AirPods 3: Apple’s 2021 wi-fi headphones are lacking a number of massive options

The third-gen Apple AirPods.


Apple’s third-gen AirPods have been a spotlight of Apple’s October “Unleashed” occasion, which additionally noticed the debut of a redesigned MacBook Professional line that brings again a number of ports and higher-end M1 Professional and M1 Max chips. The $179 (£169, AU$279) AirPods 3 goals for the center floor between the $129 second-gen AirPods, which can stay on the market, and the $249 AirPods Professional. It consists of Spatial Audio assist with head monitoring, sweat- and water-resistance, a MagSafe-compatible wi-fi charging case and a six-hour battery life that outranks earlier generations and the AirPods Professional.

But $179 remains to be some huge cash for wi-fi headphones, and if you look outdoors of Apple you’ll be able to simply discover headphones with comparable options — usually for much less cash. Whereas Apple’s AirPods join seamlessly to Apple gadgets, it’s possible you’ll wish to think about options in case you’re splitting your headphone time between an iPhone and a non-Apple gadget reminiscent of a Home windows PC or a Nintendo Change. Different producers may give you higher assist for these gadgets.

Let’s spotlight some options it’s best to bear in mind when attempting to determine if you can purchase the brand new AirPods 3.


The third-gen AirPods are available in one colour: white. It is the identical colour that the second-gen AirPods and the AirPods Professional are available in, however Apple recently has been pushing colour all through its product line. The $549 AirPods Max is available in 5 colours (house grey, silver, pink, inexperienced and sky blue), and the 2021 iMac line is available in seven colours relying on the model you need.

Apple made a giant deal of releasing the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Mini in purple within the spring, and its Beats Studio Buds are available in black, white and pink.

Because of this it is somewhat unusual that Apple is not following swimsuit with its 2021 wi-fi headphones. In the meantime if colour is especially necessary to you, Samsung’s varied Galaxy Buds headphones appear to come back in virtually each colour. Relying on the mannequin, yow will discover them in shades of pink, blue, purple, inexperienced, grey, black and white.

That stated, it is doubtless that this era of AirPods will spend years available on the market, and maybe Apple may later provide them in shades just like the iPhone 13’s pink, blue, midnight and Product Pink.


The AirPods Max are available in a number of colours, however the brand new AirPods solely are available in white.

Lower cost

Whereas $179 is cheaper than the AirPods Professional, it is really costlier than the $159 beginning value of the second-gen AirPods. Whereas that latter headphone has been knocked right down to $129 and nonetheless consists of core options like seamless pairing to Apple gadgets, the $50 distinction throws in lots of technical enhancements to the listening expertise in addition to the magnetic charging case.

Nevertheless it is if you look outdoors of Apple’s headphone realm that $179 begins to really feel costly for what these options convey. The $130 Anker Liberty Air 2 Professional consists of lots of the AirPods Professional’s spotlight options, reminiscent of energetic noise canceling, transparency modes, water-resistance and a wi-fi charging case. Ditto for the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2, which prices $150.

When Apple first launched the AirPods again in 2017, it kickstarted an enormous wi-fi headphone market, however that market is now full of comparable competitors. Apple can preserve a wide range of unique software program enhancements like quick pairing to Apple gadgets and head-tracking enhancements to Spatial Audio, however few of those options must be sufficient to cease you from contemplating a less expensive various.


The Anker Soundcore Liberty Air 2 Professional can be found now for $130.

David Carnoy/CNET

Multipoint Bluetooth connections to non-Apple gadgets

The AirPods line does allow you to seamlessly change between an iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, MacBook and practically some other Apple gadget. However throw in a Home windows PC or a Nintendo Change, and all of the sudden you might be again to navigating Bluetooth menus. Headphones that assist multipoint Bluetooth pairing alleviate that, usually by all the time pairing to 2 (or extra) gadgets on the identical time, no matter producer.

I not too long ago purchased the Wyze headphones for round $60, following a suggestion from CNET’s Cheapskate Emeritus Rick Broida, and it made me notice that this function was far more helpful than I might beforehand assumed. Once I’m at work, my headphones are normally linked to a MacBook Professional, however when a name is available in, my pc’s music pauses whereas the headphones swap to the cellphone. Then after the decision, it switches again to the pc. Then as soon as I am again residence, I can sync my headphones to the Lenovo Chromebook Duet or some other gadget. 

The Jabra Elite 75t wi-fi headphones, which may normally be discovered for round $150, embody this function. You may need it in case you anticipate to leap between a number of gadgets. In any other case, multipoint Bluetooth is extra frequent in over-ear headphones such because the aforementioned Wyze up by the higher-end Sony WH-1000XM4 (it lists for $350 however generally will get a value drop by $100 to round $250). The Sony headphones have been referred to as “practically flawless” by CNET Government Editor David Carnoy, however in case you’re purchasing within the $250 vary, it’s possible you’ll be higher off evaluating them to the AirPods Professional than the brand new AirPods.


The Jabra Elite 75t can connect with a number of gadgets directly, whether or not they’re Apple gadgets or not.

What do you concentrate on the third-gen AirPods? And are there options you would like they included? Tell us within the feedback.

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