Ahead of the new AirPods 3 reaching customers and going on sale tomorrow, the first set of initial impressions, reviews, and unboxing of the new AirPods have gone live. The first impressions are mostly positive, with publishers appreciating Apple for making the AirPods more affordable while bringing features previously limited to the AirPods Pro.
To bring you up to speed, the AirPods 3 feature a completely redesigned body with smaller stems, custom-design drivers for reduced distortion, a MagSafe charging case, Adaptive EQ, IPX4 sweat and water resistance for the case and AirPods, up to 30 hours of battery life, and support for Spatial Audio. Check out our AirPods 3 review and first impressions roundup below.
Overall, Engadget found the design to be more comfortable, with improved audio and longer battery life being the highlights. The complete redesign still harks back to the original AirPods design, with some modification, it noted.
“Right off the bat, you’ll notice the lack of the silicone eartips found on the Pro. The overall fit of the new model is similar to that of the first two AirPods,…That mixture of designs continues on the stem. Apple reduced the length of the component by a third versus the previous model, adding the force sensor from the AirPods Pro for the on-board controls.”
You cannot adjust the volume using the AirPods themselves and this could be a deal-breaker for some.
“With the change to force sensor-driven controls, Apple has given AirPods the same actions as AirPods Pro. On the second-gen model, you had to tap the earbud and the options were very limited. Like the Pro version, you now have the ability to play/pause and accept calls (press once), skip tracks forward (press twice), skip tracks backward (press three times), and activate Siri (press and hold). Once again, there’s no option for onboard volume control. The press-and-hold input on the AirPods Pro changes noise-canceling mode, so it seems like Apple could’ve reassigned this action for volume — up on one side, down on the other.”
While the sound quality isn’t the best in the price segment, it is better than the previous vanilla AirPods.
“I don’t want to mince words here: the new AirPods sound so much better than the previous two versions. Like almost night and day better. Apple didn’t make any significant changes to sound quality from the first model to the 2019 version. But for gen three, Apple paired a custom driver with a high-dynamic-range amplifier to improve the audio chops. The company says that the duo works together to produce “rich consistent bass” and “crisp, clean” highs. From the moment I fired up the first song, this was all immediately evident. I don’t think I’ve ever audibly said “Woah” with the first note from a guitar on any review unit, but given how average older AirPods sound, it was involuntary this time.”
Voicing a similar opinion, The Verge noted that the new shape works better to keep the AirPods in place. However, ambient sounds remain audible and this might not be to everyone’s taste.
“They’re staying put so well that I no longer feel the same anxiety about them tumbling onto the ground and down a sewer grate. That worry was always present with the older AirPods. The healthy dose of ambient sound remains, and I’m just someone who prefers earbuds that offer some quiet from the outside world.”
The publication’s most noteworthy complaint was that the sound quality and design are a major step up, but Spatial Audio’s inconsistency in Apple Music was an annoyance, but not because of Apple’s faults.
“Spatial audio mixes can often sound objectively worse than their stereo counterparts. It takes a lot of work from engineers and producers to get the most from Atmos, and it remains obvious that a lot of albums available in Spatial Audio on Apple Music haven’t gotten that level of attention. Instruments and effects can sound out of place, vocals can get drowned out in the mix, and so on.”
The Verge opined that a lot has changed since the AirPods 2 and buyers should explore other options in the market before pulling the trigger
“But before you go getting locked deeper into Apple’s ecosystem, it’s worth exploring your options. The game has changed a lot since the second-gen AirPods were released, and it’s possible to find better sound quality among competitors like Samsung, OnePlus, Anker, Amazon, and others. If you can do without the frills, you can spend much less and still be happy. Still, if you’ve got an iPhone, none of those can deliver the same seamless experience as the AirPods.”
Gizmodo’s positive review shared the aforementioned opinions about the build, design, fit, and sound quality.
“I’ve always struggled to keep the original AirPods in my ears, to the point where I skipped them altogether and waited for the AirPods Pro to arrive. But I have a much easier time keeping the new AirPods in place, even during light physical activities like going for a walk. They’re actually ever so slightly heavier than the original AirPods, but the shorter stem combined with a more streamlined design that puts the main speaker at a better angle feels like it offers better weight distribution.”
As for the MagSafe-compatible wireless Charging Case, Gizmodo wrote
“It turns out, while you can’t attach a tiny card wallet to the back of the AirPods charging case, it will do the same thing the iPhone 12 and 13 models do when dropped onto a MagSafe-compatible wireless charging pad. The case will perfectly align itself with the charging coil, and magnetically secure itself to the pad, so it’s almost impossible to accidentally knock it off during a charge. It works great, and is especially useful given how small the wireless receiver on the AirPods charging case is.”
In summary, the publication said that while there are decent alternatives in the market now, the AirPods 3 are a worthy upgrade for Apple users for the comfort and convenience they offer.
“Does that mean the new AirPods are a pass? Not at all. They’re a fantastic upgrade in every way, and for those who hate having silicone tips crammed into their ear canals (I’ve been using them for decades and even my ears still get sore after prolonged use), the new AirPods are incredibly comfortable to use while still providing amazing sound quality—something I didn’t really think was possible. I’ve been wearing them around the house for entire days since they arrived, and of all the wireless earbuds I’ve tested over the years, nothing comes close to how comfortable these feel.”
You can also check out some video reviews of the AirPods 3 here: