AirPods 3 Are Better Than AirPods Pro in One Way

Apple recently introduced its third-generation AirPods, featuring a new design, spatial audio, Adaptive EQ, MagSafe charging, sweat and water resistance, longer battery life, and more. The standard AirPods are now more similar to the AirPods Pro than ever before, with the new earbuds actually surpassing the higher-end in-ear option with one improved feature.

airpods 3 and case
Apple's third-generation AirPods have almost all of the same features as the ‌AirPods Pro‌, with the new AirPods only missing out on silicone in-ear tips, Active Noise Cancellation, and Conversation Boost. Briefly outlined in the press release for the new AirPods, Apple explained that there is an all-new skin-detect sensor:

A new skin-detect sensor accurately discerns if AirPods are in the ear — versus in a pocket or on a table — and pauses playback when removed.

Instead of skin-detect sensors in each earbud, the ‌AirPods Pro‌ use dual optical sensors to detect if they are in a user's ear. While they effectively perform the same function, the optical sensors can simply tell when they are against a surface or covered up, rather than specifically against skin. This means that if you put an ‌AirPods Pro‌ earbud in a pocket or on a surface, it could accidentally resume playback.

According to industry insiders speaking to the Taiwanese research firm TrendForce, the new skin-detect sensor works by detect water content in the wearer's skin, which ensures that it does not mistake pockets, tables, or other surfaces for skin.

It seems highly likely that the next generation of AirPods Pro will also adopt this skin-detect sensor, but for now, the third-generation AirPods retain just one improvement over their high-end siblings.

The third-generation AirPods are available to order now for $179 and are set to launch on Tuesday, October 26.

Related Stories

airpods pro 2 2

Photos Depict Alleged AirPods Pro 2 With Same Design, Case With 'Find My' Speaker Holes and Strap Attachment

Friday October 22, 2021 9:32 am PDT by
Apple is developing second-generation AirPods Pro to follow the AirPods 3, with the new earbuds set to come out in 2022. We've heard little about the next-generation AirPods Pro so far, but a rumor from Bloomberg's Mark Gurman has suggested they could be stemless. MacRumors has now received alleged images of the second-generation AirPods Pro that contradict the stemless design rumors, but...
airpods 3

Third-Gen AirPods Offer Only 5 Hours' Listening Time With Spatial Audio Enabled

Tuesday October 19, 2021 2:50 am PDT by
Apple on Monday announced third-generation AirPods, featuring an updated design, improved sound quality, and an extra hour of battery life compared to the second-generation AirPods, which offer five hours of listening time. However, what Apple didn't make very explicit in its marketing is that to get six hours out of its latest earphones, spatial audio must be disabled. As noted in Apple's fi...
AirPods Pro Gen 2 Feature

Kuo: AirPods Pro 2 With New Design and Improved Chip to Launch in Late 2022

Wednesday December 8, 2021 12:11 am PST by
The AirPods Pro 2, the first update to the AirPods Pro since they debuted in 2019, will launch in the fourth quarter of 2022, according to Apple analyst Ming Chi-Kuo. In a note obtained today by MacRumors, Kuo said that the second generation AirPods Pro will launch in the last quarter of 2022. Prior reports have indicated that the AirPods are going to launch next year, but excluding one...
airpods 3 1

Is This What the New AirPods Will Look Like?

Friday April 16, 2021 4:24 am PDT by
Amid continuing signs that third-generation AirPods are in the works, a number of images of the new design have purportedly leaked online. Images recently shared by 52audio claim to reveal the updated design of the third-generation AirPods, perhaps giving us the first clear look at Apple's next-generation wireless earbuds. The images depict AirPods with a shorter stem and a design very...
airpods 3 vs airpods pro 1

Video Comparison: AirPods 3 vs. AirPods Pro

Wednesday October 27, 2021 12:17 pm PDT by
Apple's long-awaited third-generation AirPods launched yesterday alongside new MacBook Pro models, and we picked up a pair to compare them to the AirPods Pro. If you're wondering whether you should choose the AirPods Pro or the AirPods 3 when buying AirPods for the first time or upgrading, this comparison video should help. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. There are ...
magsafe airpods

