The Christmas sales are starting, which makes it the perfect time to grab a cheap deal on a set of AirPods.

Apple's AirPods wireless headphones offer an iconic look, exceptional convenience and strong audio quality. They come with a premium price tag, however, so it's important to shop around for a good deal - or find a bunch of tech experts who'll do this for you. That's where we come in.

In this article we round up the best AirPods holiday discounts and bundle deals to help you save money. We've got the best prices on the new AirPods launched in October 2021, and we've dug up superb deals on the AirPods Pro, early-2019 AirPods and AirPods Max.

You'll find dedicated Christmas present-giving advice in our gift guide. For specifically US-focused info, read the best AirPods deals guide on Macworld US.

Best AirPods deals right now

Apple sells two sets of basic AirPods: the new third-gen model for 2021 (RRP £169), and the second-gen model from 2019 (RRP £119).

The automatic price-comparison tables below gather the latest and best prices on the AirPods from the major retailers.

AirPods (third gen, 2021; RRP £169)

Apple finally updated the ultra-popular AirPods this October, after a wait of more than two and a half years. The new models feature a more Pro-like design and a MagSafe-compatible charging case; they also have improved battery life and water resistance, and support for Spatial Audio. Get all the info you need in our AirPods 3 review.

Since these are new - they went on sale on 26 October - you'll struggle to find third-party retailers offering a large discount on Apple's RRP. But you can (and should) make a small saving: AO, Currys and Amazon all have the 3rd-gen AirPods for £159, or £10 off the RRP.

You'll find the best prices in the automated table below. For specific advice, read our guide on where to buy the AirPods 3.

Retailer Price Delivery  

Price comparison from over 24,000 stores worldwide

AirPods (second gen, 2019; RRP £119)

Note that this version of the AirPods comes with an old-fashioned charging case which needs to be plugged in, as opposed to the wireless charging case bundled with the 2021 AirPods and AirPods Pro. (You can buy a wireless charging case separately, however.)

On 18 October Apple gave this product a chunky price cut, from £159 down to £119, and it took other retailers a while to catch up. (Be particularly wary of any vendors who quote the old price and calculate savings based on that. To repeat, the RRP is now £119!)

But with the sales season well underway, we're at last seeing some serious discounts. As you'll see in the automated price table below, AO and Very have both got the second-gen AirPods for £99, a stonking £20 saving on an already affordable set of earbuds.

We suggest you check multiple stores to make sure you're getting the best deal on shipping.

Retailer Price Delivery  

Price comparison from over 24,000 stores worldwide

If this all sounds too expensive, you might be able to get the first-generation AirPods from 2016 - we've seen them for under £80 on eBay. Alternatively, you can check out our guide to the best AirPods alternatives.

Best AirPods Pro deals right now

Apple has slightly dropped the price of the AirPods Pro from £249 at launch to their present RRP of £239, which still isn't cheap - making it all the more important to shop around. The comparison table below gathers the lowest prices on the AirPods Pro so you can be sure not to miss out on any deals.

AO is leading the way with a price of £189 (£50 off the RRP). You can go lower with Laptops Direct (£169, plus delivery), but that's a "box opened" return.

AirPods Pro (RRP £239)

Retailer Price Delivery  

Price comparison from over 24,000 stores worldwide

Best AirPods Max deals right now

Right now, the AirPods Max are available to buy directly from Apple for £549/$549. The headphones are also available from Best Buy in the US.

As you can see in our automated table embedded below, third-party retailers are starting to undercut Apple by a significant margin. The best offer right now is Laptops Direct's £399 (£150 off the RRP), which applies to three out of five colour finishes: that's the silver, pink and green models. The black model and blue model each cost £429, but that's still the cheapest we can find them right now.

AirPods Max (RRP £549)

Retailer Price Delivery  

Price comparison from over 24,000 stores worldwide

For an in-depth look at your options here, read Where to buy AirPods Max.

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 Max is £549 / US$549 / AU$899.

The RRP of the AirPods Pro is £239 / $249 / AU$399.

For the early-2019 AirPods it's £119 / $129 / AU$219.

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 from their launch price of £159 - but if you do plump for these much older models, you shouldn't be paying even £100. If you can't find a seriously good deal, go for newer 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.

Bundle deals

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 £10 a month spread over 11 months plus a £10 upfront fee (if you'll settle for the 2019 models), or £15 a month + £10 for the 2021 models. The AirPods Pro, including the new MagSafe case for 2021, are £22 a month but with no upfront fee. In each case you'll need to click Apple, then your choice of AirPods model.

Vodafone and O2 aren't currently bundling the AirPods with their iPhone plans, although O2 sells the 2021 AirPods, the early-2019 AirPods and the AirPods Pro on their own.

Whichever bundle you go for, remember to check if you're getting the AirPods Pro, the early-2019 AirPods (sometimes called the second-gen or AirPods 2) or the new 2021 AirPods (third-gen or AirPods 3). If you're getting the AirPods Pro, find out if they include the new MagSafe charging case.

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 four models, of which three are still on sale: the original AirPods (2016), long discontinued; the early-2019 AirPods, which are similar but add Hey Siri; the late-2019 AirPods Pro, which add improved audio quality and active noise cancellation, plus a new design; and the 2021 AirPods, which add MagSafe support, improved battery life and some elements of the Pro design.

(Plus there's the AirPods Max from 2020, which are over-ear headphones and essentially a completely different product to the rest of the AirPods range. For this reason we will discuss the Max model separately.)

All four non-Max 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 others because they have a choice of flexible ear 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. (We haven't tested the 2021 AirPods' audio quality yet, but Apple as ever talks a good game.) 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 and 2021) which makes pairing with an iPhone a breeze.

Battery-wise, most non-Max 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. The 2021 AirPods, however, offer more in this department, with claimed figures of six hours out of the case and 30 hours in total. 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. Those features are kept in the 2021 models, with Spatial Audio and Adaptive EQ added to the mix.

For more detailed advice and thoughts on the best alternatives to Apple's three cheaper AirPods models, read our guides to the Best wireless headphones and, more specifically, the Best wireless earbuds.

The AirPods Max are a lot more expensive and a totally different proposition. Audio quality is almost universally considered to be exceptional, but it's debatable whether it's exceptional enough to justify that £550/$550 price tag. And many reviewers have pointed out that the case is oddly designed, given that the one part of the headphones that it doesn't protect - the mesh headband - is the one that's most vulnerable to damage.

The AirPods Max are an appealing prospect, but unlikely to be practical for most budgets.