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 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 lots of bass-range noise like bus or plane engines, 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, though we don't currently test this feature.
Unfortunately, there isn't a way to turn them off, and when you put them in their carrying case, they enter a low power mode. The carrying case is mediocre, as it's only a sleeve that covers the two ear cups. It's by design, meaning you can use the headband as a carrying handle. While they use premium materials like aluminum and silicone, the mesh screen surrounding the headband seems fragile and 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 are the best Apple earbuds 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 neutral and well-balanced, though slightly bright, so they're suitable for listening to 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, they have an impressive noise isolation performance. 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 Apple AirPods (2nd generation) Truly Wireless are the best Apple headphones for comfort that we've tested. These sleek in-ears have a smaller bud design than the Apple AirPods (3rd generation) and are barely noticeable once you find a good fit. They're less likely to put pressure on the inside of your ear, though both models have a one-size-fits-all design, so it depends on the shape of your ears. They also feel very well-built and have a neutral mid-range response that makes them well-suited for content like podcasts or classical music. Their Η1 chip makes it very easy to pair them with Apple devices as well.
Unfortunately, their open-back design means they don't isolate you from ambient sound, although you may like that if you want to hear your surroundings while you work or exercise outdoors. They also lack some features compared to the next generation of AirPods, like virtual surround sound, and they have a shorter, 4.1-hour continuous battery life. That said, they recharge quickly and come with a case that holds about five extra charges, so you can easily top up the battery.
Overall, Apple makes compact, portable earbuds and in-ear headphones 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 by using premium build materials. Unfortunately, the company's commitment to simplicity results in mediocre controls and a lack of customization options. Their lineup is also small, and most of their products look more or less the same. They have both open and closed-back models, which is rare for a brand with such a small lineup.
Jan 05, 2022: Checked that picks represent the best recommendations and that the products are in stock.
Oct 06, 2021: We've checked our picks for product accuracy and availability. However, we haven't changed our recommendations.
Jun 08, 2021: Checked the text for accuracy and product availability. There hasn't been a change in our recommendations.
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 well overall. Their headphones have sleek, minimalist designs and tend to sound pretty decent. They can also be 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.