AirPods Comparison: AirPods Pro 2 vs. AirPods 3 2024

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Apple’s AirPods have dominated the wireless earbud market since their introduction in 2016. With their seamless integration into the Apple ecosystem, impressive sound quality, and innovative features, AirPods have become a staple for tech enthusiasts and casual users alike. As the product line has evolved, consumers are faced with more choices than ever before.

In this comprehensive Apple AirPods comparison, we’ll dive deep into the differences between the AirPods Pro 2 and AirPods 3, while also exploring what the future might hold with the rumored AirPods Pro 3.

Whether you’re considering an upgrade or making your first AirPods purchase, this guide will help you make an informed decision based on your needs and preferences and spot your perfect Apple earbud match in 2024.

Key Takeaways

  • AirPods Pro 2 and AirPods 3 have significant differences in features like noise cancellation and design.
  • AirPods Pro 2 use the more advanced H2 chip, offering better processing power and efficiency than the H1 chip in AirPods 3.
  • AirPods 3 do not have Active Noise Cancellation (ANC), whereas AirPods Pro 2 offer advanced ANC and Transparency mode.
  • AirPods Pro 2 provide richer bass and clearer highs compared to AirPods 3, thanks to their custom-built driver and amplifier.
  • AirPods 3 have an open-ear design, while AirPods Pro 2 feature customizable silicone ear tips for a secure, noise-isolating fit.
  • The highly-anticipated AirPods Pro 3 might have a design overhaul, improved ANC, and USB-C charging port.

AirPods Comparison: AirPods Pro 2 vs. AirPods 3 Chart

To give you a clear overview of the differences between these models, we’ve created an AirPods comparison chart that includes the current AirPods Pro 2 vs. AirPods 3, as well as the rumored specifications for the AirPods Pro 3:

 AirPods Pro 2 vs. AirPods 3 vs. AirPods Pro 3 Specs

Feature AirPods Pro 2 AirPods 3 AirPods Pro 3 (Rumored)
Chip H2 H1 H3 (expected)
Active Noise Cancellation Yes No Yes, improved
Transparency Mode Yes, Adaptive No Yes, enhanced
Spatial Audio Yes, with head tracking Yes, with head tracking Yes, with advanced tracking
Water Resistance IPX4 IPX4 IPX4 or better
Battery Life (earbuds) Up to 6 hours with ANC Up to 6 hours Up to 8 hours (expected)
Battery Life (with case) Up to 30 hours Up to 30 hours Up to 32 hours (expected)
Charging Case MagSafe, Qi, Lightning MagSafe, Qi, Lightning MagSafe, Qi, USB-C (expected)
Ear Tip Design Customizable silicone tips Open-ear design Customizable silicone tips
Price $249 $179 $249-$299 (estimated)
Release Date September 2022 October 2021 Fall 2024 (rumored)

This chart provides a quick reference for comparing the key specifications of each model. As we can see, while the AirPods Pro 2 and AirPods 3 share some similarities, there are significant differences in features like noise cancellation and design.

The rumored AirPods Pro 3 may bring further enhancements to the table, potentially offering longer battery life and an updated chip for improved performance.

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AirPods Pro 2 vs. AirPods 3: In-Depth Comparison

Let’s take a closer look at how these two popular models stack up against each other in various key aspects.

Apple AirPods Pro 2 vs. AirPods 3

Design & Case

When comparing the AirPods Pro 2 vs. 3 design differences, we notice several distinct features:

  • Ear Tips: The AirPods Pro 2 feature customizable silicone ear tips for a secure, noise-isolating fit. In contrast, the AirPods 3 have an open-ear design similar to the original AirPods.
  • Stem Length: Both models have shorter stems compared to earlier generations, but the AirPods Pro 2 stems are slightly shorter and include force sensors for controls.
  • Water Resistance: Both models offer IPX4 water and sweat resistance, making them suitable for workouts.
  • Case Design: The AirPods Pro 2 case is slightly wider and includes a lanyard loop. Both cases support MagSafe and Qi wireless charging, as well as Lightning port charging.
Our Choice for Design: AirPods Pro 2

Audio Quality

In terms of AirPods 3 vs. AirPods Pro 2 sound performance, both models offer impressive audio, but with some key differences:

