Apple AirPods (3rd generation) review

Asia's Tech News Daily

Two-minute review

The Apple AirPods (3rd generation) are the latest in the company’s lineup of true wireless earbuds and over-ear headphones, and come with a host of updates that make them a worthy upgrade from their predecessors, the AirPods 2.

At $179 / £169 / AU$279 they aren’t cheap, but neither are they as pricey as Apple’s noise-cancelling earbuds, the AirPods Pro – and they’re a fraction of the price of the over-ear AirPods Max.

Jump to

Price and release date


Audio performance

Battery life


Should I buy them?

A refreshed design retains the general look of the original AirPods, but introduces shorter stems and contoured housings, which feel more comfortable to wear than the previous model. Those stems now feature touch capacitive force sensors, which you can squeeze to control your music playback and accept and end phone calls.

Their lightweight build and IPX4 water-resistance rating makes the AirPods 3 suitable for use while working out; and while they don’t feel as secure as earbuds such as the Powerbeats Pro, they were able to withstand a gentle jog without falling out of our ears.

While these new design features are welcome, we were most impressed by the improvements Apple has made to the audio performance of these earbuds. New drivers and amplifiers provide a well-balanced sound, while Spatial Audio support promises to make the music you love sound more immersive than ever before.

Whether you’re listening to tracks mixed in Dolby Atmos, or regular stereo tracks that have been upscaled using the Spatial Audio technology, the result is breathtaking. The experience is only heightened when you use the AirPods 3 to watch films. You don’t need an iPhone to use Spatial Audio, either; as long as you have a Dolby Atmos-enabled phone and access to an app that supports the feature, you’re good to go.

(Image credit: TechRadar)

However, you shouldn’t mistake the AirPods 3 for audiophile-grade in-ear headphones. Support for hi-res audio is lacking, and the treble frequencies can be harsh at times – a problem that was evident with the second-generation AirPods.

Calls sound clear thanks to a new acoustic mesh that covers the AirPods’ outward-facing microphones and support for the AAC-ELD codec.

The battery life of the AirPods 3 has also been improved compared to the AirPods 2, although the difference is negligible if you’re using them with Spatial Audio enabled. Have that particular feature switched off, however, and you can expect up to 30 hours of playback, which is more than enough to get you through a week of commuting.

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Rather predictably, connectivity is very good indeed – as long as you’ve already bought into the wider Apple ecosystem. Pairing the buds with an iPhone 13 mini was as easy as opening the wireless charging case and tapping the prompt that appeared on our screen.

Owners of iOS 15 devices also get some extra connectivity features from the AirPods (3rd generation), which include hands-free Hey Siri activation, Announce Notifications, Audio Sharing, Group Facetime with Spatial Audio, and integration with Apple’s Find My network.

These extra quality of life features are what differentiate the AirPods 3 from rival models – and they make the exclusion of active noise cancellation easier to swallow.

Unfortunately, if you don’t have access to an iOS device, you lose out on all of these features. As such, we wouldn’t recommend the AirPods 3 for anyone who isn’t already invested in Apple’s line of smartphones, laptops, tablets and smartwatches.

But, if you love all things Apple and want a pair of wireless earbuds that ‘just work’, then the AirPods 3 are a fantastic choice, and a huge step up from the AirPods 2.

Apple AirPods (3rd generation) price and release date

  • Available from October 26
  • $179 / £169 / AU$279
  • Cheaper than the AirPods Pro

The Apple AirPods 3 (2021) cost $179 / £169 / AU$279 and are available to preorder from the Apple Store. They officially go on sale on October 26, both in-store and online.

That’s cheaper than the noise-cancelling AirPods Pro, and a little pricier than the second-gen AirPods, which cost $159 / £159 / AU$249 at their 2019 launch with the standard charging case. If you opted for the wireless charging case, you’d have to pay $199 / £199 / AU$319. The wireless charging case comes as standard with the AirPods 3.

The price of the second-gen AirPods has since been reduced. Apple is now selling them for $129 / £119 / AU$219, and they’re sure to be discounted even further over Black Friday.

