Compared: New AirPods versus AirPods Pro

Posted:
in General Discussion edited October 31
Apple has launched a new generation of AirPods that borrow both the design and features of the AirPods Pro. But how do the third-generation AirPods compare to their Pro counterparts?

Credit: Apple
Credit: Apple


The third-generation AirPods, released during Apple's Oct. 18 "Unleashed" event, bring a slate of changes to the widely popular earphone lineup. However, they're still missing a couple of important features that can be found on the AirPods Pro.

Here's how the new third-generation AirPods stack up against Apple's existing AirPods Pro.




New AirPods versus AirPods Pro: Specifications

 AirPods (Gen 3)AirPods Pro
Price$179$249
Dimensions (inches)1.21 x 0.75 x 0.761.22 x 0.86 x 0.94
Weight (ounces)0.150.19
Case Dimensions (inches)1.83 x 2.14 x 0.841.78 x 2.39 x 0.85
Case Weight (ounces)1.341.61
Battery Life (earbuds)6 hours4.5 hours with ANC
Battery Life (with case)Up to 30 hoursUp to 24 hours
ConnectivityBluetooth 5.0Bluetooth 5.0
MicrophonesDual beamforming microphones,
Inward-facing microphone
Dual beamforming microphones,
Inward-facing microphone
SensorsSkin-detect sensor,
motion-detecting accelerometer,
speech-detecting accelerometer,
Force sensor
Dual optical sensors,
motion-detecting accelerometer,
speech-detecting accelerometer,
Force sensor
Sweat and Water ResistanceIPX4IPX4
Active Noise CancellationNoYes
Spatial AudioYesYes

New AirPods versus AirPods Pro: Design and Dimensions

Third-generation AirPods are now housed in a more squat case, like the AirPods Pro here.
Third-generation AirPods are now housed in a more squat case, like the AirPods Pro here.


Apple's third-generation AirPods measures 1.21 by 0.76 by 0.72 inches and weigh 0.15 ounces.

AirPods Pro, on the other hand, are marginally larger and heavier at 1.22 by 0.94 by 0.86 inches and 0.19 ounces. You probably won't notice the weight or size difference unless you happen to be wearing one of each.

On the design side, both of the AirPods models are more similar to each other than previous base model AirPods. They feature the same angled design that's reminiscent of a hairdryer. The primary difference is that AirPods Pro sport interchangeable ear tips, while the third-generation AirPods do not. Additionally, the earpiece on the third-gen model isn't quite as thin as the AirPods Pro's.

The cases are also fairly similar in design but differ in exact dimensions. The third gen's case measures 1.83 x 2.14 x 0.84 and weighs 1.34 ounces. The AirPods Pro case is 1.78 x 2.39 x 0.85 inches and weighs 1.61 ounces.

The third-generation AirPods case, although more squat than their predecessors, is still slightly taller than the AirPods Pro case. The AirPods Pro case isn't quite as tall, but is slightly wider and heavier.

New AirPods versus AirPods Pro: Features

As an improvement over the second-generation AirPods, the new third-generation AirPods have additional features previously seen on the Pro models. That includes Spatial Audio support and adaptive EQ.

The AirPods Pro, of course, also have those features. The most important distinction between the two models is that the AirPods Pro also offer active noise cancellation (ANC), as well as a transparency mode.

On the sensor side, the two models are pretty evenly matched. The third-generation AirPods have the same force touch sensor as their pricier counterparts allowing users to control audio playback and summon Siri. However, the third-generation AirPods use a skin-detect sensor instead of the dual optical sensor suite on the AirPods Pro.

New AirPods versus AirPods Pro: Battery Life

Both the third-generation AirPods and the AirPods Pro now feature MagSafe charging cases.
Both the third-generation AirPods and the AirPods Pro now feature MagSafe charging cases.


Apple says the third-generation AirPods offer six hours of listening time. However, that estimate goes down to five hours if you're using Spatial Audio. When used with the MagSafe Charging Case, the third-gen AirPods model offers up to 30 hours of total listening time, and up to 20 hours of talk time.

Apple's AirPods Pro actually have less listening time if their active noise cancellation feature is enabled -- just 4.5 hours. Its included charging case offers up to 24 hours of additional listening time.

