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AirPods (3rd gen) vs AirPods (2nd gen) vs AirPods Pro: Which Apple earbuds are fit for you?

By AYIE LICSI Published Oct 26, 2021 5:11 pm

Apple finally refreshed its best-selling wireless earbuds line with the third-generation AirPods. And looking at the spec sheet, these new buds inherit a lot of the features seen in the high-end AirPods Pro, but for a more affordable price.

Let's compare the new AirPods with its 2019 siblings—the second-generation AirPods and the AirPods Pro—and see what each version brings to the table.

Note: we're not including the AirPods Max here since they are over-ear wireless headphones and not true wireless earbuds.

Design

The third-gen AirPods takes after the pro version's design, with shorter stems, rounder earpiece shape, and a wider charging case. The big difference between the two, look-wise, is that the new earbuds don't have silicone ear tips.

If you're not a fan of in-ear buds, don't go with the Pro. However, the silicone ear tips give you a more sealed-in fit, that way you won't feel like your AirPods slipping out your ears.

The AirPods Gen 3 and the Pro are recommendable for gym rats as they are both sweat- and water-resistant.

AirPods 2nd Gen, 3rd Gen, and Pro earbud design comparison.
Audio

In terms of sound, the new AirPods has a leg up over its second-generation sibling. It doesn't have active noise cancellation or transparency mode like the Pro but it gets spatial audio and adaptive EQ. 

With spatial audio on, wearers get an immersive virtual surround sound when they're watching Netflix, listening to Apple Music, and taking FaceTime calls. On the other hand, adaptive EQ personalizes your audio experience.

Spatial audio visualized.
Use and performance

Under the hood, the three AirPods are all powered by the Apple H1 chip for seamless iOS pairing. They're all also capable of automatic switching across Apple devices.

In addition, all three feature Automatic Ear Detection, which will pause or play your audio automatically if you take an earbud out and put it back in your ear.

The earlier 2nd generation buds only have dual beamforming microphones, while the Pro and Gen 3 add an inward-facing microphone for better mic quality for calls.

While the buds have the same chip, the new AirPods promises a longer battery life: you get six hours of use on a single charge and a total of 30 hours with the charging case. In comparison, the Pro lasts 4.5 hours on a single charge while the earlier Gen 2 lasts for five hours.

Which should you buy?

While sporting high-end features, the new AirPods is still more affordable than the Pro ones. Gen 2 goes for P7,690, the Pro sells for P14,990, and the new Gen 3 gets a P10,990 price tag.

If you're looking for audio gear to silence the noise while you're working or attending online classes, the Pro with its ANC capabilities might be your best bet. It's not the most budget-friendly, but you're getting great noise cancellation—tech sites still list the AirPods Pro as one of the best noise-canceling earbuds in 2021.

But if you're not willing to shell out extra for the novel feature or if you value longer battery life more, the third-generation buds are a good choice.

Here's a comparison of each AirPods' specs.

AirPods (2nd Gen)

AirPods (3rd Gen)

AirPods Pro

Earbud size and weight 40.5 x 16.5 x 18.0mm, 4g 30.8 x 18.3 x 19.2mm, 4.28g 30.9 x 21.8 x 24, 5.4g
Charging case size and weight 53.5 x 44.3 x 21.3mm, 38.2g 46.4 x 54.4 x 21.4mm, 37.91g 45.2 x 60.6 x 21.7mm, 45.6g
Chip Apple H1 Apple H1 Apple H1
Active noise cancellation No No Yes
Transparency mode No No  Yes
Spatial audio No Yes Yes
Adaptive EQ No Yes Yes
Sweat- and water-resistance No IPX4 IPX4
Earbud battery life Up to 5 hours Up to 6 hours Up to 4.5 hours

Case battery life

More than 24 hours Up to 30 hours More than 24 hours

Wireless charging

No Qi-certified or MagSafe Qi-certified or MagSafe

Price

P7,690 P10,990 P14,990