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Airpods 3 vs. Airpods Pro vs. Airpods 2/1: Which Should I Pick?

Airpods 3 vs. Airpods Pro vs. Airpods 2/1: Which Should I Pick?

    AirPods are comfortably the best-selling true wireless earbuds in the world.After almost two years, Apple announced a new member to the AirPods family – AirPods 3rd generation. Plus the AirPods 2 and the AirPods Pro already relaesed in 2019, Apple currently has three true wireless Bluetooth earphones on sale. They all look a bit different, sound a bit different, and offer slightly different features, but each of these are unique in their own ways. So which of these true wireless earbuds is best for you? Should you upgrade if you have the old AirPods? In this article I recap all of the similarities and differences between the AirPods 2, the new Airpods 3 and Airpods Pro. If you are getting confused among the trio, this guide will clear all the doubts and help your to make a better purchase decision.


AirPods Lineup Comparison

The appearance of AirPods 1 and AirPods 2 is the same,  the difference between them is that the chip of AirPods 2 is replaced by H1 wireless audio chip and the wireless charging box is added. Due to the first-generation AirPods having been discontinued, so this article only focuses on the analysis of the performance differences between the three versions of AirPods 2, AirPods 3, and AirPods Pro.

SpecificationAirPods (second-gen)AirPods (third-gen)AirPods Pro
Earbud size (mm)40.5 x 16.5 x 18.030.8 x 18.3 x 19.230.9 x 21.8 x 24
Case size (mm)53.5 x 44.3 x 21.346.4 x 54.4 x 21.445.2 x 60.6 x 21.7
Earbud weight (g)44.285.4
Case weight (g)38.237.9145.6
Universal fitUniversal fitCustomizable fit with silicone tips
Custom chipsApple H1Apple H1Apple H1
Water-resistance certificationNoIPX4IPX4
Active noise canceling/reductionNoNoYes
Transparency modeNoNoYes
ANC supportNoNoYes
Adaptive EQNoYes
Spatial audioNoYesYes
Force SensorNoYesYes
Conversation BoostNoNoYes
Skin detect sensorNoYes
ConnectivityBluetooth 5.0Bluetooth 5.0Bluetooth 5.0
Battery (earbud)Up to 5 hoursUp to 6 hoursUp to 4.5 hours
Battery (case)More than 24 hoursUp to 30 hoursMore than 24 hours
Wired chargingLightning connectorLightning connectorLightning connector
Wireless chargingNoQi-certified or MagSafe chargersQi-certified or MagSafe chargers
Charging cord includedLightning to USB-ALightning to USB-CLightning to USB-C

Next, I will compare the differences between AirPods 2, AirPods 3, AirPods, and AirPods Max in terms of appearance, size, and weight, charging box, control, and connection, audio, call, battery life, and compatibility.


The AirPods (3rd Gen), AirPods Pro, and AirPods 2 all have different designs, though the AirPods 2 look identical to the original AirPods. Both the AirPods (3rd Gen) and the AirPods Pro are IPX4 water and sweat resistant and have short stems, while the other AirPods models are not sweated or water resistant and have longer stems.

The Pro model comes with silicone ear tips in three sizes for a better fit - which is the main differentiating factor between them and the AirPods (3rd Generation).

The AirPods Pro also has a vent system in their design for pressure equalization, as well as a force sensor on the stem, allowing for more controls. The AirPods (3rd Gen) also have this force sensor, but they don't have the vent system. Additionally, the AirPods Pro features two microphones for active noise cancellation.

Connectivity and Controls

All three AirPods come with an H1 chip for fast pairing and Bluetooth 5.0. AirPods Pro leg up the cheaper AirPods with Find My support. If you accidentally misplace AirPods Pro, you can easily find them using Apple’s Find My app. 

The AirPods (3rd Gen) and AirPods Pro have more advanced on-device controls than the AirPods 2 and old AirPods.On both the AirPods (3rd Gen) and AirPods Pro, one tap on the stem will allow users to play, pause or answer a phone call. Two taps will allow users to skip forwards and three taps will enable users to skip back. A press and hold will switch between Active Noise Cancellation and Transparency Mode on the AirPods Pro, while it will launch Siri for the AirPods (3rd Gen) as only the AirPods Pro offer Active Noise Cancellation and Transparency Mode.

On AirPods 2, the only on-device controls are in the form of double-tapping. Users can set the left and right AirPod to offer a different control with a double-tap but controls are limited to launching Siri, next track, previous track, or play/pause. When a phone call comes through, a double-tap will answer the call though.


