Apple AirPods 3 vs Apple AirPods Pro

Verdict

The Apple AirPods 3 are a great improvement over previous models. They offer a great battery life compared to the Pro’s, having more listening time. They have a smaller case, and some people find the sound quality comparable with the AirPods Pro. I would still say soundwise the AirPods Pro are a step up from the AirPods 3, and with the current price point being so close to the AirPods Pro? Just get the Pro’s, they’re the best!

Design & fit

The design of Apple’s new AirPods 3 and the AirPods Pro are awfully similar. The main difference between the two will be the fact that the Pro’s come with ear tips actually go into your ear-canal, whereas the standard AirPods have a more casual fit. If you take the ear tips out of the equation, they actually look very similar. The AirPods Pro seem to be slightly bulkier on the driver side than the AirPods 3, but this isn’t really noticeable when wearing them. The AirPods 3 also have a slightly longer stem as opposed to Apple’s AirPods Pro.

Wearing them is very comfortable for both the regular model and the AirPods Pro. The AirPods 3 do feel slightly more loose within your ears, and I heard some people complaining that they often fell out of their ears, so do make sure they offer a nice fit for you before you decide on buying the AirPods 3. Apple’s AirPods Pro offer a better seal and fit, a result of them being actual in-ears of course. Don’t expect them to be tough to wear though, they feel very light when wearing them and you’ll hardly notice them when you wear them for a longer period.

Both of these Apple devices are IPX4 rated. What does this mean? Don’t throw them in a puddle or take them for a swim, but if you’re into sports or have to go outside on a rainy day they can definitely take on some sweat and water.

Case

The charging cases on both the Airpods Pro and AirPods 3 are very similar. The shape is pretty much the same, but the footprint of the Airpods 3 case is slightly smaller than the Airpods Pro. Other than that they both offer wireless charging, have MagSafe support (as long as you get the newer AirPods Pro with the magsafe charging case), have an LED indicator on the front and still offer a lightning port on both of them.

Controls

It won’t come as a surprise, but the Airpods 3 controls are a one-on-one comparison with Apple’s Airpods Pro. They both have the ‘stem squeeze’ mechanism where you squeeze the stem of the earbud to do something. You can play, pause (which will be handled automatically as well when you take one of the earbuds out of your ear or put it back in again), skip a track or go back to the previous one. A long squeeze will activate or deactivate transparency mode on the Airpods Pro, but since the Airpods 3 don’t have this feature, long squeezing there will activate Siri instead.
The stem squeeze controls aren’t configurable unfortunately, meaning simple controls like volume up or down won’t be available through the earbuds, but to be honest this is something we haven’t really missed yet.

Battery life

Apple really upped their game with the new Airpods 3 when you compare them with the older versions. The Airpods now reach a total of 6 hours of listening time on a single charge when you’re not using spatial audio, and taking the case into consideration you can get up to 30 hours of battery life! The Airpods Pro offer a slightly worse battery life: you’ll get 4,5 hours of battery life on Apple’s Pro model with Active Noise Cancellation turned on, or 5 hours when it’s turned off. If you also include the case the Airpods Pro will have a total of 24 hours of battery life. A small win for the Airpods 3 here!

Active Noise Cancellation

One of the big selling features of Apple’s AirPods Pro is the Active Noise Cancellation and transparency mode that comes with it. The Pro model offers a tighter seal than the AirPods 3 and therefore already block out more sound naturally, but having the active noise cancellation is purely amazing. The AirPods 3 don’t have this tighter seal, plus they don’t offer active noise cancellation, meaning you will hear more of your surroundings when wearing these. The latter is also possible with the AirPods Pro though, by making use of transparency mode. Even though that doesn’t let sound through in a natural way, it does sound very much like that. They did an excellent job on that feature.

Sound

Listening to music is a great experience on both the AirPods 3 and the AirPods Pro, people even state the AirPods 3 are pretty comparable with Apple’s AirPods Pro! Yes, they do have the same hardware, but I’d say this really depends on how well the AirPods 3 fit your ears. There’s a lot of sound bleed, meaning your surroundings will hear what you’re listening too but also means more sound can escape your ears. Some clearness might get lost, as well as some punch from the bass. I personally like the AirPods Pro a lot better, but if you’re in doubt just make sure to try them both out before you buy. The AirPods 3 might actually be a great fit for you!
How about calls or (video) meetings? The microphone on both of the AirPods versions are amazing. You might notice a very slight improvement on the AirPods 3 over Apple’s AirPods Pro, but to be honest that’s negligible. The Pro’s do offer a bit more features with ‘conversational boost’ on the iPhone, meaning you have a bit more control over the ambient sound and voice clearness during a call.

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