The third-generation AirPods case features MagSafe-compatible wireless charging. With the launch of the third-generation AirPods, Apple has added that same compatibility to the AirPods Pro case, though you'll need to make sure it's the correct and updated model if you're buying one from a third-party retailer.

New AirPods versus AirPods Pro: Connectivity and Other Details

Both the third-generation AIrPods and the AirPods Pro sport an Apple H1 chip and Bluetooth 5.0 connectivity. That means you should be similar connectivity performance across both models.

In a change from the previous generation, the third-gen AirPods also carry an IPX4 water-resistance rating -- the same as the AirPods Pro. It's not rated for submersion, but should be resistant to splashes, sweat, or a light rain.

Both models are only available in white, but can be personalized with an engraving. It remains to be seen whether AirPods Pro covers and case accessory are compatible with third-generation AirPods, given the slight differences in size.

New AirPods versus AirPods Pro: Pricing

Third-gen AirPods and AirPods Pro are similarly spec'd, but the former lacks the ANC capabilities of the latter.
Third-gen AirPods and AirPods Pro are similarly spec'd, but the former lacks the ANC capabilities of the latter.


Apple's third-generation AirPods cost $179, which is a price reduction over the previous full retail price of the second-generation AirPods.

AirPods Pro cost more, retailing for $249. However, as mentioned, that price now includes a MagSafe-compatible charging case -- provided you buy the appropriate model new.

New AirPods versus AirPods Pro: Similar feature set, but know what you're missing

The third-generatiopn AirPods are an improvement over the second-generation, bringing a suite of incremental but welcome changes. However, comparing them to the AirPods Pro is a bit trickier.

If you're in the market for a new pair of wireless headphones and don't necessarily need active noise cancellation, then you'll probably be well-served by the third-generation AirPods. They're cheaper, feature-rich, and have a longer battery life than the AirPods Pro.

However, users who are looking for headphones with ANC should look to the AirPods Pro. The sound quality is exceptional, and both ANC and Transparency Mode are incredibly useful features to have on a pair of headphones.

It's also worth noting that second-generation AirPods don't fit into everyone's ears, given their lack of ear tips. Although the interchangeable ear tips provide a more custom fit for all users, they may be the only Apple earbuds that can fit for others. Just something to keep in mind.

Another thing to keep in mind is that you can generally find AirPods Pro cheaper online than buying directly from Apple. If both AirPods and AirPods Pro are in the same general price range at a third-party retailer, it gets harder to recommend the third-generation unless you don't like the ear tips or you absolutely need an additional few hours of battery life

Read on AppleInsider

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 13
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 10,727member
    It seems that the biggest difference is the lack of Noise Cancellation.
    But yet, to me the biggest difference is the lack of "Transparency Mode"

    While running on groomed trails I want to be able to hear my surroundings -- say an overtaking bicyclist's warning that he's passing -- and transparency mode is perfect for that.

    I hardly ever use Noise Cancellation.  But I can see how it could be useful while commuting on packed street car or bus.
    jahblade
  • Reply 2 of 13
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 10,727member
    The new AirPods are sweat proof -- and that's good.
    But, in my experience, that's not good enough:  I run with my AirPods Pros and have had trouble with charging twice now such that the case had to be replaced.   And, I think I finally figured it out:

    Sweat clinging to the Airpod corrodes the contacts at the bottom of the case and they are unable to charge.  While there is no proof that that is the cause, and Apple has never suggested that it is (they simply replace the case), it seems it is the most likely cause.

    So now I dry each AirPod before returning it to the case.
    jahblade
  • Reply 3 of 13
    It’s the lack of ear tips that have me sold. I find even the smallest ear tips on the pros to be uncomfortable for longer than 15 minutes, so I would always go back to my Gen2 airpod for longer zoom calls or listening to music while shopping. Nice to see the speakers are improved and added force touch gestures. I never used the ANC because it felt like it was creating too much pressure in my ears, so losing that, to me, is no big deal. Personally, the Gen3 airpod is likely the perfect marriage of the pro and regular. 
    kitatit
  • Reply 4 of 13
    The new AirPods are sweat proof -- and that's good.
    But, in my experience, that's not good enough:  I run with my AirPods Pros and have had trouble with charging twice now such that the case had to be replaced.   And, I think I finally figured it out:

    Sweat clinging to the Airpod corrodes the contacts at the bottom of the case and they are unable to charge.  While there is no proof that that is the cause, and Apple has never suggested that it is (they simply replace the case), it seems it is the most likely cause.

