Apple's AirPods are the hot ticket right now: these popular wireless earbuds already had an iconic look and excellent sound quality, but an update for March 2019 added new features and wireless charging. They're not cheap, however, and it's proved surprisingly difficult to get hold of a pair at anything lower than the RRP of £159, or £199 if you want the wireless charging case.
Nevertheless, deals on the new AirPods are out there if you know where to look, and we expect to see retailers selling off the older 2016 models at a tasty discount. In this article we round up the best discounts and bundle deals to help you save money. We've also got a couple of (functionally similar) AirPods alternatives from other manufacturers that are excellent value, for those who are willing to compromise.
For a broader look at the audio bargains out there, take a look at Best headphone deals.
Best AirPods deals right now
Here are what the major retailers are charging for the latest generation AirPods right now.
If the pricing comparison table above doesn't appear, please click here.
If those all sound too much to pay, you can regularly get the first-generation AirPods for around £100 on eBay, or get them with a phone bundle from Three. Or you can check out our guide to the best AirPods alternatives.
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 2019 AirPods is £159 (or £199 if they come with the wireless charging case). You should never pay more than that: we've seen unscrupulous retailers claim the RRP is £20 higher and work out 'savings' based on that.
The 2016 AirPods were removed from sale as soon as the 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. Three has the iPhone XR plus AirPods starting at £52 per month (plus £49 upfront); if you want the iPhone XS plus AirPods, prices start at £58 per month (plus £99 upfront). But note that in both cases these are the 2016 AirPods, which isn't especially clear from Three's website.
EE does have the new AirPods, and lets you add them to your plan for £14 a month spread over 11 months (with the basic charging case) or £18 a month with the wireless case.
Whichever bundle you go for, remember to check if you're getting the new or old AirPods.
AirPods buying advice
Wondering if a pair of AirPods is right for you? Let's discuss the pros and cons.
Obviously they're 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.
Sound quality is excellent, but you can get that elsewhere, possibly for less money. What AirPods 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 here.