  • Drivers: The AirPods Pro 2 feature a custom-built driver and amplifier, providing richer bass and clearer highs compared to the AirPods 3.
  • Adaptive EQ: Both models use Adaptive EQ to automatically tune music to your ears, but the AirPods Pro 2’s implementation is more sophisticated due to its in-ear design.
  • Soundstage: The AirPods Pro 2 offer a more immersive soundstage, partly due to their noise-isolating design and more advanced audio processing.
Our Choice for Audio Quality: AirPods Pro 2

Active Noise Cancellation

This is one of the most significant differences between the two models. The AirPods Pro 2 feature advanced Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) that can reduce up to twice as much noise as the first-generation AirPods Pro. This makes them excellent for use in noisy environments, whether you’re commuting, working in a busy office, or trying to focus in a crowded café.

In contrast, the AirPods 3 do not have ANC; instead, they rely on their open-ear design, which naturally allows some ambient sound. This can be preferable for users who want to remain aware of their surroundings or find the sensation of noise cancellation uncomfortable.

Another key feature exclusive to the AirPods Pro 2 is Transparency mode. This allows users to let in outside sounds when needed without having to remove the earbuds.

It’s particularly useful for quick conversations or when you need to be more aware of your environment, such as when crossing a busy street.

Our Choice for Noise Control: AirPods Pro 2

Battery Life

Battery performance is crucial for wireless earbuds, and both models offer impressive longevity. The AirPods Pro 2 provides up to 6 hours of listening time with ANC enabled, which drops slightly to 5.5 hours when using spatial audio and head tracking. With the charging case, users can enjoy up to 30 hours of total listening time.

The AirPods 3 match this performance with up to 6 hours of listening time, dropping to 5 hours with spatial audio and head tracking enabled. They also offer up to 30 hours of total listening time with the charging case.

While the numbers are similar, it’s worth noting that the AirPods Pro 2 edge out slightly when you consider they maintain this battery life with ANC enabled. Both models support fast charging, providing about an hour of listening time from just 5 minutes of charging. This feature can be a lifesaver when you’re low on battery and short on time.

In the context of our AirPods Pro 2 vs. AirPods 3 comparison, the battery life is relatively evenly matched.

The choice between the two may depend on whether you prioritize the Pro 2’s ANC feature or prefer the AirPods 3’s open-ear design.

Our Choice for Battery Life: Tie (with a slight edge to AirPods Pro 2 considering ANC)

Additional Features

Both models come packed with features that enhance the user experience:

  • Spatial Audio: Both support spatial audio with dynamic head tracking, creating an immersive, theater-like sound experience.
  • Chip: The AirPods Pro 2 use the more advanced H2 chip, while the AirPods 3 use the H1 chip. This gives the Pro 2 an edge in processing power and efficiency.
  • Find My: Both are compatible with Apple’s Find My network, but the AirPods Pro 2 case has a built-in speaker for easier locating.
  • Controls: The AirPods Pro 2 offer more control options, including the ability to adjust volume by swiping the stems.
  • Conversation Boost: This feature, exclusive to the AirPods Pro 2, helps amplify the voice of the person you’re talking to in noisy environments.
Our Choice for Additional Features:  AirPods Pro 2

AirPods Pro 2 vs. AirPods 3: Which Is Better?

In this AirPods Pro 2 vs. AirPods 3 comparison, we can see that while both models offer impressive features, the Pro 2 generally edge out in terms of sound quality, noise control, and additional smart features.

However, the AirPods 3 still present a compelling option for those who prefer an open-ear design or are looking for a more budget-friendly choice.

Rumored AirPods Pro 3 Features

While Apple has not officially announced the next generation of AirPods Pro, rumors and leaks suggest some exciting improvements in these potential new AirPods, particularly when comparing the AirPods Pro 3 vs Pro 2.

