AirPods 3 review roundup: Better sound and fit despite lack of 'Pro' features

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Reviews of Apple's new third-generation AirPods are starting to drop, highlighting significant improvements to overall audio quality and in-ear fit.

Apple's new third-generation AirPods feature an updated design that's more reminiscent of the company's AirPods Pro. Although they lack the interchangeable ear-tips of their more expensive counterpart, many reviewers praised the fit and comfort of the new base AirPods.

Chris Welch, writing for The Verge, said that the new AirPods fit in his ear significantly better. "They're staying put so well that I no longer feel the same anxiety about them tumbling onto the ground and down a sewer grate. That worry was always present with the older AirPods," he wrote.

"The more contoured third-generation buds are unquestionably more comfortable than their predecessors," writes TechCrunch's Brian Heater.

However, Heater did note that the "gulf between [third-gen AirPods] and the Pros feels like night and day," and said that people with smaller ears might benefit from the AirPods Pro's rubbery ear-tips.

The Wall Street Journal agreed on the AirPods Pro front, noting that the "Pros are still the best earbuds iPhone users can buy," particularly if a customer can find them cheaper than their $249 retail price.

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Fit preferences or issues aside, other reviewers praised the sound quality of the new AirPods. Engadget reviewer B. Steele said the new AirPods are "better in nearly every way," and the improvements to sound quality actually surprised him.

"I don't want to mince words here: the new AirPods sound so much better than the previous two versions. Like almost night and day better," Steele wrote. "I don't think I've ever audibly said 'woah' with the first note from a guitar on any review unit, but given how average older AirPods sound, it was involuntary this time."

CNBC also highlighted the great sound quality on the third-gen AirPods, while also saying that the comfort, battery live, and case improvements are also excellent. "The AirPods 3 are the best AirPods for most people right now," the site wrote.