Apple currently offers three different varieties of AirPods - the AirPods, AirPods Pro and AirPods Max, although there are actually four models - you can choose from AirPods with and without a wireless charging case at the entry-level.
While Apple didn't launch an upgrade to its AirPods at its 14 September iPhone Event, there are rumours that a new AirPod may be due at the October Apple Event, which we suspect will be held on 12 October.
Apple currently has an ongoing Back to School sale that bundles a free pair of AirPods with a MacBook or iPad for students and staff in higher education. The sale ends on 11 October in the UK and 27 September in the US, which makes a 12 October launch date all the more likely for a new pair of AirPods. See our full analysis.
Apart from Apple's Back to School sale, there are also some great deals to be had right now (probably because resellers know new stock is coming). With that in mind, we advise on which AirPods can buy now, and which AirPods you shouldn't purchase right now.
AirPods models at a glance
Apple currently offers four different models, which are aimed at different target groups and offer different features and prices:
- AirPods with standard charging case (£159/$159)
- AirPods with wireless charging case (£199/$199)
- AirPods Pro (£249/$249)
- AirPods Max (£549/$549)
Rumour has it that Apple is planning corresponding successors for both the "normal" AirPods and the Pro models, although there may be more of a wait for the Pro update. Therefore, you should think carefully about which models you should currently buy, we'll advise below.
Should I buy AirPods?
It's been five years since Apple first introduced the AirPods in September 2016. The current models are now in the second generation having been updated in March 2019, when Apple introduced the H1 chip and the wireless charging case option. Read our AirPods 2 review.
The AirPods have the following features:
- H1 chip
- Hey Siri always activated
- 5 hours Playback (with one charge)
- More than 24 hours Playback (with charging case)
- The AirPods have a universal fit, which means that they should fit most users. Unfortunately in some cases, especially small or large ears, the headphones do not fit perfectly.
Despite the age of the AirPods, Apple still charges a fairly high price for them: depending on whether you choose a wireless charging case or not, you pay either £159/$159 or £199/$199 at Apple - which we think is far too expensive.
If you are set on buying the second-generation AirPods you should look for deals from retailers such as Amazon who do sell AirPods significantly cheaper. Shop around for deals, such as these below.
Apple AirPods (wired charging) prices (RRP £159/$159)
Apple AirPods (wireless charging) prices (RRP: £199/$199)
Despite these great deals, we advise against buying the AirPods at this time not only because new AirPods are expected soon, according to rumours, but also because once the new models do arrive the price of the old models could drop even more.
The AirPods 3 should not only get a new design, but also new features. Read more about the new AirPods here. If there isn't a decent amount knocked off the price we think the current AirPods are far too expensive for what they are. Don't buy!
Should I buy AirPods Pro?
Apple introduced a high-end version of the AirPods with a new design in autumn 2019. Among other things, these AirPods Pro offer silicone ear inserts in different sizes so that users can get an optimal fit - a big advantage over the second-generation AirPods.
In addition, the Pro models offer the following features:
- Active noise cancellation
- Transparency mode
- Protected from sweat and water (IPX4)
- Wireless charging
- H1 chip
- 4.5 hours Playback with one charge (up to 5 hours with active noise cancellation and transparency switched off)
- 3.5 hours Talking time with a charge
- Wireless charging case
- More than 24 hours Playback
- More than 18 hours Talking time
- 5 minutes in the case are enough for about 1 hour. Playback or about 1 hour Talking time
Apple charges £249 for the AirPods Pro models, although as with the AirPods, you will find them for less at Amazon and other resellers. For example, at the time of writing you can get the AirPods Pro for £179.
Apple AirPods Pro prices (RRP £249/$249)
According to rumours, Apple is working on an upgrade to the AirPods Pro, but they will not appear before 2022.
In addition, no revolutionary features are currently thought to be coming with the successor generation. Therefore, you can still buy the AirPods Pro without hesitation, especially since you are now likely to find them much cheaper than they were.
It's a great time to buy them if you were thinking of gifting them to someone for Christmas, for example. Read our AirPods Pro review.
Should I buy AirPods Max?
Introduced in December 2020, the AirPods Max are not even a year old, so it would be a big surprise if Apple presented a successor this autumn.
The Max models offer the following features:
- Active Noise Cancellation
- Transparency mode
- Adaptive EQ
- Spatial audio with dynamic head tracking
- Eight microphones for Active Noise Cancellation
- Three microphones for voice pickup
- H1 chip
- Digital Crown controls
- Up to 20 hours of listening time on a single charge
Apple's high-end headphones look good, sound good, and also feel good, but the price is not right at over £549/$549. It's possible that you will find a good deal, but these are still going to be an expensive set of headphones.
Apple AirPods Max prices (RRP: £549/$549)
If you are currently looking for a pair of Bluetooth headphones from Apple, we recommend the AirPods Pro over the AirPods Max. They cost significantly less compared to the Max and can do just as much. Save yourself the difference and invest it in the new Apple products coming this autumn. Read our AirPods Max review.
You may also like to read: AirPods Pro vs AirPods
Also read: Best Lightning Headphones.
This article originally appeared on Macwelt.