AirPods 3 vs. AirPods Pro: Comparing Apple’s latest earbuds

After a lot hypothesis, Apple lastly debuted its third-generation AirPods on Monday. The announcement got here in the course of the firm’s Unleashed event, the place it additionally revealed a redesigned MacBook Pro that is available in 14- and 16-inch sizes and boasts extra highly effective new chips. 

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Get to know Apple’s new AirPods


True to the rumors, Apple’s new $179 (£169, AU$279) AirPods (purchase them right here — with free case engraving) have rather a lot in frequent with the high-end AirPods Pro. The stems are shorter and the earpiece is formed extra just like the AirPods Professional’s, besides it retains the older mannequin’s open design reasonably than changeable suggestions. (Here is the $15 AirPods accessory we swear by.)

The AirPods 3 additionally include spatial audio assist and water resistance in contrast to the usual AirPods, which Apple will nonetheless promote on the cheaper price of $129 (£119, AU$219). The brand new earbuds can be found for preorder instantly forward of their launch subsequent week.

Apple AirPods 3rd Generation 2021

Apple’s third-generation AirPods inherit a number of options from the AirPods Professional. 


The principle distinction between the brand new AirPods and the AirPods Professional continues to be energetic noise cancellation, which continues to be unique to the $249 (£239, AU399) AirPods Professional. Thus far, the brand new earbuds seem to be a center floor between the essential AirPods and AirPods Professional, however we’ll know extra as soon as we have had the prospect to attempt them. 

Here is a breakdown of how the third-generation AirPods and the AirPods Professional evaluate. And this is what to learn about trading in your old AirPods, in case you are questioning.

Learn extra: Apple event recap: AirPods 3, new MacBook Pro, HomePod Mini and everything announced

AirPods 3 vs. AirPods Professional

AirPods 3 AirPods Professional
Weight 0.15 ounces (4.25 grams) 0.19 ounces (5.39 grams)
Audio options Spatial audio, adaptive EQ Spatial audio, adaptive EQ, energetic noise cancellation, transparency mode
Wi-fi charging/MagSafe Sure Sure
Sturdiness Sweat and water-proof Sweat and water-proof
Customizable match No Sure
Chip Apple H1 Apple H1
Battery Life (earbuds) 6 hours of listening time 4.5 hours of listening time (with ANC enabled)
Battery Life (case) As much as 30 hours of listening time Greater than 24 hours of listening time
Microphones Twin beamforming microphones; inward dealing with microphone Twin beamforming microphones; inward dealing with microphone
Sensors Pores and skin-detect sensor, motion-detecting accelerometer, speech-detecting accelerometer, Pressure sensor Twin optical sensors, motion-detecting accelerometer, speech-detecting accelerometer, Pressure sensor
Worth (USD) $179 $249
Worth (GBP) £169 £239
Worth (AUD) AU$279 AU$399

Design: The AirPods 3 have an identical form, however no silicone suggestions

If the brand new AirPods look acquainted, that is as a result of they borrow a variety of design cues from the AirPods Professional. Like their pricier sibling, the third-generation AirPods have an earpiece that is narrower than the usual AirPods. It isn’t fairly as slender because the AirPods Professional’s earpiece, however it’s definitely not as spherical as the usual AirPods. The brand new AirPods are additionally water and sweat resistant just like the AirPods Professional, which may make them a extra interesting choice for individuals who incessantly use them throughout train and out of doors actions. 

Just like the earpiece, the case for the brand new AirPods additionally seems like a cross between the case for the usual AirPods and the AirPods Professional. It is a lot shorter and wider than the entry-level AirPods case, however it’s not fairly as broad because the holster for the AirPods Professional. You may also cost the third-generation AirPods case through wi-fi charging, together with Apple’s MagSafe charger, or by plugging it in. 

Apple AirPods 3rd Generation 2021

The third-generation AirPods have a narrower earpiece just like the AirPods Professional. 


The third-generation AirPods’ stems are additionally shorter, one other attribute that resembles the AirPods Professional. These new stems even have the identical Pressure Contact sensor because the AirPods Professional, which allows you to management audio playback and launch Siri.

The most important distinction between the 2 when it comes to design is that the brand new $179 AirPods haven’t got interchangeable silicone suggestions just like the AirPods Professional, which embrace three sizes to select from. The brand new AirPods are additionally lighter than the AirPods Professional at 0.15 ounces versus 0.19 ounces. 

The announcement strains up with rumors that surfaced forward of Apple’s occasion. Final yr, Bloomberg and analyst Ming-Chi Kuo (through MacRumors) each reported that Apple’s entry-level AirPods will achieve a brand new look with shorter stems.

Audio: No energetic noise cancellation, however different audio enhancements

You will nonetheless should splurge on Apple’s top-of-the-line earbuds to get energetic noise cancellation and transparency mode. However the brand new AirPods are inheriting a few different audio options from the AirPods Professional: spatial audio and adaptive EQ.

Spatial audio is basically like a virtual surround sound, as my colleague David Carnoy describes it. The know-how usually makes audio really feel extra enveloping and mimics the expertise of being in a movie show. Apple launched the function to the AirPods Professional in final yr’s iOS 14 replace and it is seemingly changing into a core a part of the AirPods expertise. Each the brand new $179 AirPods and the $549 over-ear AirPods Max have the function. Adaptive EQ adjusts audio based mostly on the form of your ear and was beforehand unique to the AirPods Professional and AirPods Max. 

Learn extra: Instead of removing the iPhone 13 notch, Apple added one to the MacBook Pro

Efficiency and battery: The AirPods 3 have longer battery life however identical chip because the AirPods Professional

The brand new third-generation AirPods ought to have longer battery life than their predecessors. Apple says they are going to final for six hours on a single cost and as much as 5 hours with spatial audio enabled. You will additionally stand up to 4 hours of discuss time and the charging case ought to present as much as 30 hours of listening time. 

The AirPods Professional, by comparability, ought to last as long as 4.5 hours on a single cost and 5 hours in case you disable energetic noise cancellation and transparency mode. They provide 3.5 hours of discuss time and the case offers 24 hours of complete listening time, based on Apple’s claims.

Each the third-generation AirPods and AirPods Professional function Apple’s H1 chip, so they need to provide related efficiency in relation to duties like summoning Siri and rapidly connecting to Apple gadgets. 

Total, the AirPods 3 seem to be they will convey Apple’s earbuds in control in two areas that matter most: consolation and audio performance. That is particularly necessary as the marketplace for true wi-fi earbuds has develop into extra aggressive with new choices from Samsung, Amazon, Google and plenty of of Apple’s different rivals. 


The third-generation AirPods had been introduced at Apple’s “Unleashed” occasion on October 18. 

The AirPods Professional are Apple’s high-end true-wireless headphones, and its solely true-wireless mannequin to supply energetic noise cancellation. They retail for $249 on the Apple Retailer, however they typically retail for between $179 and $200. 

Read our Apple AirPods Pro review. | AirPods 3 vs. AirPods Professional: Evaluating Apple’s newest earbuds


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