Apple AirPods 3 review

The Apple AirPods 3 sit in the middle of Apple’s line of wireless headphones, just above the AirPods 2, which Apple still sells, and just below the AirPods Pro, which get a few key features AirPods 3 do not have. One is ANC (active noise cancellation) and the other is silicone tips. The AirPods 3 are “open” headphones: instead of being inserted into the ear canals, they sit outside the ears and, therefore, have minimal passive noise cancellation.

If you like being locked in your own musical bubble, these aren’t the headphones for you, and you’re better off using the AirPods Pro or our favorite noise-canceling headphones, the Sony WF-1000XM4. However, compared to the classic AirPods, the AirPods 3 are a big step forward. They’ve been completely redesigned from an audio perspective, with larger drivers and support for Apple’s adaptive equalizer. Like the company’s high-end AirPods Max over-ear headphones, they now also support Spatial Audio with dynamic head tracking.

There are a number of additional features, including better battery life than the original AirPods, sweat resistance, auto-pause, MagSafe and Qi charging as standard, and a new way to control music via AirPods built-in force sensors. Lightweight construction and IPX4 waterproofing make Apple AirPods 3 suitable for use during physical activity; and although they weren’t as secure as the Power beats Pro headphones, they were able to withstand a light jog without falling out of our ears.


Even the buttons are inspired by the design of the existing AirPods: the Pros. As has been rumored for some time, the AirPods 3 ditch the ridiculously long stems of the earbuds in favor of the shorter ones of their noise-canceling siblings. The headphones are slightly and imperceptibly smaller in all dimensions and also an ounce lighter. They have a slightly different profile, but the biggest difference is the absence of the Pro’s interchangeable silicone ear cups, which we prefer for their seal and fit. The lack of natural intrusion of the AirPods design will be appreciated by those who don’t like having silicone-filled ears, but the fit isn’t for everyone.

Most of our review team felt like a house on fire, with some complaining that after a while the inner ear cartilage felt like it was on fire. Along with the neater stems also come the same touch controls, thanks to force sensors on the stems that can be gently squeezed to control music playback and calls. While the AirPods 2 required a double tap on the earbud body to play music, skip tracks, or answer a phone call, the AirPods 3’s controls are more versatile and mirror those of the Pro model: tap the button once. stalk to play, pause or answer a phone call, twice to skip forward and three times to skip back.


Apple’s latest AirPods are inspired by the design of the AirPods Pro. The earcups, in particular, are designed to resemble their more expensive “Prosumer” siblings and feature short, curved stems with small contoured notches. Also, compared to the second-generation Apple AirPods, the AirPods 3 charging case looks a lot like the AirPods Pro, only smaller.

That said, the opulent feel of the case and the satisfying click every time you open and close the lid is still on par with previous models, which is great. Unfortunately, that’s more than can be said for the fit of the earbud, and unlike the AirPods Pro, the AirPods 3 use an open, semi-in-ear design that may not appeal to everyone. world.


Naturally, AirPods 3 are optimized for use with Apple devices, with a one-touch setup that automatically connects the headphones to your iPhone, iPad, Mac or MacBook. Audio Sharing means you can also share streaming audio between two sets of AirPods, AirPods Pro or AirPods Max while using iPhone, iPad, iPod touch or Apple TV – handy if you want to share your music without sharing it with your friends.

We found this feature to work quite well, although we did notice a drop in volume when sharing music with a friend. There’s also a new skin detection sensor that tells AirPods 3 whether the earbuds are actually in the ear, rather than on a table or in a pocket. If they’re not in the ear, music playback stops, presumably saving battery power.

Noise cancellation

New features, new design and new sound? There’s certainly a genetic similarity between the AirPods 3 and its predecessor when it comes to sonic character: the new “low distortion” driver has also been tuned to produce a relaxed balance that doesn’t unduly favor any part of the frequency spectrum. However, like many of us over the past couple of years, the new AirPods have taken on a little more weight: they’re now a bit fuller overall, with bolder bass and a muted high-end that’s interspersed of a lush medium. This lower end also has more shape and precision, giving basslines a crisper kick and helping them move.

The jump from the second to the third generation is also defined by more clarity and cleanliness: everything in the presentation is a little more present and organized, and Apple has made sure to move forward in terms of information too. It’s evolution rather than revolution, but that’s okay. We’re fans of their neutrality and clarity, and the AirPods sound better than the competition’s cheaper vintage without ANC. We still see them falling victim to harshness and congestion as their volume increases, although this is not uncommon in the market.

Audio performance

Apple introduced Spatial Audio with Apple TV and released it for Apple Music in mid-2021. AirPods (3rd generation), like AirPods Pro and AirPods Max, support spatial audio, as well as head tracking for supported services. The Siri voice assistant is also compatible with AirPods (3rd generation), with the ability to activate the hands-free wake phrase “Hey Siri”. It works just like on an iPhone or HomePod, although the headphones need to be paired with an iPhone, iPad or Mac to connect to the internet.

Siri can read incoming notifications, adjust volume and control playback, get specific content, call contacts, etc., right from the headset without even touching the source device, and it all worked as expected for me. Other key features include Apple Quick Pairing and Setup, which detects AirPods (3rd generation) and links them to your Apple ID, so you can automatically pair and quickly switch between your other Apple devices. This also allows for enhanced functionality with the Find My app on iOS.

Call performance

AirPods 3 are one of the best headphones with microphone for voice and video calls. Apple lined the microphone with an acoustic mesh to reduce wind interference, which is noticeable when taking calls in windy conditions. My wife could hear me loud and clear as I walked with the baby, and she could barely hear the wind or the whistling of speeding cars. Using headphones at home was even more rewarding: clarity increased and callers could hear me better as we moved around the house.

However, the microphones can only combat a limited amount of ambient noise before it kicks in, as was the case when we were talking to my mother-in-law while walking past a construction site. Feel safe knowing it takes a lot of secondary sounds to interfere with your voice or video calls. Speaking of which, the AirPods 3 come with AAC-ELD, a voice codec designed for Full HD voice quality during FaceTime calls.

Battery life

AirPods 3 have improved battery life. While the 2019 AirPods offered a total of 24 hours of playtime (about five hours with the headphones and an additional 19 hours with the charging case), the new AirPods 3 offer a maximum battery life of 30 hours. Apple claims you can listen to music for up to six hours or talk for up to four hours with the button, with four additional charges through the case. If you’re in a hurry, a five-minute quick charge is enough for about an hour of playtime.

Like AirPods Pro, AirPods 3 come standard with a wireless charger compatible with Apple’s MagSafe ecosystem. That all sounds good, but the built-in battery life drops to five hours if you enable Spatial Audio, which is the same playtime as previous AirPods. Since spatial audio is one of the main reasons to buy the AirPods 3 over the AirPods 2, you don’t get the longer battery life.

Last words

The AirPods 3 are a solid overhaul of one of the most popular sets of true wireless earbuds, offering a better design, improved sound, longer battery life, and more advanced features like Spatial Audio. . Its exterior fit is unmatched in the industry and it certainly has some advantages. But the complete lack of sound insulation makes them difficult to use in noisy environments and prevents them from sounding as good as their rivals with silicone eartips.

About Franklin Cheatham

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