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It is no secret that Apple has some of the best earbuds and headphones in the world in their product line. The AirPods are comfortable, convenient, and sound great. There are 3 main models of AirPods, but what are the differences between them, and which one should you buy?
Each model has its pros and cons and different features, so this decision might not be the easiest to make. The difference between the AirPods Pro, 2, and 3 are mostly related to the design of the earbuds and their sound quality.
For example, the AirPods Pro might be best suited for audio enthusiasts since it delivers an excellent response across all of the frequency spectrum, while the AirPods 2 and 3 are cheaper.
In this article, we will explain all the differences between the AirPods Pro, 2, and 3, as well as help you decide which one is the best for your particular use case.
Table of Contents
- Apple AirPods Pro vs. AirPods 2 vs. AirPods 3: Key Differences (Quick Answer)
- Major Differences between Apple Airpods Pro vs. AirPods 2 vs. AirPods 3
- Apple Airpods Pro vs. 3 vs. 2: Which One Should You Buy? (Our Preferences)
Apple AirPods Pro vs. AirPods 2 vs. AirPods 3: Key Differences (Quick Answer)
Let’s start by summing up all of the differences between the AirPods Pro, 2, and 3. This section will give you an overall perspective of the features of each model, but we will discuss each feature further down the article.
The first feature we see on the AirPods Pro that we don’t see on the AirPods 2 and 3 are the ear tips. The ear tips will help the earbuds create a much better seal between the product and your ear canals. The iPhone even features a software fit test. The AirPods Pro comes with different sizes of silicone ear tips as well.
With that in mind, you can guess that the AirPods Pro is more suited for the audio enthusiasts’ crowd. Those who care a lot about sound quality but still want to have the practicality and compact design of the AirPods will like the model. The AirPods Pro is more expensive than the other versions, though.
Both the AirPods 2 and 3 will suit most casual listeners. The AirPods 3 was announced in 2021 and is essentially an updated version of the AirPods 2, but the latter can be found costing significantly less than the newer model.
Compared to the AirPods 3, the AirPods 2 is very simple. It is still very reliable and will be a great choice for those who just want a simple pair of Bluetooth earbuds for years to come.
The AirPods 3, on the other hand, features an updated design that is more ergonomic and certain features such as Spatial Audio and a MagSafe charging case.
Major Differences between Apple Airpods Pro vs. AirPods 2 vs. AirPods 3
The design of the AirPods Pro features an ear tip, something which is particular to that model. An ear tip will help the earbuds create a tighter fit inside your ear canal for a much better low-frequency response. The design also has the advantage of creating better noise cancellation.
The silhouette of the AirPods Pro is very similar to the AirPods 3, so it looks exceptionally good and not too flashy.
The AirPods 2 has the classic Apple earbuds silhouette inherited by its predecessor, the AirPods 1. Compared to the Pro and 3, it is slightly smaller. The case is quite compact as well. The AirPods 2 will fit most people’s ears just fine.
The AirPods 3 features a new design over its predecessor, the AirPods 2. The newer version has a slightly larger earpiece which creates a better fit between the earbuds and your ear canal. The speakers are now also larger, which contributes to a better response overall.
The AirPods feature several controls that allow you to do a few things without having to reach for your iPhone. You can play and pause your audio by pressing the force sensor on the stem of the AirPods Pro. There are certain gestures, such as tapping twice or three times to skip and go back to a track, respectively.
The AirPods 2 only features a double-tap gesture. You can set AirPod for a different function. For example, double-tapping the left earbud to go to the previous track and the right earbud to go to the next track.
The controls on the AirPods 3 are similar to that found on the AirPods Pro featuring the same gestures.
Also Read: 10 Best Waterproof Earbuds
3. Noise Cancellation
Among all the 3 models, the AirPods Pro is the one with the best noise cancellation features. This is because the ear tips create a tight seal between the earbuds and your ear canal, which prevents the external noise from affecting your listening experience.
It also features active noise cancellation, which uses the microphones that are built-in in the earbuds to listen to the environment around you and keep noise out; As well as the Transparency Mode, which lets you stay aware of your surroundings even when wearing the earbuds.
Just like the AirPods 3, the AirPods 2 do feature a certain degree of passive noise cancellation but aren’t as good in this subject as the AirPods Pro.