Compared to other true wireless earbuds on the market, the AirPods (3rd generation) are cheaper than many of our top picks, such as the Sony WF-1000XM4 and the NuraTrue earbuds. However, earbuds at this price tend to come with active noise cancellation, which the AirPods 3 are lacking.

There are plenty of cheaper wireless earbuds available to buy, too. Earbuds such as the Cambridge Audio Melomania 1 Plus and the Lypertek TruePlay Z3 2.0 offer outstanding audio performances for their prices, and models such as the Beats Studio Buds even come with active noise cancellation for $149.99 / £129.99 / AU$199.95.

(Image credit: TechRadar)


In terms of design, the AirPods 3 don’t deviate too far from previous AirPods models, with an all-white minimalist aesthetic, protruding stems, and gently curved lines.

With shorter stems and softly contoured housings, the AirPods 3 look more like the AirPods Pro than the second-gen AirPods, giving them a more streamlined, elegant look.

Those stems feature touch-capacitive force sensors – just like the ones found on the AirPods Pro – that allow you to control your music playback with a squeeze of the stem. You can also squeeze the stem to accept or end calls.

We found the controls to be super-responsive, and we liked the little ‘click’ sound that lets you know that your touch has been registered. As with the AirPods Pro, some haptic feedback would also be welcome – a slight vibration from the buds themselves rather than a click, but that isn’t a dealbreaker by any means.

It’s a shame there’s no way to control the volume of your music via the buds themselves, perhaps by sliding your finger up and down the stems. For that, you’ll need to ask Siri, or dig your phone out of your pocket.

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Unlike the AirPods Pro, there are no interchangeable eartips. Retaining the semi-open design of the second-gen AirPods will appeal to those who don’t like the feeling of earbuds being pushed into their ear canals, but it does mean that sound isolation isn’t the best.

You’ll be able to hear pretty much everything that’s going on around you while using the AirPods 3, plus there’s a degree of sound leakage, too – something to consider if you’re using them in a crowded setting and don’t want everyone listening in on your music.

To mitigate the audio loss that comes with a semi-open design, the housings have been shaped to funnel sound straight into your ears – and it appears to be pretty effective.

The AirPods 3 feel very comfortable, something that’s helped by the earbuds’ light weight. At 4.28g each, the AirPods 3 won’t make you feel like you’ve got two lumps of lead shoved in your ears, and they shouldn’t irritate smaller ears thanks to their smooth, contoured shape.

We’re not sure how secure they feel, though. We took them out on a light jog, and while the AirPods didn’t fall out of our ears, we wouldn’t be willing to bet our lives on them staying put through a more vigorous workout. If you’re concerned about losing an earbud, we’d recommend opting for a pair with built-in earfins, or a pair of neckbuds that have the added security of a cable.

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Speaking of exercise, the AirPods 3 are fully equipped to handle a little sweat through workout or being caught out in the rain, thanks to an IPX4 rating. That rating applies to the case, too.

The charging case itself is much squatter than the case accompanying the AirPods 2. It more closely resembles the AirPods Pro charging case, with a light, compact build and a flip-top lid that’s easy to open one-handed.

Opening the case causes a small LED on its front to light up: green, if the AirPods are fully charged; amber, if less than one full charge remains. This light will also flash white if the AirPods are ready to pair with one of your devices.

At the bottom of the charging case is a Lightning port, although you can top up the battery using a Qi-certified charging mat, or an Apple MagSafe charger. You get a USB-C to Lighning cable included in the box, but you’ll have to source your own plug.

Overall, the design of the AirPods 3 represents a big improvement over their predecessors. They’re slicker, more understated, and more robust, too.

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Audio performance

  • Spatial Audio support
  • Well balanced sound
  • Good sound quality for calls

The AirPods 3 feel like a significant step up from their predecessors for audio quality. They come with new custom-made, low-distortion drivers and high dynamic range amplifiers.The latter are supposed to deliver “powerful bass with crisp, clean high frequencies”, according to Apple.

The new earbuds certainly do better at conveying bass frequencies than the AirPods 2, and they offer a more powerful, warmer sound. These aren’t audiophile in-ear headphones by any means, but they’re a perfectly enjoyable listen, whether you’re playing music or podcasts.