The AirPods (3rd Generation) and AirPods Pro promise a more immersive sound experience than the AirPods 2 and AirPods 1. They both feature Adaptive EQ, which automatically tunes the low and mid-frequencies of the music to the shape of an individual's ear. A custom high dynamic range amplifier is on board too and there is a custom speaker driver designed to optimize audio quality and remove background noise.

The AirPods Pro also has Active Noise Cancellation on board, as we mentioned previously. Two microphones are built into the AirPods Pro design which is used in conjunction with advanced software to adapt to an individual ear and remove background noise. 

The AirPods 2 - or the AirPods 1 - don't have Adaptive EQ, Active Noise Cancellation, or Transparency Mode. They also don't support Apple's Spatial Audio technology, which the AirPods Pro and AirPods (3rd Generation) do.

Microphone and Sensors

AirPods 2 features dual beam-forming microphones for clear calls. As for AirPods 3 and AirPods Pro, they both have dual beam-forming as well as inward-facing microphones for crisp calls. They also come with Skin-detect and Force sensors that help AirPods differentiate between your ear and other skin. That way, AirPods can automatically pause music when you aren’t wearing them.

The addition of a Force sensor offers a notch-above experience to control music compared to inconvenient double-tap gestures on AirPods 2. 

Battery Life and Wireless Charging

The third-gen AirPods lead the three models in terms of battery life. You get up to 6 hours of music time and 4 hours for calls with a single charge of the earbuds. However, the 6 hours figure can come down to 5 hours if you have Spatial Audio turned on. The case will give you a total battery life of about 30 hours and 5 mins of charging in the case will get you 1 hour of battery life on the buds.

The AirPods 2 feature up to 5 hours of listening time with a single charge of the earbuds and up to 3 hours for calls. The case gives you a total battery life of about 24 hours and 15 minutes of in-case charging will get you 3 hours of music time and 2 hours of talk time.

With the AirPods Pro, you get 5 hours of music time (4.5 hours with ANC turned on) and 3.5 hours of call time. The case gives you a total battery life of about 24 hours and 5 mins of charging in the case will get you 1 hour of battery life on the buds.

The Apple AirPods (3rd Gen) and Apple AirPods Pro come with a wireless charging case as standard. Both cases are also MagSafe compatible. The AirPods 2 ships with a case that doesn’t charge wirelessly, but you can purchase one that does for $79.

Dust and Water Protection

Ingress protection (IP) ratings tell us how well a product can withstand exposure to water and sweat. The IPX4 rating of the third-generation AirPods and AirPods Pro is modest. Both earbuds can handle minor splashes and should be fine to wear during sweaty workouts or in light rain. The second-generation AirPods have no water resistance.


The AirPods Pro remains the most expensive of the three earbuds at $249. Because the third-generation AirPods ($179) joined, rather than replaced, the second-generation model in the lineup, the latter are now available at a discount ($129).

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Bottom Line

Airpods 3 vs. Airpods Pro vs. Airpods 2/1: Which Should I Pick?

There is no doubt that the three models of AirPods 2, AirPods 3, AirPods Pro, and AirPods Max provide relatively good sound quality and call quality.  Sitting right between AirPods 2 and AirPods Pro, AirPods 3 aims to deliver Pro features at less price. So which one to choose depends on your budget and needs.

1. Apple AirPods 2


The AirPods 2 are the most affordable way to enter the AirPods ecosystem.  They are powered by Apple’s latest H1 headphone chip for fast pairing with all of your Apple devices, including support for automatic device switching. But their features are quite basic, only for daily use. If you want a better listening experience, it may not be suitable.

2. Apple AirPods 3


For most people, the sweet spot is likely the third-generation AirPods that are priced at $179. Compared to the entry-level AirPods 2, the AirPods 3 raise the bar in terms of sound quality. They also feature smarter technology, better battery life, a sensible Pro-like aesthetic, and some great new features headlined by spatial audio. The only regret is that the AirPods 3 don't have active noise cancellation or fitted ear tips.

3. AirPods Pro


If you think the in-ear design of the AirPods Pro is comfortable or you need Active Noise Cancellation, you should only buy the ‌AirPods Pro‌. The AirPods Pro is the best option in terms of customizing the fit. Because you’ll get three different sizes of ear tips from the box.  Their Active Noise Cancellation will block out the sound around you to help you get a unique listening experience. It is also worth buying ‌AirPods Pro‌ if you could make good use of Apple's Conversation Boost accessibility feature.

2021-10-28 18:39221