Tue. Dec 7th, 2021

Apple AirPods 3rd generation 2021

Third gen Apple AirPods.


Apple’s third generation of AirPods was a highlight at Apple’s October “Unleashed” event in October, which also saw the debut of one redesigned MacBook Pro series which brings more ports back and a higher end M1 Pro and M1 Max chips. $ 179 (£ 169, AU $ 279) AirPods 3 aim midway between $ 129 second generation AirPods, which remains for sale, and the $ 249 AirPods Pro. It includes Spatial sound support with head tracking, sweat and water resistance, a MagSafe-compatible wireless charging case and a six-hour battery life that surpasses previous generations and AirPods Pro.

Still, $ 179 is still a lot of money for wireless headphones, and when you look outside of Apple, you can easily find headphones with comparable features – often for less money. While Apple AirPods connect seamlessly to Apple devices, you can consider alternatives if you share your headphone time between an iPhone and a non-Apple device, e.g. A Windows PC or a Nintendo Switch. Other manufacturers may provide you with better support for these devices.

Let us highlight some features you need to keep in mind when trying to decide whether to buy the new AirPods 3.


Third generation AirPods come in one color: white. It’s the same color that second-generation AirPods and AirPods Pro come in, but Apple has recently pushed color throughout its product range. That $ 549 AirPods Max comes in five colors (space gray, silver, pink, green and sky blue), and 2021 iMac the line comes in seven colors depending on the version you want.

Apple did a great thing about releasing iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Mini in purple in the spring, and its Beats Studio Buds comes in black, white and red.

As a result, it’s a little strange that Apple is not following suit with its 2021 wireless headphones. Meanwhile, whose color is particularly important to you, Samsung’s various Galaxy Buds headphones seem to come in almost all colors. Depending on the model, you can find them in shades of red, blue, purple, green, gray, black and white.

That said, it’s likely that this generation of AirPods will spend years on the market, and perhaps Apple could later offer them in shades like the iPhone 13s pink, blue, midnight and Product Red.


AirPods Max is available in several colors, but the new AirPods are only available in white.

Lower price

Although $ 179 is cheaper than AirPods Pro, it is actually more expensive than the starting price of $ 159 for second-generation AirPods. Although the latter headphone has been dropped to $ 129 and still includes core features like seamless pairing with Apple devices, the $ 50 difference provides many technical improvements to the listening experience as well as the magnetic charging case.

But it’s when you look outside of Apple’s headphone range that $ 179 starts to feel expensive for what these features bring. $ 130 Anchor Liberty Air 2 Pro includes many of AirPods Pro’s highlighting features, such as active noise reduction, transparency modes, watertightness, and a wireless charging case. Ditto for Samsung Galaxy Buds 2, which costs $ 150.

When Apple first launched AirPods back in 2017, it started a huge market for wireless headphones, but that market is now filled with comparable competition. Apple can maintain a number of exclusive software extensions such as fast pairing for Apple devices and improvements to spatial audio head-tracking, but few of these features should be enough to stop you from considering a cheaper alternative.


Anchor Soundcore Liberty Air 2 Pro is now available for $ 130.

David Carnoy / CNET

Multipoint Bluetooth connections to non-Apple devices

The AirPods series lets you seamlessly switch between an iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, MacBook, and just about any other Apple device. But throw in a Windows PC or a Nintendo Switch, and all of a sudden you’re back to navigating Bluetooth menus. Headphones that support multipoint Bluetooth pairing remedy this, generally by always pairing to two (or more) devices at the same time, regardless of manufacturer.

I recently bought Wyze headphones for about $ 60 following a recommendation from CNET’s Cheapskate Emeritus Rick Broida, and it made me realize that this feature was far more useful than I had previously assumed. When I’m at work, my headphones are usually connected to a MacBook Pro, but when a call comes in, my computer’s music pauses while the headphones switch to the phone. After the call, it switches back to the computer. So when I’m home, I can sync my headphones with Lenovo Chromebook Duet or any other device.

That Jabra Elite 75t wireless headphones, which can usually be found for around $ 150, includes this feature. You will want it if you expect to jump between multiple devices. Otherwise, multipoint Bluetooth is more common in over-ear headphones like the aforementioned Wyze up through the higher end Sony WH-1000XM4 (it lists for $ 350, but sometimes gets a price drop of $ 100 to around $ 250). The Sony headphones were called “almost flawless” by CNET editor-in-chief David Carnoy, but if you shop in the $ 250 series, it may be better to compare them to AirPods Pro than the new AirPods.


The Jabra Elite 75t can connect to multiple devices at once, whether it’s Apple devices or not.

What do you think of the third generation AirPods? And are there features you wish they included? Let us know in the comments.

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