Apple AirPods (3rd Generation): Review and In-Depth Analysis

The Apple AirPods (3rd generation), released in October 2021, mark a significant upgrade over their predecessors, bringing a host of new features and improvements to the popular wireless earbuds lineup. With a fresh design, enhanced audio capabilities, and extended battery life, the AirPods 3 aim to deliver a more immersive and enjoyable listening experience for Apple users. In this comprehensive review, we will delve into the AirPods 3’s specifications, pros, cons, price, real-world performance, and comparisons with other models in the market.

Specifications:

  • Design and Build:
    • Dimensions (per earbud): 18.26 x 19.80 x 30.79 mm
    • Weight (per earbud): 4.28 g
    • Charging Case Dimensions: 46.40 x 21.38 x 54.40 mm
    • Charging Case Weight: 37.91 g
    • Colors: White
    • Water and Sweat Resistance: IPX4 rating (splash and sweat resistant)
  • Audio:
    • Driver: Custom high-excursion Apple driver
    • High Dynamic Range Amplifier
    • Frequency Response: 20Hz to 20kHz
    • Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.0
    • Audio Codecs: AAC, SBC
    • Microphone: Dual beamforming microphones, inward-facing microphone
    • Spatial Audio with Dynamic Head Tracking
    • Adaptive EQ
  • Battery:
    • Earbuds: Up to 6 hours of listening time (up to 5 hours with Spatial Audio enabled), up to 4 hours of talk time
    • Charging Case: Up to 30 hours of total listening time
    • Fast Charging: 5 minutes of charging provides approximately 1 hour of listening time
  • Chip:
    • H1 chip (Apple’s custom audio chip)
  • Sensors:
    • Skin-detect sensor
    • Force sensor
    • Speech-detecting accelerometer
    • Voice-detecting accelerometer
  • Compatibility:
    • iOS devices, iPadOS devices, macOS devices, watchOS devices, and other Bluetooth-enabled devices

Pros:

  1. Refined Design and Improved Fit: The AirPods 3 feature a new contoured design that sits at a more comfortable angle in the ear. The shorter stem and lack of silicone ear tips make them more comfortable for extended wear compared to the AirPods Pro. The IPX4 rating adds water and sweat resistance, making them suitable for workouts and outdoor activities.
  2. Spatial Audio with Dynamic Head Tracking: Spatial Audio with dynamic head tracking is a game-changer for the AirPods 3. It creates a more immersive audio experience by placing sounds virtually around the listener, and the head tracking ensures that the soundstage stays fixed even when the user moves their head. This feature is particularly impressive for watching movies and TV shows with compatible content.
  3. Adaptive EQ: Adaptive EQ is another notable addition. It automatically tunes the low- and mid-frequencies of the music to the shape of the user’s ear, delivering a more personalized and consistent listening experience. This feature enhances the overall audio quality and clarity.
  4. Extended Battery Life: The AirPods 3 offer improved battery life compared to the AirPods 2. With up to 6 hours of listening time on a single charge and up to 30 hours of total listening time with the charging case, they can last through a full day of use. The fast charging feature is also convenient for quick top-ups.
  5. Enhanced Sound Quality: Thanks to their custom high-excursion Apple driver and high dynamic range amplifier, the AirPods 3 deliver better sound quality than their predecessors. The bass is more pronounced, the mids are clearer, and the highs are crisper. While not audiophile-level, the overall sound signature is well-balanced and enjoyable for a wide range of genres.

Cons:

  1. Lack of Active Noise Cancellation (ANC): Similar to the AirPods 2, the AirPods 3 do not offer active noise cancellation. This means they are less effective at blocking out external noise compared to the AirPods Pro and AirPods Max.
  2. No Customizable Fit: Unlike the AirPods Pro, which come with silicone ear tips in different sizes, the AirPods 3 have a one-size-fits-all design. While comfortable for many users, they may not fit securely in all ear shapes, potentially impacting sound quality and stability during activities.
  3. Still Expensive: The AirPods 3 are not the cheapest wireless earbuds on the market, and their price may be a barrier for some consumers. While they offer significant improvements over the AirPods 2, they are still considered a premium product.
  4. Force Sensor Controls Can Be Tricky: The force sensor controls on the stems of the AirPods 3 can be a bit finicky. It may take some time to get used to the pressure required for different commands, and accidental presses can occur.
  5. No High-Fidelity Codec Support (aptX or LDAC): For audiophiles seeking the highest quality audio transmission, the lack of support for high-fidelity codecs like aptX or LDAC might be a drawback. The AirPods 3 rely on AAC and SBC codecs, which are not as capable of delivering lossless audio.

Price:

The Apple AirPods (3rd generation) are available at [Price varies by retailer] for the standard charging case version and [Price varies by retailer] for the MagSafe Charging Case version. Prices may vary depending on the retailer and any ongoing promotions.

Compare Prices on Apple AirPods 3

Apple AirPods 3 with the best price and discount was update for May 21, 2024.

Real-World Performance and User Experience:

In real-world usage, the AirPods 3 deliver on their promises. The improved design and fit make them comfortable for all-day wear, and the IPX4 rating adds peace of mind during workouts or outdoor activities. The spatial audio with dynamic head tracking is a standout feature, providing a more immersive and engaging listening experience, especially for movies and TV shows.

The sound quality is noticeably better than the AirPods 2, with enhanced bass, clearer mids, and crisper highs. The adaptive EQ further refines the sound based on the user’s ear shape, ensuring a more personalized listening experience. The extended battery life is also a welcome improvement, allowing for longer listening sessions without needing to recharge.

The force sensor controls, while taking some getting used to, offer a convenient way to control playback, volume, and Siri. However, accidental presses can be an occasional annoyance.

Comparison with Other AirPods Models:

  • AirPods (2nd generation): The AirPods 3 offer significant upgrades over the AirPods 2, including a refined design, spatial audio with dynamic head tracking, adaptive EQ, water and sweat resistance, and improved battery life. The AirPods 3 are a better value proposition overall.
  • AirPods Pro (1st and 2nd generation): The AirPods Pro models remain the top choice for users who prioritize active noise cancellation and a more customizable fit with silicone ear tips. They also offer a transparency mode for situational awareness and a slightly more immersive soundstage.
  • AirPods Max: The AirPods Max are over-ear headphones designed for users seeking the ultimate audio experience. They offer superior sound quality, active noise cancellation, a luxurious build quality, and a more comfortable fit for extended wear. However, they are also significantly more expensive.

Conclusion:

The Apple AirPods (3rd generation) are a worthy upgrade for Apple users looking for a comfortable, convenient, and well-rounded pair of wireless earbuds. Their refined design, improved sound quality, spatial audio with dynamic head tracking, adaptive EQ, and extended battery life make them a compelling choice. While they lack active noise cancellation and customizable fit, they excel in many other areas.

If you’re an Apple user who values a seamless and enjoyable audio experience, the AirPods 3 are a fantastic option. They deliver a significant upgrade over their predecessors and are well-suited for various activities, from everyday listening to workouts and travel. While they may not be the most affordable or feature-packed earbuds on the market, they offer a solid combination of comfort, performance, and convenience that many users will appreciate.

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