Apple AirPods 3 Review: Better design and better tunes

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The AirPods three are an piece of cake recommendation for iPhone users who want a pair of simple, good sounding buds that piece of work well and last for a long time betwixt charges. They’re still missing any sort of noise cancellation and are useless in loud places though, and with the AirPods Pro often available for not much more they might stop upwardly existence a better pick for some.


  • Small, compact design
  • Much improved sound
  • Unmatched iOS and macOS integration


  • No ANC
  • Poor in loud environments


  • Great britain
    RRP: £169
  • The states
    RRP: $179
  • Europe
    RRP: €199
  • Canada
    RRP: CA$239
  • Australia
    RRP: AU$279

Key Features

  • H1 Chip
    Allows for fast pairing and excellent iOS integration

  • Spatial Audio
    Dolby Atmos in supported apps

  • Bombardment Life
    6 hours for the buds and thirty hours for the example


The AirPods iii are the start proper redesign for the at present-iconic wireless earbuds from Apple tree.

Initially greeted past countless memes and jokes, Apple’south AirPods are now a common sight and have go arguably the most influential pair of headphones from the by decade.

Nosotros’re now onto the third generation of the basic AirPods range, and this revision is the biggest withal, with a stronger, and very welcome focus, on sound quality.


  • Redesigned to wait more like the AirPods Pro
  • Shorter stem and open design
  • Minor charging case slips easily in a pocket

The AirPods accept been given a complete makeover for this third-gen release, going for a look that’s very similar to the AirPods Pro. The stems are shorter, the case squatter and the tap controls accept been ditched in favour of force sensors. At that place’s added protection too, as both the case and buds are IPX4 rated for sweat resistance, then they’re guarded as wet weather and better suited for gym use.

They are still unapologetically a pair of AirPods, though. They but come up in white, look very minimalist and still have that now-iconic silhouette that can exist Marmite for some.

For many, the main issue with the first AirPods blueprint was the fit. In that location are no silicone tips here, or any sort of wings like yous’ll discover on the Beats Fit Pro. The AirPods three also don’t bury themselves into your ear canal, instead they rest inside the ear. This causes some issues with sound just it means that if the AirPods don’t naturally fit your particular ear size and so you can’t tweak them to fit.

Apple AirPods 3 in case

Apple increased the size of the bodily bud, and then the AirPods iii
fit more ears. For my ears, the fit is platonic and I can thunderously shake my head without them condign dislodged. I’ve worn them for a couple of runs and they’ve stayed in place perfectly.

I actually like how the AirPods 3 don’t become deep into the ear, like the AirPods Pro or Sony WF-1000XM4s. This will certainly appeal to those who observe that in-ear fashion intrusive and it makes them comfier when worn over long periods.

What I have institute though is that when the discomfort does go far, information technology comes speedily. I’ve worn the AirPods 3 for pretty much a whole single charge without any issues merely when they did beginning to hurt, I had to go on them out for a longer menstruation than I had expected. This comes from the reliance on plastic in the design and the lack of anything to soften information technology.

On the stem of each AirPods iii is a capacitive sensor. Press this and you lot can pause a song; agree it longer and Siri kicks into gear. This is a far meliorate method of interacting with the buds than before where you’d accept to tap the bud itself quite hard.

Apple AirPods 3 Force Sensor

The charging example has been redesigned too, and once again it takes cues from the AirPods Pro. Information technology’southward overall a little smaller than the Pro buds case and is easily pocketable. In that location’due south a pocket-size LED on the front end and a Lightning port on the lesser for charging. On the back is a single button for forcing the buds into a pairing mode if you’re connecting to an Android phone or Windows PC. Information technology’southward all very simple and volition be instantly familiar to anyone who has used AirPods before.


  • The case now supports MagSafe magnetic charging
  • Ties fantastically well to iOS and macOS
  • Improved battery life

The case likewise adds another new trick: MagSafe. Apple brought back the MagSafe proper name with the launch of the iPhone 12, turning it into a magnetic wireless charging system. It hasn’t really hit the heights I was expecting though, with relatively few accessories making use of it.

While previous AirPods supported Qi wireless, adding MagSafe allows the buds to stick magnetically to supported chargers. This works nicely with Belkin’s elaborate MagSafe charging stand up and Apple tree’s own MagSafe Bombardment Pack. It doesn’t increase charging speeds though, something that happened when you combined a MagSafe charger and an iPhone 12 (or iPhone 13).

Apple AirPods 3 charging
AirPods 3 on a MagSafe charger

The boost to battery life is welcome over the previous models and you lot’ll detect this even more if y’all’re upgrading from a pair of AirPods you bought at launch. Apple claims six hours of life per accuse and this is more of a conservative number to what I have experienced. Y’all’ll then get a number of charges from the example before it needs to be charged upward once again.

Inside the AirPods 3 is the H1 chip and this helps power all those small, handy features AirPods have get famous for. Your iPhone or iPad, for instance, will instantly look ton connect and pair when you lot flip open the example, and once they’re connected to a device associated with an Apple ID, they’ll be continued everywhere. You tin still utilise them on other platforms and I have connected these up to Android phones without much faff, but many features are missing and the connectedness isn’t as potent.

Apple AirPods 3 Connecting

Audio Share, which is very much an iOS-only characteristic, lets you lot connect two pairs of the AirPods to one phone for shared listening, which is seriously handy when you’re on a train. Missing out on things like this means you’re probably all-time off looking elsewhere if you’re non firmly within the iOS ecosystem.

