Apple AirPods 3

MSRP $179.00

“An excellent upgrade to Apple’s iconic true wireless earbuds.”

Pros

  • Very good sound high quality
  • Wireless MagSafe charging
  • Head-tracking spatial audio
  • IPX4 water resistance

Cons

  • Not nice in noisy environments

Now that Apple has launched its third-generation, $179 AirPods, you’re most likely questioning, are they any good? If I personal the primary or second-gen AirPods, ought to I improve? And, is it nonetheless price the additional cash for the $249 AirPods Pro? I’ll prevent a while.

The solutions are, sure, sure, and possibly. Want to know extra? Here’s our full assessment.

In the Goldilocks zone

AirPods 3, AirPods, and AirPods Pro sitting in their charging cases.

AirPods 3, AirPods, and AirPods Pro side by side.

  • 1.
    Apple AirPods (left), AirPods 3 (center), and AirPods Pro.
  • 2.
    Apple AirPods (left), AirPods 3 (center), and AirPods Pro.

The design of the third-gen AirPods — which we’ll now consult with because the AirPods 3 — for all intents and functions makes them appear like the lacking hyperlink between the unique AirPods and the AirPods Pro. That in-between impression is the story of the AirPods 3 in a nutshell: They take one of the best components of every of these different fashions in an try and create the right center floor, with that very same in-between value. If this was Apple’s aim, I feel it succeeded wildly.

Fans of semi-open earbuds not have to just accept mediocre sound high quality.

The AirPods 3 sit firmly within the Goldilocks zone — they enhance on the second-gen AirPods in each significant method, whereas coming in at a lower cost than you used to need to pay for the second-gen AirPods with wi-fi charging, and significantly lower than the AirPods Pro at their common value.

Even their charging case is a best-of-both-worlds scenario, with Qi and MagSafe-compatible wi-fi charging and but with dimensions that make it virtually precisely the identical dimension and form as the unique AirPods case.

Bigger, higher sound

Apple AirPods 3 in charging case. Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

The authentic AirPods earned quite a lot of followers for his or her wire-free comfort, simplicity, and straightforward integration with the iPhone. But most would admit that with regards to sound high quality, they’re OK at greatest — barely an enchancment over the efficiency of the wired EarPods that Apple ships with its iPhones. And regardless of utilizing a semi-open design, similar to the unique AirPods, the AirPods 3 sound much better.

Head-tracking spatial audio is like sitting in on a studio session together with your favourite band.

In reality, so long as you’re in a quiet location, the AirPods 3 sound each bit nearly as good because the AirPods Pro. There’s loads of readability by the assorted frequencies and, a lot to my shock, they’ve a bass response that’s each heat and highly effective. They can’t compete with closed designs just like the Jabra Elite 7 Pro or Sony’s WF-1000XM4, however I put them head-to-head with different semi-open buds just like the AirPods, Marshall Minor III, Soundpeats Air 3, Urbanista Lisbon, and the Earin A3, and the AirPods 3 trounced all of them. Fans of semi-open earbuds not have to just accept mediocre sound high quality.

Get spatial

Apple AirPods 3.Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

Apple has been making a giant deal about spatial audio and Dolby Atmos ever because it added tracks to Apple Music that use this immersive format. And whereas just about any set of wired or wi-fi headphones can take pleasure in Atmos when listening to pick out Apple Music songs, the AirPods 3 up the ante with head-tracking spatial audio.

The characteristic — which the brand new AirPods share with the AirPods Pro and AirPods Max — takes the already immersive high quality of Dolby Atmos music and adjusts among the track components in real-time to react to your head actions. The lead vocalist(s) is “pinned” to the course your head faces, such that if you flip your head someway, that singer’s voice sounds prefer it’s nonetheless coming from the identical ahead course. It’s a little bit like sitting in on a studio session together with your favourite band.

A extra bulbous (but tremendous clean) form makes them safer with out compromising on consolation.

Like Dolby Atmos music itself, the impact can differ vastly from observe to trace. But when it’s carried out proper, like on Imagine Dragons’ new album Mercury – Act 1, it’s a wild trip. Older materials that has been remixed for spatial audio, like The Rolling Stones traditional, Tattoo You, doesn’t fare in addition to newer works (sorry Mick and Keith).

This similar head-tracking works on film soundtracks too, and I’d argue it’s an excellent higher use of the tech as it could simulate what it’s like to sit down in a full encompass sound theater, utilizing simply your earbuds.