    So now I dry each AirPod before returning it to the case.
    So you didn't clean them before return to the case?

    I always clean my beats wireless pros after a sweaty workout because would be worried about bacteria, etc. growing. That idea didn't bother you? 
    jahblade
  • Reply 5 of 13
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 10,727member
    The new AirPods are sweat proof -- and that's good.
    But, in my experience, that's not good enough:  I run with my AirPods Pros and have had trouble with charging twice now such that the case had to be replaced.   And, I think I finally figured it out:

    Sweat clinging to the Airpod corrodes the contacts at the bottom of the case and they are unable to charge.  While there is no proof that that is the cause, and Apple has never suggested that it is (they simply replace the case), it seems it is the most likely cause.

    So now I dry each AirPod before returning it to the case.
    So you didn't clean them before return to the case?

    I always clean my beats wireless pros after a sweaty workout because would be worried about bacteria, etc. growing. That idea didn't bother you? 

    I'm not paranoid about bacteria.   As a nurse, I was taught and also simply came to realize that bacteria is literally everywhere -- it's crawling all over your skin and throughout your mouth right now.  A dentist once told me:  "There's more bacteria in your mouth than on your butt".
    StrangeDaysMustSeeUHDTV
  • Reply 6 of 13
    auxioauxio Posts: 2,401member
    602warren said:
    It’s the lack of ear tips that have me sold. I find even the smallest ear tips on the pros to be uncomfortable for longer than 15 minutes, so I would always go back to my Gen2 airpod for longer zoom calls or listening to music while shopping.
    I actually find that the regular AirPods stay in my ears better during a workout than any of the changeable tips on the Pros.  I tried all 3 of the tips and found that, as soon as I exerted myself, one would inevitably start popping out.  I had been using the regular AirPods for a couple years while working out without any problems.  While I do enjoy the noise cancellation and transparency modes on the Pros, the hassle of having them pop out isn't worth it.
  • Reply 7 of 13
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 11,764member
    It seems that the biggest difference is the lack of Noise Cancellation.
    But yet, to me the biggest difference is the lack of "Transparency Mode"

    While running on groomed trails I want to be able to hear my surroundings -- say an overtaking bicyclist's warning that he's passing -- and transparency mode is perfect for that.
    I like Transparency when using the Pros, because they have a tight seal in ear. With my regular APs this hasn’t been necessary because they already allow outside sounds to come in. 
    The new AirPods are sweat proof -- and that's good.
    But, in my experience, that's not good enough:  I run with my AirPods Pros and have had trouble with charging twice now such that the case had to be replaced.   And, I think I finally figured it out:

    Sweat clinging to the Airpod corrodes the contacts at the bottom of the case and they are unable to charge.  While there is no proof that that is the cause, and Apple has never suggested that it is (they simply replace the case), it seems it is the most likely cause.

    So now I dry each AirPod before returning it to the case.
    One of my older pairs of APs have a similar problem - the pods are fine but the case fails to charge one pod, or recognize its in the case allowing it to deplete itself. I thought it might just be dirt so have tried to clean it out with a small cloth and rod…fixes it for a bit but then it keeps happening.
    GeorgeBMac
  • Reply 8 of 13
    For someone who walks frequently on the side of local roads, the lack of noise canceling is a major feature. You need to hear what is around you including oncoming traffic, dangerous wild life and aggressive pets. These are rare occurrences but when they happen a few seconds of warning will make the difference.
    GeorgeBMac
  • Reply 9 of 13
    The new AirPods are sweat proof -- and that's good.
    But, in my experience, that's not good enough:  I run with my AirPods Pros and have had trouble with charging twice now such that the case had to be replaced.   And, I think I finally figured it out:

    Sweat clinging to the Airpod corrodes the contacts at the bottom of the case and they are unable to charge.  While there is no proof that that is the cause, and Apple has never suggested that it is (they simply replace the case), it seems it is the most likely cause.

