AirPods 3 vs AirPods Pro: which ones to buy?

AirPods are arguably one of Apple’s biggest hits. The brand is the first to launch such compact wireless headphones, a category that is now called “True Wireless”. The first version of the AirPods was after all a fairly simple formula: on the design side, Apple cut the EarPods cable.

The company has added a box itself containing a battery that can recharge AirPods several times for a total autonomy of more than 20 hours. Added to this is a pairing process that has remained unique in the market for some time: the first time, all you have to do is open the box near an iPhone and press connect.

AirPods 3 at the best price Base price: 199 €

The headphones are then automatically associated with all your devices linked to your iCloud account. If you have them in your ears and read something on the computer, the sound will automatically go to the AirPods. If you receive a call, AirPods connect to your iPhone without your intervention.

After this first success, Apple launched two other models. “AirPods 2” which are in fact AirPods 1 with a new case that charges wirelessly (read our AirPods 3 or AirPods 2 comparison). And technologically much more advanced AirPods Pro with their intra-design, active noise reduction and spatial audio (Dolby Atmos).

The AirPods 3, on the other hand, are the first real update to the basic AirPods. Apple keeps an open design while bringing their design closer to that of the AirPods Pro. So, should you buy AirPods 3 instead or stop your choice on AirPods Pro? Answer in this comparison.

AirPods 3 vs AirPods Pro: what are the design differences?

Apple AirPods 2021 Series

© Apple

The AirPods 3 are very similar in design to the AirPods Pro. Once closed, the box of the new headphones is completely identical to that of the AirPods Pro. We have the same rectangle format elongated in width, the same small status LED on the front and the pairing button on the back with a metal hinge on the top.

When you open the case, on the other hand, one thing is immediately obvious: these headphones do not have tips that would make them intras headphones like the AirPods Pro. We remain on an open design as on AirPods 1 and 2 – we will come back to this point.

When you take the headphones out of their box, and if you disregard the absence of eartips, you have two otherwise identical designs, with their shortened and slightly curved stem, which comes with a tactile part that you can pinch to pause or play a song.

AirPods 3 vs AirPods Pro: why the “open” design isn’t for everyone

When it comes to headphones, the big difference between a so-called “open” design and an “in-ear” design is that the former attenuates surrounding sounds very little. If you’ve used the first AirPods, you already know that these headphones work great, but the sound quickly gets “right” when you’re in a noisy environment.

Because they are also on an “open” design the AirPods 3 are de facto hit with the same problem. There are also no interchangeable tips that would allow them to be adapted to your morphology. Either these headphones will fit your ears like a glove (after all, they are designed for this) or they will not suit your body type and cause an unpleasant sensation if you listen for prolonged periods of time.

AirPods Pro tips

AirPods Pro ©

In contrast the AirPods Pro are on a closed design. An interchangeable mouthpiece serves as a first barrier against surrounding sounds. In addition, we will come back to this, active noise cancellation. This approach maximizes comfort because a large part of the contact between the accessory and your ears is via a flexible part, ie the mouthpiece.

AirPods 3 vs AirPods Pro: which ones have the best battery life?

AirPods Pro run on a newer H1 chip than the W1 chip on early AirPods. This chip delivers a lot of features, but one of them is better battery management. This allows AirPods Pro to offer roughly the same battery life as regular AirPods despite power-hungry features like active noise cancellation.

The AirPods 3 have an even newer chip than the AirPods Pro. They also offer significantly less functionality. This means that this chip can take the battery life of the new True Wireless headphones further. AirPods earbuds last 6 hours without recharging. With the case this brings the autonomy to 30 hours.

For comparison, the AirPods Pro last 4.5 hours without the case, and up to 24 hours with the recharges offered by the case.

AirPods 3 vs AirPods Pro: what are the functional differences?

AirPods Pro

© Unsplash / Ignacio R

The great functionality of AirPods Pro lies in their ability to deliver ultra-efficient active noise reduction as well as one of the most convincing transparency modes on the market. The AirPods 3 have neither active noise reduction nor transparency mode.

For the rest, the two pairs of headphones offer roughly the same thing. For example, we have spatial audio, Adaptive EQ, sensors that pause music when you remove them from your ears, and compatibility with “say Siri” which allows you to give orders to your iPhone via AirPods 3 without pressing their tactile rod.

The AirPods 3 still introduce a little novelty: the case is MagSafe compatible which means that it can recharge faster wirelessly, provided you have a MagSafe charging mat.

AirPods 3 vs AirPods Pro: is the price difference justified?

The AirPods 3 are offered a little cheaper than the AirPods Pro (199 €). The AirPods 2 change prices at just € 149. For 79 euros of difference, we therefore have AirPods Pro without active noise cancellation, and without the in-ear tips.

AirPods 3 at the best price Base price: 199 €

So it’s up to you to see. But if we look at the glass half empty, we nevertheless note that spending € 79 more is enough to get what are undoubtedly much better True Wireless headphones for both comfort and more complete functionality. The AirPods 3 are still interesting, but it will take a bit of time for the price to drop at third-party sellers during operations like Black Friday for them to be, in our opinion, really worth it.

Conclusion: who are the AirPods 3 really for?

So, who are the AirPods 3 really for? As we can see, the price difference is currently too small to justify the choice between AirPods 3 and AirPods Pro on its own. What can actually tip the scales in their favor, however, is if you consciously prefer to buy True Wireless with an open design, appreciate the extra battery life, and your ear build accepts them.

However, for just $ 79 more, AirPods Pro seem a better option in every way. After all, the high-quality “transparency” mode turns them virtually into open headphones whenever you want them. The rest of the time, you can find peace by activating the surprisingly effective active noise cancellation on this device. What do you think of the AirPods 3? Share your opinion in the comments.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here