New Apple AirPods 3: how do they differ from the previous generation?

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At the Apple event on October 18, 2021, the Californian brand unveiled new MacBook Pros, the new M1 Pro and M1 Max chips, but also the long awaited Apple AirPods 3.

Released in 2016, Apple’s original AirPods took the True Wireless IEM market by storm. Released in 2019, the second-generation Apple AirPods went a step further with optimized ergonomics and increased performance thanks to the H1 chip, while the Apple AirPods Pro introduced active noise reduction. So, what do Apple’s new AirPods 3 have in store for us?

Unveiled at Apple’s October 18, 2021 event, the next-generation AirPods look a lot like the AirPods Pros.

AirPods 3: design

The Apple AirPoids 3 feature a new lightweight design with angled earbuds to ensure a comfortable fit, but also to deliver sound directly into the ear canal. The AirPods 3 are also equipped with a new dynamic driver developped by the American brand that is powered by a high dynamic range amplifier.

The AirPods 3 in-ear monitors are equipped with a custom dynamic driver powered by a high dynamic range amplifier.

As expected, the design of the AirPods 3 is heavily influenced by that of the AirPods Pro, with touch controls and a shorter stem. However, the new model does not have the interchangeable silicone tips found on the more expensive monitors.

As with the AirPods Pro, the stems feature the controls, with intuituve force sensors to control playback and phone calls. Apple has also improved the quality of voice calls by covering the microphones with an acoustic mesh to reduce the sound of wind. AirPods 3rd Gen also use the AAC-ELD codec for clearer, low-latency FaceTime calls. The AirPods 3 charging case is now MagSafe compatible and features a rounded design reminiscent of the case of the original AirPods.

Thanks to its MagSafe compatibility, the AirPods 3’s charging case can be charged simply by placing it on a compatible base.

AirPods 3: Spatial Audio

The new Apple AirPods 3 True Wireless IEMs support 3D Spatial Audio surround sound and dynamic head tracking for an ultra-immersive audio experience with the Apple Music streaming service, but also with video content and FaceTime calls. Thanks to its H1 chip, the AirPods 3 also benefit from Apple Adaptive EQ, which adjusts the sound in real time depending on the position of the earbuds in your ears.

AirPods 3: sport IEMs

The durability of the new AirPods has also been improved. They are now IPX4 water and sweat resistant, similar to the AirPods Pro. Consequently, you should be able to wear them in the rain or during your workouts. The Apple AirPods 3 also feature a new skin-detect sensor that detects when the monitors are being worn and pauses playback when they’re taken out. However, the Apple AirPods 3 don’t feature active noise cancelling. If you want to benefit from this handy feature for commuting, you’ll have to opt for the more exprensive Pro models.

The Apple AirPods 3 support 3D Spatial Audio surround sound and are now IPX4 water and sweat resistant.

AirPods 3: battery life

The latest generation AirPods offer better battery life than previous models, with up to six hours of listening time after a single charge. The IEMs’ case provides four extra charges, for a grand total of 30 hours of autonomy. It is also possible to get an hour of battery life after just five minutes of charging.

AirPods 3: specs comparison

AirPods 2AirPods 3AirPods Pro
Tipsnono3x silicone tips
Charging casewiredMagSafe wirelessMagSafe wireless
Water + sweat resistantnoIPX4IPX4
Battery life (one charge)5h6h4h30
Battery life (total)24h30h24h
Spatial Audionoyesyes
Adaptive EQnoyesyes
Active noise-cancellingnonoyes

AirPods 3: release date and price

Priced at €199, the AirPods 3 True Wireless IEMs are situated in between the AirPods Pro and the 2nd generation AirPods (sold for €149) in Apple’s in-ear monitor range. They are expected to be released on October 26.


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Traductrice et rédactrice avec des goûts très éclectiques en matière de musique et de cinéma. Lorsque je ne suis pas au travail, vous pouvez me retrouver en train de regarder “Lost in Translation” de Sofia Coppola pour la centième fois, ou d’écouter un disque de David Bowie, Kate Bush, Joy Division ou Daft Punk sur ma platine Rega Planar 1. Étant d’origine britannique, je suis également adepte de séries à l’humour absurde comme Monty Python’s Flying Circus et The Mighty Boosh !

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