So you’ve been researching the best headphones and earbuds online (it’s an important decision), have undoubtedly come across Apple’s popular offerings, and are wondering how much lighter your wallet’s going to be if you shell out for a pair.
You undoubtedly already know that there are currently four models in Apple’s oft-raved-about AirPods range: The latest and greatest 3rd-generation AirPods with new MagSafe charging case; the still very-capable 2nd-gen AirPods from 2019, with a charging case or wireless charging case; the AirPods Pro, introduced in October 2019, which come with a wireless charging case; and the first over-ear AirPods, the AirPods Max, which were introduced in December 2020 and come with a Smart Case. But how do these variants differ, and how much does each one cost? Let’s find out.
Apple’s entry-level AirPods have the most basic true wireless experience Apple has to offer. The original AirPods launched in December 2016 and then got an update in 2019, adding improvements like Apple’s H1 chip, longer talk times, and “Hey Siri” hands-free voice command capability. While they look similar to the higher-end AirPods Pro, the tech tells a different tale: The AirPods Pro add noise-canceling along with Spatial Audio and Adaptive EQ to optimize sound quality to your liking. Plus, they are water- and sweat-resistant, come with custom eartips for a better fit, and include a pressure valve on each side to help reduce the pressure in your ears when you’re wearing them for long periods of time. They also come with a shorter, wider wireless charging case.
Now, take almost all of the above-mentioned features of the AirPods Pro (save for the active noise-canceling), and you’ve got the AirPods 3, which also boast a new shorter stem design and controls, as well as six hours of listening time and up to 30 hours of total listening with its fancy MagSafe-compatible wireless charger thrown in the box (wireless charging was previously sold separately).
Meanwhile, the AirPods Max represent a departure from the true wireless space for the sub-brand, employing an over-ear design instead of the in-ear setup of the other two models. Providing an immersive sound experience, they feature Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) technology and Spatial Audio and come in five cool color options to express your personality.
So, how much does each of them cost? Well, the AirPods 3 with included wireless charging case retail for $179; the AirPods 2 retail for $129; the wireless charging case for Airpods 1 and 2 is now sold separately at $79; the AirPods Pro with included wireless charging case sit on the shelves for $249; the AirPods Max will set you back a cool $549.
|Wireless charging case for AirPods 1 and 2||$79|
If you happen to lose a Pod or a charging case, you won’t have to fork out the full price all over again. You can replace each damaged item for what Apple calls an “out-of-warranty fee.” Keep in mind, though, that this isn’t cheap, with a lone AirPod coming in at $69 and an AirPod Pro at a staggering $89. Charging cases, on the other hand, start at $59 and max out at $99.
|Replacement part||Price (each)|
|AirPods 2 and 3||$69|
|Charging case for AirPods||$59|
|Wireless and MagSafe charging case for AirPods||$79|
|Wireless and MagSafe charging case for AirPods Pro||$99|
Replacement parts are capped at $29 per piece for customers with an AppleCare+ subscription.
If you require battery service for the AirPods, you can get that for free with AppleCare+ or for a small fee if they’re out of warranty, with pricing ranging from $49 per bud up to $79 to repair the Max’s battery.
|AirPods/AirPods Pro||$49 each|
|AirPods charging case||$49|
All this said, you don’t have to buy direct from Apple. You can often find deals at other retailers like Target or Amazon if you want to save a little money.
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