Cricut Explore Air 2 vs Explore 3 Comparison: Which Should I Buy?

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Within the Cricut Explore series, there are 2 machines available to purchase: the previous model (Explore Air 2) and the latest model (Explore 3).

(deciding between the Maker and Maker 3 instead – read this post)

Now you may be wondering, which should I buy and how are they different?

I’m going to answer that very simply and honestly (not a sponsored post) and I pride myself on getting right to the point so…

The verdict:

The only reason I would recommend buying the Explore 3 over the Explore Air 2 is if you are going to be cutting projects requiring cuts of 12″ by >24 inches often. That’s truly the only key benefit of the new Explore 3 that would warrant the price.

I do not think it is worth upgrading to the Explore 3 f you already have a Cricut Explore Air 2 machine.

If you are buying a new machine and deciding between the Explore Air 2 vs Explore 3, I would recommend buying the Explore Air 2 (as long as it’s still available) to save some money*

If you are deciding between the Explore vs Maker series, my top recommendation is still the Maker because you get more tools you can work with and more materials you can cut. Read more on why here.

*it’s possible that they will stop selling the Cricut Explore Air 2 soon in which case you would want to purchase the Explore 3 instead by default.

Now here’s some more details on why I say this:

  • The Explore 3 is $319 (can find on sale for as low as $249)
  • The Explore Air 2 is $249 (can find on sale for as low as $199) so up to $70 cheaper than the Explore 3 depending on current sales.
  • The Explore 3 does not include a pen or blue cutting mat (which are included with the Explore Air 2) so those are already additional add-on costs ($20+) you’d have to buy
  • The Explore Air 2 can use all the same tools as the Explore 3
  • The only key difference is that the Explore 3 can cut longer projects >24 inches because it doesn’t require a cutting mat (requires smart materials).
  • I would still often use a cutting mat even with the Explore 3 because I often use leftover scraps of paper or vinyl and not full rolls (can be more wasteful).
  • My top recommendation of machine to buy is still the Cricut Maker. Read here to find out in detail why but the 5 sec version is that you can use more tools and cut more materials (felt, wood, etc) with the Maker.

What about the Cricut Venture? Is it worth it?

Find out here.

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