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Face-Off: AirPods 3 vs. AirPods Pro 2

October 17, 2023

When it comes to premium earphones, Apple is head and shoulders above the competition, and its AirPods are in high demand. We’ll compare the popular AirPods Pro 2 and AirPods 3 head-to-head. The AirPods (3rd generation) can match your lifestyle better, even though the AirPods Pro (2nd generation) are more expensive and high-end. To choose which earbuds are best for your needs, let’s examine their designs, functions, sound quality, and more.

The AirPods Pro 2 comes with ear tips, which are more stable and comfortable fit.

The AirPods Pro 2 comes with ear tips, which are more stable and comfortable fit.

Another distinction is that Apple’s exclusive U1 location tracking chip is housed in the AirPods Pro 2 casing. As a first for the AirPods family, Apple also included a speaker in the AirPods Pro 2 case. With the Find My app, users may let the case’s speaker play a sound and view the location of the case on a map. Only the individual AirPods can be found using Find My, not the AirPods 3 case.

Both pairs of earphones enable head tracking for Apple’s Spatial Audio. 360-degree audio playing is referred to as “spatial audio” in general. It can increase the impressiveness of films, TV shows, and even music. The AirPods and their cases have the same IPX4 water resistance rating. This means that both pairs of AirPods can withstand water sprays, but avoid dropping them in sinks or swimming pools.

AirPods Pro 2 vs. AirPods 3: Design and Case

AirPods Pro 2 vs. AirPods 3: Design and Case

The $169 AirPods don’t have replaceable silicone tips like the AirPods Pro 2, which has four sizes to pick from, which is the largest design difference. With a weight difference of 0.15 ounces (4.3 grams) against 0.19 ounces (5.3 grams), the AirPods 3 are also lighter than the AirPods Pro 2.

Although it’s extremely simple to distinguish between the AirPods 3 and second-generation AirPods Pro, there are some design similarities between the two. For instance, the stems on the AirPods Pro 2 are significantly shorter than those on the AirPods 3. However, both variants are sweat- and water-resistant, which may make them more desirable for workout wearers than the $129 ordinary AirPods. 

The AirPods 3 case resembles both the case for the original AirPods and the AirPods Pro in appearance. The AirPods Pro holster is wider than this case, which is shorter and wider than the entry-level AirPods case. Additionally, the AirPods 3 or AirPods Pro case may be charged using either a Lightning cable or Apple’s wireless MagSafe charger. However, the MagSafe wireless charging case that comes with the AirPods 3 is an additional $10. Unlike the case for the AirPods 3, the MagSafe-compatible case for the AirPods Pro 2 also contains a lanyard loop. 

The case for the second-generation AirPods Pro also supports ultra-wideband. In essence, this implies that the case contains an integrated AirTag for more convenient location tracking.

Apple AirPods Pro 2 vs. AirPods 3: Noise-Cancelling and Isolation

Apple AirPods Pro 2 vs. AirPods 3: Noise-Cancelling and Isolation

Get the AirPods Pro 2 instead of the AirPods 3 if you want to listen to music quietly. The ANC on the AirPods Pro 2 is something I’ve appreciated using on multiple trips. However, noise cancellation is not the only solution. The ability to hear what is going on around you might be useful at times. After all, open-ear headphones have a whole market to themselves. The AirPods 3 are preferable to the AirPods Pro 2 if you wish to simultaneously hear your music and your surroundings.

The third-generation AirPods enclose your ear canals but do not effectively block them off from the outside world. The comparative chart below shows how this impacts isolation performance. Knowing that the earbuds block more noise, the higher the line, the easier it will be to comprehend the data. The most crucial frequency range to block out for effective isolation is 0–2,040 Hz.

The non-ANC AirPods 3 are shown by the pink dashed line. As you can see, until just past 2,000 Hz, the AirPods 3 line blocks out 0 dB of noise. Compare that to the solid cyan line, which represents the AirPods Pro (2nd generation). To block out all frequencies, the AirPods Pro 2 does considerably more. When using the AirPods Pro 2 (ANC on), you’ll notice that low rumbles from traffic outside your office window or airline engines are quieter. In comparison to the AirPods 3, the AirPods Pro 2 with ANC quiets these low frequencies by up to 91%.

AirPods Pro 2 vs. AirPods 3: Audio

AirPods Pro 2 vs. AirPods 3: Audio

To obtain active noise cancellation and transparency mode, you’ll still need to spend a lot of money on Apple’s top-tier earbuds. According to Apple, the second-generation AirPods Pro can cancel up to twice as much noise as the first-generation AirPods Pro since they include the updated H2 chip. The second-generation model also has improvements to Transparency Mode. When in Transparency Mode, the new chip can dampen strong noises from your surroundings, which should lessen the shock of sounds like a passing car.

