In a nutshell: Apple as anticipated on Monday introduced an updated version of its flagship AirPods wireless earbuds, the first refresh since gen-two launched in March 2019. This time around, Apple tweaked an already solid recipe to squeeze even more performance, battery life and value into its popular wireless earbuds.
The revised AirPods feature a new contoured design that should deliver a better fit for more users. To lessen their appearance when in use, Apple has shortened the stem compared to the previous generation. The buds also use the same force sensor that’s found on the AirPods Pro for media control, and carry an IPX4 rating both on the buds and the charging case.
The buds also pack a custom driver with a high dynamic range amplifier. Together, these two elements produce what Apple describes as powerful bass with crisp, clean high frequencies. An acoustic mesh covers the microphone to help cut down on wind noise.
Elsewhere, you’ll find spatial audio with dynamic head tracking and support for Dolby Atmos. Apple has also baked in its Adaptive EQ feature, which tunes sound in real time based on how the buds fit in a user’s ear to account for what may be lost due to variances in fit.
AirPods continue to offer one-touch setup when pairing with other Apple devices, and audio sharing lets users share a stream between two sets of AirPods while using an Apple TV, iPhone, iPad or iPod touch.
Despite having a smaller stem, Apple has managed to squeeze an extra hour of battery life into the new AirPods. Now, you’ll get up to six hours of listening time and up to four hours of talk time from a single charge. When you’re in a hurry, a quick five-minute recharge can provide up to an hour of listening time.
Together with the included charging case (which is also now MagSafe compatible), you can expect up to 30 hours of total listening time (six hours from the buds plus four full recharges from the case).
The new third-generation AirPods are available to order from today in the US and across more than 26 other countries with in-store availability slated for October 26. Online buyers can also elect to have Apple engrave a mix of emoji, text and numbers on the battery case for a customized look.
The second-gen AirPods are sticking around for another cycle, now priced at $129, alongside the AirPods Pro with MagSafe charging case for $249. The AirPods Max, Apple's over-ear wireless headphones, are also hanging around and can be taken home for $549.
It's also worth mentioning that new subscribers can get Apple Music free for six months with the purchase of any AirPods, AirPods Pro or AirPods Max.