New Apple AirPods 3rd gen bring Pro features for less

Mid-range AirPods offer some top features
Wareable is reader-powered. If you click through using links on the site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more

Update: Our full AirPods 3 review is now live.

Apple has unveiled new third generation AirPods – bringing most of the features of the AirPods Pro for less.

If you want to understand the ‘next generation AirPods’ – or the AirPods 3 to you and me – they bridge the gap between the old style, big-stalk AirPods 2nd Gen and the swanky AirPods Pro.

They're the same size and shape – and feature the touch-sensitive control zone on the stalk.

However, the new AirPods feature the hard plastic mould of the entry-level AirPods, rather than the interchangeable silicone buds of the Pro.

That means they won't have the same secure fit, and users will miss out the Ear Tip Fit Test, which helps you choose the correct size interchangeable bud for secure comfort and optimal sound.

New Apple AirPods 3rd gen bring Pro features for less

However, features such as Spatial Audio and Dolby Atmos filter down, so users can take advantage of the extra high-fidelity Apple Music catalogue that was launched earlier this year.

The 3rd generation AirPods also get Adaptive EQ, which tunes audio based on the unique fit in your ears.

But the AirPods 3rd generation also miss out on the active noise cancellation, which could be toggled on/off, and pass-thru audio to hear the outside world.

In terms of battery life, the next generation AirPods offer six hours listening time before needed to recharge from the case – longer than the 4.5 hours of the AirPods Pro.

The case will offer four complete recharges, so there’s 30 hours in total. Finally, fast charging means five minutes in the case can get you an hour of playback.

And Apple has added MagSafe to the charging case, as well as standard Lightning cable support.

So what it really comes down to is price. The AirPods will cost $179/£169, a slight increase on the historic $159 price of standard AirPods.

The AirPods Pro come in at $249/£239 and the AirPods 2nd Gen, with the older design, start at $129/£119.

TAGGED Hearables

How we test

James Stables


James is the co-founder of Wareable, and he has been a technology journalist for 15 years.

He started his career at Future Publishing, James became the features editor of T3 Magazine and and was a regular contributor to TechRadar – before leaving Future Publishing to found Wareable in 2014.

James has been at the helm of Wareable since 2014 and has become one of the leading experts in wearable technologies globally. He has reviewed, tested, and covered pretty much every wearable on the market, and is passionate about the evolving industry, and wearables helping people achieve healthier and happier lives.

Related stories