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New Apple AirPods Review: Great sound if they stay in your ears

When one of the new 3rd generation AirPods had a dead brush, I was leaning against the sink and washing my face. The earphone on the right popped out, bounced off, bounced off again, and landed a few centimeters from the wide open drain.

Unlike their predecessors, these AirPods are water resistant. I’m glad that the buds didn’t fall where only brave people continued. Many AirPods have fallen into subway tracks, sewer grate, and toilets, but unfortunately the latest generation does not prevent them from following the same fate. But they make a better sound.

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AirPods wireless earphones will begin shipping on Tuesday. At $ 179, it’s more expensive than its predecessor and is now down from $ 159 to $ 129. And they’re not as full-featured as the $ 249 AirPods Pro with the most expensive option, active noise canceling.

There are several reasons why early AirPods adopters want to upgrade to the third generation. Capacitive touch controls that squeeze the stem are much easier to trigger than the original tap-based gestures. Battery life is one hour longer, with up to 6 hours of listening and 4 hours of talk time. The case can be easily snapped onto a MagSafe wireless charger (sold separately). They are now sweat and water resistant. And, like the AirPods Pro’s, the stem is shorter. You still look like a cyborg, but a little inferior.

My main concern is fit: the new buds may not work for the ears that held the original AirPods well.

Another fit

Earphones are a very personal choice, as ear shapes vary slightly from person to person, but non-Pro AirPods remain versatile. The new AirPods were more often out of my ears than the old AirPods I wore every day until I upgraded to the AirPods Pro. The new buds are more oval, with a larger tip than the second-generation AirPods and a less tapered end.

Compared to the second generation on the left, the new and expensive AirPods provide upgradeers with shorter stems and more oval buds.


Photo:

Nicole Nguyen / Wall Street Journal

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As with all AirPods, every time I took off my sweater or pushed my hair behind my ears, the buds could fly away. However, something in the new design caused the earphones to fall while eating and washing the face. Body movements seem to be less problematic than jaw movements. I kept running and left the new pod in place. The AirPods Pro, which comes with three different sizes of silicone gaskets, is the safest in my ears. Meanwhile, my husband tried the new AirPods and they work well for him.

An Apple spokesman said the rounded shape was designed to make AirPods more comfortable to wear. But if the earphones don’t catch your ear, the new fit and improved sound make no difference. And replacing the lost bud costs you $ 69.

What’s my advice?Try or use it at the Apple Store before you buy Apple’s 14-day return policy.. If they don’t fit, consider an AirPods Pro that can be sized.

Better audio

Most people don’t buy AirPods because of their sound. Killer feature is a quick pairing setup for people using iPhone, iPad and Mac.

Like the AirPods Pro, the 3rd generation features spatial audio with dynamic head tracking. Translation: Looking at the supported content, it feels like your iPhone or iPad is producing surround sound as you move your head.


Photo:

Nicole Nguyen / Wall Street Journal

For those who pay attention to the sound, the new AirPods have significantly improved quality. The song sounds more detailed than the previous generation, and the bass is more punchy on tracks from The Supremes’ classic “You Can’t Hurry” to Billie Eilish’s room-shaking “Oxytocin.”

And even if you don’t listen to music, you’ll still hear the difference when you watch a TV show or movie supported by a compatible iOS device or Mac. Spatial audio on. This feature enables 3D audio from apps such as HBO Max, Disney +, and more.

Netflix

And Hulu. (With YouTube

Amazon

Prime Video doesn’t support it yet. )

As you turn your head, you’ll feel the immersive sound coming from the screen you’re looking at. It’s confusing at first. It sounds like the audio is playing loud, not the earphones. Try it in the first episode of Netflix’s “Squid Game”. (A climax scene where participants understand what’s happening. It will give you a different impression.)

Apple Music provides spatial audio on many tracks. The sound is sometimes nice and three-dimensional — check out Disclosure’s “Latch” — but in many cases you won’t notice anything at all.

My voice sounded better than the new AirPods mic.The bud has the same mic and wind-minimizing material as the more expensive pros that came out Top in my test last year..

Pros vs.’Pod-or something else?

There are three earphones in Apple’s lineup. The second-generation AirPods are $ 129, the new AirPods are $ 179, and the AirPods Pro is $ 249.

Rubber eartips aren’t for everyone, but they still have their strengths The best earphones that iPhone users can buy.. They’re only $ 70 more, which makes a confusing decision for upgradeers. (In addition, I’ve seen premium earphones sold at Target and Staples, which have been reduced to $ 199.) Last week I really missed professional active noise canceling. As I was walking down the street, I had to turn up the volume on my AirPods to hear the podcast. And later, while working at home, I couldn’t adjust my neighbor’s leaf blower.Professional noise cancellation isn’t as good as what you get with over-ear headphones, but it’s better than that. In-ear competition..

AirPods come with a new charging case that can magnetically snap to your MagSafe charger. Sold separately for $ 39.


Photo:

Nicole Nguyen / Wall Street Journal

The new AirPods are a compelling upgrade from the original AirPods, but $ 179 is a lot for earphones without noise cancellation.Amazon bulky Echo Bad 2 It costs $ 120, has active noise canceling, and comes with an optional wing tip for a safer fit.

AirPods can’t even connect to two non-Apple devices at the same time. Jabra’s $ 230 Elite 85 TonsThere is no volume control on the device like, and Sony’s $ 280 WF-1000XM4..

And unfortunately, AirPods are, like most wireless headphones and earphones, disposable. Their batteries will eventually deteriorate, Cannot be exchanged.. Apple says it will recycle dead sprouts at any Apple Store, but there are no trade-in credits.

Still, there’s a reason AirPods are the best-selling wireless earphones with a 23% global market share, according to Counterpoint Research’s latest unit sales estimates. Earphones work best with devices from the same company if the connection reliability and quick pairing are optimized.And for people A person who lives in a garden surrounded by apple wallsThat means choosing AirPods and not losing them.

Write in Nicole Nguyen nicole.nguyen@wsj.com

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New Apple AirPods Review: Great sound if they stay in your ears

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