The Apple AirPods are decent-sounding truly wireless earbuds with a sturdy and stylish design. They're compact, breathable and more stable than the EarPods making them a suitable option for sports. However, getting a tight fit may vary from person to person. They also barely block any ambient noise, which helps you monitor your surroundings, but also means they will struggle in loud, noisy environments.
The Apple AirPods are well-designed, comfortable headphones. They have an innovative way of connecting to your iOS devices and a rechargeable battery life that can last up to 27 hours, provided you have a fully charged case with you. They won't be the ideal headphones for critical listeners or to commute with, due to their average audio reproduction and poor isolation. However, their portable and stable design, make them decent headphones for sports and casual listeners.
Average for neutral listening. They're incredibly comfortable and lightweight so you can them wear for hours, which is great for long listening sessions. However, their sound quality is average-at-best and may not be ideal for neutral listeners that want a great Soundstage or a deep extended bass range.
Average for commuting or traveling. The open design lets in a lot of ambient noise seep into your audio, which is not ideal for the loud environments, typically, involved in commuting. On the upside, they're super portable and have a good battery life and charging case so you can keep them on you at all times.
Good for sports. The earbuds are a vast improvement over the EarPods regarding stability. The truly wireless design allows them to stay in your ears, when running or jogging, provided you can get a tight fit. However, They are not sweat resistant and don't have any additional stability tips so they may not be ideal for intense exercise.
Decent for office use. They don't leak much, so they won't distract your colleagues. They're also comfortable so you can wear them for hours. However, their earbud design is quite open so they won't isolate you from the office chatter and ambient noise.
Sub-par for gaming. They have a mediocre microphone, they lack customization options and have a bit too much latency to be suitable for gaming.
They look almost identical to the EarPods without the cable. They're well-crafted headphones with a smooth plastic casing and brushed aluminum that gives the earbuds a premium appeal to match their price. However, they still have the long stalks that would usually be connected to the audio cables, which may look a bit awkward when protruding out of your ears.
The Apple AirPods Wireless have a unique, open fit that barely exerts any pressure on the ear canal. The smooth finish and incredibly lightweight design make them barely noticeable once you have them on. Unfortunately, they have a one-size-fits-all design which means comfort and stability will vary a bit depending on the shape and size of your ears.
The Apple Wireless AirPods have a limited control scheme that relies on Siri to access basic functions. Skipping tracks or adjusting the volume have to be done by voice, which is not practical. You can manually change the touch-enabled voice controls to a touch-sensitive call, and play/stop button (not available on Android devices. Defaults automatically to voice-enabled control scheme). This makes them a bit cumbersome to use in a public setting and it's often easier to just change the volume and tracks directly on your phone or Bluetooth device. If you like the stalk-like design of the AirPods but whish they had better physical controls then check out the Treblab X5 or the RHA TrueConnect. Unfortunately, overall performance may not be on par when compared to the AirPods for most.
The Apple AirPods are one of the most portable headphones we've reviewed so far. They have an outstandingly small footprint and are easy-to-carry around in any pocket or bag. However, you will most likely carry them in their charging case, which fortunately is also is quite compact and fits in almost any pocket.
The Apple Air Pods come with a sleek, well-designed charging case that doesn't add a lot of bulk to the earbuds, unlike some of the other truly wireless charging cases. It easily fits into most pockets, and it's easy-to-carry around on your person. The case will protect the headphones against minor falls and scratches but not water damage. The newer model AirPods 2 2019 's case now supports wireless Qi charging, which is a nice addition.
They has a superbly designed and unique build that's made out of premium materials. The plastic casing feels high-end and durable and should be solid enough to withstand a few drops without getting damaged. They are well-made, sturdy headphones and feel high-end, although they do not have some of the more premium finishes of the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless and the Beoplay E8 2.0, They're also still susceptible to cracking under enough force or falling from great distances and they're not as sweat resistant like the Jabra Elite Active 65t, so keep that in mind when using them at the gym.
The absence of an audio cable makes the Apple AirPods a lot more stable than the EarPods. Like the EarPods, they have a one-size-fits-all design, but without the cable, nothing is pulling on the stalks, so they stay in place. We tested the fit with multiple people in the office, and we conclude that if the fit works for you, then they should stable enough to run with.
