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

These purchasing for a brand new pair of AirPods now have three earbuds to select from. Apple’s $179 third-generation AirPods (£169, AU$279) turned accessible on Oct. 26 after the tech large introduced them throughout its recent event on Oct. 18.  The brand new earbuds are basically a cross between the high-end $249 AirPods Professional (£239, AU$399) and the entry-level $129 AirPods (£119, AU$219), each of which can be found alongside the brand new mannequin. (You possibly can learn extra concerning the AirPods 3 in our full review.)

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True to the rumors, Apple’s new AirPods have so much in frequent with the high-end AirPods Pro. The stems are shorter and the earpieces are formed extra just like the AirPods Professional’s, besides they keep the older mannequin’s open design slightly than changeable suggestions. (This is the $15 AirPods accessory we swear by.)

The AirPods 3 (which you will get with free case engraving) additionally include spatial audio help and water resistance not like the usual AirPods. 

Apple AirPods 3rd Generation 2021

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


The principle distinction between the new AirPods and the AirPods Professional continues to be lively noise cancellation, which continues to be unique to the pricier mannequin. However the brand new AirPods nonetheless supply considerably higher audio with improved bass in comparison with Apple’s long-stemmed second-generation AirPods. 

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

Learn extra: MacBook Pro 2021 review: Apple’s M1 Max chip makes a big difference

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, lively noise cancellation, transparency mode
Wi-fi charging/MagSafe Sure Sure
Sturdiness Sweat and water-resistant Sweat and water-resistant
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, Power sensor Twin optical sensors, motion-detecting accelerometer, speech-detecting accelerometer, Power sensor
Value (USD) $179 $249
Value (GBP) £169 £239
Value (AUD) AU$279 AU$399

Design: The AirPods 3 have the same form, however no silicone suggestions

If the brand new AirPods look acquainted, that is as a result of they borrow a whole lot 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 continuously use them throughout train and out of doors actions. 

Just like the earpiece, the case for the brand new AirPods additionally appears 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 huge because the holster for the AirPods Professional. It’s also possible to 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 much 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 Power 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 do not have interchangeable silicone suggestions just like the AirPods Professional, which embody 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 traces 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 acquire a brand new look with shorter stems.

Audio: No lively noise cancellation, however different audio enhancements

You will nonetheless must splurge on Apple’s top-of-the-line earbuds to get lively 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 expertise typically makes audio really feel extra enveloping and mimics the expertise of being in a movie show. Apple launched the characteristic 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 characteristic. 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 similar chip because the AirPods Professional

The brand new third-generation AirPods ought to have longer battery life than their predecessors. Apple says they’ll final for six hours on a single cost and as much as 5 hours with spatial audio enabled. You will additionally rise up to 4 hours of speak 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 should you disable lively noise cancellation and transparency mode. They provide 3.5 hours of speak time and the case offers 24 hours of complete listening time, based on Apple’s claims.

Each the third-generation AirPods and AirPods Professional characteristic Apple’s H1 chip, so they need to supply comparable efficiency with regards to duties like summoning Siri and rapidly connecting to Apple units. 

Total, the AirPods 3 look like they’re going to deliver Apple’s earbuds up to the mark in two areas that matter most: consolation and audio performance. That is particularly necessary as the marketplace for true wi-fi earbuds has turn into extra aggressive with new choices from Samsung, Amazon, Google and lots 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 lively 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 wi-fi earbuds


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