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Almost three years after the launch of the first-generation AirPods Pro, Apple unveiled the second-generation model alongside the iPhone 14 lineup and several new Apple Watches. Although the second-generation AirPods Pro feature the same design as their predecessor, they improve on features like Active Noise Cancellation, in-ear detection, and battery life, while introducing new functionality like Adaptive Transparency, volume adjustment touch controls, and precision finding.

airpods-3-purple.jpg

In late 2021, Apple introduced a major update for its standard AirPods, with the new earbuds adding Spatial Audio, Adaptive EQ, force sensor controls, sweat and water resistance, MagSafe charging, and more.

Should you consider purchasing the $179 third-generation AirPods, or do you need the higher-end AirPods Pro, which sell for $249? Our guide helps to answer the question of how to decide which of these sets of AirPods is best for you.

Comparing the AirPods and AirPods Pro

The AirPods and AirPods Pro share a large number of important features such as Spatial Audio with dynamic head tracking, sweat and water resistance, and skin-detect sensors. Even so, there are some meaningful differences between them that are worth highlighting, including design and Active Noise Cancellation.

Key Differences

AirPods (Third-Generation)AirPods Pro (Second-Generation)
Semi in-ear designIn-ear design with silicone ear tips (four sizes) and vent system for pressure equalization
Force sensor controlsForce sensor and touch controls for volume adjustment
H1 chipsH2 chips
Bluetooth 5.0Bluetooth 5.3
Active Noise Cancellation
Transparency and Adaptive Transparency
Conversation Boost
Up to 5 hours listening time with Spatial Audio enabledUp to 5.5 hours listening time with with Spatial Audio enabled
Up to 4 hours of talk time with a single chargeUp to 4.5 hours of talk time with a single charge
Up to 20 hours of talk time using MagSafe Charging CaseUp to 24 hours of talk time using MagSafe Charging Case
MagSafe Charging Case with Find MyMagSafe Charging Case with Find My, built-in speaker, U1 chip for Precision Tracking, and lanyard loop
MagSafe Charging Case compatible with MagSafe charger, Qi wireless charging mats, and LightningMagSafe Charging Case compatible with Apple Watch charger, MagSafe charger, Qi wireless charging mats, and Lightning


Final Thoughts

The standard AirPods are now very similar to the AirPods Pro, offering almost all of the same features at a lower price point. As a result, the third-generation AirPods should be the default choice for most prospective buyers. If you also have AirPods Max, which already offer ANC, and are looking for an additional pair of headphones to use while working out or on the go, the third-generation AirPods are also a good choice.

You should only buy the AirPods Pro if you specifically prefer the fit and improved sound that in-ear silicone tips can provide, or need Active Noise Cancellation. It is also worth buying AirPods Pro if you could make good use of Apple's Conversation Boost accessibility feature. Otherwise, the advancements of the H2 chip, minor battery life improvements, and Adaptive Transparency may not be a worthwhile set of improvements over the standard AirPods.

AirPods Pro frequently see hefty discounts on Amazon and other third-party retailers, so stepping up to the Pro version may be more worth it if you can take advantage of one of those deals. The standard AirPods also often see solid discounts, so it is always worth seeking the best price using our Deals roundup.

Article Link: AirPods 3 vs. AirPods Pro 2 Buyer's Guide
 
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Caviar_X

macrumors 6502a
Sep 2, 2010
505
479
I have both models and I prefer the best audio quality and ANC available which the Pro 2 provides. I'll still use my Airpod 3 more for talk time since that would be better for comfort and ease of use.
 

sw1tcher

macrumors 603
Jan 6, 2004
5,518
19,412
You should only buy the AirPods Pro if you specifically prefer the fit and improved sound that in-ear silicone tips can provide, or need Active Noise Cancellation. It is also worth buying AirPods Pro if you could make good use of Apple's Conversation Boost accessibility feature. Otherwise, the advancements of the H2 chip, minor battery life improvements, and Adaptive Transparency may not be a worthwhile set of improvements over the standard AirPods.
How could you forget to mention the ability of the AirPods Pro 2 to show engravings during pairing? That alone is worth it. ;)
 

redman042

macrumors 68040
Jun 13, 2008
3,051
1,629
How much better is the ANC on the Pro 2? Also curious how close the ANC comes to the AirPods Max.
 
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deathcab

macrumors regular
May 26, 2009
142
582
I think a distinction worth noting, AirPods 3 find my feature is for the ear buds only, not the case. AirPods Pro 2 find my works for both the case and the ear buds.
Agree. The time I've spent hunting for misplaced AirPods (still in the case) after my toddler picked them up and carried them around along would pay for the price of the Pros. Much needed feature and huge improvement.
 

