Search
Close this search box.

AirPods Buyers Guide: Which AirPods Are The Best

The AirPods are one of the most popular products from Apple.

They are a staple for audio products and a trendsetter in the wireless headphones space. 

Apple continues to innovate and create products that they know we’ll like. Their dedication to the Airpods lineup has resulted in many successful and very high-quality products.

However, it has also made it somewhat difficult for consumers to choose which Airpods to buy.

That’s why we’ve made a guide meant to help you choose the best AirPods for you.

From the first to the third generation Apple AirPods, after you’ve read our guide you’ll be making the correct choice!

So, let’s jump right in.

AirPods versions

Introduction to AirPods

Evolution of AirPods: From Launch to Latest Model

The journey of AirPods began with their launch alongside the iPhone 7, marking Apple’s first step towards a wireless future. We’ve seen several iterations since then:

  • First Generation: Introduced the world to wireless earbuds with unmatched ease of use.
  • Second Generation: Brought improvements in battery life and connectivity.
  • AirPods Pro: Added active noise canceling and surround audio for an immersive audio experience.
  • AirPods Max: Expanded the AirPods 2nd generation line into over-ear headphones, offering high-fidelity audio and exceptional comfort.

How AirPods Changed the Way We Listen to Music

AirPods not only eliminated the hassle of tangled wires but also introduced a new level of convenience and audio quality.
AirPods features like automatic pause/play when removing or inserting an earbud and the ability to share audio between two sets of AirPods have significantly enhanced the user experience.

How to Choose the Right AirPods for You

Different AirPods Models

When choosing between the AirPods 2nd generation models, consider what features matter most to you:

  • AirPods (2nd generation): Ideal for casual listeners looking for a wireless audio solution.
  • Apple AirPods 3rd generation: Offers a more refined design and good sound quality for those who appreciate audio fidelity.
  • AirPods Pro: Best for users seeking active noise cancellation and a customizable fit.
  • AirPods Max: Offers premium sound quality and active noise canceling in an over-ear design.
  • Comparing AirPods 2nd generation to Other Apple Products

Compatibility with Other Apple Products

AirPods seamlessly integrate with other 2nd generation Apple devices, such as the iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, and Mac, offering features like automatic Apple device switching and surround audio when used with compatible IOS devices.

  • Use Cases: Whether you’re working out, commuting, or just enjoying music at home, there’s an AirPods model designed to suit your lifestyle.
  • Key Features to Consider
    Adaptive EQ and Spatial Audio: Available in AirPods Pro and AirPods Max for immersive sound.
  • Battery Life: Varies across models, with AirPods Max offering up to 20 hours of listening time.
  • Design and Comfort: Choose between in-ear and over-ear designs depending on your preference.

Which AirPod is Better? Analyzing Models and Features

FeatureAirPods (2nd generation)AirPods (3rd generation)AirPods Pro (2nd generation)AirPods Max
Price$129From $169$249$549
Color OptionsWhiteWhiteWhiteSilver, Space Gray, Sky Blue, Pink, Green
ChipH1H1H2, U1 in MagSafe Charging CaseH1
“Hey Siri” Always OnYesYesYesYes
Listening Time (Single Charge)Up to 5 hoursUp to 6 hoursUp to 6 hoursUp to 20 hours
Listening Time (With Charging Case)More than 24 hoursUp to 30 hoursUp to 30 hoursN/A (Smart Case)
Charging CaseLightning Charging CaseLightning Charging Case or MagSafe Charging CaseMagSafe Charging Case (USB-C) with speaker and lanyard loopSmart Case
Special Features Personalized Surround Audio with dynamic head trackingPersonalized Surround Audio with dynamic head tracking, Adaptive Audio, Active Noise Cancellation, Transparency modePersonalized SurroundAudio with dynamic head tracking, Active Noise Cancellation, Transparency mode
Resistance Sweat and water resistant (IPX4)Dust, sweat, and water resistant (IP54) 
Personalized EngravingYes (initials, emoji, and more)Yes (initials, emoji, and more)Yes (initials, emoji, and more)Yes (initials, emoji, and more)

Before diving into the specifics of each model, it’s crucial to assess what you value most in wireless earbuds. Is it Airpods sound quality, noise canceling, comfort, or perhaps batteries life? Identifying your priorities will help you choose the Apple AirPods model and that best suits your lifestyle from the AirPods Store.