    So now I dry each AirPod before returning it to the case.
      I bet just by opening the case you can clear a gym in less than 5 mins  :D
    elijahg
  • Reply 10 of 13
    doggonedoggone Posts: 307member
     kimberly said:
    The new AirPods are sweat proof -- and that's good.
    But, in my experience, that's not good enough:  I run with my AirPods Pros and have had trouble with charging twice now such that the case had to be replaced.   And, I think I finally figured it out:

    Sweat clinging to the Airpod corrodes the contacts at the bottom of the case and they are unable to charge.  While there is no proof that that is the cause, and Apple has never suggested that it is (they simply replace the case), it seems it is the most likely cause.

    So now I dry each AirPod before returning it to the case
    I never had a problem with the case charging with the 2nd gen AirPod.  But occasionally do clean the contacts with an Q-tip to remove accumulated dirt etc.  Maybe with the AirPodPro having a shorter leg liquid can drain down from the ear piece or maybe accumulated from the rubber tip.  Seems pretty simple to wipe it dry.  
    As far a germs go, the plastic is a poor medium for them to grow.  The speaker section would be the worst area and again a Q-tip is handy for cleaning out that area.  I did that  a few weeks ago and there was a ton of material there (mostly ear wax etc).
    Whilst ANC and transparency is good to have, the only time I use that is when on a plane.  I have a Bose headset for that which lasts for 10 hours and can also connect by bluetooth and wired for connecting to the plane's entertainment system.

    So it will be a new pair of AirPods 3 for me.  Been waiting a while for this.
    GeorgeBMac
  • Reply 11 of 13
    I preordered the AirPod 3s.  I have the Pros, but I cannot use them as my ears have a bad reaction to the ear tips. My ears would get crusty, feel burning, itch, and have some drainage. I even got an ear infection in both my ears at the same time. I’ve even tried third party ear tips, but still I have a bad reaction to them. i never had any issues with the regular AirPods. 
  • Reply 12 of 13
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 10,727member
    doggone said:
     kimberly said:
    The new AirPods are sweat proof -- and that's good.
    But, in my experience, that's not good enough:  I run with my AirPods Pros and have had trouble with charging twice now such that the case had to be replaced.   And, I think I finally figured it out:

    Sweat clinging to the Airpod corrodes the contacts at the bottom of the case and they are unable to charge.  While there is no proof that that is the cause, and Apple has never suggested that it is (they simply replace the case), it seems it is the most likely cause.

    So now I dry each AirPod before returning it to the case
    I never had a problem with the case charging with the 2nd gen AirPod.  But occasionally do clean the contacts with an Q-tip to remove accumulated dirt etc.  Maybe with the AirPodPro having a shorter leg liquid can drain down from the ear piece or maybe accumulated from the rubber tip.  Seems pretty simple to wipe it dry.  
    As far a germs go, the plastic is a poor medium for them to grow.  The speaker section would be the worst area and again a Q-tip is handy for cleaning out that area.  I did that  a few weeks ago and there was a ton of material there (mostly ear wax etc).
    Whilst ANC and transparency is good to have, the only time I use that is when on a plane.  I have a Bose headset for that which lasts for 10 hours and can also connect by bluetooth and wired for connecting to the plane's entertainment system.

    So it will be a new pair of AirPods 3 for me.  Been waiting a while for this.

    You bring up a good point about the dirt in the speaker grills -- my grandson's got that way and it's very difficult and delicate to clean.

    But that's another advantage to the AirPod Pros:  the silicon ear tip can be removed and thoroughly cleaned or even just replaced.
  • Reply 13 of 13
    elijahgelijahg Posts: 2,506member
    I have similar issues with the AirPods Pro not fitting too well. None of the ear tips prevent the eventual falling out of one or other AirPod. Initially I found them painful to wear with any of the ear tips but that eventually subsided. Unfortunately the falling out didn’t. They don’t seem to sit far enough in the ear canal or are at the wrong angle for me, so the leverage from their weight works them out. 

    The old Apple wired in-ear earbuds though (still working after 13 years incredibly) are really comfortable and never fall out. 
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