You might not use head-tracking spatial audio so much (and you may disable it solely when you don’t like the best way it sounds) however it’s a cool characteristic that helps to justify the acquisition of the AirPods 3 even when there are such a lot of nice true wi-fi earbuds on the market.

Comfy curves

Apple AirPods 3.Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

Another frequent criticism concerning the first AirPods is that regardless that they’re very snug, they only don’t really feel very safe in your ears. This, together with their lack of any official water or sweat safety, has stored some people from utilizing them for working or different high-impact actions.

The AirPods 3 handle to (principally) tackle each considerations. With a extra bulbous (but tremendous clean) form, they make a lot better contact with the pores and skin of the outer ear and that — together with their shorter stem — makes them safer with out compromising on consolation. If you want the best way the AirPods 2 match, you need to be fairly pleased with the AirPods 3. They’re not as safe because the AirPods Pro, which suggests it’s possible you’ll want to regulate them periodically, particularly when you use the drive sensor controls so much — pinching the stems to activate it could inadvertently transfer the earbuds round, particularly whereas working.

But they do have an IPX4 score for water resistance, so go forward and get as sweaty as you please.

Find a pleasant, quiet spot

While the AirPods 3 sound high quality actually is outstanding given their semi-open design, with no silicone ear ideas, they will’t present a lot of a seal, and many exterior noise makes its method into your ears alongside together with your music. In even reasonably noisy environments, you’re pressured to crank the amount to listen to your podcasts or cellphone calls.

This is the place the AirPods Pro have an enormous benefit. Not solely do they supply higher passive noise isolation due to these silicone ear ideas, however additionally they have lively noise cancellation (ANC) which might silence all however essentially the most intrusive exterior sounds.

On the opposite hand, as a result of the AirPods 3 let a lot sound in, there’s virtually no cause to take away them to have a dialog, and thus the dearth of transparency mode is not any large deal. If you wish to be extra conscious of your environment, merely pause the music.

Competent calling

Man wearing Apple AirPods 3.Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

Call high quality on the unique AirPods was by no means excellent, however it was all the time completely sufficient. That stays true of the AirPods 3. You should not have any bother being heard even in reasonably noisy locations. Clarity isn’t fairly nearly as good as you’ll get with the AirPods Pro, however it’s adequate for many conditions.

A barely greater battery

We’ve taken Apple to process over the AirPods and AirPods Pro battery life as a result of so many different true wi-fi earbuds handle to supply longer play time on a single cost and extra complete battery time too. So it’s nice to see that Apple has managed to eke out only a bit extra from the AirPods 3’s battery: Six hours per cost, and 30 hours of complete time if you issue within the charging case.

That’s nonetheless shy of among the extra long-lasting earbuds, however it’s nonetheless one of the best we’ve seen in a set of AirPods. Given that they nonetheless help hands-free Siri (one of many largest attracts on battery life), it’s a fairly large accomplishment.

The fast-charge characteristic offers you about an additional hour of listening time when you cost the buds for 5 minutes.

Our take

With method higher sound, a much bigger battery, a safer match, wi-fi charging, and head-tracking spatial audio, the AirPods 3 are a giant step-up from the second-gen AirPods and an improve that every one AirPod homeowners ought to contemplate.

Is there a greater various?

The solely set of semi-open earbuds that sound nearly as good because the AirPods 3 are the Oddict Twigs. However, they lack wi-fi charging, head-tracking spatial audio, hands-free Siri, and their three-hour battery life is among the many lowest we’ve ever seen.

A greater various is the first-gen Apple AirPods Pro, which you’ll be able to nonetheless routinely discover on sale for between $180-$200 (the up to date model with MagSafe charging might value a number of {dollars} extra). With ANC and transparency mode, a safer match, and higher sound, they’re the logical step-up from the AirPods 3. But quite a lot of people don’t like the sensation of silicone ear ideas, which brings us again to the AirPods 3.

How lengthy will they final?

With IPX4 water safety and really strong construct high quality, I’m sure the {hardware} itself will final for a few years of use. But Apple has had issues previously with the batteries in its AirPods shedding quite a lot of their capability within the first two years. I can’t say if Apple’s new optimized battery charging characteristic will considerably cut back this problem, so when you’re involved about it, it is likely to be price shopping for Apple Care to increase your guarantee from one yr to 2 years.

Should you purchase them?

If you’re an Apple system consumer, completely. The AirPods 3 are a worthy improve from the primary AirPods. Android homeowners received’t be capable to make the most of options like head-tracking spatial audio or hands-free Siri, making them much less interesting for thse people.

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