Thanks to support for Adaptive EQ (first seen on the AirPods Pro), the AirPods 3 should be somewhat tailored to your ears. This technology tunes the sound of the earbuds in real-time, based on how they fit in your ear. According to Apple, an inward-facing microphone monitors for sound, and then the computational audio that powers the Adaptive EQ feature tunes the low and mid frequencies “to account for what may be lost due to variances in fit”.

(Image credit: TechRadar)

The AirPods 3 come with another trick up their sleeves: Spatial Audio support. Apple’s Spatial Audio technology takes 5.1, 7.1 and Dolby Atmos content and applies directional audio filters, placing sound in a 3D sphere. This makes it feel more immersive; as if the audio is coming at you from every angle.

Until now, this feature only worked with the AirPods Pro and the AirPods Max, since it relies on their built-in accelerometers and gyroscopes to track the position of your head and ensure the sound is coming from the right direction.

The same tech is at play in the AirPods 3, and the effect is super-impressive. We started by listening to a Dolby Atmos mix of The Doors’ Riders On The Storm on Apple Music.

As the band members talk to each other at the start of the track, the spatial audio positioning of their voices makes it feel as though you’re in the room with them.

When the drummer counts in, we hear the sound of a storm breaking. It feels as though rain is falling overhead, with rolling thunder panning from right to left.

The positioning of the instruments in space is subtle, but effective. To our right is the mellow guitar, while the organ chugs away on our left. At the back of the soundstage, the bass and drums provide the rhythmic backbone of the track, while Jim Morrison’s dulcet vocal reverberates right at the front.

Each instrument has its own space to shine, and the bass, mid, and treble frequencies feel well balanced. It isn’t the most detailed or rhythmically tight rendition we’ve heard of this particular track, but the AirPods 3 do a great job of conveying a sense of space, and the positioning of the different instruments in a virtual sphere.

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Michael Kiwanuka’s You Ain’t The Problem is equally impressive in this regard – although we did find the thrashing electric guitar lines to be way too prominent in the mix, to the point that the hooky ‘la-la-la’ section at the beginning of the song sounded subdued. The AirPods 3 seem to share the same issues with treble harshness as their predecessors, and busier tracks can sound muddy at times.

Classical music fares very well in Spatial Audio. Listening to Saint Saëns’ Danse Macabre, and each instrument truly sings, from the booming tubas to the playful glockenspiel melodies. Devilish violin motifs and gentle woodwind sound detailed, and the AirPods 3 handle the rhythmic changes reasonably well for a pair of earbuds at this price.

Listening without Spatial Audio enabled (you can switch this off by heading to the Control Center of your iPhone and holding down the volume slider), and the separation between different instruments is less impressive. Nevertheless, the soundstage is still pretty well balanced and pleasant to listen to.

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Codec support is limited – you’ve just got SBC and AAC. This means the AirPods 3 can’t handle hi-res audio streaming. It’s a shame, since Apple Music offers Lossless audio – and while Bluetooth hasn’t had the bandwidth necessary for truly lossless music streaming in the past, recent innovations such as Qualcomm aptX Lossless have made it possible.

Spatial Audio for music works well, but the technology’s best application is for film. The AirPods 3 are more than capable of handling complicated Dolby Atmos soundtracks. Watching Blush, an animated short on Apple TV Plus, we felt as though rockets were really zooming past our head.

As for phone calls, an acoustic mesh covers the outer beamforming microphones, which is designed to reduce the sound of wind and make your voice sound clear. The AirPods 3 also support the AAC-ELD codec, which Apple says will deliver “Full HD voice quality” – whatever that means. When making calls using the AirPods 3, recipients said that our voice sounded clear, and they didn’t notice any background noise.

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Battery life

  • 30-hour max battery life
  • 24 hours with Spatial Audio on
  • Wireless charging case

The AirPods 3 come with improved battery life… sort of. While the 2019 AirPods offered 24 hours of playback in total (that’s about five hours from the earbuds and a further 19 hours from the charging case), the new AirPods 3 offer a 30-hour max battery life.

