Apple’s new AirPods 3 are now official. But how do they compare to the AirPods 2? Let’s take a look at all the updates and find out…
Apple’s AirPods might not be the best headphones you can buy, but they sure are popular. Millions of people buy and use AirPods every month. I’ve never been particularly enamored by them. I prefer over-ear bins like my beloved Bose QC35 II headphones. But I digress…
What kind of changes has Apple bought to the AirPods 3? How are they different from the AirPods 2? And, most specifically, should you buy the AirPods 3 over the now-cheaper AirPods 2? As always, let’s dig in and look at the specifics and find answers to all of the above and more…
AirPods 2 vs AirPods 3 – How They’re Different
The most visible difference between the AirPods 2 and the AirPods 3 is how they look. The AirPods 2 are based on Apple’s OG design from its first-ever AirPods, released in 2016. The AirPods 2 have long stems and are made of hard plastic that I personally find excruciatingly uncomfortable to wear for prolonged periods of time.
The AirPods 3 have basically the same design as Apple’s AirPods Pro, just minus the comfy earbuds. The AirPods 3, like its predecessors, is a one-size-fits-all affair made from plastic. The stems are shorter, however, so they do look smarter than the daft-looking OG AirPods and AirPods 2.
The AirPods and AirPods 2 are not known for their battery performance. But Apple has said that it has increased the battery life of the AirPods 3 – they’ll now do 6 hours of continuous listening versus about 3 hours on the AirPods 2. That’s a pretty significant improvement and it is perhaps one of the main reasons to get the newer AirPods 3 over the AirPods 2.
Another major update for the AirPods 3 is that they are now water and dust-resistant. The AirPods 3 have an IPX4 rating which means they can withstand plenty of water exposure, including lots and lots of sweat, meaning you can use them while running in torrential rain and they’ll even withstand a drop in the ocean or your bath and/or shower.
The AirPods 2, like the OG AirPods, do not have any water resistance, so if you’re an active person that likes running in the rain, the AirPods 3 are well worth the extra money, especially if you’re looking for a pair of headphones to work out in.
Another core update for the AirPods 3 relates to its sound quality. Apple has brought a bunch of Pro features to the AirPods 3, including Spatial Audio and Adaptive EQ. These two things combined make the AirPods 3 vastly superior to the AirPods 3. In fact, the only thing really missing here is active noise cancellation. Had Apple included this, however, no one would buy its AirPods Pro model anymore.
If you want the best possible sound from your AirPods without spending AirPods Pro money, the AirPods 3 are your best bet – they wipe the floor with both the OG AirPods and the AirPods 2.
The new AirPods 3 come with a MagSafe wireless charging case that has up to 30 hours of charging time inside it. Apple is also charging $20 less than it did for its AirPods 2. And you get MagSafe and a wireless charging case, two things missing from the AirPods 2.
Apple has reduced the price of the AirPods 2 as well, now that they have been replaced by the AirPods 3. But even with its cheaper price point, I’d still be inclined to recommend the AirPods 3 over the AirPods 2. You get MagSafe, better sound, better battery life, and a more advanced charging case.
As you can see, the AirPods 3 represent a pretty significant update over the AirPods 3. Apple has brought plenty of “Pro features” down to the AirPods 3 with things like Spatial Audio and Adaptive EQ. It has also improved the call quality, doubled the battery life, made them water-resistant, and added MagSafe.
And best of all, it has done all of this and it is still retailing them for $20 less than the AirPods 2’ cost at launch. You can grab the AirPods 3 for $179 or the AirPods 2 for $149. Personally, I’d go with the AirPods 3 – you just get more bang for your buck.
Or, if you want an actual pair of headphones, grab yourself a pair of Bose QC 35II headphones instead. They’re infinitely better in practically every regard – from sound quality to comfort and with respect to noise canceling.
Richard Goodwin has been working as a tech journalist for over 10 years. He is the editor and owner of KnowYourMobile.