AirPods 3 vs AirPods Pro vs AirPods 1st/2nd Gen

Ever since the AirPods (1st Gen) were released back in 2017, they have been my go to ear buds. I'm not a fanboy per se, these were to replace my aging Plantronics BackBeat FIT that I've been using since 2014. In that time frame, I tried out the Jaybird X2's and the Samsung Gear IconX before returning both, and eventually settling on a pair of Apple AirPods. There just weren't a lot of true wireless options back then. Plus I justified my lofty Bluetooth purchase due to needing to constantly replace my then previous set of wired earbud every 6 months for about $25 a pop. The cords keep getting caught on every drawer pull or door knob, ripping the earbuds out of my ears. They only time I've ever dropped my phone is when it's been yanked out of my pocket by the headphones cord. After 4 pairs of Radius Atomic Bass earphones, and countless pocket mishaps, and sore ears it was time to go wireless.

My 1st Gens have been exactly what I needed, which is, a pair of ear buds I can fall asleep in. The first night I laid down without cords laying across my neck was amazing. I was sold. I'm sleeping in the future!! After I upgraded to the AirPods Pro, I couldn't use them to fall asleep, due to the rubber tips kinda pressing more into my ears as I laid my head on to the pillow. Back to the 1st Gens. Over the years, I've had to replace them hassle free, via the mail, under warranty, but now-a-days they don't hold the charge for AS long as they use too. Plus, the right one seems to be 15-25% quieter than the left one. THIS is why I was excited for the new AirPods 3 announcement, and disappoint for the non-announcement, too.

My AirPods (1st Gen) are due for an upgrade, but fear not, they will be the Kurt Warner to my AirPods collection.

NOTE:  Kurt Warner was the back up quaterback for the St. Louis Rams, who then lead the 1999 team to a Super Bowl win. View as the greatest backup of all time.

Time for the unboxing...

AirPods 3: The Box
AirPods 3: The Opened Box
AirPods 3: The Goods
AirPods 3: Another Cable in the House
AirPods 3: Finally Here
AirPods 1 Case vs AirPods 3 Case vs AirPods Pro Case
AirPods 3 Case vs AirPods Pro Case
AirPods Gen 1 vs AirPods 3 vs AirPods Pro
AirPods Gen 1 vs AirPods 3 vs AirPods Pro: Close Up

The Fit

The first thing I notice is that the "head" slightly larger than the (1st Gen), so if you have smaller ears, or if you felt the original AirPods was a great fit, these new AirPods 3 might be a little snug. I kinda feel like Apple is slowly upping the "gauge size" of my ears every AirPods release. Ever since wearing my AirPods Pro, I've felt the original AirPods are a tad looser than before.

Apposed to the original AirPods, the AirPods 3 don't feel like they are dangling down past by ears. I have a "forgot they are in" feeling all over again. They fit flush to my head, and don't shift around much, as where the longer stems of the original AirPods would sometimes allow them to be pushed up & pop out.

The Sound

When putting them on for the first time, then turning on a podcast (Not music? What kinda monster am I?) I noticed it was way bassier than the original AirPods. Not to the point I felt I needed to open up an EQ and adjust it, but it's there. I usually test out all speakers with "Basstronics - 1 2 3 4 5 6 Bass". These AirPods 3's sounded pretty decent, although I did have to turn the volume up to hear the lower bass frequencies.

Also, since I'm "that monster", I was asked to upgrade my iOS when pairing or I wouldn't get the "full experience" of my new AirPods 3's. Needless to say, I didn't update the OS... yet. Everything in this review is based off iOS 13.5.1. I'll assume that the update is needed for spatial audio. I'm not sure if that's a "fad" I need, you know, like when I said, "Why would you need a tablet, just use a computer." I don't age well on MANY levels.

UPDATE: It was the spatial audio that's was missing from the AirPods settings. The demo on the settings page was kinda cool. I might need to update iOS, it's just that everyone has complained about the new Apple Podcast app. Go to Settings > Bluetooth > find your AirPods in the list & click the small blue (i) info icon. Also, while you're int there. You can rename them from "AirPods" or "AirPods #2" to "AirPods 3",  just for the added flare.

So, I would say, going from (1st Gen) to (3rd Gen), it's a big upgrade. Totally worth it. If you needed to "downgrade" from the AirPods Pro to AirPods 3. it's that not bad, I'd say even comparable. You just won't get that "sealed off from the world" as the AirPods Pro rubber tips give you, or any of the noise cancellation or transparency. Pfft, why would you downgrade? I dunno. Cost. Ear feel. Replacements. I'm just covering everyones bases here. I'm looking out for the masses.


I still think there's a place for the original Apple AirPods, like my scenario for trying to fall asleep. They are thin, hardly noticeable in ear when laying on a pillow. If you have a pair of AirPods that are in need oof an upgrade, these AirPods 3 are a nice go to, if you're not a fan of the in ear rubber tips on the AirPods Pro.

Sure, they may be a bit on the pricey side, but they pair well with every device with bluetooth, the build quality is great. Plus, they only come in white, just so everyone knows... you love Apple more than them.

"But I don't have $200 to drop on some ear buds!" I mean, I get it. You could always buy, ummm, used? OR, you can do as I do all my "larger electronics" purchases, 0% Interest for X/mos. I know it sounds goofy to some folks to NOT just buy something outright, but if it's only going to cost you around $30/mo from the Big Blue Box store, why not? Even Amazon now offerers 0% Interest for 6/mos on stuff like this. PayPal will let you split your payments to 4 payments every 2 weeks. Treat yourself while build your credit. It's a win-win.

My final suggestions for what AirPods are just right for you, comes down to...

A. If you have tiny ears: AirPods (2nd Gen) with Wireless Charging Case

B. If you HATE rubber ear tips: AirPods (3rd Gen)

C. If you want it ALL: AirPods Pro