AirPods 3 are the best headphones in Apple’s line [Review]

AirPods are probably one of Apple’s most popular products. Over the last five years, wireless headphones have become so common that it is difficult to go anywhere without seeing someone wearing them.

And now, with the third generation of AirPods headphones, Apple has improved them in almost every way. This makes the latest AirPods one of the best, if not the the best, comprehensive headphones you can get.

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AirPods 3 reviews

AirPods 3 are like AirPods Pro, without the things that made AirPods Pro less than perfect.
Photo: Ian Fuchs / Cult of Mac

Design changes inspired by prof

From a design perspective, the new third-generation AirPods borrow styles from AirPods Pro, without rubber earplugs. They have a slightly larger headset than the first and second generation AirPods headphones, which means they will probably fit a little better in your ears. And with a 33% shorter carrier than the second-generation AirPod, they’re even more discreet – and less likely to hit them.

On top of that, AirPods 3 includes a force sensor from AirPods Pro, which allows you to summon Siri, play or pause music, and skip songs without tapping your ears.

For me, the redesigned buds are the perfect blend of AirPods and AirPods Pro, offering the comfort and openness of AirPods headphones with the size, convenience and sound quality of AirPods Pro.

Surprisingly huge sound

AirPods 3 review: Third generation AirPods are comfortable and compact.  And it sounds amazing.
AirPods 3 are comfortable and compact. And it sounds amazing.
Photo: Ian Fuchs / Cult of Mac

When it comes to what you hear, it’s hard to articulate sound in words. What you listen to, as well as the size and shape of your ear, can make a big difference. I found the AirPods 3 very satisfied. I’m not an audiophile, but when I compare them to older AirPods (both first and second generations) and AirPods Pro, I found that the new AirPods 3 sound profile is very similar to AirPods Pro. The main difference is the lack of sound insulation in AirPods 3.

One of the main contributions to enhanced sound is the built-in Adaptive EQ that exists in AirPods Pro and AirPods Max. This uses the microphone inside the headset to listen and adjust the sound based on your ear acoustics. In the end, it leads to a better, fuller bass and midrange sound. The shape of the headset also does an impressive job of ensuring that sound is projected directly into your ear canal which – in my opinion – creates a much louder sound than I would expect from such lightweight headphones.

Turning on Spatial Audio also contributes to higher sound. If you’ve tried AirPods Pro or AirPods Max, you’ve probably already experienced 360-degree Spatial Audio sound. If you haven’t, consider surround sound for music or movies, just for your ears. With AirPods 3, you get the same kind of experience – just a little more open.

Simplified listening experience

This openness also comes from the lack of silicone tips on the headphones themselves, which means more sound can be sneaked in, as well as the lack of active noise cancellation in the headphones themselves. For me, this was not a big loss, because I almost never use noise cancellation. But for some, this may be a breach of contract. I’d rather have decent noise isolation and a fairly balanced sound than the uncomfortable pressure in the inner ear caused by noise cancellation, so AirPods 3 are more than enough.

One side effect of the lack of noise cancellation is the absence of Transparency mode. I know the idea behind Transparency is to allow outside noise when the headphones provide enough insulation, but I think it could be useful with any pair of headphones or earphones to help raise awareness of the outside world. Still, after all, AirPods 3 still automatically pause when you take out one handset and let enough ambient sound through it within a few days, I used to listen outside of AirPod when I needed to be aware of my surroundings.

Using AirPods 3 in real life

AirPods 3 pairing with iPhone: AirPods 3 are perfect in almost every way and build on Apple's brilliant integration of hardware and software.
The AirPods 3 are perfect in almost every way and build on Apple’s brilliant integration of hardware and software.
Photo: Ian Fuchs / Cult of Mac

When it comes to actually using AirPods 3 in my daily life, there have been a few places where I have seen huge improvements. First of all, there is overall comfort. With AirPods 3, I was able to wear them for hours on end without ever feeling any discomfort, pressure or irritation – something I can’t say about AirPods Pro. On top of that, they feel much safer than the smaller headphones of the first and second generation AirPods headphones.

As you exercise – and even run or do more intense movement – AirPods 3 stays where it belongs. Thanks to the addition of IPX4 resistance to sweat and water, AirPods 3 can withstand more intense training. My AirPod has never been damaged by moisture. But knowing that these can survive many hours of Peloton’s sweaty rides as the weather gets cold makes them even better.

Another very common case of using AirPod is for virtual meetings and calls. On particularly busy days, they can spend four or more hours in consecutive conversations. With my previous second-generation AirPods, that would mean juggling the left and right modules after the first 90 minutes while I was charging each a bit. With the third-generation AirPods headphones, I was able to get almost three hours of talk time in one go and still have 46% of the remaining battery – a stunning improvement. Apple says the AirPods 3 provides an extra hour of battery life for listening (up to six hours) and talk time (up to four hours) compared to the previous model.

Brand new MagSafe refill case

AirPods 3 review: Third-generation AirPods add support for MagSafe, a small benefit that can pay huge dividends
AirPods 3 add support for MagSafe, a small benefit that can pay huge dividends.
Photo: Ian Fuchs / Cult of Mac

In addition to the improved battery life of the floors themselves, the charging case – which looks very similar to that of the AirPods Pro, only slightly narrower – now has up to 30 hours of total charging, compared to approximately 24 hours on each model. AirPods that will arrive earlier.

In addition to the physical look, the case also adds MagSafe support. This means that in addition to supporting Lightning or any Qi compatible charger, the case can be aligned on a magnetic MagSafe disc for optimal charging position. While this may not seem like a huge feature, it’s definitely something you’ll appreciate if you’ve ever tossed your AirPods on a wireless charger, only to come back later and find that they were off-center and didn’t charge at all.

AirPods 3 Review: Final Thoughts

When it comes down to it, none of the updates for AirPods 3 are revolutionary in themselves. Many of the new features come from the more expensive Pro and Max sibling headphones.

However, AirPods 3 enhance almost every aspect of the second-generation AirPods headphones they replace. Therefore, I think the new AirPods 3 are the best option for the vast majority of users. They also seamlessly integrate into the Apple ecosystem, making them easy to use on iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, Mac, and even Apple TV. It’s something you just can’t get with other wireless headphones.

Over the past five years, AirPods have become the dominant player in the right space for wireless headphones. And with AirPods 3, I wouldn’t expect that to change anytime soon.

AirPods 3 join Apple’s lineup for $ 179. Second-generation AirPods drop to $ 129, and AirPods Pro stays at $ 249. AirPods Max sells for $ 549.

Buys from: Amazon

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Naveen Kumar

Friendly communicator. Music maven. Explorer. Pop culture trailblazer. Social media practitioner.

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