We are already in the 3rd iteration, here are the new Apple AirPods 3 with an open design, spatial sound and of course the H1 chip. Verdict.
It has been expected for some time and it is finally with the new 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro that Apple has announced its new headphones to the general public. Here are the new AirPods 3 which obviously succeed the AirPods 2 but which are much more inspired by the AirPods Pro without active noise cancellation but with a premium price.
AirPods 3 at the best price
Base price: 199 €
A familiar but different design
As a reminder, AirPods had revolutionized the world of wireless headphones, especially among owners of iOS, iPadOS or mcOS devices. If they do not necessarily revolutionize the genre, they had been designed around the ecosystem of Apple. Also, we could switch from one device to another as long as the devices shared the same iCloud account. Practice. Suddenly, AirPods have become so popular now that they are also lifestyles everyday objects, despite their flaws (or not). Note for example that they did not fit on all ears, that they were open headphones (a defect in some, not in others of course) and that of course, outside the Apple ecosystem, they were “just” simple bluetooth headphones.
Well Apple did not try to revolutionize the genre with the AirPods 3 since we find all that characterized AirPods 1 and 2, namely a design that is not necessarily for all ears, that they are headphones open (a defect in some, not in others of course) and that of course, outside the ecosystem of Apple, they are “only” simple Bluetooth headphones.
On the other hand, the design has changed somewhat and from the first grip, we notice how the AirPods 3 are inspired by the AirPods Pro in terms of design. To put it simply, with a smaller case but a similar shape, the AirPods 3 are presented as AirPods Pro but without the silicone tip. Because they’re open, AirPods 3 don’t offer active noise canceling. It is a choice and this is what explains its softer price (199 euros) compared to AirPods Pro (we will come back to the price later).
If the design has changed, the AirPods 3 are still super light and after a while of use, we forget its presence. In contrast, without the silicone tip of the AirPods Pro, the AirPods 3 may not fit in the ear since the AirPods 3 rest on the entrance to the ear canal. We had no problems per se but we would have liked a more straightforward, more secure port because depending on the morphology, the AirPods 3 can slide and fall more easily… A bit like the AirPods 1 and 2 and this , despite this new design. We can therefore only advise you to try them before buying them.
Audio quality and improvements
As mentioned above, the AirPods 3 do not offer active noise reduction, despite the price of 199 euros. And this is perhaps where the shoe pinches the hardest. We are in 2021 and for this price level, all competitors offer active noise reduction. In fact, we can even find it on models that are much more accessible. The AirPods Pro are now around 220 euros and you might as well say it right away, at this price, we will clearly recommend the AirPods Pro.
Because there is no active noise reduction, there is no transparency mode either, but since these are open headphones, it is not too serious in real life. On the other hand, 2021 requires, the AirPods 3 offer the famous Apple spatial sound and for once, with the support of Dolby Atmos, the quality is bluffing for such small headphones. When the environment around the AirPods 3 is calm, the spatial sound works very very well, we feel this spatialization so bluffing (on a selection only for the moment). But besides this spatialization, it is above all the sound quality that really impressed us. Whether with music or during a movie or a series, the sound is really good, the highs and mids are balanced and the bass is present. In addition, it should be noted that the sound level has been revised upwards compared to AirPods 1 and 2. Indeed, even in noisy surroundings, we will hear our sources.
On the other hand, because they are open headphones, it is obvious that you will have to be in a calm environment to really enjoy the qualities of AirPods 3. Once again, we have the impression of ending up with the same principle as AirPods Max, namely that they are headphones for sedentary use above all and not necessarily nomadic, although this is the principle. And this is perhaps its biggest flaw since with a price of around 200 euros, we are entitled to expect a similar experience both at home, in the office and on the move. This could have been mitigated with a closed design like on in-ear headphones. Now, it is because one is an advocate of the best possible insulation to be “in your bubble” and clearly, those looking to be alert to the outside environment will not necessarily see these criticisms as a flaw.
As with the AirPods Pro, there is a flat capacitive button on each rod of the AirPods 3. Also, it will take “Squeeze” the rod to launch the options. If we had not found this method very orthodox at the beginning, time has proved Apple right since the system has proven itself and is more effective than buttons. With this system, the AirPods 3 do not move. For the key functions, it is one press to start / stop the music or answer / hang up a call, two presses to go to the next track, three for the previous track and finally a long press to activate the voice assistant. Classic, there is a little habit to take but after a while, it becomes logical and intuitive. All these functions can be found in the control center of iOS or on his Apple Watch. And as with its predecessors, no volume control, it will be either on the smartphone, or via an Apple Watch, or via Siri. Somehow, we would have really liked Apple to bring new functions.
On the technical side
We obviously find the H1 chip from Apple, which ensures an almost immediate connection to any iOS device and as for products already using the H1 chip, you can switch between the different devices connected to your iCloud account. On Android or others, we obviously do not benefit from these small facilities and if the sound and functions remain unchanged, they will connect like simple Bluetooth headphones. As for the lag, there are no shifts in the sound on the streaming videos, the H1 chip works perfectly. We watched series, movies or even Youtube videos without feeling a single discomfort.
The case is no longer in height as for AirPods 1 and 2 but in width as for AirPods Pro. Compared to the case of the latter, that of the AirPods 3 is still narrower and therefore slips more easily into a pocket. The box is recharged via a Lightning port or wirelessly and provides 35 hours of battery life in all. Moreover, speaking of autonomy, we can only be pleasantly surprised at such autonomy (around 7 hours per charge in our tests). You can really do long sessions without worrying about recharging. We are far from the autonomy of previous AirPods (excluding AirPods Max of course).
There remains the conversation part since the AirPods 1, 2 and Pro have always shown that they are a benchmark. When showcasing the headphones, Apple touted its new AirPods 3 with extra fabric on each earbud to help filter the wind better. If we clearly find the quality that characterizes all AirPods, we did not really feel the difference between AirPods 3 and AirPods Pro for example. And there, again, with the open side of the headphones, if you are in a noisy environment, the AirPods 3 will not necessarily do a miracle. If the other party can hear you perfectly, the user may have difficulty hearing.
AirPods 3 at the best price
Base price: 199 €