as Bluetooth headphones with Apple devices using earlier software and with non-Apple devices, but functionality is limited.”

AirPods Pro 2nd gen System Requirements Footnote
AirPods Pro 2nd gen System Requirements Footnote

I did some testing to try and see what does and doesn’t work on unsupported devices. Here’s what I connected to and tested the features on of the new 2nd gen AirPod Pros.

Tested Devices

  • 2015 MacBook Pro (Catalina)
  • 2014 MacBook Air (Mojave)
  • iPhone 8 (iOS 14.7.1)
  • iPhone 7 (iOS 15.7.1)
  • iPhone 4 (iOS 7.1.2)
  • Dell XPS laptop (Windows 10)
AirPods Pro connected to iPhone 4
AirPods Pro connected to iPhone 4

The bottom line

Transparency Mode, ANC Active Noise Cancellation and volume-swipe gestures continued to function on every device I tried, including the Windows 10 laptop. The single-press play/pause function, double-press skip and triple-press backwards skip even worked for a background YouTube video I had playing on the Windows 10 laptop. That makes me believe that at least some of the Pro’s signature features are hardware based, baked into the earbuds themselves, and so will function regardless of what they’re connected to.

“Limited Functionality”

When first connecting the AirPod Pros to the iPhone 7 (iOS 15), a prompt regarding functionality appeared. I continued by tapping “Set Up With Limited Functionality,” but once they were connected, all of the features still worked. This includes the extra options page when tapping the little “i” on the Bluetooth devices screen.

The only feature missing was the ability to set up a personal Spatial Audio profile, which requires an iPhone with a TrueDepth camera (iPhone X and later).

"Set Up With Limited Functionality" prompt on iPhone 7 (iOS 15)
“Set Up With Limited Functionality” prompt on iPhone 7 (iOS 15)

What didn’t work

One feature, present since the first generation of AirPods, is to auto pause/play your music or video upon removing or putting in one AirPod. This didn’t function on my Windows 10 machine, nor on the iPhone 4. It did work on the iPhone 7 and iPhone 8 though, even my 8 is running iOS 14.

All in all

I could be wrong, and should continue testing on an even wider range of products, but I’m comfortable making this judgement based on the devices I used. Feel free to comment if you’ve had a different experience. Thanks for reading!

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