Apple says you get up to six hours of listening time or up to four hours of talk time from the buds themselves, with four additional charges from the case. If you’re in a hurry, a quick five-minute charge will give you about an hour of playback. As with the AirPods Pro, the AirPods 3 come with a wireless charging case as standard, which is compatible with Apple’s MagSafe ecosystem.

That all sounds good, but the onboard battery life does drop to five hours if you have Spatial Audio enabled – which is the same playback time as the older AirPods. Since Spatial Audio is one of the main reasons to buy the AirPods 3 over the AirPods 2, you’re not really getting the benefit of the longer battery life.

(Image credit: TechRadar)


  • Work best with iOS devices
  • Super fast pairing
  • Extra features for iOS 15

Not surprisingly, the AirPods 3 are optimized for use with Apple devices, with a one-touch setup that automatically pairs the buds with your iPhone, iPad, Mac, or MacBook.

Audio Sharing means you can also share the audio stream between two sets of AirPods, AirPods Pro, or AirPods Max, while using your iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, or Apple TV – pretty handy if you want to share your music without sharing your friends’ grubby earbuds. We found this feature worked fairly seamlessly, although we did notice a drop in volume when sharing music with a friend.

There’s also a new skin-detect sensor that tells the AirPods 3 if the buds are actually in your ear, as opposed to on a table or inside your pocket. So, if they’re not in your ear, music playback will be paused, which will presumably spare you some precious battery life.

As with the 2019 AirPods, you can summon Apple’s voice assistant simply by saying ‘Hey Siri’. We found the microphones were adept at picking up our voice.

If you have an Apple device that runs iOS 15, you’ll get access to a few extra features with the third-gen AirPods, including Spatial Audio and dynamic head tracking in Group FaceTime calls, alongside integration with the Find My network. You’ll also get access to the Announce Notifications feature, which allows Siri to read you time-sensitive updates from apps such as Messages, Reminders, and Calendar – it’s a handy feature if you like to keep up with your notifications without being glued to your phone.

Should I buy the Apple AirPods (3rd generation)?

(Image credit: TecRhadar)

Buy them if…

You have an iPhone
Features like Audio Sharing, Announce Notifications, and integration with the Find My network make the AirPods 3 the perfect earbuds for using with iPhone.

” data-widget-type=”deal”>

You have an iPhone
Features like Audio Sharing, Announce Notifications, and integration with the Find My network make the AirPods 3 the perfect earbuds for using with iPhone.

You need active noise cancellation
The AirPods 3 don’t come with ANC, and the semi-open design means the passive noise cancellation isn’t particularly good – check out the AirPods Pro if that’s a dealbreaker.

” data-widget-type=”deal”>

You need active noise cancellation
The AirPods 3 don’t come with ANC, and the semi-open design means the passive noise cancellation isn’t particularly good – check out the AirPods Pro if that’s a dealbreaker.

You have the AirPods Pro already
As much as we like the AirPods 3, the AirPods Pro are still the most high-spec true wireless earbuds from Apple.

” data-widget-type=”deal”>

You have the AirPods Pro already
As much as we like the AirPods 3, the AirPods Pro are still the most high-spec true wireless earbuds from Apple.

Internet Explorer Channel Network
Asia's Tech News Daily
News Related


Google is testing a design change for its Search app

Google has been introducing new features and designs for its apps to match its look and feel with the Android 12 user interface. Now, the company is reportedly working on ... Read more »

Cybercriminals flood online forums with malicious Microsoft Excel files

Websites with contact forms and comment sections, as well as discussion forums, are being used to distribute a known password-stealing malware through a compromised Microsoft Excel file. According to a ... Read more »

Today is the last day you can download a forgotten Harry Potter mobile game

If you haven’t already tried out Harry Potter Wizards Unite you don’t have much time left to do so, because the augmented reality game (ARG) for mobiles is only available ... Read more »

Amazon's Audible is giving over 100 free audiobooks on Alexa

Amazon-owned Audible has made over 100 audiobooks completely free of cost on Alexa, which can be accessed on the Amazon Echo and Fire TV range and other Alexa built-in devices. ... Read more »

