AirPods 3 Review: The Latest Offering from Apple’s Wireless Earbuds Lineup

AirPods 3: A Next-Generation Audio Experience

Design and Fit: A Familiar Yet Refined Look

The AirPods (3rd generation) have inherited the classic white, glossy design that’s become emblematic of Apple’s audio accessories. They appear as a hybrid of the 2019 AirPods and the 1st generation AirPods Pro, sporting a design that’s both recognizable and subtly updated. The shorter stems, reminiscent of the AirPods Pro, make them less prone to snagging on objects or face masks.

MagSafe Charging and Water Resistance: Added Practicality

One notable enhancement is the inclusion of a MagSafe charging case, which magnetically aligns for efficient charging. The AirPods (3rd generation) also boast water resistance, adding durability and protection against everyday splashes and moisture.

Immersive Audio and Enhanced Calls: A Multisensory Experience

These AirPods introduce spatial audio with head tracking, promising a cinematic audio experience that adapts to your head movements. Enjoy high-definition audio during FaceTime calls, making conversations clearer and more lifelike.

Platform Limitations: Primarily for Apple Users

While these AirPods offer exciting features, many of them are optimized for Apple’s ecosystem. Android users might find these features inaccessible or less impactful.

Charging Case: Compact and Convenient

The charging case of the AirPods (3rd generation) strikes a balance between the AirPods Pro and the smaller 2019 AirPods case. It provides a wider yet still compact design, facilitating easy storage and portability. The earbuds securely attach magnetically, and the case closes with a satisfying click, maintaining the portability that Apple’s earbuds are known for.

Skin-Detect Sensor: Seamless Playback Management

A subtle but welcomed feature in these new AirPods is the skin-detect sensor, replacing the optical sensor found in previous models. This sensor handles auto-pause/play functions similarly, but it also offers the convenience of pausing when you take the earbuds out of your ears, even if you put them in your pocket.

One-Size-Fits-All Design: A Potential Drawback

The AirPods (3rd generation) retains the one-size-fits-all approach, lacking the customizable ear tips found in the AirPods Pro. While this design allows for a comfortable fit for some, it may leave others with issues related to comfort and an inability to achieve a secure fit. Additionally, it doesn’t provide the same level of noise isolation, which can impact the listening experience.

Control with Force Sensors

The AirPods (3rd generation) offer control through force sensors located on the stems of each earbud. A distinct oblong divot separates the sensor area from the non-touch-sensitive part of the stem, ensuring precise interaction. Here are the touch controls:

  • One Tap (Either earbud): Play/pause audio.
  • Two Taps (Either earbud): Skip to the next track.
  • Three Taps (Either earbud): Go back to the previous track.
  • Press and Hold (Either earbud): Activate Siri for voice commands.
  • “Hey Siri” Voice Command: Use voice commands for functions like adjusting volume, requesting directions, controlling playback, and receiving messages.

No Transparency Mode

Unlike the AirPods Pro, the third-generation AirPods do not feature Transparency mode, which amplifies external sounds through the earbuds. This omission is reasonable given that the AirPods (3rd generation) lacks a seal in the ear, making it unsuitable for such a feature. As a result, the newer features, Adaptive Audio and Conversation Awareness, are not available with the base model AirPods.

You can configure your preference for which AirPods stem to use for Siri through the Settings app.

Apple Hardware Compatibility

The AirPods (3rd generation) are designed for seamless integration with Apple hardware, meaning they officially support iOS and iPadOS. This compatibility allows Apple users to enjoy features like firmware updates, hands-free Siri access, and Spatial Audio.

iOS and iPadOS Settings App

For AirPods management and customization, users must access the iOS and iPadOS Settings app. Through this app, users can:

  • Name Your AirPods: Personalize your AirPods’ name.
  • Customize Controls: Configure the function that activates when you press the force sensor on either earbud stem.
  • Enable/Disable Automatic Ear Detection: Toggle the feature that automatically pauses and resumes media when you remove or insert an earbud. This feature is on by default. When both earbuds are removed, playback stops, and it doesn’t automatically resume upon reinsertion.

Seamless Pairing on Apple Devices

Pairing the AirPods with an Apple device is a straightforward process. Simply open the case, and a “Connect” prompt appears when you tap the pop-up widget. This establishes a Bluetooth 5.0 connection. Thanks to the H1 chip, the AirPods sync with your iCloud account, enabling effortless transitions between your iPhone, MacBook, or iPad.

Pairing with Android Devices

If you choose to use the AirPods with an Android phone, you’ll need to manually pair the earbuds with your device. Here’s how:

  1. Open the AirPods case.
  2. Press the pairing button on the back of the case.
  3. Hold the case close to your Android phone until the AirPods appear in the list of available Bluetooth devices.


The AirPods (3rd generation) offer a compelling blend of design, sound quality, and Apple-centric features. With a design resembling the AirPods Pro, these earbuds feature a touch-sensitive stem for controls, although the lack of ear tips limits their isolation. Apple users benefit from seamless integration and advanced features like Spatial Audio. The omission of Transparency mode is understandable given the non-sealing design. These earbuds are a worthy upgrade for previous AirPods owners and offer water-resistant durability, an ergonomic fit, and a pocketable charging case. While Android users can enjoy them, the full suite of features is reserved for Apple enthusiasts.

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