NMBob

macrumors 68000
Sep 18, 2007
1,924
2,512
New Mexico
MagSafe charging

That's great for the environment! I have all kinds of old MacBook chargers in a junk drawer.
 

iPod’s Gateway

macrumors newbie
Sep 23, 2022
15
32
First post, take it easy on me… I love these comparisons for each new product, but it would be so much easier if the features were side-by-side. Kind of like on Apple’s compare sites. Do you think you could add lines dividing the rows so we can do a quick comparison as we scan the articles?
 

windowsblowsass

macrumors 6502a
Jan 25, 2004
786
442
pa
First post, take it easy on me… I love these comparisons for each new product, but it would be so much easier if the features were side-by-side. Kind of like on Apple’s compare sites. Do you think you could add lines dividing the rows so we can do a quick comparison as we scan the articles?
Yeah the mobile formatting was a real issue on this post
 

ric22

macrumors 68020
Mar 8, 2022
2,123
2,011
Only buy the Pro's if you want the improved sound quality? The author doesn't seem to care much about sound quality, which surely has to be one of the primary elements to consider for headphones, even disposable ones like these.
 

AppleTO

macrumors 6502a
Oct 31, 2018
942
2,406
Toronto, Canada
It seems like a lot of places are making a big deal out of these new products have Bluetooth 5.3, but from my understanding, they aren't actually making any use of the new features 5.3 supports. Please correct me if I'm wrong.
 

hydropsyche

macrumors member
Feb 12, 2016
87
109
I think a distinction worth noting, AirPods 3 find my feature is for the ear buds only, not the case. AirPods Pro 2 find my works for both the case and the ear buds.
That is good to know because I don't want apple tracking me with their hideous mesh network.
 

jjohnstonjr

macrumors 6502
Apr 18, 2017
268
361
Cleveland Ohio
Originally I said I was not going to purchase these AirPod Pro 2 but I did. I was not a fan of the first ones because they slipped out my ears often. Apple added the extra small ear pieces are clutch for me. I got mine this afternoon and charged them up while I cleaned up the house. Soon as I threw them in when I was driving the noise cancellation kicked in and the sound on these babies is AMAZING!!!!! The call clarity on these compared to the AirPod 3. My friend said that I sound much more clear than I normally do. Now I typically use my Powerbeats Pro and I love them because of the battery life and comfort. The AirPod 3's would hurt my ears after a while but these Pro 2 are so comfortable.
 

pnoyblazed

macrumors 6502a
Mar 1, 2008
987
404
Will only get these with a decent discount. Costco currently has these for $10 off at $239.
 

performa_6400

macrumors regular
Dec 10, 2020
230
384
The first gen AirPods never felt uncomfortable to me but the sound was decent for ear buds. The AirPod 3s sounded way better but they would really start to feel uncomfortable and noticeable after a half hour or so of use. I got the 2nd gen Pros delivered today and tested them for around 2 hours with work calls and music and absolutely loved the feel and sound.

I get why the silicone tips help with sound, but they also help a great deal with comfort.
 
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SoldOnApple

macrumors 65816
Jul 20, 2011
1,094
1,837
I just got the AirPod Pro 2, my first AirPods. I gotta say that spatial audio with the head movement seems a bit stupid. Maybe it'll grow on me, but I found spatial audio on my old BeatsX without head tracking to be perfectly fine. You turn your head and some of the sound, like the vocals, shifts from the centre to the other side. Then if you keep your head in that position it moves back to the centre again. What's the point, it sounds bad when it happens. Maybe this technology will finally make more sense when paired with the Apple VR headset.
 
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tonie walker

macrumors 6502a
Sep 25, 2020
559
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I just got the AirPod Pro 2, my first AirPods. I gotta say that spatial audio with the head movement seems a bit stupid. Maybe it'll grow on me, but I found spatial audio on my old BeatsX without head tracking to be perfectly fine. You turn your head and some of the sound, like the vocals, shifts from the centre to the other side. Then if you keep your head in that position it moves back to the centre again. What's the point, it sounds bad when it happens. Maybe this technology will finally make more sense when paired with the Apple VR headset.
…you can disable head tracking
 
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B4rbelith

macrumors regular
Oct 22, 2020
138
462
I just got the AirPod Pro 2, my first AirPods. I gotta say that spatial audio with the head movement seems a bit stupid. Maybe it'll grow on me, but I found spatial audio on my old BeatsX without head tracking to be perfectly fine. You turn your head and some of the sound, like the vocals, shifts from the centre to the other side. Then if you keep your head in that position it moves back to the centre again. What's the point, it sounds bad when it happens. Maybe this technology will finally make more sense when paired with the Apple VR headset.
You can turn off the head tracking, which is what I do.
 
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MaaK

macrumors member
Aug 28, 2014
68
242
From one of the last podcast episodes we already know that the author will keep his AirPods 3.
Nevertheless, a review or comparison os supposed to be objective, which this one isn’t. The Transparency mode, better ANC, H2 chip, better sound, Find my features and speaker on the case make the AirPods Pro 2 superior to the AirPods 3.
If you don’t like the silicon tips, that’s fine, but the facts should stay facts.
 

sflagel

macrumors regular
Jun 28, 2012
164
298
If you are one of the 4Bn people that live in an urban environment, you need active noise cancellation. The standard AirPods are near useless. The AirPods Pro were already excellent. The second generation are a god-sent.
 

Kar98

macrumors 65816
Feb 20, 2007
1,259
884
> Should you consider purchasing the $179 third-generation AirPods, or do you need the higher-end ‌AirPods Pro‌, which sell for $249?

Or, a third option: get the first gen AirPods Pro for $179.
 
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