It makes a lot of sense for Apple to launch their main haul of consumer products during this time of the year; Christmas is coming and one of the most popular gifts for the season is the AirPods. In fact, Apple claims that AirPods are the best selling earbuds in the world, and that’s pretty believable to me because most of my friends have a pair.
Above: Apple AirPods 3rd Generation (photo from Apple)
With this new 3rd Generation, the main improvements from the previous edition (2nd Gen) is that it’s smaller (about a third shorter), more comfortable (it has a more contoured shape with softer edges), and sounds better (the new shape directs audio into the ear better).
Setting up is, as expected, very easy to do. It’s that magical Apple “one-touch” setup where you just bring the case close to your iPhone or Apple device, open the AirPods case, and you’ll get prompted to pair the two devices. For this new gen, you’ll also be prompted to update your iOS to version 15.1 if you haven’t done so; this update helps the user take advantage of the new features in the device, such as Spatial Audio.
Above: that magical one-touch setup between apple devices
Spatial audio is meant to give a 3D surround sound effect and this is demonstrated best with FaceTime; when you’re in a video call with several participants, you’ll hear their voice coming from the direction that they are on your screen, so the experience feels more real and natural.
Apple has also updated their driver with a new custom-designed one with even lower distortion. I cranked up Hotel California to the AirPods’ maximum volume (which seems to be louder than the 2nd gen) and the sound was still clear with no cracking when the heavy drums kicked in.
Here’s a comparison of the current AirPods family:
Above: Comparison of the current apple AirPods taken from APPLE.COM
With the new AirPods, there’s also a larger acoustic vent at the top of each ear bud, and a new feature called Adaptive EQ. This makes use of inward-facing microphones that pick up what the ear is hearing and tunes it to what the user’s ear shape should ideally hear. So even though we’re all different, the music sounds good for everyone.
Above: unboxing the apple airpods 3rd generation
Other things to note, the new AirPods are designed to be more durable and have a rating of IPX4 for sweat- and water-resistance. There’s also a wind noise reducing mesh so calls are clearer, and a skin-detect sensor that tells whether the AirPods are in your ear or out of it — and this actually determines if it’s skin or something else (like the inside of your bag). This helps to preserve battery life since it won’t turn on unintentionally.
Above: The case is magsafe compatible and provides an additional 30 hours of usage
The battery life has increased by an hour from the 2nd Gen (it’s now 6 hours of listening time), and a 5-minute charge in the case gives an hour of battery life. Also, the case is MagSafe compatible, which is super convenient for existing Apple mobile device users and fits right in to the Apple ecosystem.
The 3rd Generation of Apple AirPods are compact and designed with an open fit design.
One thing to note as well, is that there’s a free 6-month subscription to Apple Music when you buy AirPods. And I love Apple Music; the stations give me really good recommendations to new and existing music based on my music tastes, and I can directly download tracks or whole albums to listen to on my device when there’s no Internet connection (this actually happened last night when SingTel was down).
AirPods (3rd generation) is priced at $269 and available online at APPLE.COM/SG/AIRPODS and in stores at apple orchard road, Marina Bay sands and Jewel Changi Airport.