After more than a year of constant rumors, it has finally
happened: Apple has unveiled the third-generation AirPods. While
the second-gen AirPods (released in 2019) was
identical to the first-gen (released in 2016), this new model takes
on a whole new look.
Here's everything you need to know about the new AirPods.
a lot like the AirPods Pro
The third-gen AirPods mark the first change to the shape and
size of Apple's standard wireless earbuds since their introduction
five years ago.
Like the AirPods Pro, the AirPods 3 (as some have called
them) have shorter stems and a rounder, more bulbous earpiece. The
case is very similar to the AirPods Pro, too: shorter and wider,
and with wireless charging capability standard, though you can of
course also use a Lightning cable.
Unlike the AirPods Pro, they don't have rubberized ear tips.
That means they won't form a seal in your ears, which can impact
bass response, so don't expect them to sound quite as good as the
AirPods Pro, either.
The new AirPods borrow the little touch-sensitive stem button
from the AirPods Pro, too. And like AirPods Pro, they're water- and
sweat-resistant (2nd-gen AirPods are not).
AirPods Pro feature a new shape that resembles the AirPods Pro. Image: Apple
sound a lot better
While they don't have active noise canceling or the rubberized
ear tips of AirPods Pro, Apple has developed an all-new custom
driver that it says will dramatically improve sound quality. The
new AirPods also support Adaptive EQ. These two features should
help the third-generation AirPods Pro sound better than the
An all-new driver
promises better sound performance. Image: Apple
Third-gen AirPods support Spatial Audio
You can use Spatial Audio (Dolby Atmos) in Apple Music with any
AirPods, or indeed any headphones at all if you hop into the
settings. But Spatial Audio for video, with head-tracking, has been
reserved for AirPods Pro and AirPods Max.
Now, you have another, more affordable option. Third-generation
AirPods will support Spatial Audio for video.
life, MagSafe and wireless charging
Apple says the battery life is longer, too. You'll get up to 6
hours of music listening time, up from 5 hours in the
second-generation AirPods Pro.
The charging case holds four more full charges worth, for a
combined total of 30 hours of listening time. It supports MagSafe
and wireless charging, and Apple says 5 minutes of charging will
give you one hour of listening time.
Third-gen AirPods price and release date
The third-generation AirPods will cost US$179 / AU$279, $50 more than the launch price for the second-generation AirPods (which will remain in
the lineup). It's a big price jump, but still a lot less expensive
than the US$249 AirPods Pro.
Preorders began on October 18, with shipments starting the
following week. Expect significant backorders leading into the
holiday season, however.
There are now four
AirPods in Apple's lineup. Image: Apple