The frequency response consistency is mediocre. However, the results are rather impressive, considering their earbud design. If you are able to get a stable and tight fit, then the deviation in the bass range would be less than 2dB at 60Hz which is excellent. However, the treble range performs less consistently and shows about 5dB of deviation across re-seats at 5KHz, which is quite noticeable.
The bass performance is mediocre. Their low-frequency extension (LFE) is at 64Hz, suggesting that they won't be able to produce low thump and rumbles. This is also shown in their low-bass, which is lacking by 11dB. Mid-bass and high-bass, responsible for the punch of basses and kicks, are quite flat and within less than 2dB of target. Since lack of low-bass is especially hard to hear on headphones, the overall bass range will be light on thump and rumble, but punchy-enough to be adequate for music that doesn't have a lot of sub-bass (like classical music, music recorded before the 1980's, and podcasts/audiobooks). Also, their bass delivery varies noticeably across users, and is sensitive to the quality of fit and seal. The response here represents the average bass response and your experience may vary.
The Apple AirPods have a good mid-range response. Low-mid and mid-mid are very flat and within 2dB of our target response. This means the higher harmonics of basses/kicks, and lower harmonics of vocals/leads will sound well-balanced (not too thin and not muddy/thick). However, high-mid shows more than 3.5dB of overemphasis, which adds a bit of intensity to the higher partials of vocals/leads. The overall mid-range profile is slightly forward sounding.
The AirPods have an average sounding treble. Low-treble and mid-treble are overemphasized by more than 4dB. However, since they are quite flat, they only add a bit of excess brightness and presence to the sound. However, the 10dB bump around 10KHz, could make siblances (S and T sounds) slightly harsh and piercing on overly-bright tracks. The overall treble profile is well-balanced, but definitely on the bright and sibilant side.
The Apple AirPods have very good imaging. Their group delay doesn't cross our audibility threshold, which is excellent. Especially when compared to the Google Pixel Buds which have a very similar design and form factor. This means that the bass produced (even though not very deep), will be tight and fast. Additionally, our test unit showed very good matching between the L/R drivers, which suggests good ergonomics and quality control.
The Apple AirPods, like the Jabra Elite Sport and most other in-ears and earbuds, have a poor soundstage. This is mainly due to their lack of interaction with the pinna, which is a key factor in giving the sense of a large and in-front soundstage. However, because of their open design, they tend to have a more open and spacious soundstage than closed-back headphones. Overall, they will sound open and spacious, but small and inside-the-head.
The AirPods have poor noise isolation. This is due to their open-back design (very similar to the Pixel Buds). Therefore, they do not isolate in the bass and mid ranges, unlike the Jaybird X4, Tarah, JBL Free X or the Skullcandy Jib. In the treble range, they reduce outside noise by only 9dB, which is quite poor and barely noticeable. However, this makes them a very suitable option for situations where you would like to hear your surroundings, like going for a jog and wanting to hear the cars passing by. If you don't like the open design and would prefer something to block out ambient noise, check out the noise canceling Apple AirPods Pro instead.
The leakage performance of the AirPods is decent. Because of the open design, they show significant leakage in the treble range, around 5KHz. However, due to the earbuds design (i.e. small drivers), the overall level of their leakage is not very loud. The resulting leakage will include mainly S and T sounds (sibilances), but it may be audible to people around you at high volumes in a quiet environment.
The performance of the Apple AirPods' integrated mic is mediocre. Speech recorded or transmitted with the microphone will sound thin, and lacking in brightness and air. However, it will be easily intelligible in quiet environments. In louder environments though, they will struggle to separate speech from background noise even in moderately loud situations like a busy street.
The recording quality of AirPods' microphone is mediocre. The LFE (low-frequency extension) of 354Hz suggests that voice transmitted with the mic will sound thin. They are also limited in high-frequency extension, resulting in a speech that lacks presence and brilliance. However, this is a limitation of the Bluetooth protocol and doesn't affect speech intelligibility significantly. Also, the region between LFE and HFE is captured decently. The Jabra Evolve 65t come with a dedicated USB transmitter that helps deliver a slightly better mic performance than the AirPods, although the price difference will not be worth it for all but the dedicated user who wants a good mic in a truly wireless design.
