Apple AirPods Pro 2 vs AirPods 3: Which is Better in 2024?

Odi Productions Jul 20, 2024
412 People Read
Holding AirPods Pro 2 vs AirPods 3 earbuds in hand

Disclosure: Some of the links in this article may be affiliate links, which can provide compensation to me at no cost to you if you decide to purchase. 

In this article, I'm going to share my HONEST Apple AirPods Pro 2 vs AirPods 3 comparison in detail, after personally owning both products. I have thoroughly tested each of these headphones for hundreds of hours, and aim to offer a critical opinion from the perspective of an audiophile and professional music producer.

I'll be comparing these two head to head on categories like price, comfort, features, battery life, noise cancelling, and sound quality.

Then at the end, I'll share which is the better overall value for the money, and my overall recommendation on which you should buy.

Also, if you're interested in learning more after, I have tested each product individually in my AirPods Pro 2 review and AirPods 3 review, along with the AirPods Max.


Apple AirPods Pro 2 vs AirPods 3rd Generation Price Compared

Overall, the Apple AirPods 3rd generation is $50 cheaper than the AirPods Pro 2 at current market prices for brand new.

Apple AirPods Pro 2 Prices

  • Retail: $249.00

  • New: $199.99

  • Renewed: $171 (save up to $29)

Apple AirPods 3rd generation Prices

  • Retail: $169.00

  • New: $149

  • Renewed: $129 (save up to $40)


Order HERE for the LOWEST PRICE AVAILABLE 

(Do NOT pay retail): 

Save up to $29 on Apple AirPods Pro 2 with Renewed below:

Save up to $40 on AirPods 3 with Renewed below:

Disclosure: These links may provide a discount and in return, give us a commission in order to run the website 🙂


Comfort

AirPods 3 vs AirPods Pro 2 side by side comparison

Starting off this comparison with the "Comfort" category, both AirPods are supremely comfortable compared to most full-sized over-ear headphones, hence the name "AirPods".

Wearing both of these wireless earbuds for hours shouldn't be an issue for most users, but there is a clear difference between the two that makes the regular AirPods 3rd gen superior in comfort to the AirPods Pro 2nd gen.

The AirPods Pro 2 eartips must be fully inserted into your ear canals, whereas the AirPods 3 doesn't have any eartips that go directly inside the ear canal.

If you're like me, it can be uncomfortable to be inserting things into the ear canal, so the "looser" fit of the AirPods 3 is preferred.

That said, the stock eartips of the AirPods Pro 2 are actually not bad at all, and once I upgraded them to memory foam tips, the comfort became much closer to the regular AirPods 3.

Overall, both earbuds are much more comfortable and less cumbersome than full-sized headphones, which is why they score nearly perfect in this category.

Apple AirPods Pro 2 Comfort: 4.5 out of 5

Apple AirPods 3 Comfort: 5 out of 5

Winner: AirPods 3


Features / Battery Life / Noise Cancelling

Apple AirPods 3rd generation and Apple AirPods Pro 2nd generation earbuds

Features

The AirPods Pro 2nd generation and AirPods 3rd generation share many similar features such as Spatial Audio and Dolby Atmos, although only the Pro series have Adaptive Noise Cancelling.

Aside from that, both AirPods work flawlessly with the Apple ecosystem of products, switching seamlessly between iPhone, iPad, and Mac devices without having to manually select it (most of the time).

I can confirm that AirPods products still work well with Android and Windows devices, but you won't be able to access as much info as the built in iOS or MacOS operating systems.

Looks

The design of the AirPod Pro 2 and AirPod 3 is very similar, with the newer, shorter stem versus the previous 2nd generation.

AirPods Pro 2 vs AirPods 3 Battery Life Comparison

The Apple AirPods Pro 2 and AirPods 3 have nearly identical battery life.

  • Apple AirPods Pro 2 Battery Life: Up to 6 hours on single charge, Up to 30 hours with charging case

  • Apple AirPods 3 Battery Life: Up to 6 hours on single charge, Up to 30 hours with charging case

It's important to note that both of these will last longer with their active noise cancelling and additional features like Spatial Audio/Dolby Atmos turned off.

AirPods Pro 2 vs AirPods 3 Noise Cancelling: Which is Better?

The biggest difference in features between the AirPods Pro 2nd generation and AirPods 3rd generation is that the "Pro" line has Adaptive Noise Cancelling, whereas the regular AirPods do not.

This may be due to the design of the AirPods Pro 1 and 2 which create a physical seal once the eartips are inserted.

The regular AirPods do not create any type of full seal, so it may be physically impossible to have effective noise cancelling.

One benefit of this is always being able to hear your surroundings, but the Pro 2 also has a "Transparency Mode" that can do the same, and then some.

If noise cancelling is important to you, then you have to go for the AirPods Pro 2.

AirPods Pro 2 Features / Battery Life / Noise Cancelling: 3.5 out of 5

AirPods 3 Features / Battery Life / Noise Cancelling: 3.0 out of 5

Winner: AirPods Pro 2


AirPods Pro 2 vs AirPods 3 Sound Quality Comparison

Apple AirPods 3rd gen and AirPods Pro 2nd gen with MagSafe Charging cases

Both the AirPods Pro 2 and the AirPods 3 surprised me with their sound quality, even as an audiophile and professional music producer.

