Apple’s AirPods are hugely popular in the wireless earbud market, offering a seamless experience that only a company that controls hardware and software can offer - and it’s about to get better with the introduction of the third-generation AirPods at Apple’s October Event.
The first big change is the design of the wireless earbuds themselves, sporting a design not dissimilar to that of the AirPods Pro, with a short stem, a more contoured shape and accentuated black mic cut-outs. It also borrows the control system of the Pro-level buds, swapping taps for squeezes via a force sensor in the stem.
There’s also access to Dolby Atmos and Spatial Audio content (complete with head tracking) thanks to Apple’s H1 chip, and you’ll find Adaptive EQ tech to dynamically tune the headphones audio to make sure audio sounds the way it should.
That’s not to say there isn’t an improvement to sound output though; with a custom low-distortion driver and high dynamic range amplifier, Apple seems confident that the audio quality will be noticeably better for upgrading users.
However, unlike the premium buds, you won’t get swappable eartips, nor will you get access to the more advanced active noise cancellation tech, but at a cheaper price, there’s not much to complain about.
If you’re interested, here’s everywhere that you can buy the new AirPods (2021) right now. If you want to find more about the wireless buds first, we round up all you need to know about the AirPods 3 separately.
When were the new AirPods released?
Apple revealed the third-generation AirPods at its October 2021 launch event, with the surprise announcement that they’d be available to pre-order immediately following the event. Pre-orders were open for little over a week, with the AirPods 3 officially going on sale on Tuesday 26 October 2021.
How much do the third-generation AirPods cost?
The AirPods 3 are either cheaper or more expensive depending on your point of view.
Let’s explain; the AirPods 3 cost £169/$179, which is £10/$20 more than the £159/$159 second generation AirPods, which remain on-sale at a discounted £119/$129. However, the new AirPods include wireless charging as standard, whereas that was limited to a more expensive £199/$199 model with the second-gun buds.
So, compared to the second-gen AirPods with wireless charging, the new AirPods are a little cheaper.
Where can I buy the AirPods 3?
During the pre-order stage, the third-generation AirPods were available from Apple and a small number of third-party retailers in the UK and US.
However, now that the third-gen AirPods are shipping, the latest wireless earbuds are available to buy at a range of third-party retailers in the UK and US. We've listed all confirmed retailers below, and we'll update the list as more stores begin selling the new AirPods, so check back soon if your favourite retailer hasn't got stock just yet.
We’ve also got a live price tracker here, keeping track of everywhere the AirPods 3 are available to buy right now.