The first impression of the design changes in the third-gen third-gen AirPods ($179, £169, AU$279) comes off as “ an Airpods Pro with the ear tips removed.” While they do look awfully close to the AirPods Pro, carrying the same short stems. The pinch controls on those stems are the same as on the Pro, which is a general preference over the touch controls on the first and second-generation AirPods. New drivers are also on board, which are meant to help the speakers sound more detailed and give more bass to the experience.
They provide a snug fit for the ears of most people, however, there may be a few unlucky individuals who will certainly face difficulty maintaining them in their ears. Unlike with the AirPods 2, these are great for running as they are like the AirPods Pro, they’re IPX4 splash-proof. Most earbuds made nowadays are water-resistant and a lot of them are even waterproof.
So, finally, Apple has caught up to their rivals with a standard feature rather than adding an upgrade. The Airpods 3 are packed with new high-excursion drivers by Apple. They’re smaller than the 14mm drivers in the second-generation AirPods (the AirPods Pro have 11mm drivers as well), but they’ve been fully re-engineered to push more air to boost bass response, with a larger air vent to aid.
The Airpods 3 also have the same sound leaking issue as its predecessors, however, Apple has made a massive effort to improve the sound quality of the AirPods. In addition to the upgraded drivers, they also carry over a feature from the Airpods Pro called Adaptive EQ, which helps adjust the sound on the go. Companies such as Bose also have advanced digital processing elements in their headphone. Bose calls it Active EQ, while Sony’s Digital Quality Enhancement Engine is designed to fill in the missing details in compressed music files and improve the sound of whatever you listen to. Therefore, it isn’t exactly any groundbreaking material, but it is definitely a great addition to the Airpods 3.
All said and done, the new AirPods now sound like respectable headphones, to fair. That is quite an achievement. While you’ll still have a difficult time in noisier environments, the bass held up better than one would expect. Overall, the new sound of the AirPods 3 fought a fair battle against ambient noise. They don’t exactly drown it but do enough to make the user less aware of it.