AirPods 3 Review: Compared to AirPods 2 vs AirPods Pro
Today marks the official launch of Apple’s third-generation AirPods with MagSafe charging case. Here’s a quick review of AirPods 3 and how it compares to its predecessor, AirPods 2 and also its older sibling, AirPods Pro.
Unboxing AirPods 3
Not much has changed in the AirPods unboxing experience. Still, a relatively small box and inside you get the AirPods 3, a USB-C to Lightning cable and some instructions. No stickers.
Here’s the AirPods 3 charging case—the size is like a hybrid case between AirPods 2 and AirPods Pro (we didn’t test the MagSafe charging case yet):
Here are AirPods 3 in all its glory. Yes, these are still hard to grab out of the AirPods case if you have fat fingers:
This year, you have stems you can press like the ones on AirPods Pro, to control your media:
The AirPods 3 earpiece design is a bit fatter compared to AirPods 2. This means they stay in your ears better and fit ours much better. They don’t feel loose in our ears like AirPods 2 do and won’t fall out if we shake our head side to side:
Setting Up AirPods 3 and First Listening Experience
The magic of one-tap set up is again here for AirPods 3. Just open the charging case lid next to your iPhone and tap ‘connect’. Once this is done, your AirPods 3 are now connected to all your iCloud devices. This remains one of my favourite Apple “surprise and delight features.
Popping in AirPods 3 and listening to songs from Apple Music and…wow. These AirPods 3 sound really good, rivalling AirPods Pro. The extra bass and loudness are leaps and bounds above AirPods 2.
Support for Spatial Audio with AirPods 3 rivals AirPods Pro, especially in our test with the Tom Hanks film, Greyhound. I want to toss my AirPods 2 into the garbage now.
What sounds better though when it comes to AirPods 3 versus AirPods Pro? We’d have to give the upper hand to AirPods Pro. They just sounded a notch better, despite both having Spatial Audio and adaptive EQ.
Both are powered by Apple’s H1 chip and also are sweat and water-resistant. But AirPods Pro have Active Noise Cancellation and Transparency modes. Once you’ve experienced ANC with your AirPods Pro, you miss the feature when you need them in noisy environments.
But if this doesn’t matter to you, AirPods 3 are cheaper at $239 CAD, versus the $329 retail price of 2021 AirPods Pro (now with MagSafe charging case).
You can still find AirPods Pro with the regular charging case for $249 on BestBuy.ca (Amazon.ca no longer has them at $249). At this price, I’d spend the extra $10 on AirPods Pro.
You don’t get customizable ear tips with AirPods 3 as you do with AirPods Pro. However, it’s worth noting some people (including ourselves) have had allergic reactions and infections from AirPods Pro silicone ear tips.
Here are AirPods 3 beside AirPods 2 and AirPods Pro:
Here’s are AirPods 3 versus AirPods 2 versus AirPods Pro versus Johnson & Johnson dental floss:
If you have AirPods 1 or AirPods 2, jumping up to AirPods 3 is a big leap. Spatial Audio, or essentially virtual surround sound is fantastic, the sound is louder and there’s more bass, plus you have stems to control music and also adaptive EQ as well, a feature from AirPods Pro and AirPods Max. You do get longer battery life with AirPods 3 versus AirPods Pro, since ANC uses more battery life.
PS – I’d highly recommend a silicone case for your AirPods 3…they’ll never slip out of your pockets ever again.