AirPods are the hot ticket right now: Apple's popular wireless earbuds already had an iconic look and exceptional convenience of use, but twin updates in 2019 added a new Pro design, improved audio quality, active noise cancellation, new features and wireless charging. They're not cheap, however, and it's proved difficult to get hold of a pair at anything lower than the RRP.
Fortunately, however, we're seeing some excellent deals on the new AirPods Pro and early-2019 AirPods - while retailers are understandably keen to sell off the older 2016 models at a tasty discount. In this article we round up the best AirPods discounts and bundle deals to help you save money.
The COVID-19 outbreak means disruption to shopping for both UK and US readers, and visiting an Apple Store to buy some new AirPods could hardly be described as essential travel. But most online businesses are still operating - and delivering, as far as is possible - as usual. Check stock levels to avoid disappointment.
For a broader look at the audio bargains out there, take a look at Best headphone deals.
Best AirPods Pro deals right now
The price-comparison widget below gathers the latest and best prices on the AirPods Pro from the major retailers.
Best AirPods deals right now
The price-comparison widget below gathers the latest and best prices on the AirPods from the major retailers.
How to get a good deal on AirPods
Good AirPods deals are rare and tend not to last long. If you see one (and you're sure the supplier is legit - look it up on TrustPilot if you've not bought from there before), grab it.
The RRP of the AirPods Pro is £249/$249; for the early-2019 AirPods it's £159/$159, or £199/$199 with the wireless charging case. You should never pay more than these prices: we've seen unscrupulous retailers claim the RRP is £20 or so higher and work out 'savings' based on that.
The 2016 AirPods were removed from sale as soon as the early-2019 models came out, so never officially got a price cut - but if you do plump for these older models, you shouldn't be paying anywhere near £159. If you can't find a good deal, go for the new ones instead.
Remember to take postage into account when evaluating deals - we include it in our list of prices but most retailers won't add it until you're at the checkout. And watch out for deals that seem too good to be true, but turn out to have no stock. We see this a lot.
The best way to get a good price on AirPods may be to bundle them with a phone. But at this point bundles are not available with the new Pro models - the best you'll do is the early-2019 models.
Three offers a variety of bundles that includes the AirPods. Visit the company's accessories page to browse the best options for you.
EE lets you add AirPods to your plan for £13 a month spread over 11 months (with the basic charging case) plus a £10 upfront fee, or £17 a month + £10 with the wireless case. The AirPods Pro are £22 a month + £10. In each case you'll need to click Apple, then your choice of AirPods model.
Whichever bundle you go for, remember to check if you're getting the AirPods Pro, the early-2019 AirPods (sometimes called the AirPods 2, but any mention of a wireless charging case also confirms this) or the old 2016 models.
AirPods buying advice
Wondering if a pair of AirPods is right for you? Let's discuss the pros and cons.
First of all, there are three models: the original AirPods (2016); the early-2019 AirPods, which are similar but add wireless charging and Hey Siri; and the late-2019 AirPods Pro which add improved audio quality and active noise cancellation, plus a new design.
All three models are wireless, sitting in your ears and in theory staying there through snugness of fit alone. The advantages of this are clear - they allow you to go running or work out without worrying about snagging the cables - but they may fall out once you pick up the pace. Our experience, however, is that the AirPods are among the best earbuds around in this regard.
The AirPods Pro offer a snugger fit than the previous two models because they have a choice of flexible tips, and are actually able to tell you whether you've selected the right tip or not.
Sound quality is decent but not exceptional on the original and early-2019 models; the AirPods Pro are a step above thanks in part to their better fit and implementation of active noise cancellation. What AirPods consistently do better than non-Apple headphones is co-ordinate with other Apple products, thanks to the W1 chip (in the 2016 model) and H1 chip (2019) which makes pairing with an iPhone a breeze.
Battery-wise, the AirPods will last around five hours, but that's not the end of the story: they come with a little charging case with its own larger battery, so you can pop them back in for a rapid top up. The case should offer another 24 hours (give or take) before it'll require charging. We've got some advice on getting better AirPods battery life.
Apple's 2019 AirPods can respond to Hey Siri commands, charge wirelessly if you opt for the Wireless Charging Case, and offer more talk time than the originals. Find out more about the new AirPods.