Big North Carolina factory likely to be Toyota battery plant

The Associated PressToyota vehicles are displayed at the AutoMobility LA Auto Show Thursday, Nov. 18, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez) RALEIGH, N.C. — North Carolina government officials ... Read more »

Why the UK shouldn't introduce mandatory COVID vaccination

As coronavirus infections surge across Europe, and with the threat of the omicron variant looming, countries are imposing increasingly stringent pandemic controls. In Austria, citizens will be subject to a ... Read more »

5G revenues will reach $600m by 2026

5G networks will account for three quarters (77%) of global mobile operator revenues by 2026, with demand for consumer and businesses services driving adoption. A report from Juniper Research predicts ... Read more »

Qualcomm may have a ‘plan' for handheld gaming devices

The advent of smartphones have more or less made handheld gaming devices rather redundant. Unless you are a ‘fan’, handheld gaming devices these days don’t find too many takes. The ... Read more »

Leica M11 leak reveals controversial design tweak for rangefinder camera

Some new leaked images of the upcoming Leica M11 rangefinder camera appear to confirm it’ll have what would be, for Leica fans at least, a polarizing new design tweak. Leica’s ... Read more »

Garmin Fenix 7: release date rumors, news, and what we want to see

The Garmin Fenix 7, the next instalment in Garmin’s line of flagship running watches, is expected to land some time in 2022, and although the company itself has yet to ... Read more »

BioShock 4 will take us back to a familiar time period, according to reports

New details on BioShock 4’s setting have reportedly been leaked, claiming that the next title in the first-person shooter series will take place in a fictional Antarctic city during the ... Read more »

Apple M1 Max chips could be stacked together to create monster 40-core processor

New images of Apple’s latest silicon appear to hint at the possibility of connecting multiple M1 Max chips together to create an extremely powerful multi-chip module (MCM), which would be ... Read more »

PSVR 2 patent shows off Sony's next-gen VR controller from every angle

While we’ve still yet to see Sony’s PSVR 2 headset itself, the controllers for the PS5’s virtual reality device have already been revealed. However, a recently uncovered patent for the ... Read more »

Astronomers decode why our Solar System is shaped like a croissant

BU-led scientists say the protective bubble around the solar system is shaped like a croissant (Image courtesy of Opher, et. al) Hydrogen particles slamming into the Solar System from outside ... Read more »

Chromecast with Google TV's best feature is being delayed

One of the most useful and anticipated Chromecast with Google TV features, that being individual user profiles, has now been pushed back into next year, Google confirms. Due to release ... Read more »

Does vaping really damage DNA and increase the risk of cancer?

Vapers experience DNA changes, according to a recent paper published in Nature, and the changes are similar to those seen in smokers – although much less pronounced. Crucially, this evidence ... Read more »

Most of India's USD 1.1 trillion growth in next 11-year can come from yet to be invented digital businesses: Report

Most of India’s USD 1.1 trillion in total economic growth in the next 11 years can come from ancillary digital asset-related businesses that are yet to be invented, according to ... Read more »

Microsoft is making Windows 11 less annoying

Microsoft is working on a new Windows 11 feature that’ll remember if you turned on Wi-Fi or Bluetooth while the computer was in Airplane mode. With the current version of ... Read more »

Why celebrate pizza? Google Doodle shares the cultural heritage of pizza around the world

You may have sliced a few pizzas on Monday’s Google Doodle, which features versions of the culinary favorite from all over the world. Google’s interactive Doodle allows you to slice ... Read more »

Is the Galaxy S21 FE Samsung's worst-kept secret? New leak suggests so

It feels like every day we’re hearing a new Samsung Galaxy S21 FE leak, and it’s starting to rival the Galaxy S22 as the most-rumored product right now. Case in ... Read more »

Samsung Galaxy S22 series could feature Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chipset in India

The Samsung Galaxy S22 is reportedly arriving in India with the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chipset rather than the Exynos 2200. Samsung’s 2022 flagship is slated to arrive in Exynos ... Read more »

One in four colds is likely down to COVID, expert warns

Boris Johnson will review current COVID-19 measures on 18 December. (PA Images) One in four colds is likely down to people having coronavirus, an expert has said. Tim Spector, a ... Read more »