The AirPods 3 feature passive noise cancellation to a certain degree, but they aren’t as noise canceling as the AirPods Pro. The 3 version doesn’t feature active noise cancellation as well.
4. Sound Quality
The AirPods Pro is made with high-performance audio in mind, so they are the best when it comes to sound quality. The ear tip really helps provide a better response across all of the frequency spectrum overall, thanks to its ability to create a tight seal between the earbuds and your ear canal.
The sound quality of the AirPods 2 is decent but lacks quite a bit of definition if compared to the AirPods Pro. For most casual listeners, this shouldn’t be a problem.
The AirPods 3 sounds decent and have a better response overall than their predecessor, the AirPods 2. The new model has slightly larger speakers which improve the listening experience tremendously and will sound good with any music genre.
The AirPods Pro features a significantly faster processor compared to the 2 and 3 models, which should help with tasks and features such as connection speed and Spatial Audio. Thanks to the updated processor, you shouldn’t experience any issues with audio lagging and stuttering.
The AirPods 2, similarly to the AirPods 3, feature a high-quality processor, and issues with lagging and stuttering are rare.
Compared to the AirPods 2, the processor in the AirPods 3 didn’t change much compared to its predecessor, but it had a slight boost in performance to hold up to features such as Spatial Audio. It should perform excellently for most consumers and listeners.
6. Wireless Charging Case
The charging case of the AirPods Pro is slightly larger if compared to the 2 and 3 models. You should take that into account since it won’t fit every pocket. The larger size, however, is an advantage when it comes to extra battery: it holds 24 hours of extra battery life. It also features wireless charging.
The charging case of the AirPods 2 is compact and will fit most pockets, but it doesn’t feature wireless charging like the AirPods Pro and 3.
The AirPods 3 charging case is only slightly larger if compared to the AirPods 2 one. It also features wireless charging, just like the ones found on the AirPods Pro.
7. Listening Time
The AirPods Pro can give you up to 4.5 hours of listening time with a single charge. You get around 24 hours with the charging case.
The AirPods 2 has similar numbers, with up to 5 hours of listening time with a single charge and around 18 hours with the charging case.
The AirPods 3 give you up to 6 hours of listening time with a single charge, so it has the best battery life among all three. The charging case gives you an extra 24 hours.
8. Talk Time
The AirPods Pro gives you up to 3.5 hours of talking time on a single charge.
The AirPods 2 has similar numbers and can give you up to 3 hours of talking time.
The AirPods 3 has the longest talking time of all 3 models, with 4 hours.
9. Sweat, Water Resistance, and Fit
Apple doesn’t specify an IP rating for its products, but the AirPods Pro is said to be sweat and water resistance for non-water sports. This type of protection should be sufficient for things such as working out.
Fit-wise, the AirPods Pro has the best fit among all three since the ear tips really help secure the earbuds in your ears.
The AirPods 2 aren’t sweat or water-resistant, which is a major drawback since it isn’t advisable to work out wearing these.
When it comes to fit, the AirPods 2 is ok but stands back compared to the Pro and 3 versions.
The AirPods 3 are sweat and water-resistant, although Apple doesn’t specify an IP rating. They are fine for situations such as workouts but shouldn’t be used in water.
Fit-wise, the AirPods 3 has a huge advantage over the AirPods 2 since they fit the ear canal much better, thanks to the improved design.
Also Read: IPX Rating Explained
10. Dolby Atmos and Spatial Audio Support
The AirPods Pro supports Dolby Atmos and Spatial Audio, and it sounds the best among the 3 models. Thanks to the design of the earbuds, the listening experience is more than excellent. If you’re interested in making use of these features, we highly recommend going for the AirPods Pro.
The AirPods 2 doesn’t feature Dolby Atmos nor Spatial Audio support.
The AirPods 3 supports Dolby Atmos and Spatial Audio and performs quite well with these features.
11. Siri Voice Control
Thanks to its faster processor, the AirPods Pro works perfectly with Siri Voice Control. It has the fastest response of all 3 models, and you can activate Siri using the force sensor on the stem of the earbuds.
The AirPods 2 gives support to Siri Voice Control, which can be activated by saying “Hey Siri” or by setting up the double touch feature.
Similarly to the AirPods Pro, you can use the force sensor on the stem of the AirPods 3 to activate Siri Voice Control.
