which Apple headphones should you choose?

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Just announced, the AirPods 3 are blowing a wind of novelty on Apple’s range of headphones. But what are they worth compared to AirPods Pro and which model should be preferred? We disentangle the true from the false to help you make the best choice.

Starting October 26, a new AirPods model will be added to Apple’s catalog. In addition to the 2nd generation AirPods which remain available and the AirPods Pro, the Cupertino company will indeed launch the AirPods 3. These third generation headphones are the link between the base model and the Pro variant. They are heavily inspired by AirPods Pro in terms of design and functionality, however, ignoring a few key elements. The arrival of a new model is likely to reshuffle the cards and sow doubt when choosing his Apple headphones. So, should we favor the new AirPods 3 or the essential AirPods Pro? We compared these models for you.

Design: draw, or almost

Appeared in 2016, AirPods have evolved over the years to allow Apple to establish itself in this segment. Older, the AirPods Pro set the tone for this range and strongly inspired the AirPods 3, made official in October 2021.

Unlike the AirPods 2, Apple makes a breakthrough for this third generation and abandons the long rod format to offer a more discreet design. Concretely, the AirPods 3 look like AirPods Pro without silicone tips. The stem is shorter, therefore, and the latest models also skip the in-ear format to offer a more versatile design. Both cousins ​​are IPX4 certified to better resist splashing and sweat. There is also no real difference between the charging case or the color (only white).

AirPods 3 (left) and AirPods Pro (right) have a family resemblance. © Apple

On the design side, we can therefore observe that the standard range has decided to catch up, after the timid developments of the AirPods 2. However, Apple has not gone so far as to integrate silicone tips and offers open-fit type headphones. . The choice can be made according to preferences, because in-ear headphones do not always win all the votes. However, they can provide better support and improve comfort if they are properly fitted to your ears.

Features: advantage of AirPods Pro

The resemblance between the two models does not stop at the design. The AirPods 3 inherit several features already found on the AirPods Pro – and even AirPods Max – like adaptive EQ and spatial audio with dynamic head tracking. The new headphones are also entitled to the pressure sensor of the Pro model to control media. Good news.

On the performance side, Apple has integrated new speakers in its AirPods 3. If the Pro version is part of the market benchmarks, as we could see during our test, both versions have the same H1 chip and offer voice command “Hey Siri”, as well as a dynamic range amplifier.

The AirPods 3 ignore active noise reduction, a feature that has conquered the high-end market. The absence of silicone tips could already put the ear on the orientation of the new headphones.

The interior of AirPods Pro. © Apple

Noise reduction reserved for AirPods Pro

If the duel seems unbalanced, the AirPods 3 reduce the gap by offering better autonomy. It is advertised for up to 6 hours on a single charge, compared to 4.30 hours for AirPods Pro with the active noise reduction mode on. Disabling this feature boosts the battery life to 5 hours, which is still less than the latest headphones.

Same observation in conversation (4 hours against 3:30) and therefore with the charging case, since Apple announces “Up to 30 hours of listening” (20 hours talk time) for AirPods 3 and “More than 24 hours of listening” (18 hours of listening) for the Pro version. Note also that the new headphones are offered with a MagSafe compatible case, like the AirPods Pro which benefit from this novelty discreetly. Fast charging is similar, with an hour of listening after five minutes of charging.

3rd Generation, 2nd Generation AirPods and AirPods Pro. © Screenshot / Apple

In terms of performance, there is no real match between the two models. The AirPods Pro already have all the features of the AirPods 3 and add active noise reduction. The new headphones can however claim to offer better battery life. On the other hand, there is a real evolution between the AirPods 2 and the latest model from Apple.

Price: watch out for appearances

Apple offers its new headphones at 199 euros, against 279 euros for the AirPods Pro. This is the official price displayed by the Cupertino company, which represents a difference of 80 euros. In fact, it is not uncommon to find the Pro version at a lower price, around 200 euros, a price equivalent to that of the new AirPods.

It will take a few weeks – maybe a few months – before you can get a good deal on the new model. At (almost) equivalent price, we will therefore turn more easily to the Pro version.

What about AirPods 2?

Still marketed, the AirPods 2 appear to be the most affordable solution to enter the world of AirPods, since they are now displayed at 149 euros (against 229 euros at their launch), but the competition is strong, including therefore within the Apple range. The AirPods 3, for example, face the Beats Studio Buds: offered at the same price, they have active noise reduction coupled with a compact design.

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