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Apple Now Makes Three Different AirPods. So, Which Is Right for You?

There's the entry-level AirPods (2nd-Generation), the new mid-range AirPods (3rd-Generation) and the noise-canceling AirPods Pro. So, how are they all different?

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Apple now makes three different wireless earbuds: there's the entry-level AirPods (2nd-Generation), the new mid-range AirPods (3rd-Generation) and the noise-canceling AirPods Pro. This is great for us — everybody with iPhones — because we have more choice, but it also means deciding between the three could be a bit of a headache.

The fact of the matter is that three models of AirPods are equal parts similar as they are different. All three AirPod models have the same exact H1 chipset, giving them similar features, such as quick iPhone pairing and hands-free “Hey Siri” controls, but the more expensive models look and fit differently, and have more premium features (such as wireless charging and active noise-cancellation). And, of course, the more expensive models are going to sound better.

Speaking of price, all three AirPods are priced very differently; the AirPods (2nd-Generation) are $50 less expensive than the mid-range AirPods (3rd-Generation), which are then $70 cheaper than the high-end AirPods Pro. So you really have to think about what fit and features you want, because it's going to have a big impact on price.

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AirPods (2nd-Generation)
Apple
Now 28% off

The most-entry level AirPods have the same thin-stemmed design as the original ones from 2016. They're cheaper than the rest because they lack the noise-cancellation and transparency models, as well as support for spatial audio. They're also the only AirPods that you can buy without a wireless charging case (although you can buy a wireless charging model for an extra $30-ish). 

  • The most affordable AirPods you can buy.
  • Support fast iPhone pairing, "Hey Siri" voice controls and audio sharing.

  • No wireless charging (unless you buy the more expensive model).
  • The only AirPods without sweat-resistance.
  • No noise-canceling or transparency modes.
  • No support for high-end audio technologies, such as spatial audio and adaptive EQ.
AirPods (3rd-Generation)
Apple

Compared to the AirPods Pro, the main downside of the AirPods (3rd-Generation) is that they lack active noise-cancellation and transparency modes. They also don't fit as deep in your ears, or as securely because they lack the adjustable silicone eartips. But other than that, they work mostly the same. They support spatial audio and wireless charging. They're sweat- and water-resistant. And, maybe most significantly, they have the best battery life of any AirPods that Apple sells.

  • Excellent battery life.
  • Wireless charging.
  • Support spatial audio and adaptive EQ.
  • Great call quality.
  • Support fast iPhone pairing, "Hey Siri" voice controls and audio sharing.
  • Sweat- and water-resistant.

  • No noise-canceling or transparency modes.
  • No swappable silicone eartips to adjust fit.
  • Fairly expensive.
AirPods Pro
Apple
Now 28% off

The AirPods Pro are the best wireless earbuds that Apple sells, and they deliver some of the best audio-quality and active noise-cancellation that you're likely to find in any pair of wireless earbuds. The support a high-quality audio, such as Spatial Audio and Dolby Atmos. They can wireless charge. And they fit more securely than any other AirPods thanks to their deeper in-ear design and adjustable silicone eartips. 

  • Arguably the best wireless earbuds you can buy.
  • Great active noise-cancellation.
  • Great call quality.
  • Support spatial audio and adaptive EQ.
  • Support fast iPhone pairing, "Hey Siri" voice controls and audio sharing.
  • Sweat- and water-resistant.

  • Expensive.
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