We've currently tested five pairs of headphones from Apple. While they're most well-known for their laptops, smartphones, and tablets, they also make sleek headphones with a minimalist design. Their headphones are geared towards people who already use Apple products and all fit into their ecosystem seamlessly. Some find their design a bit boring, and they have limited functionality on Android, but they effectively deliver on the simple yet premium user experience that Apple is known for.
The Apple AirPods Max Wireless are the best noise cancelling Apple headphones that we've tested. These sleek and premium over-ears have an outstanding active noise cancelling (ANC) feature, which can cut down a lot of bass-range noise like bus or plane engines as well as ambient chatter and higher-pitched sounds like the hum of an AC unit. They also have a sleek aluminum design that feels well-built. Their neutral sound profile offers a touch of extra thump and rumble that fans of EDM and hip-hop should especially enjoy. They also have a continuous battery life of over 21 hours, and Apple advertises that a five-minute quick charge can give you up to 1.5 hours of additional playtime, although we don't currently test this feature.
Unfortunately, there isn't really a way to turn them off, and when you put them in their carrying case, they enter a very low power mode. The carrying case is mediocre as well, as it's only a sleeve that covers the two earcups. This is by design so that you can use the headband as a carrying handle. In addition, while they are made with premium materials like aluminum and silicone, the mesh screen that surrounds the headband seems fragile and could be prone to damage, especially if you're using the headband as a handle. That said, if you're looking for sleek Apple headphones that deliver a powerful noise cancellation performance, they're a suitable choice.
The Apple AirPods Pro Truly Wireless are the best Apple earbuds that we've tested. These well-built, premium-looking in-ears have a comfortable and stable fit that makes them ideal for long listening sessions. Their default sound profile is quite neutral and well-balanced, though slightly bright, so they're suitable for listening to lots of different types of audio content. They don't leak a lot of noise, either, so you can crank up the volume without annoying those around you. If you're listening in a crowded environment, these headphones have an impressive noise isolation performance, so they can easily block out bus and plane engines from your commute or background chatter typically found in an office setting.
Unfortunately, these headphones have an integrated Bluetooth microphone with poor recording quality, so your voice may sound a bit thin and muffled to whoever's on the other end of the line. Also, with a roughly five-hour continuous battery life, you may have to recharge these headphones during your day. Fortunately, their portable charging case offers around five additional charges. Ultimately, these headphones are among the best true wireless headphones we've tested.
The best Apple headphones for comfort are the Apple AirPods 2 Truly Wireless 2019. These truly wireless headphones sport the classic AirPod design and look and feel very premium. Their earbud design doesn't enter the ear canal nearly as deeply as most in-ears, which makes them a more comfortable option for many people. Like the rest of Apple's wireless headphones, they pair seamlessly to all your Apple devices, making it easy to switch from your MacBook to your iPhone. They last around four hours off a single charge, which isn't great, but tossing them in their charging case for only 30 minutes gives them a full charge, which is excellent.
Unfortunately, their earbud design means they don't create an airtight seal in your ear, and they let in almost all background noise, making them less than ideal for helping keep you concentrated in a noisy office. This also means that the headphones can't produce the most bass, though this is dependant on the quality of fit and seal you can achieve and varies vastly among different users. On the bright side, the rest of their sound profile is quite well-balanced, making them suitable for most genres.
Overall, Apple makes compact, portable earbuds and in-ear headphones that are suitable for casual, daily use. They're comfortable and easy to use with other Apple products. With the addition of the over-ear Apple AirPods Max Wireless, they've also set themselves apart from their competitors with the usage of premium build materials. Unfortunately, the company's commitment to simplicity results in mediocre controls and a lack of customization options. Their lineup is also quite small, and most of their products look more or less the same. They do have both open and closed-back models, though, which is quite rare for a brand with such a small lineup.
Feb 08, 2021: Replaced the Apple AirPods Pro Truly Wireless with the Apple AirPods Pro Truly Wireless as the 'Best Noise Cancelling Apple Headphones'. Removed the Apple EarPods and added the Apple AirPods Truly Wireless to a new category: 'Best Apple Earbuds'.
Apple are known for their commitment to simplicity - things should "just work" without complex features or unnecessary user intervention. They don't have many models in their lineup yet, but the headphones they've released fit the company's vision and perform quite well overall. Their headphones have sleek, minimalist designs and tend to sound pretty decent. They can also be rather pricey, especially the more feature-packed models, but their wired earphones are pretty cheap.
Discover our recommendations for the best wireless earbuds for iPhone, the best true wireless earbuds, and the best noise cancelling earbuds and in-ear headphones.