Feature Comparison: AirPods, AirPods Pro, and AirPods Max

To make the comparison easier, let’s break down the key features of each model:

  • Sound Quality
    • AirPods (3rd and 2nd Generation): Deliver clear and balanced sound with good quality for everyday use. The Apple AirPods 3rd generation offers an improved audio experience with surround audio support for a more immersive listening experience.
    • AirPods Pro: Step up with adaptive EQ and custom high-excursion Apple drivers. Surround audio with dynamic head tracking provides theater-like sound.
    • AirPods Max: Offers the highest fidelity audio with high-fidelity dynamic drivers and computational audio to maintain rich detail in every sound layer.
  • Adaptive EQ
    • AirPods (3rd and 2nd Generation): Do not have adaptive EQ.
    • AirPods Pro: Feature noise canceling for immersive sound. Transparency mode for hearing the environment around you.
    • AirPods Max Headphones: Adaptive EQ with Transparency mode. Uses six outward-facing microphones to detect noise in your environment.
  • Battery Life
    • Apple AirPods (2nd Generation): Up to 5 hours of listening time on one charge, more than 24 hours with the charging case, which you can charge with a lightning port.
    • AirPods (3rd Generation and AirPods Pro): Up to 4.5 to 5 hours of listening time on one charge with ANC or Transparency mode turned off, more than 24 hours with the charging case.
    • AirPods Max: Up to 20 hours of listening time with ANC and spatial audio enabled.
  • Comfort and Fit
    • AirPods (3rd and 2nd Generation): Universal fit that’s comfortable for most people; the 3rd generation has a slightly redesigned contour.
    • AirPods Pro: Comes with three sizes of soft, tapered silicone ear tips for a customizable fit.
    • AirPods Max: Features a knit-mesh canopy and memory foam ear cushions for an exceptional fit.

Which Model to Choose?

For Casual Listeners: The second and third-generation AirPods are a great choice, offering good audio quality and the magic of the Apple ecosystem at a more affordable price point.
For Active Lifestyles and Travelers: The Apple AirPods Pro are ideal with their audio, water resistance, and customizable fit, Forbes.
For Audiophiles and Home Use: The AirPods Max are unmatched with their studio-quality sound, superior noise cancellation, and premium design.

Real-World Usage Examples

  • Commuting: AirPods Pro with noise canceling can make your train rides peaceful.
  • Home Office: AirPods Max can enhance your focus with superior sound and comfort during long work sessions.
  • Workouts: Second and third-generation AirPods offer a comfortable fit and sweat resistance, making them suitable for most exercises.

Connecting Your AirPods: A Step-by-Step Guide

Connecting your AirPods to your 2nd generation Apple devices is a straightforward process, thanks to the seamless integration within the Apple ecosystem. Here’s how you can quickly start enjoying your audio experience.

Preparing Your Devices for Connection

Before you begin, ensure your iOS device is running the latest version of iOS, and your AirPods are charged.

Checking Device Compatibility

Ensure your device is compatible with your Apple AirPods model. 2nd generation Airpods work with iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, Apple Watch, and Mac, but certain features like spatial audio have specific requirements.

Updating to the Latest iOS Version

Go to Settings > General > Software Update on your iOS device to check for updates. An up-to-date system ensures the best performance and compatibility with your Apple AirPods.

