Apple’s AirPods lineup has gotten confusing. The distinction was simpler before, when you could pick the AirPods Pro if you wanted an in-ear fit with active noise cancellation, or the regular AirPods if you could live without that. The third-generation AirPods has been launched though, making it a little harder to decide on the perfect pair of AirPods. We’re going to make that easier, though.
What’s new in the third-generation AirPods?
The third generation of AirPods has a new design that resembles the AirPods Pro (sans the in-ear fit). It’ll still rest on your ear just like the original AirPods, but it has a shorter stalk that allows third-generation AirPods to give you better controls (borrowing a good feature from AirPods Pro). You don’t have to tap or double-tap the earbud anymore.
The third-generation AirPods also gains support for spatial audio, sweat and water resistance, and the new MagSafe charging case. If you want most of the good features of the AirPods Pro, but don’t like in-ear headphones, the third-generation AirPods are perfect for you.
The best new feature of the third-generation AirPods is the battery life. Apple says that we’ll get up to six hours of listening time on a single charge, which is higher than that of the second-generation AirPods (five hours) and the AirPods Pro (4.5 hours). Last but not the least, third-generation AirPods also get an inward-facing microphone, which should make you sound better on calls than you would on second-generation ones. They run for AU$279.
Should you buy the second-generation AirPods instead?
The previous-generation AirPods is available at a lower price now and are still a compelling buy at AU$219. The extra AU$60 for AirPods 3 gives you lots of new features that might be worth the asking price, but if you don’t want to stretch your budget that much, the older AirPods remain a good alternative.
For some people who have older Apple devices, the second-generation AirPods are the only good option given that the pricier AirPods are incompatible with some devices. You can go ahead and buy the second-generation AirPods if you have one of the following:
- iPhone 6
- iPhone 6 Plus
- iPhone 5s
- iPad Air (first-generation)
- iPad mini 3
- iPad mini 2
- iPod touch (sixth-generation)
Granted, these are really old devices at this point, but if you’ve been holding on to one, the third-gen AirPods and the AirPods Pro won’t work for you anyway.
Should you consider the AirPods Pro?
The AirPods Pro is the most expensive of the three headphones we’ve covered here, at AU$399. If you want an in-ear fit with active noise cancellation, you should buy AirPods Pro. It’s got exclusive features like Conversation Boost, which focuses the microphone on the person talking in front of you to help boost their audio in face-to-face conversations, and it’s useful for those who face hearing difficulties. AirPods Pro also work with separation alerts, so your iPhone can warn you if you leave them behind.
If these features don’t matter that much though, you should consider the third-generation AirPods as your best option.