Doja Cat's latest interactive music video will teach you how to code

Doja Cat has partnered with nonprofit organization Girls Who Code to create what they claim to be the first-ever codable music video, allowing users to control the story to the ... Read more »

If Apple's next watch is built for extreme sports, it'll need an extreme redesign

One of the main selling points of this year’s Apple Watch 7 was its tougher screen and improved dust resistance, and new rumors suggest that Apple is planning to take ... Read more »

Johnson: We need to invest in rehab to help drug users

Boris Johnson says “everybody who knows about drugs crime will tell you” there needs to be more investment in rehab to drive down crime. He argues, however, that the government ... Read more »

I'm a Celebrity: Snoochie Shy opens up about revealing her birthmark for the first time

The radio presenter said she used to cover up her birthmark with make-up but feels more like herself for revealing it. Read more »

iRobot Roomba i3 Plus review

One-minute review iRobot is a US-based robotics company that was founded in 1990 and launched the first Roomba robot vacuum in 2002. It’s one of the biggest manufacturers of robot ... Read more »

This humanoid robot makes perfect human-like faces

London: As robots evolve to do more work around us, the UK-based humanoid robot manufacturer Engineered Arts has infused more human-like facial expressions into one of its robots, which may ... Read more »

Oppo signs a Memorandum of Understanding with IIT Delhi to offer scholarships

New Delhi: To empower young minds of India, Oppo has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with IIT Delhi to offer scholarships covering academics expenses for the shortlisted students.The brand has ... Read more »

Microsoft wants to revolutionise copy and paste in Edge and Chrome for Windows 11

It looks like Microsoft is planning a radical overhaul of how you copy and paste in its Edge web browser in Windows 11 – and those changes could also come ... Read more »

Oura ring review: Does the celeb-favourite activity tracker live up the hype?

We considered its tracking ability, how comfortable it was to wear and the app’s features (The Independent) Since hitting the smart tech market a few years ago, Oura’s health tracker ... Read more »

Arthur Labinjo-Hughes: Father and stepmum sat in hot tub while boy left in hallway for hours

The case of Arthur Labinjo-Hughes has shocked the nation. (PA) The killers of Arthur Labinjo-Hughes relaxed in a hot tub while the six-year-old boy was left alone for hours, it ... Read more »

Apple could launch lots of new Macs in 2022, including new cheaper MacBook Pro

Apple is rumored to have a bunch of new Macs coming next year – five of them to be precise – and that might include a new cheaper MacBook Pro. ... Read more »

Scientist behind UK vaccine says next pandemic may be worse

On Location: December 3, 2021 Catch up on the developing stories making LONDON — One of the scientists behind the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine is warning that the next pandemic ... Read more »

Is a Daredevil Disney Plus show in the works?

Marvel chief Kevin Feige has seemingly confirmed that the studio plans to bring Charlie Cox on board so he can reprise his role of Daredevil in the MCU – suggesting ... Read more »

Apple starts legal action against Russian regulator in App Store dispute: Report

Apple has started legal proceedings against Russia’s anti-monopoly regulator in a dispute concerning alternative payment options on its App Store platform, the RIA news agency reported on Sunday citing court ... Read more »

iPad Pro redesign and more iPad updates tipped for 2022

Over the last year Apple has treated us to new models of the iPad Pro, the iPad mini, and the entry-level 10.2-inch iPad, but it doesn’t appear to be slowing ... Read more »

We're finally getting a PS5 pro controller, but it's not being made by Sony

A PS5 pro controller is finally on the way thanks to renowned manufacturer Scuf, which should give PlayStation gamers an edge when playing online. Sony doesn’t have its own version ... Read more »

Sony HT-A9 review

Two-minute review When it comes to home theatre, there are casual users that are satisfied with soundbars and enthusiasts that want a cinema-like experience with multiple speakers all around them. ... Read more »

The Boys is getting another spin-off – and it lands next year

The Boys is getting another spin-off TV show on Amazon Prime Video – and it’ll be released on the streamer in early 2022. Announced by The Boys star Karl Urban ... Read more »
On you will find lots of free English exam practice materials to help you improve your English skills: grammar, listening, reading, writing, ielts, toeic