Step-by-Step Connection Process

Follow these steps to connect your Apple AirPods to your device for the first time:

Initial Setup for iPhone and iPad

  1. Open the Charging Case: With your Apple AirPods inside, open the Magsafe charging case next to your iPhone or iPad.
  2. Wait for the Setup Animation: A setup animation appears on your device’s screen.
  3. Tap Connect: Follow the on-screen instructions. If you have AirPods Pro or Apple AirPods (3rd generation) and iOS 14.5 or later, you’ll also see a prompt for spatial audio setup.
  4. Finalize Setup: Tap “Done.” If you’re signed in to iCloud, your Apple AirPods will be set up automatically with your supported 2nd generation and up devices that are signed in with the same Apple ID.

Connecting to Apple Watch

Once your AirPods are connected to your iPhone, they automatically connect to your Apple Watch if it’s using the same Apple ID. Connecting to the Apple watch can be an excellent handy way to use your third-generation AirPods. Just like the apple watch, there is lossless audio making sure you can take your phone calls in peace.

Connecting to Mac

If your AirPods are already set up with your iPhone and your Mac is signed in to iCloud with the same Apple ID, they should be ready to use with your Mac. Otherwise, select AirPods from the Bluetooth menu in the Mac’s menu bar.

Tips for a Smooth Connection Experience

During the setup process, keep your AirPods and the device you’re connecting to close together. Make sure your AirPods are charged to avoid any interruptions during the connection process.

Troubleshooting Connection Issues

If you encounter any issues while connecting your 2nd generation AirPods, consider resetting them by pressing and holding the setup button on the back of the charging case until the status light flashes amber, then white.

Maximizing Your AirPods’ Battery Life

The convenience and audio quality of AirPods make them a daily companion for many. However, like all battery-powered devices, their longevity and performance are contingent on how they are used and maintained. Here are comprehensive strategies to ensure you’re getting the most out of your AirPods’ battery life.

AirPods’ Battery Technology

AirPods are powered by lithium-ion batteries, renowned for their high energy density and longevity. However, these batteries do have a finite number of charge cycles and can degrade over time. That’s why you need to make an effort to manage lightning port use.
Apple has integrated smart technology into AirPods to mitigate this degradation, but users can also take steps to preserve battery health.

Optimal Charging Practices

The way you charge your AirPods can significantly impact their battery health over time.

  • Avoid Overcharging: Keeping your Apple AirPods in their charging case continuously when not in use can lead to battery degradation. It’s advisable to let them discharge to around 40% before placing them back in the case.
  • Use the Right Charger: Always use the charging cable that came with your AirPods or an Apple-certified charger. Non-certified chargers can harm the battery.

Managing Listening Habits for Battery Efficiency

Your listening habits can also affect battery life. Adjusting settings and being mindful of how you use your AirPods can make a difference.

  • Optimize Listening Volume: Listening at high volumes can drain the battery faster. Keeping the volume at a moderate level can extend battery life.
  • Be Selective with Features: Features like Active Noise Canceling and Spatial Audio support in Apple AirPods Pro and AirPods Max consume more battery. Use these features judiciously based on your environment and needs.

Routine Maintenance and Storage

How you maintain and store your Apple AirPods when not in use can contribute to their battery longevity.

  • Clean Your AirPods Regularly: Keeping the AirPods and the wireless charging case clean ensures optimal charging efficiency. Use a soft, dry, lint-free cloth to clean them.
  • Proper Storage Conditions: Store your Apple AirPods in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight. Extreme temperatures can degrade battery health over time.

Firmware Updates and Their Impact

Apple frequently releases firmware updates that can improve battery life and efficiency. These updates can include optimizations for battery performance. Ensure your Apple AirPods Max are connected to an iOS device to automatically receive updates.

Knowing When to Seek Service

Despite best efforts, batteries do degrade. If you notice a significant drop in performance, consulting an Apple Authorized Service Provider can help determine if a battery service is necessary.

