For Apple fans, the introduction of AirPods was revolutionary. The true wireless earbuds were initially introduced nearly five years ago, and they have seen a few different upgrades and iterations since.
This week, the company’s highly anticipated third-generation of AirPods finally hit the market, and reviewers have already gotten their hands on the new earbuds.
The AirPods 3, or 3rd Generation as Apple is calling them, features a pretty big design overhaul, bringing them closer in line with the higher-end AirPods Pro. The earbuds also feature a decent upgrade in sound with a new custom driver.
The AirPods 3 seem to be presented as a sort of middle ground between the second-generation earbuds and the Pros. The price of the new earbuds is situated right in between the two, at $179, and they include significant upgrades over the AirPods 2, but lack a few premium features found in the Pros.
Let’s see what people think of the new AirPods 3 so far.
The new design closely resembles the AirPods Pro
The AirPods 3 have been completely redesigned to more closely resemble the premium Pros. TechCrunch says the 3rd generation buds are “unquestionably more comfortable than their predecessors.”
But they’re still not up to par with the Pros. The same review goes on to say, “the gulf between [the AirPods 3rd Generation] and the Pros feels like night and day.”
The redesign of these earbuds seems to be more focused on the stem. This time around, Apple shortened up the stem to have a more compact look.
The shape of the earpiece on the new AirPods is also closer to the Pros, but it lacks the silicone ear tip found on the Pros. Engadget calls the new design a “blend of the original AirPods design and the AirPods Pro, with some modifications.” Essentially, the new AirPods seem to fit more like the original earbuds, but with a shorter stem.
But what about sound and performance?
So the comfort of the AirPods 3 has been improved, but what about the performance? Apple upgraded the earbuds this time around with IPX4 water-resistance as well as upgraded battery life. A six-hour life on the earbuds and 30 additional hours through the case give you a total of a day and a half of playback time without having to use the new MagSafe charging on the case.
And of course, the sound quality had been improved. Apple fit the AirPods 3 with “a custom driver and high dynamic range amplifier that together produce rich consistent bass with crisp, clean high frequencies.” Andrew Liszewski of Gizmodo even says, “I actually find myself reaching for them over my AirPods Pro.”
The overall sound of the AirPods 3 seems to have been greatly improved. CNET’s review says the AirPods 3 “deliver richer, fuller sound with more detail and better bass.”
But the AirPods 3 are missing an important feature that sets the Pros apart from the cheaper versions. The new earbuds don’t have Active Noise Cancellation, which may be a deal-breaker for some. The Verge even points this out as a downside of the earbuds, saying “they let in a ton of outside noise.”
So what’s the verdict on the AirPods 3?
Despite missing out on a few features that you can find in the Pros, the newest addition from Apple seems to be a solid entry. The design of the earbuds seems to be improved and, though not as nice as the Pros, most people are happy with the upgrade.
Sound and performance have been improved as well. You won’t get Active Noise Cancellation with the AirPods 3, but they’re also a lot cheaper than the Pros. You can snag a pair of these earbuds for $179, compared to $249 for a pair of the Pros.
Gizmodo – “Much Better Than the Old AirPods”
TechCrunch – “Notable step up from their predecessors in terms of features and sound”
CNBC – “The best option for most people”
CNET – “They actually sound good now!”
The Verge – “The new regular AirPods get a lot right.”
At this price, these earbuds seem to fit right in the middle of the three options available from Apple today. The newer earbuds feature some performance and design upgrades over the $129 AirPods 2, but they’re not quite as impressive as the Pros.
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