Apple AirPods 3 Review: WORTH IT in 2024? (3rd Generation)

Odi Productions Jul 20, 2024
92 People Read
Holding Apple AirPods 3rd generation with MagSafe charging case in background

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 3rd Generation review for those who are wondering whether they are WORTH IT in 2024. These are the latest version with MagSafe charging case. I'll also be comparing them vs AirPods Pro 2 and AirPods Max as well.

I'll be sharing my critical opinion as an audiophile and professional music producer.

Let's dive right in!



Apple AirPods 3 review in short

Holding AirPods 3rd generation with MagSafe Charging Case

The AirPods 3rd generation improves upon the popular 2nd generation AirPods in every way, and is a great choice for those who prefer earbuds that don't go inside the ear canal like the AirPods Pro 2. Sound quality is much improved over the 2nd gen, with surprisingly full bass and a consumer-friendly sound signature. Spatial Audio, sweat/water resistance, and MagSafe wireless charging case are useful improvements as well.


Apple AirPods 3rd Generation Price

At the time of this writing, the AirPods 3rd gen are priced at $169 retail, but available on Amazon below for as low as $149.

Want to save up to an additional $40? Order the Renewed Version below which is currently around $130.

Order the Apple AirPods 3 for the LOWEST PRICE AVAILABLE (Do NOT pay retail): 

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


Apple AirPods 3 Pros and Cons

Apple AirPods 3rd gen on desk

Pros

  • Good sound quality

  • Comfier than AirPods Pro 2

  • Spatial Audio

  • Sweat + water resistant

  • MagSafe charging case

Cons

  • No noise cancelling

  • AirPods Pro 2 have superior sound quality


Comfort: 5 / 5

They're called "AirPods" for a reason, and the 3rd generation makes it easy to forget you're wearing any earbuds altogether.

I definitely prefer NOT having to insert any eartips inside my ear canal like the AirPods Pro 2, so for that reason alone, these score better for comfort.

I've been reading mixed reviews regarding the fit of the larger 3rd gen over the previous 2nd gen, but personally find the 3rd gen to fit me better.

The smaller head of the 2nd gen made them looser and more likely to fall out, whereas the 3rd gen fits pretty much perfectly.

Since we all have different ear shapes and sizes, your mileage may vary.

Apple AirPods 3rd generation for working out and gym use

One new feature of the AirPods 3 is that it is now sweat and water resistant, a feature that was missing from previous generations. I find the better, more secure fit of the AirPods 3 with the new sweat resistance to be a great combo for working out in the gym. The only caveat is the lack of noise cancelling that the AirPods Pro 2 and AirPods Max provides.


Features / Battery Life / Noise Cancelling: 3.0 / 5

Features

The AirPods 3 adds some new features like Personalized Spatial Audio, sweat and water resistance, and a wireless MagSafe charging case.

I used to think Spatial Audio was kind of a gimmick, but listening to music through the AirPods 3 with it turned on actually emulates listening to a fairly expensive speaker system.

Spatial Audio with head-tracking on is my preferred method of listening to the AirPods 3, and I think it elevates the experience quite a bit.

In addition to these new features, the seamless pairing and switching between Apple devices makes any AirPods-line of product really effortless for Apple ecosystem users.

Looks

I prefer the look of the AirPods 3 over the previous 2nd generation. The 3rd gen has a much shorter stem and a larger earbud, which results in a better look when worn.

In comparison, the long stem of the 2nd gen now looks outdated and less svelte, like an earlier prototype versus the 3rd gen.

AirPods 3rd Generation Battery Life

The battery life of the AirPods 3rd generation only improves slightly over the previous 2nd gen, at 6 hours on a single charge, and 30 hours total with multiple recharges from the charging case.

I'd say 6 hours is respectable considering the tiny form factor, and 30 hours is improved upon the previous 24 hour rating.

The real question will be whether the 3rd gen can hold a charge 2-3 years from now, as I found the overall lifetime of the 2nd gen to be around 2-3 years from new.

AirPods 3 Noise Cancelling Performance

Unlike the AirPods Pro 2 and AirPods Max, the regular AirPods 3 doesn't have any active noise cancelling features built-in, most likely due to not being able to form a seal around the ear canal.

There is a little bit of passive noise isolation from the outside world, but it's nowhere near what the AirPods Pro 2 can do even with noise cancelling turned off.

That said, the upside to this is being able to hear your surroundings much more clearly, although the transparency mode on the AirPods Pro 2 is equally good when needed.

The AirPods 3 mostly loses points in this category for not having any noise cancelling.


AirPods 3rd Generation Sound Quality: 7.1 / 10

I find the sound quality of the AirPods 3 to be slightly improved overall versus the previous 2nd gen, especially in the bass region.

The first note I want to make is that the regular AirPods line is limited by physics, not being able to form that complete seal like the AirPods Pro 2 and over-ear headphones will always be inferior in terms of absolute sound quality.

That said, I'm pleasantly surprised with the AirPods 3 despite its limitations, in the same way I was with the 2nd gen.

The AirPods 3 has a very consumer-friendly sound signature, with a strong emphasis on bass and treble, and mids being scooped. The downside to this is that it is not nearly as natural-sounding as the AirPods Pro 2.

The bass is what impresses me the most with these, as it is powerful and full-sounding. With Spatial Audio turned on, it replicates listening to a subwoofer surprisingly well.

I think the audiophile technicalities is where the AirPods 3 falls short, and the soundstage is very claustrophobic and boxed in. In contrast, the AirPods Pro 2 has such a wide and open sound that seemingly defies physics.

Overall, most consumers would probably be much more than satisfied with listening to music, TV shows, movies, and podcasts with these - myself included!


Is the Apple AirPods 3rd generation worth it?

At the time of this writing, the AirPods 3rd generation retail for $169 full price, but available regularly for $149 new, or even as low as $129 renewed in excellent condition.

Considering the overall package, I find the AirPods Pro 2 to be a much better value than the regular AirPods 3 dollar for dollar, despite costing about $50 more on average.

But if you don't want to insert an eartip into your ear canal, it's hard to find worthy alternatives to the AirPods 3, especially those users within the Apple ecosystem.

Now compared to the previous AirPods 2nd generation, I do think the 3rd generation is worth the $50 upgrade and would choose it every time over the older pair.

You can read my detailed comparison of the Apple AirPods Pro 2 vs AirPods 3 next.

Another very strong alternative worth a look at this price range is the latest Beats Studio Pro, an over-ear noise-cancelling headphone released in mid-2023 that offers better sound quality and features for the money.

Value: 3.5 / 5


Scoring Breakdown

Comfort: 5 / 5

Features / Looks / Noise Cancelling: 3.0 / 5

Sound Quality: 7.1 / 10

Value: 3.5 / 5

Total: 19.1 / 25

Our Rating: 7.4 / 10

Holding the left Apple AirPods 3rd gen earbud in hand


Order the Apple AirPods 3 for the LOWEST PRICE AVAILABLE (Do NOT pay retail): 

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


AirPods 3rd Generation Frequently Asked Questions

Are AirPods 3 noise cancelling?

No, Apple AirPods 3rd generation do not contain any active noise cancelling features. Only the AirPods Pro series and Max contain noise cancelling.

Which is better: AirPods 2 or 3?

The AirPods 3rd gen are improved in virtually every way over the older 2nd gen model, with newer features like Spatial Audio and sweat and water resistance.

Do AirPods 3 have better sound quality?

Yes, the AirPods 3 have improved sound quality over the 2nd gen, particularly in the bass region and with the addition of Spatial Audio. The bass is fuller and more detailed over the 2nd gen.


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.


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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.