AirPods 3 vs. AirPods Pro | Which Should You Get?

AirPods 3 Credit: Ivan Shenets / Shutterstock
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After much anticipation, Apple finally unveiled the AirPods 3. The good news is the rumors were mainly right, so we basically knew what we would get. 

This year, Apple made the biggest change ever with the third-generation AirPods. The earbuds are now packed with cool new features, have great battery life, and were completely redesigned. They combine the best of the AirPods Pro and the regular AirPods. 

There are many things to say about the new AirPods 3, and with the holidays coming up, you might be wondering, are these the AirPods to buy? Should you get the regular AirPods now, or should you go for the Pro version and enjoy more features while compromising on battery life? Here’s everything you need to know in order to decide if you should get the AirPods 3 or AirPods Pro.

Design

The biggest change Apple made with the new AirPods is making them look like the AirPods Pro. At first glance, you won’t be able to tell them apart. The design is pretty similar, and even the charging cases are pretty much the same.

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The AirPods 3 now feature a sleeker design with a shorter stem, like the AirPods Pro. However, Apple left out the silicone ear tips from the AirPods 3 for two major reasons. First, the AirPods Pro are the only ones with Active Noise Cancellation, which we’ll talk about in a moment. Second, because some people actually prefer the AirPods over the AirPods Pro because of the ear tips. 

There’s no actual winner here, so this depends on personal preference. If you like, or at least don’t mind the ear tips, the AirPods Pro might be a better choice. On the other hand, if you can’t stand silicon tips in your ears, the AirPods 3 are the way to go. 

Active Noise Cancelation

AirPods Pro Noise Cancellation1

The biggest difference feature-wise between the AirPods 3 and the AirPods Pro is Active Noise Cancellation. 

Apple decided to keep ANC as a Pro-exclusive feature, so the regular AirPods continue to miss this Noise Cancelation like in previous models. 

ANC on the AirPods Pro is one of the best in the market. If you’re looking for a pair of earbuds with Noise Cancellation, this is a no-brainer. Your only choice is the AirPods Pro. Of course, that comes with a few compromises — mostly in battery life. 

Also, as you can expect, the AirPods Pro are the only ones that come with Transparency mode. This mode lets the environmental sounds enter the AirPods Pro so you can still hear your surroundings without having to take them off. Additionally, this mode may help people with hearing problems to hear better without using special equipment.

Battery Life

You might think that the Pro model should have a bigger battery life between both AirPods, but that’s not the case. The AirPods 3 actually has a slightly larger battery life than the AirPods Pro, especially when using Active Noise Cancelation.

According to Apple, the AirPods 3 last up to 6 hours of total playtime with a single charge and a total of 30 hours of playtime with the help of the charging case.

The AirPods Pro, on the other hand, only lasts up to 5 hours with ANC off and just 4.5 hours with ANC on. Likewise, the AirPods Pro lasts up to 24 hours with the help of the charging case. 

If you’re in a hurry, both AirPod models give you up to one hour of battery life with just a 5-minute charge in the charging case. Still, if you’re looking for better battery life, the AirPods 3 undoubtedly win this round.

Extra Features

When it comes to features, the AirPods 3 and the AirPods Pro are pretty similar. Since the AirPods 3 now feature the H1 processor, you can use things like Find My and Hey Siri, just like in the AirPods Pro.

Both models also have automatic switching, so they’ll actively switch between your iPhone and other Apple products depending on what’s playing sounds and MagSafe — or wireless — charging.

What’s more, is that the AirPods 3 and the AirPods Pro both come with a feature called Adaptive EQ, which makes the AirPods automatically adjust the music, so you hear it the way it was meant to be heard.

Both AirPods also have a feature called Live Listen, which lets you use your iPhone as a microphone so you can hear someone that’s far away from you or in a loud place. 

Another thing that’s worth mentioning is that the AirPods Pro and the AirPods 3 now share the same type of controls. Both AirPods have Force Sensor controls that’ll help you raise and lower the volume, answer phone calls, and change songs. 

If you exclude ANC and Transparency mode, both the AirPods 3 and the AirPods Pro have pretty much the same features, so you can go with either if you don’t care for ANC.

Price

Even though the AirPods Pro is more expensive than the AirPods 3, it’s not by much. The AirPods 3 have a starting price of $179, whereas the AirPods Pro cost $249, so the price difference is quite big that way.

However, since the AirPods Pro has been out for quite a while now, you’ll probably find them at a way lower price. It shouldn’t come as a surprise if you find the AirPods Pro for around $180 to $190 on online stores like Amazon. 

If you’re willing to wait until you find the right deal, you might get the AirPods Pro for almost the same price and with all the extra features. With that said, you’ll most likely find that the AirPods 3 are the cheaper option.

Sound Quality

It doesn’t matter how many features the AirPods have. If the sound quality is poor, you’re better off without them. Fortunately, both the AirPods 3 and the AirPods Pro offer amazing sound quality. Most users have reported that the sound between these two devices is excellent, so that shouldn’t be a turn-off when deciding.

Of course, you need to keep in mind that the AirPods Pro still has ANC, so listening to music or watching movies will feel more immersive with the Pro version compared with the AirPods 3.

The same goes for phone calls. The AirPods Pro offers better sound quality and a new feature called Conversation Boost. This feature will let you hear the voices of the people talking in front of you better. 

There’s no doubt that the AirPods Pro is better in the sound department than the AirPods 3, but not by much. You’ll still have an amazing experience no matter which device you choose. 

Which Should You Get?

Despite the many improvements Apple made to the AirPods 3, the AirPods Pro still has more features and better sound quality overall. But, of course, that means they’re also the more expensive option. 

If you feel like you need the extra features like ANC or Conversation Boost and you don’t mind paying a little extra, the AirPods Pro is the right choice for you

If you just want to have the latest AirPods, and you don’t mind any extra features but still want the best sound quality you can get from Apple, then the AirPods 3 are perfect for you. Not only will you save some money, but you’ll also still have an excellent device for listening to music or watching movies. 

Overall, both AirPods are fantastic, and you can’t go wrong with either of them. It’ll just come down to your preferences and your budget.

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