The AirPods iii seem much improve at detecting when they are in an ear than the previous model and do a far better task at siphoning out wind dissonance. The microphone is excellent for vox calls, too.

Sound Quality

  • Spatial Audio is a striking or miss addition
  • More than bass than previous AirPods
  • ANC still restricted to the AirPods Pro

When the AirPods three were announced, Spatial Audio was the big feature addition. It even seemed at ane point that these earbuds would exist known as AirPods with Spatial Audio.

Spatial Audio is
sort of
supported by any pair of headphones, but the AirPods Pro and AirPods Max include the benefits of caput tracking skills. That’s now available on this AirPods 3 model and it’s something of a mixed pocketbook – just like Spatial Audio itself.

Spatial Audio, which for audio works in Apple Music, uses Dolby Atmos to add a more than immersive feel to tunes by placing them in a 3D space. It’due south supposed to make songs feel grander, with a much wider soundstage. The head-tracking element so alters how things sound as you move your head.

AirPods front image

I have been listening to Spatial Audio-tuned songs for a few months at present, mostly on the AirPods Max, and the results differ wildly. Some songs sound quiet; like you’re listening to them in a clangorous room. Others, like Hanging on the Telephone by Blondie for example, sound virtually the same as with the tech turned off. Detect a well-mastered Dolby Atmos rail though and the results are seriously impressive.

Bille Eillish’s Bad Guy uses Dolby Atmos brilliantly, with diverse vocals popping around at varying volumes. This is a song made for Spatial Sound and that extra dimension is utilised very well. A number of The Weeknd’s songs apply it well also, especially the opening of Take My Breath. Mood Band by Lorde benefits from a greater separation between the blatant vocals and stringy chords, while the opening of Here Comes the Sun feels more than immersive and dramatic.

I exercise find the head tracking a piffling odd, but mayhap that’s only personal preference. It keeps the vocals in the middle, so if you move your head the audio moves also. The result is but a piffling off-putting when listening to something and moving around a lot.

Apple AirPods 3 Dolby Atmos

Where it works ameliorate is in video apps, like Apple tree TV+ and Disney Plus. Here the Atmos effect and head tracking outcome are far more than obvious and immersive.

The overall sound quality has improved dramatically with the AirPods 3, and while I doubt you’ll detect an ‘audiophile’ ditching their headphones for these, it’d be lazy to dismiss the new AirPods every bit sounding terrible.

Audio is much warmer than before, with a wider soundstage fifty-fifty when Spatial Audio isn’t available. Bass is much deeper and more accurate too, which is very welcome as the previous AirPods barely bothered to even try and reproduce bass-heavy tracks.

There’s Adaptive EQ from AirPods Pro at work that tunes the music to the shape of your ear. You lot can’t turn this off though, so it’south hard to know what changes it is making.

In a quiet room, the AirPods three and AirPods Pro sound very much akin. The Pros nick information technology slightly with crisper vocals (these sometimes get a lilliputian muddy on the regular AirPods), but and then they are pricier.

Where the AirPods 3 autumn down is when at that place’s outside dissonance to contend with. The open up design lets in lots of background sounds and this gets in the way of the audio. The lack of racket isolation, whether information technology’s the passive or active kind, as well makes them virtually useless in loud areas. On the tube, information technology’s hard to hear anything when the carriage is rattling along and it’s no amend on a bustling street either.

Apple AirPods 3 in case

Not having ANC is probably to be expected from this way of headphone. Huawei tried adding it into the open up-design Freebuds 3 and the outcome was utterly atrocious, barely shutting out any dissonance. Just if listening in loud places is central, so look elsewhere. The Beats Studio Buds, for example, are cheaper and have decent ANC.

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Should you buy information technology?

Yous want a reliable pair of buds for an iPhone
These are great for iOS users and audio much better than the former model.

You lot travel a lot
There is no ANC here and they don’t block out any dissonance. Wearing them in busy areas and on loud public transport isn’t a great experience.

Concluding Thoughts

Even with a price driblet, the AirPods three are a little on the expensive side – especially when yous factor in the lack of ANC. But they are a significantly better product than they were previously.

Sound is warmer, with more bass just crisper vocals, while Spatial Audio shines in certain instances. Add together in a smarter design, IPX4 resistance and longer battery, and you lot have a pair of earbuds that should delight most iOS users.

There are, of class, improve-sounding buds, but the AirPods remain the most simple and effective wireless pair I have used. If y’all take an iPhone, that is.

How nosotros examination

We test every headphones we review thoroughly over an extended menstruum of time. We apply manufacture standard tests to compare features properly. We’ll always tell y’all what we detect. We never, ever, take coin to review a product.

Find out more nearly how we examination in our ethics policy.

Tested over several weeks

Tested with real world use

Tested with various music streaming services

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Does the instance have wireless charging?

Yes, there is Qi wireless charging on the instance

Exercise the AirPods 3rd gen work with Android?

While they do piece of work with whatever Bluetooth device, you miss out on some features

Do the AirPods iii have ANC?

There is no course of racket-cancelling here

Total specs


U.s. RRP

European union RRP




IP rating

Battery Hours

Wirless charging

Fast Charging

Release Date

Get-go Reviewed Date



Frequency Range

Headphone Type

Voice Assistant

Apple AirPods three















– Hz

True Wireless



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