The microphone has mediocre noise handling capabilities. In our noise handling test, they achieved a speech-to-noise ratio value of 15dB, which is below-average. This means that they will struggle in transmitting a clear and noise-free speech even in moderately loud environments.
These headphones have a unique battery life. By themselves, they will last about 4.8 hours, when fully charged, which is decent for wireless in-ear headphones, but not much for an average user throughout the day. However, they come with a charging case that gives you up to 5 charges, each one taking about 20% of the case's battery life when both AirPods are charging. They also only take about 28 mins to charge, but the fifth charge will bring the earbuds to 71-75% and will leave 5% of power in the case). Overall, this gives them 27 hours of battery life when both the case and the earbuds are fully charged.
iOS has a built-in interface for the AirPods. It's not an app, but it displays the battery status of the earbuds and the case, which is not available on Android. The interface pops up once the earbuds are synced with an Apple device and will reappear whenever you open the case. It doesn't do much else but shows the integration into the Apple environment, making them less than ideal to use on other non-iOS devices. For Android users, the Samsung Galaxy Buds may be a better option thanks to their EQ presets and controls available in the Samsung Wear app.
The AirPods only connect to other devices via Bluetooth. Unfortunately, they can only pair with one device simultaneously but do keep multiple iOS devices in memory for easy pairing when you open the case.
Like most Bluetooth headsets, the latency is not ideal for watching movies and videos, but it is lower than the Anker SoundCore Liberty Air or the Sony WF-SP700N. They perform admirably well for a non-Aptx low latency device, which should be fine for music but they won't be the most responsive headphones when gaming on your phone or watching a lot of video content. Also, we have yet to test for AAC, but that is more an audio quality codec than a low latency one.
They do not have an audio cable. If you want the same design with a wired option, then consider the Apple EarPods.
The Apple AirPods have a charging case that provides up to 5 additional charges when the earbuds are docked. However, it has no inputs or outputs and is only used to charge or pair the headphones.
The Apple AirPods are truly wireless headphones with a decent sound and good active features. They're the best truly wireless earbuds for iPhone we've tested. However, they're more optimized for iOS so they won't be as good for Android users and they're also not as stable due to their one-size-fits-all design. See our recommendations for the best true wireless earbuds and the best Bluetooth earbuds.
The JBL Free Truly Wireless 2018 are slightly better truly wireless headphones than the Apple AirPods 1 Truly Wireless 2017 when they have a stable connection. The JBL have a more isolating in-ear fit that will be better for noisy environments and a bit more stable for running and working out. The JBL also leak a little less than the Apple and have a better sound quality, thanks to their stronger bass range that caters to more tracks. On the other hand, the Apple have a stabler wireless connection, better range, longer battery life, and lower latency, especially on iOS devices.
The Apple AirPods 2 Truly Wireless 2019 and the first model, the Apple AirPods 1 Truly Wireless 2017, are practically the same headphones. There are very few differences between the two models. The 2019 model now uses the H1 chip, has better wireless range, and should have less latency, although we measured the opposite. They pretty much have the same sound profile, but the biggest difference is that you can now get a model variance that has a wireless Qi charging case.
The Apple AirPods 1 Truly Wireless 2017 are better headphones than the Apple EarPods if you want a wireless design. The EarPods are wired, so they do not have the range and convenience of the wireless AirPods. On the upside, this also means they have no latency when watching movies. You also do not have a battery life to worry about since the EarPods are completely passive, unlike the AirPods. The AirPods, on the other hand, are a bit more stable for most listeners thanks to the absence of an audio cable. The AirPods are also a bit more practical for everyday casual use since they are truly wireless headphones with good battery life and a stable wireless connection.
