Apple new AirPods 2 outside of the case resting on a book.

The Apple AirPods 3 will likely stick to the standard nozzle-free, stemmed look.

The jump from the first to second-generation AirPods was huge, because it included a fancy H1 chip and hands-free access to Siri. We anticipate the Apple AirPods 3 debut to be less flashy and instead focus on improving the basics like battery life, call quality, and durability.

Here’s everything we expect to see from the Apple AirPods 3.

Editor’s note: this article was updated on June 1, 2020, to account for the Google Pixel Buds success and popularity among readers compared to the Apple AirPods Pro.


Better battery life

A picture of the AirPods 2 in wireless charging case held by man's hand.

A wireless charging case costs extra with the AirPods (2019), but this same capability is afforded by the comparably priced Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus.

One improved feature we can call from miles away is improved battery life: we saw a 21% improvement from the original AirPods to the AirPods (2019), and expect something similar with the third-generation AirPods. After all, if the noise-cancelling AirPods Pro can last over five hours on a single charge, a pair of similarly sized non-noise canceling earbuds should be able to at least match that metric.

Improved call quality

A picture of a man wearing the Apple AirPods Pro noise-cancelling true wireless earbuds.

There was a marked improvement in microphone quality from the AirPods (2019) to the AirPods Pro.

AirPods are everywhere, be it the first or second-generation models, and listeners use them as more than just a playback device: they use them increasingly for conference calls, especially with the impromptu rise of remote work. Apple uses one of the most advanced microphone systems we’ve seen in the true wireless sphere, the company is always tweaking software improvements for clear vocal transmission.

Apple AirPods (2019) microphone demo:

Apple AirPods Pro microphone demo:

There’s a perceptible difference in call quality between the AirPods (2019) and AirPods Pro, and we hope to see the AirPods 3 microphone catch up to the Pro model.

Water-resistance

The AirPods 3 will likely boast some form of water resistance, as we’ve seen other nozzle-less earbuds like the Mobvoi TicPods 2 Pro include. Sure, the third-generation AirPods may not merit the standard IPX4 rating, but they should be at least IPX2-rated like the Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus and Galaxy Buds, two of the AirPods’ main competitors. This would make AirPods 3 a more versatile headset for listeners who occasionally want to exercise with their earbuds or who live in rainy regions.


What we’d like to see, but likely won’t, from the Apple AirPods 3

Pictured are the Airpods on top of an iPad and next to the Google Pixel 3.

A budget AirPods 3 option to accompany the economical Apple iPhone SE would be great, but releasing two forms of the same headset is a lot of effort for little reward. If anything, perhaps Apple will refrain from increasing the price and hover around that $150-mark to remain competitive with the likes of Samsung and Jabra.

It’s about time Apple made a Qi wireless charging case a default inclusion with the AirPods 3, but it’s a bit of a toss up despite Samsung including such hardware since early 2019. There is a silver lining to separating bundles, though, as it provides listeners with tighter budgets a less expensive option if they want to remain in the Apple ecosystem.

Sure, the Apple AirPods 3 perhaps won’t be groundbreaking but they should perform consistently well with other iOS devices. These earbuds are sure to be a hit among iPhone owners who just want their earbuds to work. Maybe the AirPods 3 will appear boring and predictable, but in a time when everything is in flux, maybe that’s not such a bad thing. Then again, seeing how well the Google Pixel Buds knocked it out of the park compared to the Apple AirPods (2019), Apple may have to rethink its strategy for the new AirPods.

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