Apple Airpods Pro vs. 3 vs. 2: Which One Should You Buy? (Our Preferences)
After reviewing each feature of the AirPods Pro, 2 and 3, we are going to list some pros and cons about each model, as well as give our opinion regarding which use case each pair of earbuds suits the best.
Reason to Buy Apple Airpods Pro
The AirPods Pro is by far the most premium option. If you’d like to have the best audio quality and make use of several features such as Dolby Atmos and Spatial Audio, then we definitely recommend this model.
In our opinion, one of the best features of the AirPods Pro is the ear tips. It really helps create a tight fit between the earbuds and your ear canal for a much better response across all of the frequency spectrum and helps with features such as noise cancellation.
If you’re on a tight budget or you just want a simple solution, however, it isn’t worth it to break the bank to get the AirPods Pro. We would rather recommend the AirPods 2 or 3, depending on how large your budget is.
- The best sound quality of all 3 models.
- Active noise cancellation technology.
- Excellent design.
- More expensive than the other models.
- The charging case is larger than the one sold with other models.
Reason to Buy Apple Airpods 2
The AirPods 2, despite being the oldest model on sale right now, is an excellent pair of earbuds that delivers decent audio quality and will work for most listeners who don’t want or see the necessity to spend almost $50 more on the newer AirPods Pro and 3.
The AirPods 2 doesn’t have as many features if compared to the Pro and the 3, such as noise cancellation, but the model should still hold to the modern expectations for years to come, so it is still a great investment.
- The most affordable model of all three.
- Simple to use.
- Great sound quality.
- Smaller compact charging case.
- Isn’t sweat nor water-resistant.
- Doesn’t fit the ears as well as the AirPods Pro and 3.
Reason to Buy Apple Airpods 3
The AirPods 3 is the updated version of the AirPods 2, with many improvements and new features. The model is a bit more expensive than its predecessor, but depending on how tight your budget is, it may be worth spending a little extra to get the extra features.
The AirPods 3 supports all newer technologies such as Dolby Atmos and Spatial Audio and has seen improvements in the audio quality compared to the AirPods 2.
The only drawback with the AirPods 3, in our opinion, is the larger charging case. The charging case for the AirPods 2 is smaller and more compact, but that isn’t that big of an issue and is doable since the design of the AirPods 3 is in fact, a bit larger in size.
- Improved sound quality if compared to the AirPods 2.
- Improved design if compared to the AirPods 2.
- Not many improvements regarding battery life.
After reviewing these three models, we come to the conclusion that each one of them may cater to a different use case. As we said, if your expectation is above-than-average audio quality, then we definitely recommend you get the AirPods Pro.
The AirPods 2 is really fine for those who just want a simple pair of Bluetooth earbuds that won’t break the bank. Although they are not the newest model, they sound excellent and will be good for years to come. This is the best model for those on a budget.
Now, the AirPods 3 is the updated version of the AirPods 2 with a number of new features and better sound quality compared to the older model. The AirPods 3 will give you the best bang for your buck and is, in our opinion, the best option overall for all use cases.
We hope our article about the differences between the AirPods Pro vs. AirPods 2 vs. AirPods 3 was helpful. Test each earbud on a physical store if you can. If you liked the guide, please consider sharing it with a friend. Feel free to contact us if you have any questions!
Hello, my name is James Longman.
I’m a writer and editor at AudioReputation. I disassembled my first portable AM/FM radio when I was only 8. At the age of 11, I burned the circuit board on my old boombox cassette player. I’m not going to explain how but it was reckless and stupid.
Since then, I have become much more careful around radios, boomboxes, and other audio devices (at least, I like to think so) but I have never lost the passion for audio equipment. Throughout 20 years of my professional career, I’ve been working for various audio equipment manufacturers and even started building speakers on my own in my little workshop.
I love the work we do here at AudioReputation. Testing, comparing, and evaluating all kinds of audio devices (speakers, soundbars, headphones, home theater systems, etc.) is something I truly enjoy. I try to be unbiased and give you my honest opinion on every piece of equipment I test. Still, you should take my reviews with a pinch of salt and always be just a little bit skeptical. The fact that I liked some speaker or soundbar doesn’t mean that you are going to love it. If you have the opportunity, you should test it/hear it before buying it.