AirPods 3 Features First Water-Resistant AirPods Charging Case

Monday October 25, 2021 6:34 am PDT by
The MagSafe Charging Case for the third-generation AirPods features sweat and water resistance, making the standard AirPods the first to feature an IPX4-rated charging case. Apple promoted the sweat and water-resistance of the third-generation AirPods with the device's announcement last week, but the IPX4 rating applies to both the earbuds and the charging case. The AirPods Pro were the...
airpods ct scans header

Take a Unique Peek into How AirPods Have Evolved With Every Generation

Tuesday December 7, 2021 3:45 am PST by
New detailed CT scan images of the first-generation AirPods, AirPods Pro, and third-generation AirPods have revealed in detail what internal design changes Apple had to accomplish to include new features in every generation while continuing to miniaturize internal components. The first-generation AirPods, announced in 2016, serve as the main design inspiration for the AirPods Pro and...
AirPods Pro Gen 3 Mock Feature

Kuo: AirPods Pro 2 to Feature Lossless Support and Sound-Emitting Charging Case

Sunday January 2, 2022 3:23 am PST by
Apple's second-generation AirPods Pro will feature support for Lossless audio and a charging case that can emit a sound for location tracking purposes, according to Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. In a note to investors, seen by MacRumors, Kuo explained that the second-generation AirPods Pro will feature new selling points that will lead to strong demand, including support for Apple Lossless...

Popular Stories

apple ar headset concept 1

Apple's Headset Said to Feature 14 Cameras Enabling Lifelike Avatars, Jony Ive Has Remained Involved With Design

Friday May 20, 2022 6:50 am PDT by
Earlier this week, The Information's Wayne Ma outlined struggles that Apple has faced during the development of its long-rumored AR/VR headset. Now, in a follow-up report, he has shared several additional details about the wearable device. Apple headset render created by Ian Zelbo based on The Information reporting For starters, one of the headset's marquee features is said to be lifelike...
iPhone 14 Purple Lineup Feature

Will the iPhone 14 Be a Disappointment?

Saturday May 21, 2022 9:00 am PDT by
With around four months to go before Apple is expected to unveil the iPhone 14 lineup, the overwhelming majority of rumors related to the new devices so far have focused on the iPhone 14 Pro, rather than the standard iPhone 14 – leading to questions about how different the iPhone 14 will actually be from its predecessor, the iPhone 13. The iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max are expected...
sony headphones 1

Sony's New WH-1000XM5 Headphones vs. Apple's AirPods Max

Friday May 20, 2022 12:18 pm PDT by
Sony this week came out with an updated version of its popular over-ear noise canceling headphones, so we picked up a pair to compare them to the AirPods Max to see which headphones are better and whether it's worth buying the $400 WH-1000XM5 from Sony over Apple's $549 AirPods Max. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. First of all, the AirPods Max win out when it comes ...
studio display 3

Apple's Rumored 27-Inch Mini-LED Display Now Said to Launch in October

Friday May 20, 2022 8:07 am PDT by
Apple now plans to release a new 27-inch display with mini-LED backlighting in October due to the Shanghai lockdown, which has resulted in production of the display being delayed, according to display industry consultant Ross Young. In a tweet, Young said Apple is in the process of moving production of the display from Quanta Computer to a different supplier and/or location, resulting in a...
HomePodandMini feature green

Kuo: Apple to Release New HomePod in Late 2022 or Early 2023

Friday May 20, 2022 8:55 am PDT by
Apple is working on an updated version of the HomePod that could come in the fourth quarter of 2022 or the first quarter of 2023, according to Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. Kuo says that there "may not be much innovation in hardware design" for the new HomePod, and there is no word on what size the device will be and if it will be a HomePod mini successor or a larger speaker. Apple would ...
airtag purple

Best Apple Deals of the Week: Save on AirTag, AirPods 3, and iPads

Friday May 20, 2022 8:01 am PDT by
Solid markdowns on the AirTag, AirPods 3, and a few iPad models were introduced this week, and below you'll find all of the best deals of the past few days that are still available to purchase. AirTag Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with some of these vendors. When you click a link and make a purchase, we may receive a small payment, which helps us keep the site running. What's the...