AirPods 3 are official: head-tracking Spatial Audio, lower starting price
We may earn a commission if you make a purchase from the links on this page.
Over two years after releasing the current-gen AirPods, the AirPods 2, Apple announced a pair of redesigned AirPods (3rd gen) complete with support for Apple's head-tracking Spatial Audio, a new low-distortion audio driver, a more compact design, and an even lower price point considering the new earbuds come with a wireless charging case of $179.
Apple AirPods 3 design and features
The original AirPods offered an instantly recognizable design that influenced countless other products. With AirPods 3, Apple is moving to a more compact look that's inspired by AirPods Pro.
These third-generation AirPods feature significantly shorter stems and adopt a Force Touch sensor. The latter replaces the double-tap gesture found on old AirPods and can be used to control music playback and answer phone calls. The AirPods 3 earbuds offer improved quality for FaceTime calls and have an IPX4 sweat and water resistance rating. This means that the earbuds can withstand the occasional drops of water but they cannot be submerged.
AirPods 3rd gen don't use replaceable rubber tips, with Apple instead choosing to retain the same universal tip design of before. The good news is that this means AirPods 3 should offer the same fit as previous models.
Apple didn't add active noise cancellation to the earbuds — that feature requires a better seal only offered by rubber tips. If that's a deal breaker for you, it might be worth checking out our list of best wireless earbuds with active noise cancellation.
One big feature that AirPods 3 do offer is dynamic head tracking Spatial Audio support, which was originally reserved for AirPods Pro and AirPods Max users. It enables a more immersive audio experience by adjusting the sound dynamically as you turn your head. The earbuds also support Dolby Atmos audio. The AirPods 3 have Adaptive Equalizer, which adjusts the sound frequencies for better sounding audio output.
The AirPods 3 are sweat and water resistant
Apple AirPods 3rd gen battery life and charging
Apple’s AirPods 3rd generation are rated for 6 hours of listening time on a single charge and 4 hours of talk time. That means AirPods 3 battery life offers an extra hour of listening in comparison to the AirPods 2.
Charging is once again done through the included charging case. The case is a little smaller this time around, but it offers even more listening time, 30 hours to be exact. Also, a quick 5-minute charge will provide one hour of listening or talk time on AirPods 3rd gen.
The new charging case supports wireless charging as standard, so customers that have a wireless charger lying around won’t have to rely on their Lightning cable. It also supports MagSafe, which is Apple's magnets powered wireless charger. You can always charge the case the old-fashioned way of course via a cable. Before the AirPods 3, the wireless charging case was an optional purchase on the AirPods 2.
Apple AirPods 3rd gen price and release date
The new pricing of Apple's AirPods lineup
The 3rd generation AirPods retail at $179 in the United States and are available to pre-order starting today. Shipments will start reaching customers next week.
That $179 starting price is lower in comparison with the AirPods 2 with wireless charging case. Meanwhile, the AirPods 2 will continue to be sold at a lower price of $129 for their non-wireless charging version.