Apple Airpods Gen 2 vs Gen 3: Which Model Should You Buy?

The long-awaited third-generation AirPods from Apple are now available. They promise high-end audio characteristics but are significantly more expensive than the currently available AirPods 2. With that stated, know that you’ve come to the proper spot if you want to compare the Apple Airpods Gen 2 vs Gen 3. Let’s follow us to discuss the model you ought to get.

Apple Airpods Gen 2 vs Gen 3: Design and battery life

The design of the AirPods 3rd Gen has undergone a significant change. The second generation’s long stems are gone, replaced by significantly shorter sticks that feel fantastic to clutch for control but are much less in the way while putting on or taking off a facemask. The AirPods 3rd Gen and 2nd don’t fit any differently despite the slightly larger bud itself.

For better or worse, if you don’t like the seamless plastic fit of one, you’ll probably also dislike the other – or, of course, appreciate it. Since silicone ear tips are only offered for the Apple AirPods Pro, you should upgrade if your ears don’t like the way these fit.

For those who do love the fit, both pairs of AirPods will happily stay in place for light exercise and during running. However, only the 3rd Gen devices are water and sweat-resistant, so if you use the gym frequently, you should choose the more recent models. According to our assessment of the third-generation Apple AirPods, “the design is as luxury as you’d expect to receive from Apple. The polish on the buds is flawless, almost seamless.

Apple Airpods Gen 2 vs Gen 3: Design and battery life
Apple Airpods Gen 2 vs Gen 3: Design and battery life

The case does, and out of everyone, Apple has the best blend of hinge strength and magnet strength on the lid. If you like to fidget, it’s quite enjoyable to flick open and closed. Apple has increased the number of charge hours dramatically between generations since it recognizes that battery life is one of the most important factors to take into account when purchasing true wireless earbuds.

The 2nd Gen carries 5 hours of charge, whereas the 3rd Gen holds 6 hours. However, the increased juice accessible in the 3rd Gen’s case equates to 30 hours of playtime, whilst the 2nd Gen only offers 24 hours. This could be a few additional train trips per charge, which is always beneficial depending on your commute. While the AirPods 2nd can only be charged using Lightning, the AirPods 3rd Gen also comes with a case that is compatible with MagSafe and Qi wireless charging.

Apple Airpods Gen 2 vs Gen 3: Audio performance

In comparison to the previous version, the AirPods (3rd generation) offer a significant improvement in audio quality. With a new, specially built low distortion driver and a high dynamic range amplifier, the most recent AirPods have a well-balanced sound. Even though neither approach shows you to fine-tune the EQ settings to your exact specifications, the AirPods 3 do include Adaptive EQ.

This capability debuted with the AirPods Pro, and it allows you to tune the sound of the earphones in real time based on how they fit in your ears. In theory, this will increase low and mid frequencies to compensate for any loss of detail or volume caused by differences in how the AirPods 3 fit.

Another new audio feature for the AirPods 3 is Spatial Audio support, which uses the earbuds’ built-in gyroscopes and accelerometers to precisely position the sound so that it appears to be coming at you from all directions. The spatial audio performance of the AirPods 3 is just breathtaking, and it truly offers your favorite music and movies a new immersive quality that makes the extra money worth it if you’re searching for a reason to purchase them over the AirPods 2.

Apple Airpods Gen 2 vs Gen 3: Price and availability

Apple Airpods Gen 2 vs Gen 3: Price and availability
Apple Airpods Gen 2 vs Gen 3: Price and availability

The third version of Apple AirPods is currently on sale. They cost $179, £169, or $279, which is more than the noise-canceling AirPods Pro but less than the AirPods 2. In March 2019, the second-generation AirPods went on sale for $159/£159/AU$249 with the basic charging case and $199/£199/AU$319 with the wireless charging case included.

However, the cost of older models of true wireless earbuds has now been permanently reduced and is now $129, £119, or AU$219 instead. The AirPods 2 with a regular charging case are available for that price, but Apple no longer offers them in a package with the wireless charging case. It will cost you an additional $79, £79, or AU$129 to get the second-generation AirPods with a wireless charging case, making them more expensive than the new AirPods 3.

The AirPods 2 are the less expensive choice if you don’t mind using a normal charging case, and they’ll likely be marked down significantly over Black Friday 2021 (past AirPods Black Friday sales have seen them fall as low as $99/£99/AU$99). However, if wireless charging is a deal-breaker for you, the new AirPods 3 is your best choice.

Apple Airpods Gen 2 vs Gen 3: Connectivity

Both the AirPods 3 and the AirPods 2 are designed for use within the larger Apple ecosystem. As a result, switching between your iPad, iPhone, or MacBook is made simple by features like super-fast pairing and auto-switching between devices. Both devices support the ‘Hey Siri’ function, which enables hands-free access to the voice assistant, and the ‘Announce Notifications’ feature. The time-sensitive updates from apps like Messages, Reminders, and Calendars can now be read to you by Siri.

When using your iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, or Apple TV, you may share the audio stream across two pairs of AirPods, AirPods Pro, or AirPods Max thanks to new connectivity options for the AirPods 3. A skin-detect sensor within the AirPods 3 detects whether the headphones are in your ears or on a table or even inside your pocket.

Apple Airpods Gen 2 vs Gen 3: Connectivity
Apple Airpods Gen 2 vs Gen 3: Connectivity

If you have an Apple device running iOS 15, you’ll be able to use the third-generation AirPods with Spatial Audio which usually starts tracking in Group FaceTime sessions, as well as connectivity with the Find My network. The AirPods 3 have additional useful connectivity functions, but the AirPods 2 retain an awful lot of ‘Apple-ness’ thanks to outstanding interaction with the company’s other gadgets.


If you own an iPhone and are on a tight budget, the AirPods 2nd Gen still has plenty of benefits to consider purchasing them. However, the AirPods 3rd Gen is definitely worth the upgrade if you have the extra cash. You should be persuaded by the sound quality alone, but the inclusion of sweat and water resistance and the long battery life make the offer even more enticing. The AirPods 3rd Gen is a very reliable pair of truly wireless earbuds with a luxury feel, but if you need silicone ear tips, you’ll have to upgrade to the Apple AirPods Pro or find alternatives.