First-generation AirPods were released in 2016, virtually creating a modern market of TWS headphones. Not that Apple was the first company to make headphones like that, but they managed to implement a number of important and useful features. Namely, quick and hassle-free smartphone connection, little to no audio lag, and convenient shape made AirPods an attractive choice. No wonder just in a few years they became the most popular accessory for the iPhone and still maintain leadership among other TWS headphones. Based on this, the expectations for the new version that is named AirPods 3 were exceptionally high. Let’s check if Apple managed to meet them.
|Size and weight of a headphone||30,79 х 18,26 х 19,21mm, 4,28g|
|Size and weight of a case||54,40 х 46,40 х 21,38mm, 37,91g|
|Headphones battery||Up to 6 hours of listening time (up to 5 hours with spatial audio enabled)
Up to 4 hours of talk time
|Headphones+charging case battery||Up to 30 hours of listening time and up to 20 hours of talk time|
|Recommended retail price in Ukraine||7 699 UAH|
The first thing you see when picking up AirPods3 is a charging case. By form and design, it looks like a tiny bit smaller case from another Apple headphones – AirPods Pro. Same (and only) white color and same glossy finish susceptible to small scratches. Everything, from the hinge and front-faced led light, to the connection button and Lighting port, is in the same place as AirPods Pro. First and second-generation users, though, will need to get used to the new design.
One drawback of the new case, at least for such a neurotic person as me, it is not as easy to hold it with one hand and click the lid back and forth. At least the feel and sound of the click are still satisfying. The case itself is still very comfortable to use, it easily fits in the pocket, the lid is easy to open and the headphones stay firmly in place. Everything that we like about AirPods.
Apple, as usual, does not reveal details on the in-built battery of the AirPods 3 charging case, however, they state that it adds 30 hours of listening time and 20 hours of talking time.
The case can be charged in three different ways – with a Lightning cable, wireless Qi, and magnetic MagSafe.
AirPods 3 Design and Usability
As we know, Apple didn’t think long about the design of the first generation of AirPods, creating them based on their most popular EarPods by removing the cable. This was a calculated step, as it resulted in a light and comfortable design that was favored by numerous users. Attitude towards AirPods was determined by one thing – do they stay in your ears or fall out. It seems this formula is rather easy.
However, this time Apple chose another path by taking AirPods Pro as a base model. This was done to improve sound quality and as a result, influenced the end design. Headphones became bigger as they now look like AirPods Pro but without silicone tips.
The traditional “stem” of the AirPod became thicker and got miniature sensors that enable control of the AirPods by pressing them with fingers.
One press – play/pause, two – next track, three – previous. Press and hold brings up Siri. Easy and, in my opinion, quite convenient. Sudden triggers were eliminated almost completely, and in this case, the design changes are very welcome.
As for the usability, however, I cannot say the same. I’ve always liked 1st and 2nd gen. AirPods for their form, so that when you wear them you almost forget they are on. They are weightless, make no pressure, and mostly weren’t felt in the ear. AirPods 3 are not like that. A bigger case means a different fit, and because of that you constantly feel them in your ears. With time they even start to press a bit. On the other hand, though, for some people, especially the ones who couldn’t hold 1st and 2nd gen. AirPods in their ears might find the case form of 3d gen. more suitable. All in all, if possible, you should try them on before purchase.
AirPods 3 got IPX4 moisture protection, which lets you do sports using them. I am not sure they will be too good for ruining, but, you can surely take them with you to the gym.
AirPods 3 are based on the same Apple H1 chip with Bluetooth 5.0 support as in AirPods Pro and 2nd gen. AirPods. It enables some unusual but very handy functions, such as a connection pop-up – you just open the case near an iPhone and it recognizes the AirPods instantly and offers to connect pair them.
However, this is not the only advantage of the Apple H1 chip. It decreases audio lag, enables automatic switching between connected devices, and controls numerous sensors that help recognize movement, user voice, and even skin contact to pause playback when the headphone is taken out of the ear.
Another great advantage of Apple H1 – is spatial audio, an interesting technology that introduces slight audio lag to trick our brain into thinking that sound is coming from different sides rather than small headphone drivers.
Just like that spatial audio can create an illusion of the audio source being moved when you turn your head. The feeling is rather interesting, especially for zoom calls, where you have to realize that you need to turn your head less.
What’s ironic, spatial audio isn’t working with Apple Music on macOS Monterey, as of now, but I am sure this will be fixed in future updates.
AirPods 3 Sound
Right off the bat – AirPods 3 sound way better than gen. 2. The sound has more volume, even without spatial audio, which is not surprising, as the emitter form is drastically different. As Apple says themselves, the new model received a “driver with wide amplitude and special amplifier with wide dynamic range”.
After a few moments of listening you feel that AirPods 3 sound is much closer to AirPods Pro. Except, maybe, for the bass, Pros have much more definitive bass. New ones, on the other hand, make up for the lack of bass by amplifying mid and high frequencies, creating a rather wide virtual stage. You couldn’t ask more from day-to-day headphones, especially in-ear ones.
However, this form is also an Achilles foot of AirPods 3, as, contrary to AirPods Pro, they do not have active, or even passive noise cancellation. While the first two generations didn’t give too good of a sound, so you could forgive them for not isolating noise, AirPods 3 are the kind of headphones you would use to enjoy music not only in quiet places, but on the street, or even in the metro. And at this moment you start to wonder – why wouldn’t I buy AirPods Pro? Especially since (as of now) in Ukrainian online shops they are priced comparatively (around UAH 6000), probably because of AirPods 3 being more expensive as a new model.
Also, I’d like to note that Apple continues to force users into their own product ecosystem. If previously when using AirPods you weren’t able to update firmware, talk to Siri, and probably were a target of Apple advertising, so now that list includes an inability to enjoy spatial audio. So there are even fewer reasons to buy AirPods 3 for anything other than Apple devices.
Each AirPod has 3 microphones, two directional and one on the inside, it is used for an adaptive eq.
In the conditions of a usual room, for example, an apartment, the quality of microphones is rather good.
Two external microphones of AirPods 3 are covered with acoustic mesh, which allows them to filter wind. And Apple H1 chip together with algorithms separates the user’s voice from background noise. I tried a simple homemade test – turned the air ventilation on and used the microphones – it was a success.
AirPods 3 Battery Life
Headphones last for 6 hours of music (5 hours with spatial audio), and the charging case adds 30 hours of playback time. It is reasonably more than 2d get and even the Pro version.
Quick charge is also present. Just 5 minutes in the charging case adds 1 hour of listening time.