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The weekend’s best deals: Apple’s newest AirPods, Google’s Pixel 5a, and more

Enlarge (credit: Ars Technica)

It’s time for another Dealmaster. Leading today’s roundup of the best tech deals we can find is a new low price on the latest Apple AirPods, as the third-gen model of the popular wireless earbuds is currently down to $140 at Amazon. The full discount should appear at checkout. This price is also available at Costco, though you’ll need a Costco membership to take advantage of the deal. Either way, this is $39 off Apple’s MSRP and about $30 off the average street price we’ve seen since the earbuds launched in October. As of this writing, Amazon’s listing says the AirPods will ship before Christmas, though that could change as more orders are placed.

We’ve had a pair of the newest AirPods on hand for a couple of weeks. While we don’t think they’re the absolute best value among wireless earbuds, they could still be worthwhile for the right person. Namely, if you prefer an “open-back” design that rests outside of your ear canal instead of inserting within it, the third-gen AirPods have a richer and more balanced sound than most of their peers. They let in too much outside noise to sound better than the best true wireless in-ear headphones, but if you find this kind of fit more agreeable, that might be worth the trade-off. They’re a definite upgrade over the previous AirPods in terms of audio quality; just be aware the wider earpieces here might not fit certain ear shapes as comfortably as the older pair.

In general, the third-gen AirPods borrow heavily from the AirPods Pro. The open-back design means there’s no active noise cancellation, but the earbuds have the same IPX4 water resistance and “force sensor” control scheme. The latter still isn’t perfect, but it’s more responsive than merely tapping the earbuds to take calls and pause your music. The same host of Apple-friendly features are here as well: the new AirPods pair quickly with other Apple devices and can automatically switch between them if you, say, take a call on an iPhone while listening to music on an iPad. The included case supports wireless charging and can power up the earbuds about four times per charge, while the earbuds themselves last a little over six hours on their own. That’s decent, if not world-beating.

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