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Apple upgrades AirPods: here’s what you need to know about its 3rd gen earbuds

A runner wearing Apple AirPods 3rd Gen jogs through the rain

Apple has unveiled a third generation of AirPods, with an all-new contoured design, extended battery life and support for Spatial Audio Dolby Atmos Dynamic Head Tracking. 

In terms of performance, these 3rd gen AirPods are much closer to AirPods Pro and AirPods Max. With the same computational audio, and a novel acoustic system, they offer Adaptive EQ and a fully immersive listening experience.

Adaptive EQ tunes sound in real time based on how the AirPods fit the user’s ear. An inward-facing microphone monitors for sound, and then Adaptive EQ processing tunes low and mid frequencies.

Spatial Audio works with Dolby Atmos content, as well as stereo sources, while Dynamic Head Tracking locks the soundstage in place, so that it re-orientates if you turn your head. The technology also works with facetime calls.

Spatial Audio works with Dolby Atmos content, as well as stereo sources. Dynamic Head Tracking locks the immersive soundstage in place, so that it re-orientates if you turn your head…

Close up of the AirPods 3rd Gen microphones
Apple AirPods 3rd Generation adopt a new design with shorter stems

These 3rd gen AirPods also look slightly different to their predecessors. The new design reveals a shorter stem, and adds the force sensor first seen on AirPods Pro, for media control and phone calls. 

The new AirPods are resistant to sweat and water, with both the AirPods and the charging case IPX4 rated. 

Battery life has also been improved by one hour, with up to six hours of listening time and up to four hours of talk time. A quick five minute recharge offers around an hour of playtime. 

Inside each pod is a custom driver and high dynamic range amplifier; the microphone is covered by an acoustic mesh to help combat wind roar, thereby improving voice call quality. These AirPods also feature AAC-ELD, a speech codec designed to offer full HD voice quality for FaceTime chats.

Apple Spatial Audio working with Apple TV+ on an iPad
Spatial Audio works with music, movies and TV from Apple devices

Usability is typically Apple. A one-touch setup automatically pairs AirPods with other Apple devices, while Audio Sharing allows listeners to share the audio stream between two sets of AirPods, AirPods Pro, or AirPods Max, while using iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, or Apple TV.

A new skin-detect sensor is used to determine if the AirPods are in your ear, pausing music when they’re not in place.  

Available from October 26, the AirPods (3rd generation) sell for £169, while AirPods (2nd generation) assume a new price point of £119.

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