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New Apple AirPods 3: How Do They Differ From The Previous Generation?

Apple announced AirPods 3 in October 2021. As an alternative to the older - though still available - the second generation of AirPods from early 2019, these sit below the upgraded AirPods Pro, which launched in October. Apple has discontinued the original AirPods.

Apple announced AirPods 3 in October 2021. As an alternative to the older - though still available - the second generation of AirPods from early 2019, these sit below the upgraded AirPods Pro, which launched in October. Apple has discontinued the original AirPods.

The AirPods (3rd Gen), AirPods Pro, and AirPods (2nd Gen) all have their own unique features. How do they compare? When it comes to Apple's true wireless earphones, which are better to buy if you have the old AirPods?

What makes Apple's AirPods unique?

It should not come as any surprise that the AirPods (3rd Generation), AirPods Pro, and AirPods (2nd Generation) differ in a number of ways.


In addition to the AirPods 3rd Generation, AirPods Pro, and AirPods 2, the AirPods 2 also have a different design. Their appearance is identical to that of the original AirPods. There are two versions of AirPods (3rd Gen) and AirPods Pro. The third generation has an IPX4 water and sweat resistance rating and has an in-ear design, while the other AirPods models do not have sweat or water resistance and are longer.

Three sizes of silicone tips come with the Pro model for a better fit - the main difference between them and AirPods (3rd generation).

In addition to the vent system, there is also a force sensor on the stem of the AirPods Pro, making it possible to adjust the pressure. Also equipped with this force sensor, but without the vent system, are the AirPods (3rd Gen). As well as active noise cancellation, the AirPods Pro has two microphones.


There is more advanced on-device control on the new AirPods and AirPods Pro than on the AirPods 2 and old AirPods.

One tap on the stem of an AirPod (3rd Gen) or AirPod Pro will allow users to pause, play, or answer a phone call. Users can skip forward by tapping twice and backward by tapping three times. As only the AirPods Pro feature Active Noise Cancellation and Transparency Mode, pressing and holding will switch between the two on the AirPods Pro, whereas it will launch Siri for the AirPods (3rd Gen).

You can listen simultaneously to your favorite song and the environment around you with Transparency Mode on the AirPods Pro.

On the AirPods 2, only double-tapping is available for on-device controls. Double-tapping can be configured so that each AirPod offers a different function, but controls are limited to launching Siri, playing, or pausing the current track. A double-tap will, however, answer a phone call.


As compared to the AirPods 2 and the old AirPods, the AirPods 3 and AirPods Pro promise a more immersive audio experience. The headphones have both been designed with Adaptive EQ, which automatically tunes low and mid-frequency music to fit the shape of the listener's ear. The system also includes a high dynamic range amplifier and a speaker driver designed for optimizing audio quality and reducing background noise.

We previously mentioned that the AirPods Pro has Active Noise Cancellation as well. With AirPods Pro, two microphones are included, which work together with advanced software to filter out background noise and adapt to each individual ear. 

Original AirPods and AirPods 2 do not have Adaptive EQ, Active Noise Cancellation, or Transparency Mode. A second disadvantage to these headphones is that they do not support Apple's Spatial Audio technology. The AirPods Pro and AirPods (3rd Generation) do.


In comparison to the original AirPods, the AirPods (3rd Gen), AirPods Pro, and Apple AirPods 2 run on a smaller chip called the H1.

According to the description, the H1 chip enables two times faster connections between active devices than previous AirPods, 50 percent more talk time, and 1.5x faster phone connections. Additionally, it claims to deliver 30 percent lower latency when playing games.

Controlling Siri with your voice

Apple AirPods (3rd Gen), AirPods Pro and Apple AirPods 2 feature the H1 chip, making it easy to control your Apple devices using voice commands, such as making a phone call, and changing the volume, or asking for directions.

Siri is not supported by the old Apple AirPods, but users can still control Siri with an iPhone or Apple Watch.

Case with wireless charging

Wireless charging cases are included with Apple AirPods (3rd Gen) and Apple AirPods Pro. These cases are also compatible with the MagSafe system. Initially, Apple AirPods 2 came with either a standard charging case or a wireless charging case, though with the launch of the third-generation model, you will only be getting a standard charging case. Wireless charging cases can be purchased separately for a price.

You can charge your AirPods wirelessly with this case using a Qi charging pad and no wires. Unlike the old Apple AirPods, the wireless charging case can be purchased separately, and it is compatible with both the Apple AirPods 2 and old Apple AirPods.

Talk time

The AirPods (3rd Generation) have a talk time of up to 4 hours and a listening time of up to 6 hours - through 5 hours with Spatial Audio enabled. The charging case will provide 30 hours of listening time or 20 hours of talk time in total, but five minutes of charging time is said to provide an hour of listening or talk time.

The AirPods claim to have a talk time of 3.5 hours and a listening time of 4.5 hours. When the Active Noise Cancellation and Transparency modes are turned off, Apple claims that they will provide 5 hours of listening time. The charging case provides 24 hours of listening time and 18 hours of talk time. Five minutes of charging will provide an hour of listening or talking time, just like the AirPods (3rd Gen).

The Apple AirPods 2 have a talk time of 3 hours and a listening time of 5 hours. The charging case can provide up to 24 hours of listening or 18 hours of talk time. Meanwhile, twenty minutes of charging time will provide you with 2 hours of talk time and 3 hours of listening time.

Final Thoughts 

Should you replace your old AirPods, and if so, should you get the AirPods 2 or the AirPods 3? When compared to the original AirPods, the AirPods (2nd Gen) provide more talk time, Hey Siri control, and faster and more stable connections. If you choose the AirPods (3rd Generation), you will get more talk time, a new design, sweat and water resistance, Spatial Audio support, and Adaptive EQ.

If you want to buy a pair of Apple's true Bluetooth headphones but aren't sure which to get: The AirPods (2nd Gen) are less expensive and excellent, but they lack some of the great features found in the AirPods (3rd Gen) and AirPods Pro. The AirPods Pro has noise cancellation and more custom fit options than the AirPods 3, but otherwise has many of the same features, such as sweat resistance, Adaptive EQ, and Spatial Audio.

Although the battery promises are better on the third-generation model, the AirPods Pro is also the most expensive, so you'll need to weigh what features you really want against what you're willing to pay for. If you're looking for the sweet spot, it appears that the AirPods (3rd Generation) are it.




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