Apple AirPods 3 vs AirPods Pro (2019): which true wireless earbuds are better?

The AirPods 3 vs AirPods Pro true wireless earbuds and their charging cases
(Image credit: Future)

Apple now has several different AirPods to choose from. But which is the best, the Apple AirPods 3 vs AirPods Pro (2019)?

Once upon a time, the gap between the original Apple AirPods vs AirPods Pro was massive. The Pro version has noise cancellation, water resistance, custom ear tips, adaptive EQ, wider soundstage and support for spatial audio, making them some of the best true wireless earbuds. But the regular AirPods had none of those things.

But the arrival of the AirPods 3 fixed nearly all of those problems, and the models are now at a more even parity and two of the best Apple headphones you can buy.

These days, there are only four rather than a dozen differences between the two styles of AirPods. In some ways, this makes deciding which one is right for you easier than ever. But the choice depends on you and your preferences. So for an in-depth look at both products, check out our full Apple AirPods 3 review and AirPods Pro (2019) review.

Also consider reading our AirPods Pro 2 review, the newly-launched Pro earbuds from Apple that have many similarities between the AirPods Pro (2019) but do deliver some big upgrades in terms of both functionality and audio performance.

For now, we’ve broken down the key differences between the two true wireless earbuds below to help you understand which model you should buy, the Apple AirPods 3 vs AirPods Pro (2019).

Apple AirPods 3 vs AirPods Pro (2019): noise cancellation

You’d opt for the AirPods Pro over the AirPods 3 because the Pro has built-in active noise cancellation. That allows you to take them out into the world and not be disturbed by outside noise. They’re our preferred travel companions for this reason and work wonders on your commute when you need to zone out for a while. 

Now, even if you don’t opt for the powerful active noise cancellation option, the basic AirPods will give you some level of what's known as passive noise isolation, which comes from the buds blocking some part of the ear canal. This isn’t nearly as powerful as proper ANC, but you should know that you’ll at least get some form of noise reduction from both buds.

The AirPods Pro on a wooden surface next to their charging case

The AirPods Pro have a silicone earip for a more comfortable fit and tighter seal. (Image credit: Future)

Apple AirPods 3 vs AirPods Pro (2019): design and comfort

While there’s not a massive difference in design between the two earbuds, one substantial difference is worth pointing out: the AirPods Pro comes with interchangeable ear tips that help facilitate a tighter and more comfortable fit. 

At first, a tighter fit may sound more uncomfortable, but tighter fitting earbuds provide the best bass response as no sound is wasted by escaping the ear. Because the tips are made of squishy silicone, it doesn’t hurt that they’re in the ear canal. We actually find regular AirPods to be more uncomfortable because the tips are made of inflexible plastic that doesn’t always quite fit comfortably on the outer part of the ear canal

Apple AirPods 3 vs AirPods Pro (2019): battery life

There’s one obvious area in which the AirPods 3 are better than the AirPods Pro: battery life. The AirPods 3 aren’t exactly class leaders with their six-hour listening time, but that substantially improves on the Pro’s 4.5-hour battery life. Thankfully both pairs of earbuds have an additional 24 hours of charge in the case, so it’s a draw there.

So why do the supposedly superior earbuds have such a short battery life? It all comes down to that active noise cancellation that drains the battery life. It turns out that not having that ability is what helps the AirPods 3 conserve battery and last longer. 

the apple airpods 3 next to their charging case on a wooden surface

The AirPods 3 are a bit cheaper... sometimes. (Image credit: TechRadar)

Apple AirPods 3 vs AirPods Pro (2019): price

The AirPods 3 are the clear winner here in terms of price. They launched at $179 / £169 / AU$279, significantly cheaper than the AirPods Pro’s set price of $249 / £249 / AU$399. You can now also place an AirPods Pro 2 preorder and secure Apple's latest earbuds ahead of release on September 23 for that same price.

There’s a catch, though. Because the AirPods Pro have been on the market for longer, we’ve started to see some fantastic deals that bring them down to the price of the AirPods 3, especially around the more significant sales days. It could be the case that the two earbuds are the same price.


There's no clear winner. But we’d say that, for the vast majority of iOS users, the AirPods Pro (2019) are the better true wireless earbuds. 

On sale, they should be nearly as cheap as the AirPods 3 and features like active noise cancellation and interchangeable earbuds make them more comfortable and functional than the newer version.

That being said, you can make the case for the AirPods 3 as they have many of the same features as the Pro (minus the two we just mentioned) and come at a slightly lower price. 

If you're convinced you want the best of the best true wireless earbuds after reading this guide, you also have even more choice now since Apple launched the AirPods Pro 2. 

Nick Pino

Nick Pino is Managing Editor, TV and AV for TechRadar's sister site, Tom's Guide. Previously, he was the Senior Editor of Home Entertainment at TechRadar, covering TVs, headphones, speakers, video games, VR and streaming devices. He's also written for GamesRadar+, Official Xbox Magazine, PC Gamer and other outlets over the last decade, and he has a degree in computer science he's not using if anyone wants it.