Apple's latest AirPods are almost identical to the Pro caps, but without the rubber ear tips that have to go deep into your ears.

That is good news for anyone who finds that an unpleasant feeling.

For a long time, you could choose from two flavors with Apple's wireless earbuds.

You had the AirPods 2 as an entry-level model and also the more expensive AirPods Pro, in-ear earbuds that offer better sound and noise reduction.

With the arrival of the third generation AirPods, Apple is trying to combine two variants.

The design of these tips seems almost identical to that of the AirPods Pro: earplugs with thinner stems and a fit that sticks a little better in many ears.

But because these are not in-ear earphones, there is no noise cancellation here.

The new AirPods 3.

The new AirPods 3.

Photo: Apple

Stick a little better

Starting with that new fit, in our testing, the new AirPods stick to the ears better than the old AirPods 2 and about as good as the AirPods Pro.

They also seem to seal the ear better than the AirPods 2, making the overall sound quality seem higher.

You notice this, for example, in the somewhat deeper-sounding bass.

The sound is still not close to that of the AirPods Pro, also because those caps offer a quieter listening experience due to noise reduction.

But it is a definite upgrade from the previous editions.

Operation is easier than with AirPods 2

The earplugs can be operated by squeezing the stems.

With the AirPods 2 you had to tap correctly.

In our experience, squeezing works just a little more convenient, because with the AirPods 2, touches are not always registered properly.

However, the pinch sensors on the AirPods 3 are placed at a somewhat crazy angle, so that you have to curl your fingers in an unnatural way to operate them.

Case for the AirPods.

Case for the AirPods.

New version has longer battery life

According to Apple, the battery life is also longer: you can listen to music continuously for six hours.

That roughly corresponds to our tests.

In practice, it is just enough to listen to your music for a full working day minus some meetings.

Also new is the option to power your buds with Apple's MagSafe charger.

It then remains attached to the charging cable with magnets, although the magnetic connection is somewhat weak.

It doesn't take much to accidentally loosen them.

But the magnets help to keep the case centrally located, so that it can be charged wirelessly relatively quickly.


Apple sells the AirPods 3 as a cheaper alternative to the AirPods Pro.

The tech giant offers them for 199 euros, compared to 279 euros for the Pro caps.

At the time of writing, however, several online stores sell the Pros for about 200 euros, so that in practice you pay the same for both variants.

The choice therefore comes down to one simple question: do you find it annoying to wear in-ear earplugs?

The rubber caps are not to everyone's taste.

In those cases, the AirPods 3 are a better choice and the AirPods Pro automatically fall off.

But if you want the best sound from Apple, it's better to choose the Pros.

The addition of noise cancellation makes them inherently better earbuds at a price you'll pay for the new AirPods 3.

The only thing you are sacrificing on is battery life.

The battery of AirPods Pro lasts 4.5 hours.

But we suspect that this is rarely a problem.

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