Real-World Example: Extending AirPods Battery Life

Consider the story of Alex, a daily commuter who uses Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation) for podcasts and Apple music. Initially, Alex would leave the AirPods in the charging case overnight, every night, and use Active Noise Canceling constantly.
After learning about optimal charging practices and being more selective with feature use, Alex noticed a marked improvement in daily battery life, extending the periods between charges.

The Best Accessories for Your AirPods

Your AirPods are more than just wireless earbuds; they’re a lifestyle Airpods accessory that can be customized and protected to suit your personal style and needs. From cases to ear tips, numerous accessories can enhance your AirPods experience.

Protective Cases for Every Style

One of the first accessories many AirPods owners purchase is a protective case. Not only do these cases safeguard your charging case from scratches and drops, but they also offer an opportunity to personalize your device.

Silicone Cases

Lightweight and offering a snug fit, silicone cases provide a basic level of protection against drops and scratches. They come in a wide range of colors, allowing you to customize the look of your AirPods to fit your personal style.

Leather Cases

For those looking for a more premium feel, leather cases add a touch of elegance and sophistication to your AirPods. Over time, the leather can develop a unique patina, reflecting its use and the natural aging process.

Rugged Cases

If you lead an active lifestyle or simply want the utmost protection for your AirPods, rugged cases are designed to offer enhanced shock absorption. These cases often feature additional grip and water-resistant properties, making them ideal for outdoor adventures.

Enhancing Comfort and Fit with Ear Tips

AirPods Pro comes with three sizes of silicone tips, but not everyone finds the perfect fit with these options. Fortunately, third-party manufacturers offer alternative solutions.

Memory Foam Tips

These tips conform to the shape of your ear canal, providing a snug fit that enhances both comfort and sound isolation. Memory foam tips can also help keep your AirPods securely in your ears during vigorous activities.

Wingtips

Designed to lock the earbuds more securely in your ear, wingtips are an excellent accessory for runners and gym enthusiasts. They attach to the body of your AirPods Pro and tuck into the outer ear, ensuring your earbuds stay in place during even the most intense workouts.

Maximizing Convenience with Charging Accessories

While your AirPods come with their charging case, additional charging accessories can enhance convenience and ensure your devices are always ready to go.

  • Wireless Charging Pads: A wireless charging pad can simplify charging your AirPods and other Qi-compatible devices. Just place your AirPods (in their wireless charging case) on the pad, and they’ll start charging—no cable required.
  • Car Chargers: For those who often find themselves on the road, a car charger for your AirPods can be a lifesaver. These chargers plug into your car’s USB port or cigarette lighter, ensuring your AirPods are always charged and ready for use.

Personalization Through Accessories

Beyond functionality, accessories can also serve as a form of personal expression. Various charms, skins, and stickers are available that allow you to customize the appearance of your AirPods and charging case, making them uniquely yours.

Troubleshooting Common AirPods Issues

Even the most reliable devices can occasionally encounter issues, and AirPods are no exception. Whether it’s wireless connectivity problems, sound anomalies, or charging difficulties, there are steps you can take to resolve these issues quickly and get back to enjoying your Apple music or podcasts.

Problem 1: AirPods Won’t Connect to Your Device

One of the most common issues is when AirPods won’t connect to your iPhone, iPad, or Mac. This problem can usually be solved with a few simple steps.

Ensure Bluetooth is Enabled on Your Device

The first step is always to check that Bluetooth is turned on in your device’s settings. Without Bluetooth, your AirPods cannot communicate with your device.

Manual Reconnection

If Bluetooth is on but your AirPods still won’t connect, manually open the Bluetooth settings on your device and select your AirPods from the list. If they don’t appear, hold the setup button on your AirPods case until the status light flashes white, then try again.

Restart Your Devices

Sometimes, a simple restart of your device and your AirPods (by placing them back in the case for at least 15 seconds) can resolve wireless connectivity issues.

