Airpods 3 vs Airpods Pro: What are the Differences?

Image: Apple

Apple unveiled its next-generation AirPods 3 at its ‘Unleashed’ special event on Monday. The new AirPods come with a host of new features and a design language reminiscent of the AirPods Pro, so much so that some speculated Apple would call them the ‘AirPods Pro Lite’.

While it may look like Apple just took the squishy ear-tips off the AirPods Pro, put them in a slightly smaller case and started marketing them as 3rd generation AirPods, there’s more to it than that.

Let’s take a look at some of the biggest differences between the third generation of Apple’s base AirPods, and the highest-end offering in its wireless earbuds line:


There’s no question that the AirPods 3 take a design cue from the AirPods Pro, complete with contoured earpieces that are angled towards your ear canal, and a force sensor for better, more intuitive controls.

The biggest differences in design between the two are the shorter stems on the AirPods 3, and the absence of soft ear-tips on the newer AirPods.

Both the AirPods 3 and the AirPods Pro feature an IPX4 rating for sweat and water resistance. The AirPods 3 are a touch lighter though, at just 4g per earbud as opposed to the Pro pair’s 5.4g per earbud.

Even the charging case for the newer AirPods is reminiscent of the AirPods Pro charging case, albeit a bit smaller. The AirPods 3 charging case adds MagSafe support for wireless charging. While the AirPods Pro didn’t launch with MagSafe support, they will now be sold with a MagSafe charging case for the same price.


A number of the new features found in the AirPods 3 have been borrowed from Apple’s AirPods Pro — both wireless earbuds have Adaptive EQ for real-time audio fine-tuning, and spatial audio with Dolby Atmos and dynamic head-tracking.

The biggest difference in feature set is Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) on the AirPods Pro, which isn’t available on Apple’s newest base AirPods.

While both products are fitted with dual beam-forming microphones, the AirPods 3 lack Conversation Boost, a feature that uses the mic array on the ‌AirPods Pro‌ to boost the volume of a person talking in front of you.

Both earbuds also support Apple’s Auto-pause feature, which pauses playback when you remove the buds from your ears, although the AirPods 3 replace the AirPods Pro’s dual optical sensors with a new skin-detect sensor for in-ear detection.


The AirPods Pro can deliver up to 4.5 hours of continuous playback on a single charge (up to 5 hours if you don’t use ANC and/or Transparency Mode), and you get an additional 19-19.5 hours worth of charge in the case.

With new battery technology, the AirPods 3 can manage up to 6 hours of continuous playback (up to 5 hours with spatial audio enabled) from the buds themselves, with another 24 hours worth of charge in the case.

Other Things to Consider

AirPods Pro gave us an ear infection due to an allergic reaction to the silicone ear tips, and others too. Some AirPods Pro units are dealing with static issues related to ANC, and Apple has issued a repair program for it.

AirPods Pro may also drop down in pricing ahead of the holidays, as they are getting “old” in the product pipeline, so you may be able to snag a deal. Stay tuned as we always share the latest deals.


The AirPods Pro will set you back $329 CAD. The AirPods 3 only cost $239 CAD in comparison, but of course, they lack Active Noise Cancellation.

To get an idea of generation-over-generation improvements with Apple’s AirPods, take a look at our comparison of the AirPods 2 and AirPods 3.

Click here to order your AirPods 3 in Canada today — they’re arriving by October 26.

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