What’s new in the third-generation AirPods?
The AirPods 3 have a new design that looks similar to the AirPods Pro (sans the in-ear fit). It’ll still sit in your ear like the original AirPods, but the third-generation AirPods have a shorter stalk that gives you more control (borrowing a good feature from AirPods Pro). You no longer need to tap or double-tap the earbud.
Spatial audio, sweat and water resistance, and a new MagSafe charging case are all included in the third-generation AirPods. The third-generation AirPods are ideal if you want most of the benefits of the AirPods Pro but don’t like in-ear headphones.
The battery life is the best new feature of the third-generation AirPods. Apple claims that we can listen for up to six hours on a single charge, which is longer than the second-generation AirPods (five hours) and the AirPods Pro (four hours) (4.5 hours). Last but not least, third-generation AirPods include an inward-facing microphone, which should improve your call quality over second-generation AirPods. They’re $179 each.
Should you buy the second-generation AirPods instead?
The previous-generation AirPods are now available at a lower price, and at $129, they’re still a good deal. The extra $50 for AirPods 3 gets you a lot of new features that might be worth the asking price, but the older AirPods are still a good option if you don’t want to stretch your budget that far.
Because the more expensive AirPods are incompatible with some devices, the second-generation AirPods are the only viable option for some people with older Apple devices. If you have one of the following, you can purchase the second-generation AirPods:
- iPhone 6
- iPhone 6 Plus
- iPhone 5s
- iPad Air (first-generation)
- iPad mini 3
- iPad mini 2
- iPod touch (sixth-generation)
These are old devices, but if you’ve been holding on to one, the third-gen AirPods and AirPods Pro won’t work for you anyway.
Should you consider the AirPods Pro?
At $249, the AirPods Pro is the most expensive of the three headphones we’ve discussed. AirPods Pro are the in-ear headphones to get if you want active noise cancellation. It has unique features like Conversation Boost, which focuses the microphone on the person speaking in front of you to help boost their audio in face-to-face conversations, and it’s especially useful for people who have trouble hearing. Separation alerts are also supported by AirPods Pro, so if you forget them, your iPhone will alert you.
However, if these features aren’t important to you, the third-generation AirPods are the best option.