I really want to like the AirPods 3. I really do. But the one feature I really want is the one Apple still doesn’t want to give me.
I don’t need sweat and water resistance, because I don’t wear earbuds when I exercise. I don’t need head tracking and Dolby Atmos, because I only listen to podcasts and to music, not movies. And I don’t really need the extra battery life either, because while an extra hour of listening is something many people do want, the old AirPods’ five-hour life was a good three hours more than my dog is willing to walk for.
All I wanted was two little bits of rubber. Apple didn’t even need to design them from scratch. But despite my wishes, and my use of multiple burner phones to bombard Tim Cook with requests in a range of unconvincing accents, Apple still says no.
Why I've got a rubber soul
I know why Apple isn’t putting rubber tips on the AirPods 3, of course. It’s to differentiate them from the AirPods Pro, which do have rubber tips. And perhaps it’s to artificially boost the gap between the no-noise-cancelling AirPods and the active noise cancelling AirPods Pro: rubber tips are a very effective form of passive noise cancelling, and because I’m old I’d much rather take out my earbuds to talk to somebody than engage transparency mode.
I’m told that some people prefer the fit of AirPods to those of the AirPods Pro, and I salute those people with their oddly shaped ear canals. But for me, AirPods stay in my ear in exactly the same way that water, jelly or oysters do. That is, not at all. So as clever as they are, and as wonderful as the Apple headphone experience is, I think I’ll stick to my Cambridge Audio Melomania Touches. For me, the best wireless earbuds are the ones that actually stay in my ears.