The original AirPods are long gone, except if you buy refurbished models or find stocks in a retail shop. Apple unveiled the AirPods 3 in October 2021 with exciting features that, until now, were reserved only for the new AirPods Pro. Indeed, the AirPods 2 were a big hit in Apple’s history, and they offered an excellent user experience and sound quality. However, it may not be apparent if they are worth upgrading from the second generation.

We have written this article to help you decide between the AirPods 2 vs. the AirPods 3 in case you are thinking about getting a new model or upgrading your current earbuds.

AirPods 2 vs. AirPods 3: Specs Comparison Table

Let’s start by looking at the specs comparison table of the AirPods 2 vs. AirPods 3 for a quick overview. We will continue with the similarities and differences in the next section, feature by feature.

CharacteristicsAirPods 2AirPods 3
AirPods size1.59 x 0.65 x 0.71 -inches (40.5 x 16.5 x 18 mm)1.21 x 0.72 x 0.76 (30.79 x 18.26 x 19.21 mm)
Charging case size1.74 x 0.84 x 2.11-inches (44.3 x 21.3 x 53.5 mm)1.83 x 0.84 x 2.14 inches (46.40 x 21.38 x 54.40 mm)
AirPods weight0.14 ounce (4 grams) 0.15 ounce (4.28 grams)
Spatial audio with dynamic head trackingNoYes
Adaptive equalizerNoYes
Wireless charging/MagSafeNoYes
Water resistantNoYes
Customizable fitNoNo
ChipApple H1 Apple H1
SensorsDual optical sensors, motion-detecting accelerometer, speech-detecting accelerometerSkin-detect sensor, motion-detecting accelerometer, speech-detecting accelerometer, force sensor
Battery life5 hours of listening time, more than 24 hours with case6 hours of listening time, up to 30 hours with case
MicrophonesDual beamforming microphonesDual beamforming microphones; inward-facing microphone

AirPods 2 vs. AirPods 3: Similarities and Differences

Here are the main similarities and differences of the AirPods 2 vs. the AirPods 3.

Design

The AirPods 2 keep the original design, while the AirPods 3 are shorter and enjoy an elegant design with an anatomical fit that brings the sound directly to your ears. However, they don’t have in-ear silicone tips like it was rumored.

As for their charging cases, the AirPods 2 case is also longer, and the AirPods 3 case is reminiscent of the AirPods Pro’s case design, being a bit more compact. It’s perfect for carrying them in your pocket.

Hand holding AirPods 3 inside the case
AirPods 3

Audio quality

As you may have seen in the specs comparison table, the AirPods 3 bring two new important innovations: spatial audio with dynamic head tracking and an adaptive equalizer. The former helps turn your music and your favorite media into a three-dimensional experience, while the latter automatically adapts to produce a unique sound experience for every user.

The third-generation AirPods also include a new low distortion driver and a custom high dynamic range amplifier, and the audio hardware is based on that of the AirPods Pro. These improvements bring a powerful bass and crystal clear highs, further enhancing the audio quality.

Battery life and charging

The battery life is one of the most notable differences we found between the Apple AirPods 2 vs. the AirPods 3.

The AirPods 2 will offer up to 5 hours of audio playback or up to 3 hours of talk time. Similarly, the case will provide more than 24 hours of playback and up to 18 hours of talk time. At the charging level, 15 minutes in the case will give us about 3 hours of audio playback or 2 hours of talk time—and the AirPods 2 lack any wireless charging.

As for the AirPods 3, they offer up to 6 hours of playback (5 hours with spatial audio on) or 4 hours of talk time, which increases to 30 hours of playback with the charging case or 20 hours of talk time. At the same time, 5 minutes of fast charging in the case will give us approximately one hour of audio playback or 1 hour of talk time. Unlike the second-generation AirPods, the AirPods 3 charging case supports both Qi-standard wireless charging and Apple’s MagSafe system.

Microphones

Both the AirPods 2 and AirPods 3 have two microphones that isolate your voice and ambient sound. Thus, they are perfect for your calls and offer better multimedia immersion in noisy surroundings. Unlike its predecessors, the AirPods 3 are covered with a special acoustic mesh that softens the impact of air currents. If you happen to live in a city with a lot of wind, you will notice the difference with this new feature.

AirPods 2 on case with yellow background
AirPods 2

Controls

The third-generation AirPods have a force sensor, the same as the AirPods Pro. This allows users to play and pause music or multimedia or answer a phone call by just pressing them. The force sensor allows a wide range of commands, including pressing and holding to activate Siri. On the other hand, the controls of the AirPods 2 are very sensitive and may be accidentally triggered.

Sensors

The AirPods 3 features a skin sensor, which can discern your ear from another surface. The sound will only play when you are wearing them, so they will not be activated by accident when you carry the earbuds without the case in your pocket.

The AirPods 2 have dual optical sensors to detect if they are in your ear. It’s essentially the same function, but it is not as optimal as the skin sensor of the third-generation AirPods.

Sweat and water resistance (IPX4 certification)

One of the new features of the third-generation AirPods is that they are water-resistant with IPX4 certification. Unlike its predecessor, you don’t have to worry that much about sweat and water when exercising, and splashing water from any angle will not damage the device.

AirPods 2 vs. AirPods 3: The Verdict

Unquestionably, the AirPods 3 have more innovative technology like spatial audio and adaptive equalizer to create a more immersive experience, with better isolation from the air or wind, better battery life and wireless charging, and new skin and force sensors for extra comfort.

Is it worth upgrading from the AirPods 2 to the AirPods 3, especially considering that they are $50 more expensive than their predecessors? We are not really sure. If you are very demanding in terms of audio quality and want to have the best possible immersion, the third-generation AirPods 3 may be your choice. They are also sweat and water-resistant, so they can be a good upgrade if you exercise frequently.

On the contrary, if you are happy with the audio quality of the current AirPods 2, you don’t think you need the spatial audio, you don’t mind the wireless charging, and you haven’t cared that much about sweat and water until now when using them, you might as well keep your earbuds a bit longer. In the end, the AirPods 2 are still robust earbuds with excellent audio quality and one of the best Apple devices ever made.

The alternative is to look for refurbished AirPods 3 that can make up for the price difference. On RefurbMe, we specialize in offering the best refurbished Apple product comparisons of the market that are 100% functional and completely tested and cleaned before being back on sale again. Don’t hesitate to browse our bestselling deals, set an alert for upcoming new devices, and subscribe to our newsletter to be up-to-date about the Apple-related world.

AirPods 2