Cricut Explore Air 2 Vs. Cricut Explore Air 3 [Comparison]

Cricut Explore Air 2 Vs. Cricut Explore 3
April 12, 2023 by
Richie Remington

Cricut Explore Air 2 and Cricut Explore 3 are Cricut’s current machines. Cricut Explore 3 was released in 2021 and is the third generation of the Cricut Cutting Machine. First, you must have noticed that the word "Air" is missing from the Cricut Explore 3. If you are wondering, besides the name, what else is different in the newer model than the older one? Then this blog might prove useful. This blog will compare these models and discuss their similarities and key differences. Also, we will give a final verdict about which one you should opt for.

Similarities Between the Explore 3 and Explore Air 2

Cricut Explore Air 2 and Cricut Explore 3 are Cricut’s upper-end models. They both can draw, cut and score on over 100 materials. They are also compatible with 6 different tools and share some similar characteristics. These characteristics include:

Materials & Functions

As mentioned earlier that they both work with over 100 materials, including paper, cardstock, mat board, leather, and even foam. But neither is great when working with non-bonded fabric or thicker materials.

Bluetooth Enabled

The word "Air" was originally added to the Cricut Explore to indicate that the machine had a Bluetooth connectivity option to connect with various smart devices such as PC or mobile devices. This feature was not available in the original Cricut Explore model. But it doesn’t mean the Bluetooth feature is missing from the Cricut Explore 3. Built-in Bluetooth is a feature that both models share. You can easily transfer your designs to the Cricut machine from a computer or tablet.

Cricut Design Space Software

The Design Space is a cloud-based software owned by Cricut. The software lets you customize and edit your projects from anywhere. The Design Space is compatible with both Cricut Explore 2 and Explore 3. You only need to download the Cricut Design Space into your smart device to use the software.

Double Tool Holder and Storage Tray

Cricut Explore Air 2 and Cricut Explore 3 feature 2 clamps, Clamp A and Clamp B, to house different tools. This means you can draw, score and cut simultaneously without wasting time switching between blades, scoring wheels, and pens. All you need to do is install the tools needed for the project and let the machine do its job. Both machines also feature a handy storage tray for storing all additional blades and tools you may have for your machine.

Differences Between Cricut Explore 3 and Explore Air 2

Functionally the two machines are similar, so there are not many key differences between the two. However, Cricut Explore 3 is a newer model with some new features unavailable in Cricut Explore Air 2. There are also some notable differences between these two machines, such as:

Color Option

Let’s start with the most basic one. One of the great things about Explore Air 2 was that it was available in various colors. You could choose any color that goes along with your craft room.

But unfortunately, with the new Explore 3, that's not the case. The newer model comes in only one color option, similar to the Mint Green version of the Explore Air 2.

Intuitive Control Panel and Docking Slot

One of the biggest notable changes you will notice in Explore 3 is that Smart Dial for setting is missing. In Explore 3, you must manually select your material in Design Space. This feature makes Explore 3 much easier to operate, as many people are confused about which setting to use.

The cartridge slot has also been removed from the machine, but the size of the tools storage cup has been increased, giving you more space to store blades and tools. The Cricut Explore 3 also boasts a docking slot for your device.

Matless Cutting

The Explore 3 is compatible with Smart Materials so that you can cut them without the mat. This means that you can easily create large projects, and you will save a lot of time because you don’t have to load the mat into the machine.

Two Times Faster and Increased Cutting Capacity

The Explore 2 is two times faster than its predecessor; the same goes for the Explore 3. It’s two times faster than the Explore Air 2. The Explore 3 also boasts a slightly wider cutting capacity of up to 13 inches. This feature only comes in handy when working with Smart Materials because the mat is still limited to 12."

Print then Cut on Colored Paper

Print then Cut is a popular feature that lets you print and then cut. But with the Explore Air, 2 could only read the cut lines on white paper. The Cricut Explore 3 has improved sensors, so this feature is not limited to only white paper.


Along with the increased cutting capacity, Cricut updated the portable trimmer and launched a new roll holder with a built-in trimmer. The roll holder sits on or is attached to the tray of the Explore 3. It feeds the Smart Material in and out of the machine.


Thus we came to the end of the Cricut Explore 2 Vs. 3 blog. The Cricut Explore Air 2 is available for sale at $249.99, and Explore 3 is available at a retail price of $299.99. The improvement and extra features of the Cricut Explore 3 justify the $50 price gap. So we would recommend you invest in the newest and latest machine.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What items do you get with Explore Air 2?

In the box along with Cricut Air 2 machine, you get the following items:

  1. Welcome Book and Quick Start Guide
  2. Premium Fine-Point Blade and Housing
  3. Power and USB cable
  4. Sample materials
  5. Free trial subscription to Cricut Access
  6. 12x12 LightGrip cutting mat
  7. Pen and accessory adapter

What type of smart materials can Cricut Explore 3 cut?

Cricut Explore 3 can cut smart vinyl, paper, and iron-on. Cricut Explore 3 has a matless cutting feature and can cut these materials without the mat, but you can cut materials from the Cricut brand.

What blade and tools can be used with the Explore Air 2 and Explore 3?

The blade that can be used with the Explore Air 2 can also be used with the Explore 3. Blades such as Fine-Point Blade, Deep-Point Blade, Bonded-Fabric Blade, Foil Tool, and Scoring Stylus are compatible with Explore 3 and Explore Air 2.

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SOURCE: Cricut Explore Air 2 Vs. Cricut Explore Air 3