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AirPods 2 vs. AirPods 3: Which One Should You Buy?

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There are even more options for anyone looking to purchase Apple’s popular AirPods.

The third-generation AirPods take the wireless earbuds in a new direction with a redesigned look and more features.

But the second-generation model is still around to purchase. We’ll compare the AirPods 3 and AirPods 2 to help you make the best buying decision.

Design and Audio Features

airpods-3-design

You can definitely tell the difference between the AirPods 3 and AirPods 2 with a quick glance. The newer model is taking a number of design cues from the more expensive AirPods Pro.

The AirPods 3 sport a significantly shorter stem and a redesigned earbud that sits further inside your ear. There is also a Force sensor that can be used for control of audio. With different presses, you can skip forward and back or play and pause audio.

On the second-generation AirPods, a double tap on the earbud only allows you to skip forward.

Both models feature the H1 chip that allows for hands-free “Hey Siri” commands and automatic switching between Apple devices.

AirPods 3 also bring a number of improved audio features compared to the older model. First up is Adaptive EQ that adjusts the audio in real-time for the best possible sound.

But by far the biggest difference is the support for Spatial Audio with dynamic head tracking in the AirPods 3. Spatial Audio with head tracking is supported in Apple Music and a number of other streaming video services.

AirPods 3 Spatial Audio

Spatial Audio with head tracking provides a more immersive listening experience by making it seem that the audio is coming from your device screen even as you turn your head. When listening to compatible content, the feature is definitely noticeable and enjoyable.

Anyone who uses their AirPods while outdoors should also take note that the AirPods 3 are sweat and water-resistant while the older model isn’t.

Battery Life and Charging Case

The AirPods 3 also sport better battery life. Without Spatial Audio, the newer model provides up to 6 hours of music playback on a single charge. With the charging case, the AirPods 3 provide up to 30 hours of audio on one charge.

On a single charge, the AirPods 2 last for up to 5 hours of music playback. With the charging case, you can go for up to 24 hours of audio.

In a pinch, 5 minutes in the charging case will give you an hour of music playback using the AirPods 3. On the AirPods 2, 15 minutes of charge will give you up to 3 hours of audio.

AirPods 3 Magsafe charging

You can take advantage of a number of charging options with the AirPods 3. Along with supporting Apple’s MagSafe charger, you can juice up the earbuds using a regular Qi charger or with a Lightning cable.

The AirPods 2 can only be charged with a Lightning cable and don't any support wireless charging options.

Price

The third-generation AirPods retail for $179 while the older model is $129.

If you can spare the extra cash, the AirPods 3 are a great choice thanks to the Spatial Audio support, superior battery life, and multiple wireless charging options.

But if you’re on a budget and still want to enjoy all of the advantages of AirPods, the second-generation model is still a nice choice.

Find the Best AirPods for You

Especially if you’re an Apple user, the AirPods are a perfect way to listen to music, video, and anything else without having to worry about wires.

And with an iPhone or iPad, the pairing process is seamless so you’ll always be ready to listen.

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