For the past few years, the AirPods 2 have served admirably as Apple’s entry-level option if you wanted to get in on the AirPods train. But in 2021 and beyond, there are features that Apple continues introducing that the AirPods 2 are not capable of taking advantage of. That’s where the new AirPods 3 come in, as these were announced alongside the new 2021 MacBook Pro lineup. But if you want to upgrade, how does AirPods 2 vs AirPods 3 compare?
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AirPods 2 vs AirPods 3: Spec Comparison
|AirPods 2||AirPods 3|
|Battery Life (earbuds)||5 hours||6 hours|
|Battery Life (Total)||24 hours||30 hours|
|MagSafe Charging Case||No||Yes|
|Active Noise Cancelling||No||No|
|Dimensions||40.5 x 16.5 x 18mm||30.79 x 18.26 x 19.21mm|
|Weight (earbud)||4 grams||4.28 grams|
AirPods 2 vs AirPods 3: Design
With the AirPods 2, Apple retained the same design as the original AirPods with a longer stem and an earpiece that just rests inside your ear canal. You can control the music playback with a couple of double-taps, including answering the phone or opting for “Hey Siri” if your hands are full.
The AirPods 3 adopt the AirPods Pro design with shorter stems but the controls are now integrated to a touch sensitive pad on the stem. Controls are the same between the AirPods Pro and AirPods 3, but the ability to touch and hold to activate Siri, or press three times to skip back are only available on AirPods 3.
AirPods 2 vs AirPods 3: Features
When comparing AirPods 2 vs AirPods 3 from a feature standpoint, it’s really no contest. Both sets of headphones include Apple’s “Magical Setup” thanks to the H1 chip, which pairs your AirPods with all of your other compatible Apple devices. But the AirPods 3 include a feature-set that the AirPods 2 simply cannot match. This includes Spatial Audio with dynamic head tracking, Adaptive EQ, Dolby Atmos for Apple Music, and an IPX4 sweat and water resistance.
The AirPods 2 are no slouch, but they lack many of the features that Apple has been integrating into Music and more with things like Spatial Audio and Dolby Atmos. Plus, the quality of FaceTime calls has also been improved with the AirPods 3, courtesy of Apple’s new “custom driver” and design.
AirPods 2 vs AirPods 3: Battery Life
Battery life is something that we all need to consider when looking for a new set of wireless headphones. With the AirPods 2, Apple promises up to five hours on a single charge with the earbuds, and up to 24 hours with the included charging case. The AirPods 3, provides an additional hour of battery life for the earbuds, up to six hours, while increasing the overall battery life up to 30 hours.
As for charging, the AirPods 2 relies on the old wired charging case using Lightning. While it’s a solid case and helped kickstart the AirPods trend, the AirPods 3 take things up a step. Not only do we have wireless charging, but the AirPods 3 include Apple’s first MagSafe compatible charging case. This new charging case also replaces the old case that launched with the AirPods Pro and works with AirPods 3 or Pro.
AirPods 2 vs AirPods 3: Price
Surprisingly, there’s only a $50 difference between AirPods 2 vs AirPods 3. With the latest announcement, Apple dropped the price of the AirPods 2 down to $129, while keeping them in the lineup. The AirPods 3 come in at $179, wedged right between the AirPods 2 and AirPods Pro. So you can get a lot of the same AirPods Pro features with the exception of Active Noise Cancellation and Transparency mode. And if you are looking to “upgrade” from your AirPods 2 but didn’t want to leap for the Pro, now’s your chance.
AirPods 2 vs AirPods 3: Picking A Winner
It’s pretty clear that the AirPods 3 is the obvious winner when comparing them to the AirPods 2. There’s a reason why Apple is keeping the AirPods 2 in its lineup, as its an entry-level option for those who can’t (or don’t want to) spend more for a set of earbuds. But if you have the extra $50, just grab the AirPods 3 and thank yourself later.
Andrew is a freelance writer based on the East Coast of the US.
He has written for a variety of sites over the years, including iMore, Android Central, Phandroid, and a few others. Now, he spends his days working for an HVAC company, while moonlighting as a freelance writer at night.