After a long wait, Apple’s AirPods are finally available for order. The teeny wireless earbuds are now listed on Apple’s website for $159, and quick shoppers were able to snag delivery by December 21st, just in time for Christmas. Unfortunately, that opportunity has already passed. Considering how long Apple fans have waited for the release of the AirPods, this isn’t completly shocking. Delivery estimates are now pushed out in January for new orders, but some clever eBay sellers are hoping to rake in a fortune with promised pre-Christmas delivery. Since you probably won’t be able to get your hands on some genuine AirPods for Christmas, here’s a seven wirless headphones and AirPod alternatives you might consider.
Bose QuietComfort 35 – $349
Bose headphones have a excellent and well-deserved reputation. While expensive, they sport the best noise cancelling technology available, using active microphones to capture and invert the signal of surrounding noise, cancelling its effects. They’re often comfortable, and their sound reproduction is similarly well-regarded. They’re not the best headphones you’ll ever hear, and true audiophiles might find something to be unhappy about in the sound quality. However, what’s the point of five-star audio quality if you can’t hear the subtlety over the hoopla surrounding you? For the vast majority of humans, the Bose QuietComfort 35 are an excellent companion for your iPhone.
JLab Epic2 Bluetooth – $99
If you want Bluetooth headphones to use while you’re working out, JLab’s Epic2 are a great choice. These wireless earbuds took home the gold in The Wirecutter’s roundup of Bluetooth workout headphones, which is high praise indeed. Reviewers praise the easy fitting process, intuitive remote controls, and “pleasantly warm” tonality. They’re a great gift for the runner or Crossfit enthusiast among your friends and family.
Jabra MOVE – $60
The Jabra MOVE on-ear headphones are less expensive than a lot of their competitors, and they’re a solid mid-market choice. While you won’t find audiophile-level sound, the sound quality is exceptional for the price, and should please most users. The Bluetooth connectivity and music controls work well, which is rare in on-ear phones in this price range. And if on-ear headphones don’t typically cause any fit problems for you, you’ll find the MOVE to be comfortable and easy to wear for long periods.
Sennheiser is an audio brand known for high-quality professional microphones. Their consumer headphones are less well-known, but they carry a respectable pedigree. Showing their heritage, the Momentum M2 are noted for their exceptional sound reproduction. This headset also boasts active noise cancellation, though it’s not quite as good as Bose’s class-leading offerings. If you’re often airborne, the 22-hour battery life lasts through the longest flights, and the semi-retro styling has drawn praise from reviewers. As with most over-ear phones, the fit can be a little particular, depending on the shape and size of your ears.
If you’re on a budget, TaoTronics Bluetooth headphones are a great entry point into the wireless headphones market. It is worth noting that you’re not going to be blown away by any of the features here. The expectations for sub-$50 wireless headphones are more like “nothing is totally broken” rather than “incredible sound and comfort.” You’ll find decent sound quality, reasonable fit, acceptable headset controls, and average call quality. That said, you’re still getting the main feature: a lack of wires. Wireless headphones are more convenient than wired headphones in every respect, and that’s here in spades—even if the Bluetooth range is less than remarkable.
Maybe stylish wireless headphones aren’t what you’re looking for. If you want a high-quality headset for making calls or dictating business stuff, the Plantronics Voyager series is your best choice by far. The Voyager Legend is a great mix of affordable and reliable, with seamless iPhone compatibility. True, it’s not the most attractive thing. And, yes, you might look like a crazy person talking into thin air. But for folks that use their phone to actually make phone calls, you can’t ask for a better buddy.
Plantronics BackBeat Fit – $75 to $95
The Plantronics BackBeat Fit is another headset that came out on top in the Wirecutter’s workout headset round-up. They’re a little different from most other workout earbuds, in that they’re connected by a solid plastic band that loops around the back of your neck. In this writer’s opinion, this is far superior to the wired designs. Those wires tend to bounce about or get tangled while the headphones are in use. A rigid neckband is much easier to use, but it does maked the headphones hard to pocket. These non-sealed headphones also allow you to hear what’s going on around you, which is helpful for running but terrible for subway rides. Sound quality is unobjectionable, but you’ll always lose some low end with an unsealed design. The extra large play/pause button is also a welcome improvement over the frustratingly-small variety of remote controls other headphones feature.
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