The feature-laden AirPods 3 go up against Beats's ANC Studio Buds

Smart tech

AirPods (3rd generation)

$179 at Apple

Pros

  • Comfortable fit
  • Offers the latest features that come with the H1 chip
  • Intuitive force touch controls
  • MagSafe wireless charging

Cons

  • Expensive price tag
  • Less secure fit
  • One color choice
  • No active noise cancelation

Apple's third-generation AirPods come with the H1 chip and the latest technology in Spatial Audio, audio sharing, auto-pause, and device switching. These features, combined with superior comfort and intuitive controls, make these the best AirPods ever made, by a long shot. The big question is, do these advancements justify the high price tag?

A customized experience

Beats Studio Buds

$130 at Apple

Pros

  • Earbuds offer a more secure fit
  • Active noise cancelation and transparency mode
  • Lower price tag
  • More color choices

Cons

  • Does not support all types of spatial audio or dynamic head tracking
  • No wireless charging
  • Does not support latest H1 features

Although Beats Studio Buds do not offer the features that come with an Apple H1 chip, they do offer active noise cancelation, which is an absolute necessity for some users. These earphones also offer several ear tip sizes to ensure a secure fit and a few different color choices. And let's not overlook that lower price tag!

When Beats Studio Buds came out in June 2021, they were clearly the better wireless earbuds compared to the second-generation Apple AirPods. Now that the AirPods 3 have emerged, however, the distinction is not so clear-cut. These new AirPods are equipped with the latest Apple H1 chip, which comes with an ensemble of new and very cool features that work beautifully with iOS 15. The new AirPods 3 still don't include some key benefits that are offered by Beats Studio Buds, however, such as active noise cancelation (ANC).

AirPods 3 vs Beats Studio Buds: Key differences

Although both models are wireless Bluetooth earbuds, these two products offer very different features, and so they appeal to different markets. The chart below outlines just how very different these two earbuds are. From chipsets to inner-ear fit, almost every spec is distinct.

AirPods (3rd generation) Beats Studio Buds
Type Wireless Bluetooth Earbuds Wireless Bluetooth Earbuds
Chip H1 headphone chip MediaTek TWS chip
Battery life 6 hours 8 hours
Charging MagSafe wireless charging USB-C wired charging
Active noise cancelation No Yes
Ambient noise mode No Yes
Live Listen Yes No
Spatial Audio Yes Yes, with limitations
Controls Force touch sensor Multi-function button
Inputs Lightning USB-C
Colors White Black, White, Red
Case MagSafe Wireless Charging Case USB-C Charging Case
Weight 4.3 grams 5 grams
Microphones Dual beamforming microphones Built-in microphone with wind reduction
Voice assistant "Hey Siri" hands-free voice assistant "Hey Siri" hands-free voice assistant

Here you can see that the Beats Studio Buds boast a longer battery life, active noise cancelation, USB-C wired charging, and three color choices. On the other hand, the AirPods 3 are built with the Apple H1 chip and all the technological advantages that come with it. Choosing between the two will likely come to your own sound needs or environment, so let's break down the comparison, point by point.

AirPods 3 vs Beats Studio Buds: Beats Studio Buds offer bang for buck

At the time of this writing, the Beats Studio Buds are currently going at a discounted price of $130, significantly more affordable than the hefty $179 price tag for the AirPods 3. In fact, it's safe to say that for the quality of sound and range of benefits you receive with the Beats Studio Buds, they offer an excellent value for the price.

Granted, the AirPods 3 do come with a lot of cool new features and the much-celebrated H1 chipset, but they are still rather expensive for a pair of wireless earbuds that don't offer ANC. In my opinion, the Beats Studio Buds are the better deal when it comes to price, especially when they go on sale for $130.

AirPods 3 vs Beats Studio Buds: Beats wins on options, but Apple delivers improved comfort

Visually, the two earphones have distinctive styles. The AirPods keep the long-stemmed shape that has become ubiquitous with Apple users since 2016. The third generation has a new contoured shape that slips more easily into the average ear and provides a comfortable fit for most people. In contrast, Beats provides removable ear buds that come in different sizes for a more precise fit. This is necessary for accurate noise cancelation, but not always as comfortable as the contoured AirPods shape.

