AirPods 3: Apple’s 2021 wireless headphones are missing a few big features

Apple AirPods 3rd Generation 2021

The third-gen Apple AirPods.


Apple’s third-gen AirPods have been a spotlight of Apple’s October “Unleashed” occasion, which additionally noticed the debut of a redesigned MacBook Pro line that brings again a number of ports and higher-end M1 Pro and M1 Max chips. The $179 (£169, AU$279) AirPods 3 goals for the center floor between the $129 second-gen AirPods, which is able to stay on the market, and the $249 AirPods Pro. It consists of Spatial Audio help with head monitoring, sweat- and water-resistance, a MagSafe-compatible wireless charging case and a six-hour battery life that outranks earlier generations and the AirPods Professional.

But $179 continues to be some huge cash for wi-fi headphones, and once you look exterior of Apple you’ll be able to simply discover headphones with comparable options — typically for much less cash. Whereas Apple’s AirPods join seamlessly to Apple units, chances are you’ll wish to take into account options in the event you’re splitting your headphone time between an iPhone and a non-Apple gadget comparable to a Home windows PC or a Nintendo Swap. Different producers can provide you higher help for these units.

Let’s spotlight some options you need to bear in mind when attempting to determine if you can purchase the brand new AirPods 3.


The third-gen AirPods are available one shade: white. It is the identical shade that the second-gen AirPods and the AirPods Professional are available, however Apple these days has been pushing shade all through its product line. The $549 AirPods Max is available in 5 colours (house grey, silver, pink, inexperienced and sky blue), and the 2021 iMac line is available in seven colours relying on the model you need.

Apple made a giant deal of releasing the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Mini in purple within the spring, and its Beats Studio Buds are available black, white and pink.

Because of this it is somewhat unusual that Apple is not following go well with with its 2021 wi-fi headphones. In the meantime if shade is especially vital to you, Samsung’s varied Galaxy Buds headphones appear to come back in virtually each shade. Relying on the mannequin, you could find them in shades of pink, blue, purple, inexperienced, grey, black and white.

That mentioned, it is possible that this era of AirPods will spend years in the marketplace, and maybe Apple may later provide them in shades just like the iPhone 13’s pink, blue, midnight and Product Purple.


The AirPods Max are available a number of colours, however the brand new AirPods solely are available white.

Lower cost

Whereas $179 is cheaper than the AirPods Professional, it is truly costlier than the $159 beginning worth of the second-gen AirPods. Whereas that latter headphone has been knocked right down to $129 and nonetheless consists of core options like seamless pairing to Apple units, the $50 distinction throws in lots of technical enhancements to the listening expertise in addition to the magnetic charging case.

Nonetheless it is once you look exterior of Apple’s headphone realm that $179 begins to really feel costly for what these options convey. The $130 Anker Liberty Air 2 Pro consists of lots of the AirPods Professional’s spotlight options, comparable to energetic noise canceling, transparency modes, water-resistance and a wi-fi charging case. Ditto for the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2, which prices $150.

When Apple first launched the AirPods again in 2017, it kickstarted an enormous wi-fi headphone market, however that market is now stuffed with comparable competitors. Apple can preserve quite a lot of unique software program enhancements like quick pairing to Apple units and head-tracking enhancements to Spatial Audio, however few of those options must be sufficient to cease you from contemplating a less expensive various.


The Anker Soundcore Liberty Air 2 Professional can be found now for $130.

David Carnoy/CNET

Multipoint Bluetooth connections to non-Apple units

The AirPods line does allow you to seamlessly change between an iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, MacBook and practically every other Apple gadget. However throw in a Home windows PC or a Nintendo Swap, and immediately you might be again to navigating Bluetooth menus. Headphones that help multipoint Bluetooth pairing alleviate that, usually by all the time pairing to 2 (or extra) units on the similar time, no matter producer.

I lately purchased the Wyze headphones for round $60, following a advice from CNET’s Cheapskate Emeritus Rick Broida, and it made me notice that this characteristic was far more helpful than I might beforehand assumed. After I’m at work, my headphones are normally linked to a MacBook Professional, however when a name is available in, my pc’s music pauses whereas the headphones swap to the cellphone. Then after the decision, it switches again to the pc. Then as soon as I am again house, I can sync my headphones to the Lenovo Chromebook Duet or every other gadget. 

The Jabra Elite 75t wireless headphones, which might normally be discovered for round $150, embrace this characteristic. You will need it in the event you count on to leap between a number of units. In any other case, multipoint Bluetooth is extra widespread in over-ear headphones such because the aforementioned Wyze up by way of the higher-end Sony WH-1000XM4 (it lists for $350 however typically will get a worth drop by $100 to round $250). The Sony headphones have been referred to as “practically flawless” by CNET Govt Editor David Carnoy, however in the event you’re procuring within the $250 vary, chances are you’ll be higher off evaluating them to the AirPods Professional than the brand new AirPods.


The Jabra Elite 75t can hook up with a number of units directly, whether or not they’re Apple units or not.

What do you consider the third-gen AirPods? And are there options you want they included? Tell us within the feedback. | AirPods 3: Apple’s 2021 wi-fi headphones are lacking a couple of huge options


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