The Bose SoundSport Wireless are a much better wireless headset than the Apple AirPods 1 Truly Wireless 2017. The Bose have a more stable fit that's better suited for sports and running. They also have a better-balanced sound that delivers a lot more bass than the Apple. The Bose block a bit more noise, although they will not be the best headphones for commuting due to their semi-open earbud fit. On the other hand, the Apple are a lot more portable and come with an excellent case that gives them more than 24 hours of battery life. The Apple also have a slightly more stable connection, they're easier to use and have lower latency with iOS devices.
The Bang & Olufsen Beoplay E8 Truly Wireless 2018 are a better truly wireless headset than the Apple AirPods 1 Truly Wireless 2017. The Bang & Olufsen have a more isolating in-ear fit that also translates into a better bass range thanks to the better seal they create in your ear. The Bang & Olufsen also have a customizable sound and better app support than the Apple, even on iOS devices. The Bang & Olufsen have a better control scheme that gives you all the essential functions, whereas the Apple rely heavily on voice-enabled controls, which is not always practical. On the other hand, the Apple have longer cumulative battery life at 25+ hours compared to the Bang & Olufsen's 15 hours, at best. The Apple also have a more reliable wireless connection with greater range and better latency than the Bang & Olufsen, especially on iOS devices.
The SoundPeats TrueFree/True Wireless are better headphones than the Apple AirPods 1 Truly Wireless 2017. The SoundPeats closed-back design allows them to block more ambient noise and be more versatile for everyday casual use. The SoundPeats are also more stable for sports, and their sound signature packs more bass. On the other hand, the Apple have a way longer total battery life and are better-built headphones. The Apple case also completely protects the headphones, and they are more comfortable for long listening sessions. They are also open-back headphones so can be better for monitoring your surrounding during outside runs.
The JBL FreeX Truly Wireless are better truly wireless in-ears than the Apple AirPods 1 Truly Wireless 2017 in general. The JBL sound better, isolate more noise, have an easier-to-use physical control scheme, and have a more stable fit for sports. However, the Apple are much more comfortable than the JBL, have a significantly better battery, and are easier to use with Apple devices. The JBL are a better choice for most use cases, but if you’re a fan of the Apple ecosystem, the AirPods could be worth looking into.
The Samsung Galaxy Buds Truly Wireless are more versatile headphones than the Apple AirPods 1 Truly Wireless 2017 thanks to their closed-back design. The Samsung isolate more noise than the Apple, and its audio reproduction is more accurate and versatile. Also, the Samsung's single charge battery life is longer, but the Apple case holds more additional charges for a longer total battery life. If you have an Android device, you can download the Samsung Wear app and get access to customization presets, which you don’t get with the Apple.
The Bose SoundSport Free Truly Wireless are slightly better truly wireless headphones than the Apple AirPods 1 Truly Wireless 2017. The Bose have a more stable fit for sports and a better-balanced sound quality that delivers a lot more bass than the Apple. On the other hand, the Apple have a better wireless performance with a more stable connection and a lot less latency when watching videos, especially on iOS devices. They also have a longer cumulative battery life at more than 24 hours when you include the additional recharges from the case.
The Jabra Evolve 65t Truly Wireless are more versatile than the Apple AirPods 1 Truly Wireless 2017. Due to their open-back design, the Apple don’t isolate much noise and aren’t the best option for commuting and at the office. The Jabra also have better sound quality and are a better option for sports due to their stable design. On the other hand, the Apple are very well-made and are very comfortable in the ears. Their case is also great and offers a great total 25-hour battery life.
The Samsung Gear IconX Truly Wireless are a much better truly wireless headset than the Apple AirPods 1 Truly Wireless 2017. The Samsung have an in-ear fit that isolates better in noisy conditions and produces more bass than the Apple thanks to the better seal they create in your ear. The Samsung also have a dedicated app which gives them access to a preset equalizer, sports data, and a built-in coach to keep track of your progress, whereas the Apple feel lacking in features. The Samsung also have 4GB of onboard storage. On the upside, the Apple are better integrated into the iOS platforms, which gives them a few advantages over the Samsung if you have a lot of Apple devices already. They also have a much longer 25 hour battery life than the Gear Icon X, and a more stable and reliable connection with less latency, especially on iOS devices.
