Apple’s AirPods 3 is the company’s newest product in the mid-range AirPods (Non-pro) line. The device even though doesn’t look like its predecessors – AirPods Gen 1 & 2, it’s definitely an upgrade of the duo with some modern technology that makes it interesting enough that anyone may want to try it.
One thing that may be discouraging is the price point. Considering the fact that there are literally hundreds of TWS brands out there, the tough competition has driven the price point of the device for a really long time but Apple continues to ace the market with its AirPods lineup.
This will probably explain why the new AirPods 3 without an ANC sits at US$179 while there are cheaper alternatives with ANC for about US$99 but I digress.
In terms of design, the AirPods 3 looks pretty decent and modern just as you would expect.
Most of its design aesthetics were taken from the current AirPods Pro which was released back in 2019 at about US$249.
One thing for sure is the fact that the AirPods 3 is pretty good and sounds premium. Its shorter stem doesn’t affect its mic input by any means which translates to a good quality audio call.
The introduction of spatial audio sort of compensated for the absence of ANC on the AirPods 3 even though it’s not a replacement since both functions differently.
The lack of ANC even got worse with the open design which means ambient sound can clutter your audio experience just the same way audio output can leak depending on the volume of the earbud when used.
But just how great is the new AirPods 3 and why should you buy it in place of other cheaper alternatives on the market in 2021?
The design is similar to AirPods Pro
The design is probably the most intriguing part of the earbuds. It looks pretty similar to the AirPods Pro and I won’t shame Apple for doing this because the company has successfully shaped the TWS earbuds market so much to the point that almost all TW earbuds are released every year since 2019 took some designs from the AirPods Pro.
There are in fact some shameless copies as well as innumerable counterfeits on AliExpress.
The shorter stem means the device stays put in the ear with very little jiggling when you move your head. Although I’ve seen a number of people complaining about the AirPods 3 potentially slipping out of their ears especially when they’re sweaty.
The absence of silicone ear tips on the device means you may have to constantly adjust the earbuds especially if it doesn’t fit well into your ear.
However, the stem positioning did well to help balance the earbuds well enough in the ear.
There is another interesting thing about the AirPods 3 which is an AI-based Adaptive EQ that senses the shape of your ear as well as sense how you wear the earbuds in order to tune the audio output based on that information.
Doing rigorous exercises using the AirPods 3 isn’t very bad as I’ve expected but I may be biased due to the size of my earlobes.
But the device is water-resistant just like other premium TWS earbuds on the market which is a big deal for heavy users like me.
However, the open design is just not my cup of tea, and the fact that I have to use my hands to hold in the earbuds in public places is stress I don’t want to deal with and I’m sure there are millions worldwide like me.
There are definitely going to be accessories in the future that may implement a closed design via silicone ear tips as time gets by.
In a quiet environment, yeah there is often no issue and there is in fact little need for an ANC since there is less distraction. So if you work remotely, then you might just put on your AirPods 3 and you’ll definitely like it.
I listen to music a lot and I achieve this insatiable thirst via my Bluetooth headphone. I recently tested out the Razer Opus and it was a fantastic device with all the interesting perks you’d ever want in a premium, yet affordable Bluetooth headphone.
Speaking of audio quality, the AirPods 3 did quite well in this regard and despite its smaller audio driver unlike the bigger 40mm driver in the Opus, the AirPods 3 did deliver some punchy output even without a closed design via a silicone ear tip.
The majority of affordable TWS earbuds on the market often make use of the silicone ear tips to deliver the punchy audio output and bass since the device is closer to your inner ear via the silicone ear tips that hold everything together as well as block off ambient noise.
If you remember, I mentioned that I often use my hands to hold the AirPods 3 closer to my ear in order to feel the bass in full detail when I’m outside, yeah, that’s exactly the job of a silicone ear tip.
Apple did compensate for this via the implementation of the AI-based Adaptive EQ which adjusts the audio output of the AirPods 3 based on how you use the device.
Compared to the previous models, the AirPods 3 definitely ace them but it’s still following the trails of the AirPods Pro since that has more features as well as a bigger driver.
Spatial audio also enhanced the overall listening experience of this device a lot. In situations such as lying down, or using a VR headset, the fact that you can listen to approaching footsteps as if they’re really there is mesmerizing.
My current favorite track is Hurt so Good by Astrid S and there is a great difference when I try listening to the song on the AirPods 3 versus using the Honor Choice earbuds – not a fair comparison though but I’m just trying to let you in on the difference between a mid-range premium device and an entry-level earbud.
But all of the glory is sort of limited to a quiet environment as your experience will start getting mixed up the moment you step outside especially in a metro bus or even in a lousy hall where a lot of people are talking at the same time.
Now, in contrast, the aforementioned Honor Choice Earbuds does a great job either in public or in a quiet environment than to the air-tight seal the silicone ear tips provide.
