Apple AirPods (3rd Gen) vs Apple AirPods (2nd Gen)

The Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation) have arrived, and a comparison with the Apple AirPods (3rd generation) reveals substantial differences between these similar-looking wireless earbuds. Although both pairs of AirPods were made for iPhone owners, it is possible that the Pro model with active noise cancellation (ANC) makes more sense. On the other hand, those who prioritize awareness above all else may be more attracted to the unsealed third-generation AirPods. The most obvious difference between the AirPods Pro and the original AirPods is the addition of silicone earbuds.

With the second-generation AirPods Pro, you get four sizes (XS-L) of interchangeable earbuds to ensure a perfect fit in the ear. In addition, the Apple AirPods Pro (second generation) are the first Apple earbuds with an IPX4-rated case and earbuds. Apple has integrated a speaker and lanyard loop into the AirPods Pro (2nd generation) case, both of which are absent from the standard AirPods (3rd generation) case. Apple’s new H2 chip is located inside the new Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation) earbuds, while the U1 chip is located in the case. The H2 chip offers incremental improvements, including better wireless connectivity and battery life than the H1 chip in the Apple AirPods (3rd generation).

Apple AirPods (3rd Gen) vs Apple AirPods (2nd Gen)


The design of the second- and third-generation AirPods differs significantly, but both have a similar fit and a glossy white plastic finish. The second-generation AirPods largely mirror the design of Apple’s wired EarPods, with long stems extending from the ear. Although neither set of AirPods has the in-ear silicone tips of the AirPods Pro, the third-generation AirPods have a very similar design to Apple’s high-end earbuds.

This means they have much shorter stems and a larger in-ear part, which may be more suitable for some users. The charging case of the third-generation AirPods is also shorter and wider. The overall appearance of the third-generation AirPods is much slimmer and more modern, but the choice of design and fit is up to you.


The principle behind the Apple AirPods’ controls remains the same as always. The listener can adjust playback and other settings by squeezing the stem of either earbud. Additional control can be exercised by saying “Hey, Siri” to check notifications, ask questions, and more. The main difference between the two earbuds is that the Apple AirPods Pro (second generation) can increase and decrease the volume without having to call Siri or pull out the phone to adjust it manually.

Audio Quality

The audio hardware of the third-generation AirPods is based on the AirPods Pro, with an Apple-designed high-excursion driver and a custom-designed high-dynamic-range amplifier for vastly improved sound quality. The third-generation AirPods also benefit from Adaptive EQ, which uses an inward-facing microphone and computational audio to create an accurate sound profile for each wearer. Sound is adjusted in real time based on the AirPod’s fit to the user’s ear, with the AirPods constantly adjusting and tuning low and mid frequencies to account for what might be lost due to differences in fit.

The smaller portion of the second-generation AirPods leaves less internal space for the audio hardware, and without features such as adaptive equalization, the sound quality is not as good as that of the third-generation AirPods. It is worth noting that, as compact earbuds, the sound quality of the standard AirPods is not up to par with higher-end offerings such as the AirPods Max. However, if you value sound quality, you will appreciate the better audio hardware of the third-generation AirPods.


Both earbuds pair and connect via Bluetooth. AirPods (third generation) use Bluetooth 5.0, while AirPods Pro (second generation) use Bluetooth 5.3, which enables better power efficiency and a more stable connection. Regardless of the AirPods model chosen, support for Bluetooth SBC and AAC codecs is available. The H2 chip enables higher bandwidth connectivity than the H1 chip found in Apple AirPods (third generation).

When one of the two AirPods cases is opened near an iPhone or iPad, a pop-up tab appears on the Apple device asking to connect to the AirPods. Once the headphones have established a connection with the device, all other Apple devices with your iCloud account will recognize the AirPods. Once set up, you will be able to switch seamlessly between Apple devices, and this integration will prompt iPhone owners to choose AirPods over alternatives.


Both products suffer from the usual problems of wireless headsets, with the microphone placed farther away from the speaker’s mouth than would be ideal. Nevertheless, both do a good job of picking up the voice under ideal conditions. When answering a call with a lot of background noise, the person on the other end of the call will notice a drop in microphone quality. This deterioration in microphone quality can be seen in samples labeled “office conditions.”

Battery and Charging

Second-generation AirPods can provide up to five hours of listening on a single charge, while third-generation AirPods add an extra hour of battery life. When spatial audio is enabled on third-generation AirPods, battery life is reduced to five hours. The charging case on the second-generation AirPods can provide more than 24 hours of listening time, while the third-generation AirPods offer up to 30 hours of listening time. Since battery life has improved only iteratively between the two models, it is likely not worth buying the third-generation AirPods just for their durability.

Both sets of AirPods come with a charging case with a Lightning port for storing and charging the earbuds, but the third-generation AirPods’ charging case also features wireless charging and MagSafe. This allows users to charge the AirPods using any standard Qi wireless charging pad or MagSafe charger for easy magnetic alignment.

Final Words

The third-generation AirPods add a number of significant features and improvements over the previous model, including improved design and sound quality, spatial audio, Adaptive EQ, sweat and water resistance, and MagSafe charging. The second generation model is also now quite dated. If you are looking for AirPods suitable for workout or use in the rain, a more immersive experience with music and movies, compatibility with an existing MagSafe charger, or simply a more discreet appearance, the third-generation AirPods are a much better choice. If you already own the second-generation AirPods, it may be worth upgrading to the third-generation model if you are attracted to some of the new features or are looking for a number of general improvements.

Editorial Staff
Editorial Staff
The Bollyinside editorial staff is made up of tech experts with more than 10 years of experience Led by Sumit Chauhan. We started in 2014 and now Bollyinside is a leading tech resource, offering everything from product reviews and tech guides to marketing tips. Think of us as your go-to tech encyclopedia!


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