AirPods might be a better and more comfortable choice, but keep in mind that the comfy contoured shape does not stay in the ear as securely as an ear-tip design.

The way you use your earbuds will likely dictate which style you prefer. If you find yourself listening to music or podcasts all day long, then the Beats Studio Buds will probably cause some ear fatigue and discomfort after extended use. This is to be expected with any in-ear earbud design. The AirPods will be better and more comfortable in this circumstance, but keep in mind that the comfy contoured shape does not stay in the ear as securely as an ear-tip design. That means the AirPods might not be ideal for extreme sports or exercise. If it's a super secure fit you want, Beats are the way to go.

The Beats buds do provide three color options, however, which is refreshing when compared to the ever white AirPods. With the recent release of a more colorful line of Mac computers and the beautiful color choices offered for the AirPods Max, I was hoping that more vibrant options would be coming out for all Apple products. This is not the case for AirPods, however, which are still offered in one uninspired shade of white. The Beats Studio Buds are also offered in white, but also black and a bright tone of Beats Red.

AirPods 3 vs Beats Studio Buds: AirPods 3 bring all the new-fangled tech

Both of these earbuds are top of the line, so you're going to get top-quality sound out of either choice. The big differentiating factors here are the listening modes offered by the Beats versus the smart features that come with Apple's H1 chip in the AirPods.

The Beats Studio Buds are going to give good sound, and they are known for a deep, punchy bass. Since they offer both ANC and transparency mode, you can choose how you want to listen. For anybody who works around a lot of distractions and ambient noise, you'll enjoy the ANC included with the Beats, a feature that is sadly lacking in the AirPods 3.

If ANC is absolutely necessary, then you're going to need the Beats Studio Buds, but the AirPods 3 come with some pretty impressive technology of their own.

If ANC is absolutely necessary, then you're going to need the Beats Studio Buds, but the AirPods 3 come with some pretty impressive technology of their own. For one thing, they are equipped with adaptive EQ technology, which means that the AirPods actively listen to the sound that you're receiving and adapt it to provide the best listening experience for the size and shape of your ear. That's pretty impressive, but when paired with Spatial Audio that supports dynamic head tracking, you have a truly immersive audio experience. This type of interactive sound can be enjoyed with any content that supports spatial audio in Apple Music, Apple TV, Netflix, and several other providers. Beats Studio Buds do support spatial audio, but only on specific Dolby Atmos tracks in Apple Music, not for video streaming or other content. They also don't support adaptive EQ or dynamic head tracking.

A few other features that were brought to AirPods 3 with the H1 chip include auto-pause functionality (the sound automatically pauses when you take an AirPod out of your ear), seamless device switching, and audio sharing. These newest features are not currently supported by the Beats Studio Buds. Because of all the bells and whistles, the AirPods 3 probably come out on top in terms of overall performance, even if they don't have ANC.

AirPods 3 vs Beats Studio Buds: Which should you buy?

Look, I can't tell you what to buy. I will say that I'm a bit of a sucker for new tricks and techy innovations, so I tend to lean towards the newest and coolest. For me, I would go with the AirPods 3 if only to try out that Adaptive EQ technology and dynamic head tracking with Spatial Audio. The auto-pause functionality and seamless device switching is even more icing on the cake since it allows me to do more with my iPhone, but that's just me.

You are not me, and you may be in great need of earbuds that include ANC, especially if you work in a loud environment. If that's the case, you'll definitely want the Beats Studio Buds. Since these earbuds are also more affordable, they are also the better choice for budget-conscious shoppers. As I always say in any comparison, you have to run down the pros and cons of each choice for your own listening needs and lifestyle. Whichever earbuds you go with, you can count on excellent sound and industry-leading quality.

Smart choice

AirPods (3rd generation)

$179 at Apple $175 at Amazon $179 at Best Buy

The AirPods 3 are Apple's smartest earbuds yet. They pack in all the latest features like dynamic head tracking, Adaptive EQ, and audio sharing. They are also the most comfortable earbuds you'll find due to a new contoured design.

Best for loud ambient noise

Beats Studio Buds

$130 at Apple $130 at Amazon $130 at Beats

What the Beats Studio Buds lack in smarts, they make up for in deep bass, excellent sound quality, and noise cancelation. These are still the ideal earbuds for loud ambient environments since they provide an adequate seal and ANC to block out noise.

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Technology