It's amazing how far technology has come with these tiny, wireless earbuds.

That said, the AirPods Pro 2 has superior sound quality to the regular AirPods 3, and a lot has to do with the physical seal it is able to create inside of the ear canal, like professional IEMs.

The regular AirPods 3rd gen is no slouch, with a very consumer-friendly sound signature that emphasizes powerful bass and fairly detailed treble.

I actually prefer the bass response on the AirPods 3, and turning on Spatial Audio can convincingly replicate listening to an expensive home speaker system.

But where the AirPods Pro 2 really shines is in its incredibly natural and realistic timbre, along with a surprisingly wide soundstage.

The AirPods 3 sounds a lot more boxed in and claustrophobic, with inferior imaging and separation. Again, I think the lack of any physical seal has a lot to do with these limitations.

The AirPods Pro 2 is truly a joy to listen to, whether that be for music, movies, and even gaming.

The AirPods 3 is still really great for casual listening and content like YouTube and podcasts, where sound quality is not as high of a priority.

Apple AirPods Pro 2 Sound Quality: 8.1 out of 10

Apple AirPods 3 Sound Quality: 7.1 out of 10

Winner: Apple AirPods Pro 2


Value

Although the regular AirPods 3rd gen is roughly $50 cheaper than the AirPods Pro 2, I think that the superior sound quality and adaptive noise cancelling make it a far better value.

For $50 more, you're getting audiophile-friendly sound quality and very decent noise cancelling.

The AirPods 3rd gen has no noise cancelling and for me, that can be a dealbreaker if I am traveling or working in noisy environments often.

Although it is nice to be able to hear your surroundings in the AirPods 3, the AirPods Pro 2's "Transparency Mode" offers even better awareness.

Apple AirPods Pro 2 Value: 5 out of 5

Apple AirPods 3 Value: 3.5 out of 5

Winner: Apple AirPods Pro 2


Apple AirPods Pro 2 Overall Rating: 8.4 / 10

  • Sound Quality: 8.1 / 10

  • Comfort: 4.5 / 5

  • Features / Battery Life / Noise Cancelling: 3.5 / 5

  • Value: 5 / 5

  • Total: 21.1 / 25


Apple AirPods 3 Overall Rating: 7.4 / 10

  • Sound Quality: 7.1 / 10

  • Comfort: 5 / 5

  • Features / Battery Life / Noise Cancelling: 3.0 / 5

  • Value: 3.5 / 5

  • Total: 18.6 / 25


Overall Winner: Apple AirPods Pro 2

AirPods Pro 2nd gen vs AirPods 3rd gen in case

With superior sound quality and adaptive noise cancelling, the AirPods Pro 2nd gen is my pick over the regular AirPods 3rd gen, despite being about $50 more expensive.

Both are truly great wireless earbuds, in a category that Apple practically created and are nearing perfection.

Although the Pro 2 is superior as a package, I surmise that your choice mainly boils down to the preference of whether you are comfortable with inserting the eartips into your ear canal, or not.

I was once in the camp that I didn't want anything in my ear canals, but the AirPods Pro 2 changed my mind completely, and I find them nearly as comfortable as the regular AirPods 3, especially after adding memory foam eartips.

If you're interested in reading more, I've also done an AirPods Max review, as well as comparing the AirPods Pro 2 vs AirPods Max.


Order HERE for the LOWEST PRICE AVAILABLE 

(Do NOT pay retail): 

Save up to $29 on Apple AirPods Pro 2 with Renewed below:

Save up to $40 on the AirPods 3 with Renewed below:

Disclosure: These links may provide a discount and in return, give us a commission in order to run the website 🙂


How We Tested and Our Methodology

RecordingNOW.com is a 100% independent publisher with over 10 years of experience testing and reviewing consumer electronics and headphones.

We currently purchase the products we test with our own money, and are not paid by any company or manufacturer to influence our opinions or decisions.

After purchasing the product, we conduct up to hundreds of hours of detailed hands-on testing in a controlled, acoustically-treated environment.

ODi Productions is our resident expert and author of this article, with 10 years of experience as a professional music producer, tech journalist, and audiophile.


Read Next


Apple AirPods Pro 2 Review: WORTH IT in 2024? (USB C)

Apple AirPods Pro 2 USB C on desk

Apple AirPods 3 Review: WORTH IT in 2024? (Latest Model)

Holding Apple AirPods 3rd generation in hand with MagSafe charging case in background

Beats Studio Buds Review: WORTH IT in 2024?

Holding Beats Studio Buds wireless noise cancelling earbuds in hand

Apple AirPods Max Review: Still Worth it in 2024?

Apple AirPods Max laying flat on keyboard and desk

Apple AirPods Pro 2 vs AirPods Max: Owner Comparison (2024)

Apple AirPods Pro 2 vs AirPods Max side by side

Apple AirPods 2 Review: WORTH IT in 2024? (2nd Generation)

Apple AirPods 2nd Generation in charging case held in hand

Disclosure:  Some of the links in this article may be affiliate links, which can provide compensation to me at no cost to you if you decide to purchase.