The AirPods Pro 2’s enhanced audio further sets them apart from the AirPods 3, thanks to the upgraded H2 processor. According to my colleague David Carnoy’s review, the H2’s processing capacity enables the AirPods Pro to process a wider frequency range.

The AirPods Pro 2 also has swiping controls for volume control. The only features of the AirPods 3 are Apple’s force sensors, which you can use to advance tracks, pause music, or take calls. 

However, the AirPods 3 and AirPods Pro 2 both include dynamic spatial audio and adjustable EQ. While the latter tailors the sound to your ears, the former is effectively virtual surround sound.

Apple AirPods Pro 2 vs. AirPods 3: Microphone Quality

Apple AirPods Pro 2 vs. AirPods 3: Microphone Quality

For phone calls, the AirPods Pro (2nd generation) and AirPods (3rd generation) have a good enough microphone. In ideal circumstances, the AirPods Pro 2 relays louder audio but occasionally loses the speaker’s voice. In contrast, the AirPods 3 transmit slightly quieter audio but almost never lose the speaker’s voice under ideal circumstances.

Neither pair of AirPods performs very well in our demonstrations with fake street noises. The AirPods Pro 2 loses the speaker’s voice slightly more frequently than the AirPods 3, although they transmit more ambient noise.

AirPods Pro 2 vs. AirPods 3: Battery Life

AirPods Pro 2 vs. AirPods 3: Battery Life

Both versions’ battery life is comparable, despite a few minor variations. According to Apple’s claims, each earbud should offer up to 6 hours of listening time. However, the AirPods Pro 2 gives 5.5 hours of battery life while using head tracking and spatial audio, while the AirPods 3 offer a somewhat shorter 5-hour battery life. The AirPods 3 offer up to 4 hours of talk time, according to Apple, while the AirPods Pro 2 offer 4.5 hours. 

According to Apple, the casing for both earbuds should offer up to 30 hours of listening time. However, you may anticipate getting 20 hours of conversation time from the AirPods 3 case and 24 hours from the AirPods Pro 2 case. It is anticipated that five minutes will restore an hour of talking or listening in each situation.


Apple’s AirPods are a popular choice for its flagship earbuds, with the AirPods Pro 2 and AirPods 3 being the top contenders. The AirPods Pro 2 feature ear tips for a more stable and comfortable fit and Apple’s proprietary U1 chip for location tracking. It also includes a speaker integrated into the AirPods Pro 2 case, which can be found on a map through the Find My app. Both sets of earbuds support Apple’s Spatial Audio with head tracking, making movies, TV shows, and music more immersive.

The AirPods Pro 2 and AirPods 3 share some similarities in design, but they differ in terms of weight, design, and noise-cancelling and isolation capabilities. The AirPods Pro 2 blocks out 0 dB of noise until just shy of 2,000 Hz, while the AirPods 3 blocks out up to 91% of low frequencies.

The AirPods Pro 2 has active noise cancellation and transparency mode with Apple’s new H2 chip, which can cancel up to twice as much noise as the previous AirPods Pro. The new H2 chip also brings improved audio to the AirPods Pro 2, processing a broader range of frequencies. Both models have dynamic spatial audio and adaptive EQ, with the former being virtual surround sound and the latter adjusting the sound to your ears.

Both AirPods Pro 2 and AirPods 3 have sufficient microphone quality for phone calls, with the AirPods Pro 2 relaying louder audio but dropping the speaker’s voice occasionally. In demos with simulated street noises, neither set of AirPods excels, with the AirPods 3 transmitting more background noise than the AirPods Pro 2.

Battery life is similar for both models, with the AirPods Pro 2 providing up to 6 hours of listening time and the AirPods 3 offering a slightly shorter 5-hour battery life with the surround sound feature enabled.


Do AirPods 3 sound better than AirPods Pro 2?

AirPods Pro 2 vs. AirPods 3: Features

The major distinction is that Apple’s brand-new H2 chip, which significantly enhances active noise cancellation, sound quality, and battery life, is featured in the AirPods Pro 2 (2022).

Are the AirPods 3 better than the AirPods 2?

The verdict

The AirPods 3 unquestionably has more advanced technology, including the spatial audio function and adaptive equalizer to create a more immersive experience, improved air or wind isolation, a longer battery life, wireless charging, and new skin and force sensors for added comfort.

Do AirPods 3 have more bass than AirPods 2?

The two main reasons to go from the AirPods 2 to the AirPods 3 are: you want a pair of earphones that look and sound more contemporary and stylish; or you want a far better, louder sound with stronger bass presence. Both are excellent justifications for shelling out an additional $50 for the AirPods 3.

Why are AirPods 3 better than AirPods Pro?

For fans of Apple who aren’t concerned about active noise cancellation, the AirPods 3 are a fantastic option. The AirPods 3 will soon overtake the AirPods Pro as Apple’s best-selling true wireless earbuds, thanks to their longer battery life and lower pricing.