Apple AirPods 3 vs. AirPods Pro (1st generation): Which earbuds should you buy?

Separate images of a woman wearing AirPods 3 and a woman wearing AirPods Pro.

The AirPods 3 (left) and AirPods Professional (proper) aren’t the most recent from Apple, however they’re nonetheless price your consideration.

an Apple

It has been greater than half a decade since Apple launched the unique AirPods, and whereas the shiny white buds have taken on new styles and sizes since then, the AirPods have remained among the many finest. The perfect wi-fi headphones At this time.

For those who’re looking for a brand new pair of AirPods to kick off the brand new 12 months, they in all probability are Third era AirPods And Apple is older but it surely’s nonetheless hanging on Authentic AirPods Professional in your thoughts.

Between the 2 AirPods fashions, there are a number of variations to notice that, whereas not simply distinguishable from Apple’s advertising language and labels, make your shopping for resolution extra apparent than you would possibly suppose.

additionally: Earbuds vs. Headphones: Which is Proper for You?

That will help you resolve which one you should purchase, I’ve listed the primary arguments for every mannequin under.


AirPods 3

AirPods Professional (1st era)


double beam

double beam

listening expertise

Customized spatial audio

Customized spatial sound, lively noise cancellation, and transparency mode


Bluetooth 5.0

Bluetooth 5.0


Earbuds: IPX4

Earbuds: IPX4


As much as 6 hours of listening time on a single cost

As much as 4.5 hours of listening time on a single cost







Ought to You Purchase AirPods 3 If …

A woman leans forward and puts AirPods 3 in her ear.

an Apple

1. You like the basic AirPods design

the AirPods 3 They’re the newer of the 2 fashions I am evaluating, however they maintain that acquainted stem design of the first-generation AirPods. For those who choose it to the cushioned hooks of the Professional, AirPods 3 are the way in which to go.

additionally: The perfect AirPods and AirPods Professional offers proper now

Whereas the non-Professional mannequin is much less flashy on paper, the AirPods share two notable audio options with their pricier siblings: Spatial Audio and Adaptive EQ. The primary is Apple’s in-house expertise that synchronizes audio playback through dynamic head monitoring. Mainly, the sounds of music, movies, and flicks are performed into your ears as if the sound sources have been bodily in entrance of you. Adaptive EQ helps AirPods 3 routinely modify the low and mid frequencies so that you get the fullest, most practical sound attainable.

2. You desire a extra sturdy case

Whereas each earphone fashions are rated IPX4, which means they’ll stand up to splashes of water, the AirPods 3 charging case additionally has the identical certification, whereas the AirPods Professional charging case doesn’t. When you typically have the charging instances hidden in a pocket or bag anyway, there’s nonetheless extra goal safety with the newer AirPods 3.

3. You prioritize battery life and endurance

Apart from comfort and sound high quality, battery life is a mainstay between the 2 AirPods fashions. Whereas the charging instances look virtually an identical, you’ll be able to anticipate extra endurance from the newer AirPods 3.

Throughout our critiques, the AirPods 3 achieved an estimated 30 hours of music playback that Apple introduced. That is a step up from the AirPods Professional’s 24-hour battery life. One of many foremost causes for that is the AirPods 3’s lack of Energetic Noise Cancellation (ANC). With out noise cancellation, non-Professional AirPods can preserve energy extra effectively. Equally helps is popping off Spatial Audio, which solely works with particular Apple Music media recordsdata.

reconsidering: AirPods 3: Enhancements in all the fitting locations

The AirPods 3 will final for about 6 hours earlier than needing to be docked within the charging case, whereas the AirPods Professional will final 3-5 hours relying on whether or not you’ve gotten ANC on or off. Both manner, you’ll be able to cost through a Lightning cable, wirelessly through Qi, or by way of Apple’s MagSafe system.

You can purchase AirPods Professional (1st era) if…

A woman presses the stem of AirPods Pro to control music.

an Apple

1. You need Energetic Noise Cancellation (ANC)

The most important promoting level AirPods Professional he Energetic Noise Cancellation, or ANC. To not be confused with “passive noise cancellation,” which comes from the pure sealing of the earbud ideas, ANC makes use of the AirPods Professional’s exterior microphones to deflect ambient sounds comparable to chirping birds, followers, and chatter. That is wonderful The crown jewel of the audio function It has made its manner by way of most, if not all, high-end earphones and headphones, and may simply spoil you in relation to listening to music.

AirPods Professional even have a Transparency mode that amplifies the sounds round you so that you by no means miss a beat from actuality. As an alternative of taking off the earphones, you need to use Transparency mode to take heed to subway stations, monitor visitors, or speak to a passerby.

2. Choose cushioned earphones

The unique AirPods have been tall and too inconsistent in design for a lot of. That is a part of the explanation why Apple later launched the short-stemmed AirPods Professional. With silicone ideas that are available small, medium, and huge sizes, the AirPods Professional are arguably extra customizable than the AirPods 3, and the in-ear design delivers superior passive noise cancellation.

reconsidering: Apple AirPods Professional (2nd era): Higher ANC and improved charging case

Comparatively talking, the AirPods 3 depend on a particular kind issue—not rubber ideas—to stay to your ears. After all, there is a little bit of a seal with this mannequin, although many will discover the much less intrusive software extra snug, particularly when sporting the buds for hours on finish.

3. Wish to get a less expensive earphone alternative?

Let me preface this by saying that AirPods Professional should not a direct alternative for listening to aids. The distinction in value (about $169 vs. $2,000 to $3,000) ought to make that clear sufficient. However, A current examine A examine by the Taipei Veterans Hospital discovered that the AirPods Professional’s noise-canceling and live-listening options have been efficient sufficient at amplifying sound for these with reasonable listening to loss — in some instances, outperforming conventional listening to aids.

Even when you’re not arduous of listening to, the AirPods Professional ought to make the sound clearer and simpler to know basically.

Options to think about

Open to prospects for different wi-fi earbuds? Take into account these gadgets examined by ZDNET:

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