The Apple AirPods 3 have been rumored for a long time now – and as we creep closer to the next Apple event on September 14, reliable leaker Max Weinbach has shared some of the features we can expect to see from the next-gen wireless earbuds.
According to a series of tweets from Weinbach, the AirPods 3 – which are tipped to launch alongside the iPhone 13 – will come with a better battery life than the current AirPods, which offer a 24-hour playback time:
AirPods 3rd Generation Charging Case should receive an around ~20% larger battery, compared to the 2nd Gen.Wireless Charging is a standard feature.Overall sound should be about the same as you've seen on the 2nd Generation, though with noticably better bass and low ends.September 7, 2021
It sounds as though the improvements are coming to the charging case rather than the buds themselves, with Weinbach alleging that the battery inside will be 20% larger than that of the 2019 AirPods.
How much extra battery life that actually translates to isn't clear, but any improvements in this area would be very welcome. Saying that, we'll be disappointed if the earbuds themselves aren't given a longer battery life. Right now, you'll get five hours of playtime on a single charge, which is pretty low compared to rivals like the Sony WF-1000XM4 and the Cambridge Audio Melomania 1 Plus.
According to Weinbach, the charging case will now come wireless as standard. At the moment, you have to pay extra for the AirPods with a wireless charging case, which costs $199 / £199 / AU$319 as opposed to $159 / £159 / AU$249 for the standard charging case (though you're unlikely to pay those prices now that AirPods deals are fairly common).
We'd hate to see the price of the entry-level AirPods rise as a result of the wireless charging case being included as standard. After all, AirPods Pro deals mean that you can usually find the noise-cancelling version of Apple's earbuds for around $200 / £200 / AU$250, so a high price tag for the (probably) less high-spec AirPods 3 wouldn't make much sense.
- Apple AirPods 3 price, release date, and rumors
- Read our Apple AirPods Pro review
- How to reset your AirPods
What about the sound?
Aside from the battery life, we're excited to see how the AirPods 3 sound compared to their predecessors.
Weinbach says that they'll sound similar to the current AirPods, albeit with "noticeably better bass and low ends". We found the 2019 AirPods sounded great when it came to mid-frequency audio like guitars and vocals, but trebles were harsh and the bass was underwhelming. So, any extension to their bass response will be very welcome indeed.
We'd also like to see support for Spatial Audio from the AirPods 3. The technology works in 5.1, 7.1, and Dolby Atmos content and applies directional audio filters, placing sound in a 3D sphere, making it feel more immersive.
Less likely – but equally desirable – would be support for hi-res audio. Now that Apple Music offers hi-res audio at no extra cost to subscribers, we'd like to see Apple update its own hardware so that its capable of delivering lossless audio.
Right now, all AirPods models only support the AAC codec when connected to an iOS or iPadOS device, whereas the new lossless Apple Music format is encoded in ALAC. In short, without ALAC support built into the headphones, the AirPods, AirPods Pro, and AirPods Max aren't capable of transmitting hi-res audio.
Hopefully we won't have too long to find out how the AirPods 3 will differ from their predecessors. The next Apple event is taking place on September 14 at 10am PT / 1pm ET / 6pm BST (3am AEST on September 15), and if rumors are to be believed, we'll be here to bring you all the latest announcements on the iPhone 13, Apple Watch Series 7, and the AirPods 3.
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Olivia was previously TechRadar's Senior Editor - Home Entertainment, covering everything from headphones to TVs. Based in London, she's a popular music graduate who worked in the music industry before finding her calling in journalism. She's previously been interviewed on BBC Radio 5 Live on the subject of multi-room audio, chaired panel discussions on diversity in music festival lineups, and her bylines include T3, Stereoboard, What to Watch, Top Ten Reviews, Creative Bloq, and Croco Magazine. Olivia now has a career in PR.