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AirPods 3 deal now live for Black Friday – but should you buy them?

Apple AirPods 3 wireless earbuds
(Image credit: Apple)

The AirPods 3 have only been a thing for a few months, so we weren't sure whether or not they'd be discounted for Black Friday – not many Apple products are, let alone new Apple products. But alas they have now dropped to £159 at Laptops Direct.

But should you splash out on Cupertino's latest true wireless earbuds, stay loyal to the much cheaper AirPods 2 for £99, or go for a completely different Black Friday wireless earbuds deal

We can't make the decision for you, but having just reviewed the AirPods 3, we can certainly give you some ammo...

The short answer: Apple users have good reason to buy AirPods considering they work so well with iOS devices, and their budget will depend on which pair they buy. All AirPods are currently the best value they have been, thanks to Black Friday. But for those who prioritise sound quality and/or want a pair to use across several devices, AirPods aren't the very best pair available this Black Friday. For the best combination of performance and features, we'd pick the £99 Sony WF-1000XM3 noise-cancelling true wireless earbuds (which are some of our favourites and the lowest price they've ever been) or, cheaper still, the Panasonic RZ-S500W noise-cancelling buds for £79, which you can see on our 7 very best Black Friday wireless earbuds deals round-up page.

£169

Apple AirPods 3 £169 £159 at Laptops Direct (save £10)
Apple's latest AirPods edge one step closer to the AirPods Pro, with shorter stems and the inclusion of spatial audio. You'll need to step up to the £185 Pro model for noise-cancelling, but if you don't mind not having that feature, these are great value Apple earbuds.

The AirPods 3 (£169 / $179 / AU$279) cost slightly more than their predecessors but boast a host of upgrades. Battery life is stronger (a total of 30 hours compared to 24 hours), and their design, with its shorter AirPods Pro-like stems, is a lot sleeker. 

The really big news, however, is that the 3rd Generation AirPods join the AirPods Max and AirPods Pro in supporting full spatial audio with dynamic head-tracking. That means users can take advantage of Dolby Atmos-powered spatial audio tracks from the Apple Music catalogue, but also get a theatre-like experience with movies and TV shows from, say, Apple TV+ and Netflix. 

The immersive tech even works with FaceTime, so if you're on a call with multiple people, the person on the lefthand-side of your screen sounds as though they're coming from the left. Very cool.

In terms of sound quality, the AirPods have never been the best-sounding wireless earbuds on the market but they do boast a new "low distortion" driver that, in our recent four-star review, produce a satisfyingly easygoing sound. Their bolder bass helps them sound slightly fuller than the AirPods 2.  

The new buds also get Adaptive EQ, which was introduced with the AirPods Pro and means the headphones will tune the sound they produce in real-time based on how they fit in the ear. They're blessed with Audio Sharing, too, which allows an Apple device's audio to be played simultaneously through two sets of AirPods.

Lastly, the AirPods 3 have a small skin sensor that can detect when they’re in your ears. Apple says it’s a more accurate type of wearing sensor than the proximity sensors in its other AirPods, so the new buds should reliably turn themselves off when not in your ears.

Hopefully, that's made the picture a little clear, for those hovering over the 'view deal' button above. Basically, the AirPods 3 are a significant step closer to the AirPods Pro, both in terms of features and price.

The £159 AirPods 3 are a great Black Friday deal if you can afford them. You should know that if you want noise-cancelling thrown in, the AirPods Pro are currently only £26 more.

Now £99, the AirPods 2 are still decent Apple wireless earbuds for Apple users, though, if you can't stretch to the latest pair – and this is likely the lowest price we'll see them Black Friday.

Apple users have good reason to buy AirPods considering they work so well with iOS devices, and their budget will depend on which pair they buy. All AirPods are currently the best-value they've been for Black Friday. But for those who prioritise sound quality and/or want a pair to use across several devices, AirPods aren't the very best pair available this Black Friday. For the best combination of performance and features, we'd pick the £99 Sony WF-1000XM3 noise-cancelling true wireless earbuds (which are some of our favourites and the lowest price they've ever been) or, cheaper still, the Panasonic RZ-S500W noise-cancelling buds for £79, which you can see on our 7 very best Black Friday wireless earbuds deals page.

MORE: 

AirPods 3 vs AirPods 2: what's the difference? Should you upgrade? 

Apple spatial audio: what is it? How do you get it? And is it like Dolby Atmos

The best AirPods alternatives you can buy in 2021

Tom has been writing about tech for 17 years, first on staff at T3 magazine, then in a freelance capacity for Men's Health, ShortList, The Sun, The Mail on Sunday, The Daily Telegraph and many more (including What Hi-Fi?). His specialities include mobile tech, electric cars and video streaming.