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No AirPods 3 yet? Nab these new SoundPeats buds for $37.49 instead

The SoundPeats Air 3 earbuds launched today. They're really good for the money and you can get them for 25% off with a CNET-exclusive discount.

The SoundPeats Air 3 have an open design like the standard AirPods.

David Carnoy/CNET

SoundPeats, a value brand that sells a lot of earbuds on Amazon, has plenty of fans. I have not been one of them. Over the years, the company has sent me its fair share of review samples and truth be told, I haven't really loved any of them, mainly because its noise-isolating models haven't fit my ears that well. 

But I feel good about SoundPeats' latest open buds, the SoundPeats Air 3, which launched today and are on sale for 25% off if you follow these instructions. After you click the instant 10% off code on the Amazon product page and apply the CNET-exclusive 15% off code 4KWPTXXK at checkout, the price drops to $37.49. The code is good until Sept. 30, or while supplies last.

SoundPeats says the Air 3 are 10% smaller than the TrueAir 2 and the case is truly tiny, smaller than the AirPods' case. The buds stayed in my ears more securely than the AirPods do (I have trouble keeping the AirPods in my ears, especially if I start running). These use Qualcomm's 3040 chipset, which has Bluetooth 5.2, and I had no trouble pairing them with an iPhone 12 Pro and a Google Pixel 4 XL. My connection was quite stable. The earbuds support the aptX audio codec with compatible devices. 

Read more: Best cheap true-wireless earbuds for 2021

Sound quality is good for open earbuds. It's right there with the AirPods and these even have slightly more bass. I think most people will be satisfied with the sound. The only issue I noticed is that you can only push them so far. When playing certain tracks at higher volumes I did encounter some distortion; rock tracks where several instruments are playing at once can be challenging. As a result I kept the earbuds at about 60% of maximum. You can adjust the volume using the touch controls, which work well. They do play loud at higher volumes. 

soundpeats-air-3-up-close

Yes, the SoundPeats Air 3 buds look a lot like black AirPods.

David Carnoy/CNET

Finally, I thought these performed well as a headset for making calls. They had decent noise reduction outdoors in the bustling streets of New York and callers said they could hear me well. They have two mics in each bud.

The Air 3 may not have a premium look or feel to them, but they're lightweight and thanks to an ear-detection sensor, your music automatically pauses when you take a bud out of your ears. You can use either bud independently as a single bud for music listening or making calls.

Read moreAirPods 3, new MacBook Pros and everything else we didn't get at Apple's September event

Battery life is rated at 5 hours at moderate volume levels and you get an extra 2.5 charges from the charging case (it charges via USB-C). The earbuds are splash-proof with an IPX5 rating and there's also a low-latency gaming mode.

In all, these are a solid alternative to the current AirPods, which sell for about $115 with a wired charging case, and they're a good set of earbuds for kids. While we're still waiting for the AirPods 3 to turn up -- they may cost as much as $199 -- these SoundPeats are a good deal at under $38. I suspect we'll see them selling for around this price in the months to come with various discounts offered. After all, the SoundPeats TrueAir 2 are selling for about $34. Those buds look nearly identical but have a different charging case.