KUALA LUMPUR, March 6 — The AirPods 3 are more of an update than I thought they would be, at least that’s what I gathered after putting them in my ears.
When the AirPods first came out they were a hit with iPhone and Apple users though design-wise they did seem like EarPods with the wires excised with a scissors.
When the AirPods 2 came out they sounded perhaps a little better but experience-wise added more battery but not that much of an audio upgrade.
Good news is that the AirPods 3 does seem like an improvement where the design and sound is concerned.
First thing you notice with the AirPods 3 has shorter “stalks” and buds design is squatter and speaker grille placement changed.
You also notice once you have them in-ear. The first two AirPods were a decent fit but in the recent hot weather I found them slippier without the extra grip of the AirPod Pro’s tips.
The AirPods 3 stayed on better and thanks to the new speaker placement, I felt the sound was closer and a lot better channelled through my ear canals.
AirPods always felt as though the sound just wasn’t close enough and not something I wanted to remedy by turning up the volume.
Design differences aside, the AirPods 3 work the same as previous models but come with a Qi wireless charging case.
No new chip here — it’s the same H1 chip that easily connects to other Apple devices and is also on other Apple headphones.
I did enjoy listening to them more and truth be told, my ears are finicky and sensitive so I didn’t enjoy wearing AirPods Pro for long durations.
This wasn’t as much of a problem with the AirPods 3 though if you want noise cancellation, these aren’t the earbuds for you.
You will enjoy them if you want to take advantage of Apple’s Spatial Audio though it’s supported by other Apple headphones as well.
Like the AirPods Pro, the AirPods 3 does have IPX4-grade water resistance. Good enough to handle minor splashes and sweat but you shouldn’t swim in these.
What is a shame though is that Apple’s Bluetooth codec and wireless music quality experience is at the most so-so — the AirPods 3 sounded better on my LG G8X ThinQ, though I listened to my test tracks on Apple Music.
Which brings me to another point about the AirPods 3; they were made for Apple products and offer an easy, seamless experience.
They do sound pretty good on Android devices or non-Mac computers but the reality is, you could probably get better headphones at this price range and the Beats Fit Pro, for a few hundred more, offers better fit, noise cancellation and spatial audio support.
However the Beats Fit Pro headphones don’t have a wireless case or wireless charging.
If you like the AirPods experience, which is about easy integration within the Apple ecosystem, the AirPods 3 offers better sound compared to its predecessors and improved fit.
Still while it’s the best non-Pro AirPods, I can’t say they’re the best wireless earbuds around and with so many options from the likes of Creative, Sony, Sennheiser and even from its own side-brand Beats, you have to really decide if ease-of-use matters more than actual sound quality.