Problem 2: Sound Quality Issues or Uneven Sound

If you’re experiencing poor audio quality or sound coming more from one AirPod than the other, there are several potential fixes.

Cleaning Your AirPods

Earwax, dust, and other debris can accumulate on your AirPods and in the mesh of the earpiece, leading to audio quality issues. Carefully clean your AirPods with a soft, dry, lint-free cloth, and use a dry cotton swab for the mesh.

Checking the Stereo Balance

Go to Settings > Accessibility > Audio/Visual on your iOS device and check the balance slider. If it’s shifted to one side, it may cause uneven sound.

Problem 3: AirPods Not Charging

If your AirPods aren’t charging correctly, there are several potential causes and solutions.

Inspect the Charging Case

First, ensure that the charging case is free of debris or dust that could prevent a good connection. Clean the case with a soft, dry cloth.

Check the Charging Cable and Adapter

Use only Apple-certified charging cables and adapters. Inspect the cables and adapters for signs of wear or damage.

Reset Your AirPods

If cleaning doesn’t help, resetting your AirPods can sometimes resolve charging issues. Press and hold the setup button on the case until the status light flashes amber, then white.

AirPods and Their Competition: A Comparative Analysis

Since their release, AirPods have become a cultural icon, renowned for their seamless integration with 2nd generation Apple devices and innovative features.
However, the wireless earbud market has grown significantly, with numerous alternatives offering compelling features and benefits. This comparative analysis delves into how AirPods compare with other top contenders in the market.

Understanding the Competitors

To provide a fair comparison, we’ll look at several key competitors in the wireless earbud market, including Bose QuietComfort Earbuds,

 WF-1000XM4, Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro, and Jabra Elite 75t. Each of these products offers something unique, from adaptive audio. capabilities to battery life and overall Apple sound quality.

Audio Quality and Audio Features

AirPods Pro vs. Sony WF-1000XM4

AirPods Pro offers excellent sound quality with adaptive EQ and support spatial audio features, enhancing the listening experience. Sony WF-1000XM4, on the other hand, is highly praised for its superior sound quality and adaptive audio, often considered the benchmark for audio performance in wireless earbuds.

Spatial Audio Comparison

While AirPods Pro and AirPods Max stand out with spatial audio with dynamic head tracking, offering an immersive sound experience, competitors like the Sony WF-1000XM4 have started to introduce similar features, although Apple’s integration with its ecosystem provides a more seamless user experience.

Battery Life and Charging

AirPods and AirPods Pro offer around 4.5 to 5 hours of listening time on a single charge, with the case providing additional charges for more than 24 hours of total listening time. Competitors like the Jabra Elite 75t excel in battery life, offering up to 7.5 hours of listening time and 28 hours with the charging case.

Active Noise Cancellation and Comfort

Active Noise Cancellation Capabilities

Active Noise Cancellation is a standout feature of AirPods Pro and AirPods Max. Bose QuietComfort Earbuds are also notable for their effective noise-canceling technology, often considered on par with or better than AirPods Pro in noise canceling.

Comfort and Fit

Comfort is subjective, but AirPods Pro offers customizable silicone tips to fit various ear sizes, similar to offerings from Bose and Sony. However, some users find the wingtip design of certain competitors, like the Jabra Elite series, more secure for physical activities.

Price and Value Proposition

Price is a significant factor for many consumers. AirPods Pro range from $159 for the standard model to $549 for AirPods Max, positioning them as premium products. Competitors like the Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro offer a lower entry price and solid features, presenting a competitive value proposition for non-Apple users.

Advancements in Charging Technology

Transition to USB-C Charging Port

The global tech community is moving towards universal charging solutions, and there’s speculation that future AirPods Pro will adopt a USB-C charging port. This change would align with the European Union’s regulations and provide users with a more standardized charging option, potentially enhancing the convenience of charging AirPods Pro alongside other devices.