That way, the bass is pretty loud and the beat separation can be enjoyed in full detail.
I believed Apple could have made this happen but there is AirPods Pro – so Apple is probably biased as to not creating an unhealthy rivalry with its high-end AirPods Pro.
Features of the AirPods 3
- Spartial Audio
- Face detection
- Apple H1 Chip
If you’re planning to purchase the AirPods 3 along with your huge ton of other Apple products and services, then it might just be the right choice to make.
Earlier, I mentioned the presence of Spatia audio on the AirPods 3, and for real, this is a great feature to have.
This makes the AirPods 3 the third after AirPods Pro and AirPods Max to have this feature.
Apple Music‘s Dolby Atmos is another great thing to have which can be enjoyed via the AirPods 3 and there is even support for FaceTime calls.
Face detection is one of the most interesting that got a lot of people amazed with the AirPods Pro back in 2019 and now, it’s also available on the new AirPods 3 which is something I find interesting as well.
It works by pausing your song when you take off the earbuds from your ear and continues when you put it back on.
There is also an enhanced Find My feature with proximity view with which you can easily find your AirPods from anywhere it might have been hidden in as much as it’s within one or two feet away.
This is another interesting feature on the AirPods 3 – the Apple H1 chip which also comes with the high-end AirPods Pro.
It has an enhanced audio input device as well as auto-switching between all your “innumerable” ahem…Apple devices are all synced up via your iCloud account.
Simply summon Siri via the usual “Hey Siri!” command and request for the weather or set an appointment on your behalf.
It can also help increase or decrease the volume of your other devices and can help call or contact people within your contact address book.
These and many more are the things you get as an Apple user but the AirPods is a Bluetooth device which means it can literally work with almost any other device such as other smartphones from brands such as Samsung, Huawei, Xiaomi, or Sony.
The problem is that a lot of features will be stripped off and all you’ll have will be a couple of uninteresting features which can be found on a cheap US$30 TWS earbuds on Banggood.
However, you’ll still be able to keep the Adaptive EQ since it’s built right within the earbuds themselves – so using the AirPods 3 with a Galaxy Note 20 Ultra won’t have any negative effect in that regard.
Making calls with AirPods 3
Making calls on the AirPods 3 isn’t bad at all. It’s equipped with good voice-detecting accelerometers and the microphones are covered with wind-dampening acoustic mesh all of which block out ambient noise when you are making calls using the earbuds.
One thing I’ve always praised Apple for is the fact that they have a really great microphone built on all of their devices ranging from smartphones to earbuds.
So you can expect that level of quality with the AirPods 3.
Also, there is full-HD audio with FaceTime calls which is due to the presence of an AAC-ELD speech codec.
Even though I’m not a biker, I think if you’re ever stuck in a situation where you need to make or answer a phone call with your AirPods 3 on while on a bike that’s doing 50 on the freeways, there might be fewer distortion thanks to the wind dampening mesh covering the mic from extreme windy situations.
Battery life of the AirPods 3
I think this is another very important part of the earbud and that has to do with the battery life.
On a single charge, you’ll get about 5 to 6 hours of usage on the AirPods 3 but you can charge it up for up to four times when you use the charging case which can last for about 30 hours.
There is also support for Apple’s MagSafe due to its support for wireless charging and can be charged with any Qi-enabled charging pad or plugged in via the Lightning cable.
Charging speed drops if you opt for MagSafe compared to gently using the Lightning port – so I’d advise you to stick to the hole beneath the case.
Should you buy the AirPods 3?
Yes! But that’s if your budget is within the AirPods 2 range and you have a plethora of Apple devices and don’t want to miss out.
Obviously, the AirPods Pro is well endowed with numerous features unlike this device but there is a sacrifice which is the battery life.
The AirPods Pro for example lasts for about 3 to 4 hours depending on your usage and ANC status but the AirPods 3 has no ANC which can get you about 6-long hours of continuous usage on a single charge but the recharge cycle might be over within 5 hours if you activate Spatial audio.
If you aren’t an Apple smartphone user or just don’t care, you can opt for other options on the market such as
Galaxy Buds 2
- Active Noise Cancellation (ANC)
- 7 hours-long usage on a single charge
It’s quite cheaper than the AirPods 3 and comes with ANC. It has a 7-hours long battery and the design is pretty unique and small.
It can be a great alternative purchase to the AirPods 3 especially for Android smartphone users especially those who are using a Galaxy smartphone.
This might be another good comparison in regards to features. The Sony WF-1000XM3 has some pretty interesting features and really long-lasting battery life.
For the price tag, I might just straight up compare it with the AirPods Pro instead of this but it’s a great alternative if you want to spend a little more.
Great device but pricey
Powerful audio output with strong durability apart from its long-lasting battery life