Specs & Features AirPods Pro 2 AirPods Pro 3
Active Noise Cancelation (ANC) ✅, with chip improvements
USB-C Charging Port
Colors White White
Water Resistance Build IPX4 Likely IPX4 with the possibility of including dust resistance IP54
Body Temperature Monitoring Expected
Chip H2 chip, U1 chip in charging case Possibly a new updated H3 chip
Pricing $249 Expected: $249 or higher

Here are some of the expected enhancements in detail:

  • Improved Sound Quality: The AirPods Pro 3 may feature an upgraded audio chip, possibly an H3, for even better sound processing and noise cancellation.
  • Health Tracking Features: Apple might integrate health monitoring capabilities, such as body temperature sensing and hearing health tracking.
  • Enhanced Battery Life: Rumors suggest up to 8 hours of listening time per charge, with a total of 32 hours with the case.
  • USB-C Charging: In line with Apple’s move towards USB-C, the AirPods Pro 3 case may adopt this universal charging standard.
  • Adaptive Audio Enhancements: Building on the current Adaptive Audio feature, the Pro 3 might offer more advanced environmental sound adjustment.

While Apple hasn’t confirmed anything, industry analysts speculate that the AirPods Pro 3 could be released in late 2024 or early 2025, maintaining Apple’s typical 2-3 year upgrade cycle for the Pro line.

Price Comparison

Understanding the AirPods price structure is crucial for making an informed purchase decision. Here’s a breakdown of the current pricing for each model:

  • AirPods Pro 2: $249
  • AirPods 3: $179
  • AirPods 2: $129

So, how much do AirPods cost in relation to their features? Let’s analyze:

The AirPods Pro 2, despite being the most expensive, offer the best value for those seeking premium features like ANC and customizable fit. The $70 price difference between the Pro 2 and AirPods 3 is justified by the additional features and superior sound quality.

The AirPods 3 present a middle-ground option, offering some advanced features like spatial audio at a more accessible price point. For budget-conscious buyers who still want recent technology, these are a solid choice.

The AirPods 2, while the most affordable, lack many of the newer features. They’re best suited for those who want the basic AirPods experience or are new to wireless earbuds.

As for the rumored AirPods Pro 3, analysts predict a price point similar to or slightly higher than the current Pro 2. Potentially, it will cost between $249 and $299, depending on the new features introduced.

Looking at the evolution of AirPod generations, we can see how Apple has consistently improved features and performance with each new release.

From the original AirPods to the latest Pro models, each generation has brought significant enhancements in sound quality, battery life, and smart features.

Use Cases & Recommendations

When choosing the right AirPods, consider your specific needs and usage scenarios. Here are some recommendations:

AirPods Pro 2:

  • Best for frequent travelers or commuters who need active noise cancellation
  • Ideal for audiophiles seeking superior sound quality
  • Perfect for those who prefer a customizable, secure fit

AirPods 3:

  • Great for casual listeners who enjoy an open-ear design
  • Suitable for those who want spatial audio without the higher price tag
  • Ideal for users who make frequent voice calls and need clear mic quality

AirPods 2:

  • Best for budget-conscious buyers who want the basic AirPods experience
  • Suitable for first-time wireless earbud users

Comparing Apple AirPods (2nd gen) vs. Apple AirPods (3rd generation) specs, we see significant improvements in the 3rd gen, including spatial audio support, improved battery life, and a more ergonomic design.

The 3rd gen also features the H1 chip for better connectivity and “Hey Siri” support.

The Bottom Line: Which AirPods Are Right for You in 2024?

When it comes to the AirPods Pro vs. AirPods debate, your choice ultimately depends on your specific needs and preferences. If you prioritize top-notch sound quality, active noise cancellation, and a customizable fit, the AirPods Pro 2 are the clear winner, offering the most advanced features in the lineup.

However, if you prefer an open-ear design and don’t require ANC, the AirPods 3 present an excellent balance of features and price, making them a great choice for many users. They offer significant improvements over the AirPods 2, including spatial audio and better battery life.

For those on a tight budget or new to wireless earbuds, the AirPods 2 remain a solid entry point into the Apple ecosystem.

Consider your usage scenarios, such as commuting, working out, or casual listening, as well as your budget, when making your decision. Remember, while the Pro model comes out on top in terms of overall features and performance, the standard AirPods still offer excellent value, especially for users who prefer their open-ear design and simpler functionality.

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Alex McFarland
AI Journalist
Alex McFarland
AI Journalist

Alex is the creator of AI Disruptor, an AI-focused newsletter for entrepreneurs and businesses. Alongside his role at Techopedia, he serves as a lead writer at Unite.AI, collaborating with several successful startups and CEOs in the industry. With a history degree and as an American expat in Brazil, he offers a unique perspective to the AI field.