Enhanced MagSafe and Wireless Charging

With the introduction of the MagSafe charging case for AirPods, Apple has already taken steps to improve the wireless charging experience. Future models could see advancements in charging speed and efficiency, making wireless charging more convenient and reducing dependency on wired charging methods.

Audio Quality and Technological Enhancements

High Dynamic Range Amplifier

Future AirPods Pro models could incorporate a high dynamic range amplifier, aiming to further refine the clarity, depth, and balance of the sound. This would ensure that users experience every nuance of their audio, from the highest highs to the deepest lows, with unprecedented precision.

Personalized Spatial Audio

Currently, spatial audio provides an immersive sound experience by simulating surround sound. Looking ahead, AirPods Pro might support spatial audio, calibrating the audio experience to the individual’s ear shape and hearing capabilities. The personalized head-tracking approach could dramatically enhance the realism and immersion of the listening experience.

Noise Cancellation and Ambient Sound Management

Next-Level Noise Cancellation

Active Noise cancellation technology in AirPods Pro and AirPods Max headphones has set a high standard. Future iterations could see even more sophisticated noise cancellation algorithms, offering users an even more effective barrier against unwanted ambient noise, allowing for an uninterrupted audio experience.

Smart Ambient Sound Control

Innovations in ambient sound control could allow future Apple AirPods Pro to intelligently adjust the level of noise cancellation and transparency mode based on the environment. This smart feature would enable users to seamlessly transition between complete immersion in their audio and engaging with their surroundings when necessary. This device also has a force sensor, which makes sure your Apple device is ready to go at all times.

Integrating with the Apple Ecosystem

AirPods’ seamless integration with the Apple ecosystem has been a key feature. Future models may offer even deeper connectivity, such as automatic switching between devices based on context or activity, enhancing the user experience for those deeply embedded in the Apple ecosystem. From the force sensor to the adaptive EQ the third generation AirPods Pro are the way to go.

Conclusion

The arrival of AirPods has truly changed the game in personal audio technology, completely reshaping how we enjoy Apple music and other audio in our everyday routines.
My daily commutes have definitely changed. Active noise cancellation turns a once chaotic journey into a serene, personal experience filled with my chosen sounds.
This evolution from mere earbuds to an emblem of audio innovation reflects our deepening bond with technology.
Looking ahead, the next generation of Apple AirPods Pro promises not just advancements in gadgets but a leap towards enriched experiences and seamless connectivity, offering something uniquely valuable for tech aficionados, music lovers, and anyone seeking solace in the bustling world around us.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which AirPod is better?

The “best” AirPod depends on your needs: The second generation AirPods are great for casual listening, the Apple AirPods 3rd generation offer better sound and water resistance, AirPods Pro provides noise cancellation and a snug fit, while AirPods Max is top-tier for audio quality.

Who created Apple AirPods?

Apple Inc. developed AirPods, with the team led by Jonathan Ive, Apple’s former Chief Design Officer, playing a key role in their design and development.

How old is AirPods?

AirPods were first introduced in September 2016, making the concept the first generation of AirPods over 7 years old as of 2024.

How can you tell if AirPods are fake?

Genuine AirPods 2nd generation have precise build quality, sync seamlessly with 2nd generation Apple devices, feature serial numbers that can be verified on Apple’s website, and come with accurate, Apple-branded packaging.

Do AirPods last 3 years?

The lifespan of AirPods can vary but many users find that with daily use, AirPods 2nd generation can last 2 to 3 years before battery life and performance begin to decline.

Are AirPods waterproof?

AirPods are not waterproof. The AirPods Pro and third-generation AirPods are water and sweat resistant with an IPX4 rating, meaning they can handle splashes but not submersion.

Are AirPods Pro popular?

The Aripods Pro or any Airpods get the digital crown for not only being popular. They get the digital crown for being a staple of quality, innovation, and functionality.

Get Apple News Directly in Your Inbox