Apple sells 3 earbud-style AirPods – the differences come down to battery life, design, and audio features

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Apple announced its third-generation AirPods on October 18. The AirPods (3rd Gen) offer a few key upgrades over the previously released AirPods (2nd Gen), including better battery life, spatial audio support, IPX4 sweat resistance, and a new MagSafe charger.

The revised AirPods lineup now includes three earbud-style models: the entry-level AirPods (2nd Gen) ($129), the new mid-range AirPods (3rd Gen) ($179), and the high-end AirPods Pro ($249). Apple also sells an over-ear AirPods model, called the AirPods Max ($549), with premium sound geared toward audiophiles.

All three earbud-style AirPods use Apple’s H1 chip and are designed to offer true wireless audio with

Bluetooth
5.0 connectivity and seamless pairing with Apple devices. That said, there are some notable differences between each model.

To help you decide which AirPods are right for you, we broke down key features for every earbud-style model, below.

Apple AirPods 2 vs. AirPods 3 vs. AirPods Pro

Which AirPods model should you buy?

Each AirPods model is geared toward a slightly different buyer. 

The AirPods (2nd Gen) are a good fit for shoppers on a budget who don’t need wireless charging, noise cancellation, water/sweat resistance, or spatial audio. They’re good for basic listening, but aren’t ideal for workouts or audiophiles who want to hear music with surround sound-like effects.

We haven’t tested the new third-generation AirPods yet, but the updated specifications should make them a good option for buyers who want an upgraded audio experience with IPX4 water resistance. That said, they lack noise cancellation and do not use silicone ear tips. 

Buyers who don’t mind paying extra for the best AirPods experience should opt for the AirPods Pro. They add active noise cancellation and the ability to use three different ear tip sizes for a better fit. They’re pricey at $249, but they’re regularly on sale for $179 to $199 during the holiday shopping season.