The Jabra Elite 65t Truly Wireless are better truly wireless headphones than the Apple AirPods 1 Truly Wireless 2017. The Jabra have an in-ear fit that blocks more noise and is slightly more stable for running and working out than the Apple. The Jabra's closed in-ear design also gives them a better bass range and a slightly better sound overall that you can further customize thanks to the Sound+ app. On the upside, the Apple have a more reliable wireless connection, especially when paired to iOS devices. They also do much better for latency and have a longer battery life than the Jabra.
The Anker SoundCore Liberty Air Truly Wireless are better headphones than the Apple AirPods 1 Truly Wireless 2017. The Anker are more versatile, thanks to their closed-back design that helps isolate more noise, which is useful for commuting and at the office. The Anker sound quality is also more accurate and follows our curve better. Thanks to the different tip sizes, they are also very stable in-ears for sports. On the other hand, the Apple feel better made, have better battery life, and are more comfortable for most people. The Apple are also more open-sounding due to their open-back design and have noticeably lower latency.
The Skullcandy Push Truly Wireless are better headphones than the Apple AirPods 1 Truly Wireless 2017 if sound is the most important thing for you. The Skullcandy are more packed with bass thanks to their closed-back design, and they also isolate better. However, the Apple are better made, more comfortable, and have a better build quality. They also have more battery charges stored in the case, which can be useful. If you’re looking for truly wireless headphones to jog with outside, then the open-back Apple will allow you to be more alert to your surroundings.
The Bang & Olufsen Beoplay E8 2.0 Truly Wireless 2019 are a better truly wireless headset than the Apple AirPods 1 Truly Wireless 2017. The Bang & Olufsen have a more isolating in-ear fit that also translate into a better bass range thanks to the better seal they create in your ear. The Bang & Olufsen also have a customizable sound and better app support than the Apple, even on iOS devices. The Bang & Olufsen also have a better control scheme that gives you all the essential functions, whereas the Apple rely heavily on voice-enabled controls, which is not always practical. On the other hand, the Apple have longer cumulative battery life at 25+ hours compared to the Bang & Olufsen’s 15 hours at best. The Apple have a more reliable wireless connection with greater range and better latency than the Bang & Olufsen, especially on iOS devices.
The Sony WF-SP700N Truly Wireless are a somewhat better truly wireless headset than the Apple AirPods 1 Truly Wireless 2017, although not by much. The Sony have a more isolating in-ear fit that will block noise better than the Apple, but getting the right seal can be a bit tough at times. The Sony also have a customizable sound quality that packs more bass than the Apple. The Sony are also a bit more stable for the gym and do not leak as much even at high volumes. The Apple, on the other hand, have a more reliable wireless connection, a better range, better battery life, and much lower latency that makes it suitable for watching videos, especially on iOS devices. They also have a more comfortable earbud fit and last a lot longer, at five hours of continuous playback and more than 24 hours of total battery life, compared to 2.2 and nine hours for the Sony.
The Jabra Elite Active 65t Truly Wireless are a better truly wireless option than the Apple AirPods 1 Truly Wireless 2017. The Apple have a longer cumulative battery life than the Jabra, at 25 hours compared to 15. The Apple also have less latency, especially on iOS devices, so they're a bit more suitable for watching videos. Their open earbud design is also more comfortable than the Jabra and are more suitable for monitoring traffic when running outdoors. However, the Jabra have a better balanced and more customizable sound. They also have a lot more bass than the Apple and isolate better in noisy conditions thanks to their in-ear fit. This makes them a far better choice for commuting than the Apple. The Jabra are also more stable, which makes them better for sports and physical activity in general.
The RHA TrueConnect Truly Wireless are more versatile truly wireless headphones than the Apple AirPods 1 Truly Wireless 2017. Due to their closed-back design, the RHA have great isolation performance, which is suitable for commuting and at the office. They also have a good control scheme that includes volume control, which the Apple lack. On the other hand, the Apple are more comfortable and are very well-built earbuds. They also have one of the best total battery life for truly wireless in-ears, at about 24 hours.
