Apple AirPods gets a new look and new tech: hello, spatial audio

Apple's newest earbuds have been updated with more tech and features.

by Justin Choo

The third generation of AirPods are becoming more high tech than ever – it now supports Dolby Atmos through its new spatial audio tech.

All of this tech is made possible by the H1 chip as well as a new Apple-designed acoustic system featuring Adaptive EQ. Plenty of software gobbledygook here, but that’s par for the course these days – I don’t mind for sure, unlike the days of old, you can make digital tweaking sound pretty good.

These days, I think it’s harder for earbuds to sound unpleasant than it is to sound good, and there’s no reason to believe that the custom driver with a high dynamic range amplifier won’t deliver the goods. What’s nice here though, is the presence of an acoustic mesh to help reduce the effects of wind, as well as an AAC-ELD codec that prioritises voice quality for calls.

What’s also good is that the stem on the new AirPods is also shorter, which makes it (a little) more discreet. The contour and lightweight body was designed for comfort and to direct audio into the ear. While that is still subject to the individual – our ear shapes are all different after all – what’s universally useful to all is water resistance (IPX4) for both earbuds and the charging case. Also, a new skin-detect sensor means that the AirPods accurately detects if it’s in your ear and pauses and plays when it should.

AirPods with AirPods Pro and AirPods Max features

But what’s great about Apple’s latest earbuds is the adoption of Adaptive EQ and Spatial Audio. Adaptive EQ uses in-ward facing microphones to pick up sounds from within your ear and works out how to compensate for lost frequencies due to a poor fit. Spatial audio is effectively 3D audio and it supports the Dolby Atmos standard. It’s accomplished through the use of advanced spatial audio algorithms followed by directional audio filters to subtly tune the frequencies that each ear hears. Spatial audio works with dynamic head tracking as well, so music, video, and even Group FaceTime calls will feel more immersive.

Other features include Announce Notifications, where Siri will read time-sensitive notifications (from supported apps) to you, and Find My compatibility, so you now stand a better chance of finding your AirPods if you lose them.

Longer Battery Life

Despite the extra tech, battery life is slightly longer as well, with up to six hours of listening time and up to four hours of talk time whle the case carries the equivalent of four charges for a total of 30 hours of listening time. The case also supports wireless charging.


Priced at $269, AirPods (3rd generation) are now available to order at and in the Apple Store app. And as such, the price of AirPods (2nd generation) has been revised to $199. AirPods Pro now come with MagSafe Charging Case, and the price remains unchanged at $379.

And if you have yet to subscribe to Apple Music, your new purchase of AirPods, AirPods Pro, or AirPods Max entitles you to a free six-month trial of Apple Music ($9.98 per month).

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