Over the previous few years, Apple has gone from promoting one AirPods mannequin to 4. You’ll be able to presently purchase second-gen AirPods, third-gen AirPods, second-gen AirPods Professional with USB-C, and over-ear AirPods Max.
Let’s put that final possibility apart for a second. For those who’re keen to spend $500 or extra on a pair of cans, you are making a really completely different buying determination than should you wished true wi-fi earbuds. You may want to check out our roundup of the most effective over-ear headphones the place we evaluate the AirPods Max to the competitors.
However that also leaves three comparatively comparable earbuds to select from. So which is best for you?
Examine options of AirPods and AirPods Professional
Here is how the three in-ear AirPods stack up aspect by aspect. Be aware that there are two variations of the third technology AirPods proven, one with a MagSafe charging case and one with out wi-fi charging.
Cost wirelessly with MagSafe. The cheaper Lightning mannequin does not cost wirelessly
Cost wirelessly with MagSafe. The 2023 2nd technology mannequin presents a USB-C port, and the 2021 2nd technology mannequin options Lightning
Customized spatial audio with head monitoring
Customized spatial audio with head monitoring
Faucet the earbuds
Pressure sensor on the stem
Pressure sensing on the trunk, pull on the trunk
Sure (IPX4 Lightning mannequin, IP54 on USB C mannequin included for mud resistance)
AirPods and AirPods Professional design
Essentially the most noticeable distinction between the three fashions is their design. The second-generation AirPods function the unique 2016 design, with lengthy white stems and eartips that appear like the wired earbuds that got here with iPhones, solely with out the wires.
The newer third-generation AirPods have shorter stems and a rounder, fluffier earpiece. Regardless of the shorter stems, they’re very comparable in weight to the older AirPods. The charging case seems similar to the AirPods Professional case, simply shorter and wider.
The AirPods Professional take the brief design and add rubber eartips to the earbuds, to create extra of a seal that blocks noise and improves sound high quality.
Regardless of which AirPods you select, you’ll be able to solely get them in shiny white.
Noise cancellation in AirPods and AirPods Professional
That is the place the AirPods Professional excel, and it is the one function that is almost certainly to make you select them over the third-generation AirPods. Not solely do the rubber ideas assist block out extra outdoors noise, however energetic noise cancellation provides you the actual feeling of a extra non-public listening area.
Whereas we’re at it, we should always point out that solely the AirPods Professional assist the Dialog Increase accessibility function.
AirPods and AirPods Professional spatial audio and sound high quality
All AirPods assist Dolby Atmos spatial audio in Apple Music. Actually, you’ll be able to drive him to any A pair of headphones. However spatial audio for video in TV and different supported apps, together with head monitoring, is just not supported on the second-generation AirPods. You want third technology or AirPods Professional to do that.
The third technology AirPods sound higher than the second technology in different methods, too. Apple has a brand new, redesigned low-distortion driver that it says delivers higher sound high quality, and helps Adaptive EQ just like the AirPods Professional. AirPods Professional (2nd technology) sound a lot better than common AirPods, even with out energetic noise cancellation. The second-generation model, launched in September 2022 (and up to date with USB-C in September 2023), provided an enormous step up in sound high quality in comparison with the unique AirPods Professional.
AirPods and AirPods Professional options and controls
You management the second-generation AirPods by tapping on them, whereas the third-generation AirPods and AirPods Professional have a small cut-out space on the stem that’s delicate to stress. Press the stem (there is a false “click on” sensation) to play/pause, skip ahead, backward, or summon Siri. The AirPods Professional also can detect swipes up or down alongside the stem to alter the amount (that is new within the second-generation mannequin). All AirPods fashions assist hands-free management through the phrase “Hey Siri.”
Each the AirPods Professional and third-generation AirPods are water and sweat resistant, and are most likely higher fitted to figuring out, although you would not need to submerge both of them in a pool. The second-generation AirPods haven’t any water resistance.
The third technology AirPods function expanded Discover My assist for monitoring misplaced earbuds and establishing separation alerts. The AirPods Professional, because the launch of the second-gen model, even have a speaker within the charging case to play a loud tone when utilizing Discover My, and so they have a U1 chip so you’ll be able to level instantly at them. The third-generation AirPods and AirPods Professional additionally assist Notification Bulletins, permitting Siri to dictate vital messages and alerts as they arrive.
AirPods and AirPods Professional battery life
The second-generation AirPods final for 5 hours, and you’ll cost them roughly 4 occasions with the charging case for a complete of as much as 24 hours of listening time.
The third-generation AirPods and AirPods Professional prolong listening time by an hour for six hours of listening, and with 4 further prices within the case, you get a complete of 30 hours. With the AirPods Professional, turning off noise cancellation will add about an hour of listening time. Examine the right way to prolong the battery lifetime of your AirPods.
Wi-fi charging for AirPods and AirPods Professional
Apple solely sells second-generation AirPods with a wired case, however you should buy a wi-fi charging case for $79 / £79 individually. There is a cheaper model of the third-generation AirPods that does not supply wi-fi charging, and this mannequin, which is $10/£10 cheaper, comes with a case for charging through Lightning.
The third technology AirPods with MagSafe and AirPods Professional include a wi-fi charging case that allows you to cost any Qi wi-fi charger, or Apple’s MagSafe wi-fi charging.
You can too use the case to cost third-generation AirPods through Lightning and AirPods Professional through USB-C (an older mannequin presents Lightning).
You’ll be able to cost your AirPods Professional utilizing your Apple Watch charger, and if in case you have an iPhone 15-series cellphone, you’ll be able to cost your AirPods Professional by plugging the cable into the USB-C port in your iPhone.
Every of the three AirPods fashions provided by Apple could be very completely different. For those who do not care about wi-fi charging, the second-generation AirPods are a good purchase. They will not look fairly nearly as good or final in addition to the third-generation AirPods, however they are a good, reasonably priced possibility.
If wi-fi charging is vital, positively get the third technology AirPods, since buying the charging case with the 2nd technology AirPods will really price greater than the third technology AirPods.
The AirPods Professional have been up to date to the second-generation mannequin in September 2022 and once more in September 2023 (after they gained USB-C assist), and though they price considerably greater than the usual AirPods, they provide a lot better sound high quality and distinctive options. Resembling energetic noise cancellation, adaptive transparency, and dialog enhancement.
We expect the third technology AirPods are the most effective for most individuals. They’re technically cheaper than the second-generation AirPods with wi-fi charging case and include a slew of latest options. They’ve higher battery life and higher sound than the older mannequin.
The second-generation AirPods Professional are clearly the higher possibility, however you may be paying 40% extra for them. If noise cancellation is vital to you, it is value the additional price.
For extra recommendations on Apple’s full vary of AirPods, together with the Max, Professional and customary AirPods fashions, learn: Greatest AirPods – Which AirPods are the most effective? The brand new AirPods 2023: What to anticipate from the subsequent technology of AirPods.