The TREBLAB X5 Truly Wireless are more versatile headphones than the Apple AirPods 1 Truly Wireless 2017 due to their closed-back design, which isolates more ambient noise. The TREBLAB also have better sound quality and pack more bass. On the other hand, the Apple are more comfortable and don’t feel as cheaply made as the TRELAB. The Apple also have better battery life; their case is sturdy and gives you more additional charges. However, if volume control is a must-have for you, only the TREBLAB have it.
The Sony WF-1000X Truly Wireless are better in-ear headphones than the Apple AirPods 1 Truly Wireless 2017 thanks to their closed-back design, which helps with noise isolation. The Sony audio quality is also better than that of the Apple. The Sony also support NFC for quick and easy pairing. On the other hand, the Apple have a comfortable fit for most, and their overall battery life is pretty impressive with about 24 hours. They also have noticeably better latency, which might even be lower with iOS devices. However, the Apple interface doesn’t offer as much customization options like the Sony app.
The Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless are better truly wireless headphones than the Apple AirPods 1 Truly Wireless 2017. The Sennheiser are more versatile thanks to their closed-back design, and their touch-sensitive control scheme is responsive and easy-to-use. They are better suited for sports and have more bass to keep you pumped. The Sennheiser also have better isolation and leakage performance. On the other hand, the Apple have better battery life and are significantly more comfortable than the Sennheiser. However, they can only be used with iOS devices.
The Apple AirPods 1 Truly Wireless 2017 are open headphones that don’t isolate much noise and are more versatile than the AfterShokz Trekz Air Bone Conduction. The Apple sound quality is better and the case gives you up to five extra charges, for a total of around 25 hours of battery life. On the other hand, the around-the-head design with over-ear hooks of the AfterShokz is more stable for sports, and they have more on-the-go controls on the headphones. The Apple are a lot more portable but have a worse wireless range.
The Jaybird Run XT Truly Wireless are more versatile headphones than the Apple AirPods 1 Truly Wireless 2017 due to their good isolation performance, and the fact that you can EQ them easily inside their companion app. The Jaybird are great for sports, and they fit nicely into the ears to block ambient noise, which is useful for commuting and at the office. While both headphones offer about the same battery life on a single charge, the Apple's case offers way more additional charges. Also, the Apple are more comfortable and less bulky to carry around in their case and feel better made than the Jaybird.
The Apple AirPods 1 Truly Wireless 2017 are much better wireless headphones overall than the Google Pixel Buds 2017 Wireless. The Apple have a more comfortable fit, especially for those used to the Apple's one-size-fits-all earbud design. They also have a better build quality and unlike the Google, they are truly wireless, and each earbud can be used independently of each other. The Apple also have a slightly better sound even if they don't have a lot of bass. On the upside, the Google are a lot more stable for physical activity and sports. Their adjustable earbud fit design also caters to more listeners than the Apple.
If you prefer the compact format of a truly wireless design, then the Apple AirPods 1 Truly Wireless 2017 will be a better choice. However, if you want a typical wireless in-ear for sports, go for the Fitbit Flyer Wireless instead. The Apple have an excellent 25-hour battery life, thanks to their compact and portable charging case. They also have an earbud design that most will find more comfortable than the FitBit. On the other hand, the FitBit have a more isolating in-ear fit, which makes them more suitable for noisy environments and commutes. The FitBit are more stable thanks to their multiple tips and stability fins sizes, they have a lot more bass and will sound more exciting than the AirPods.
The Anker SoundCore Liberty Lite Truly Wireless are more versatile headphones than the Apple AirPods 1 Truly Wireless 2017 due to their closed-back design. The Anker isolate more ambient noise, which makes them a better option during commuting. Also, their audio reproduction is noticeably better and their wireless range is excellent. On the other hand, the Apple are better-built headphones and feel sturdier. They also have one of the highest total battery life for truly wireless in-ears and are very comfortable to wear during long listening sessions. The Apple also have noticeably less latency, which is good when watching videos.
The XFYRO xS2 are more versatile headphones than the Apple AirPods. They have better isolation due to their closed-back design, which makes them a better choice for commuting and to use at the office. They also barely leak, have great wireless range, and aren’t exclusive to Apple products. On the other hand, the AirPods have significantly better build quality and have one of the best cases we’ve tested so far. They also have better battery life, but they lack a lot of bass.