Best AirPods for 2021 – CNET

Apple now has three units of true wi-fi headphones competing within the $180 to $200 vary, plus an older entry-level AirPods mannequin that will probably be promoting for as little as $89 this vacation season. Apart from these baseline AirPods — also known as AirPods 2nd Era or AirPods 2 — the entire different fashions listed under are appropriate with Apple’s new spatial audio features, however none of them will ship the utmost high quality of Apple’s lossless audio format, which is simply too wealthy for the present Bluetooth wi-fi customary to deal with. 

Learn extra: Best true-wireless earbuds for 2021

AirPods pricing 2021

Mannequin Apple Retailer worth Greatest worth proper now Greatest all-time worth
AirPods 2 $129 $89 $89
AirPods Professional 2021 $249 $190 $169
AirPods 3 $179 $175 $175
Beats Match Professional $200 $200 $200
AirPods Max $549 $479 $429

We replace this story continuously to replicate present pricing. 

Sarah Tew/CNET

Though they have been launched in 2019, Apple’s AirPods Professional stay high true-wireless earbuds, because of their comfy match, first rate sound, good noise-canceling and compelling characteristic set, which incorporates Apple’s spatial audio digital encompass characteristic. Their transparency mode (it lets you hear the world round you in a pure means) can be the gold customary they usually’re glorious for making calls. 

With the AirPods third Era getting MagSafe compatibility, Apple up to date the AirPods Professional to incorporate MagSafe, so simply watch out to get the newest model of the AirPods Professional (the up to date model sells for a similar worth because the “older” mannequin).

Whereas the AirPods Professional’s checklist worth remains to be $250, the brand new mannequin — with the MagSafe case — is mostly out there for round $190 at Amazon and sometimes dips decrease. 

Read our AirPods Pro review.


David Carnoy/CNET

The latest Beats headphones aren’t AirPods, however — aside from missing a case with wi-fi charging and MagSafe compatibility — they beautiful a lot pack many of the options discovered on the AirPods Professional in a sportier design, and can be found in a number of colour choices. You must positively verify these out earlier than shopping for the AirPods 3 or AirPods Professional at practically the identical worth. Read our Beats Fit Pro review

David Carnoy/CNET

The latest 2021 AirPods ship higher sound high quality than their predecessors whereas sustaining an open design. Barely bigger and formed extra just like the AirPods, they need to be a greater match for extra individuals’s ears, however on the similar time, they could not match these with very small ears who bought an ideal match with the AirPods 2nd Era.

As a result of they’re model new, we have not seen any severe reductions but. Read our AirPods 3 review

David Carnoy/CNET

Apple’s first full-size headphones are chock-full of high-end options like noise cancellation, spatial audio and straightforward integration with Apple units. Sure, paying about the identical as you’d for a PS5 might sound loopy, however here is the crazier factor: They’re truly kinda value it, as long as you do not really feel burned by their lack of help for full lossless audio and lack of an included cable for wired listening (it should be bought individually).

As of early November, costs have dipped to as little as $430 on sure colours. In any other case, they have been hovering round $480.

Read our AirPods Max review.


Apple’s AirPods 2nd Era stay within the line however not features a wireless-charging choice going ahead. Apple has dropped the official worth of the AirPods 2 to $129, although you will discover them for much less. They normally hover round $115, however lately hit $89 at Walmart and can hopefully settle in round $100. 

They are not as feature-packed as the opposite AirPods on this checklist, however they continue to be an interesting choice for folk on a tighter funds or those that’ve worn out their authentic pair however love their match and easily need to exchange them. 

Read our AirPods review.


What are the latest AirPods?

Technically, the latest AirPods are the 2021 third-generation AirPods, which arrived in shops on Oct. 26, 2021. They characteristic an up to date design, improved sound and higher battery life. That mentioned, the Beats Match Professional, which share many of the similar options because the AirPods Professional, arrived on Nov. 5, 2021. Whereas they don’t seem to be AirPods by title, we and others have referred to them as “the sports activities AirPods you all the time needed.”

Be aware that an up to date model of the AirPods Professional with MagSafe compatibility was launched similtaneously the AirPods third-generation. The MagSafe compatibility is the one distinction between the “outdated” and “new” model of the AirPods Professional.

Are the brand new Beats Match Professional higher than the AirPods Professional?

Sure, in some methods the brand new Beats are higher than the AirPods Professional for across the similar worth. We predict they’ve barely higher sound and their battery life is healthier — as much as 6 hours with noise canceling on in comparison with as much as 4.5 hours for the AirPods Professional. The Beats Match Professional’s noise canceling gave the impression to be on par with the AirPods Professional’s and so did their transparency mode. The built-in wingtips additionally lock the buds in your ears for sporting actions and on a regular basis use. Whereas the Match Professional ought to match most ears comfortably, some individuals do not just like the wingtip design. 

The Match Professional are lacking wi-fi charging and the MagSafe compatibility discovered within the up to date model of the AirPods Professional, which was launched similtaneously the AirPods third-generation.

Ought to I purchase AirPods within the Apple Retailer?

In the event you may help it, no: The assorted AirPods fashions usually promote for much less on-line at different retailers like Amazon and Walmart. Amazon, in the meantime, usually matches the bottom worth at different retailers. Typically, we might solely purchase AirPods on the Apple Retailer if we wish engraving, which is not out there elsewhere. That mentioned, for those who choose to enter an Apple Retailer for no matter cause, it is best to ask about worth matching. Whereas Apple would not appear to have any official coverage, it has been reported that it’s going to provide as much as 10% worth matching. For instance, that may be $25 off the AirPods Professional, which checklist for $250. That is not a lot, but it surely’s value asking to see if you may get 10% off. 

Does spatial audio sound totally different on totally different AirPods?

The brief reply is, not likely while you’re speaking about spatial audio with head monitoring for film and TV watching. Whereas the AirPods Max provide the very best sound total, utilizing the spatial audio digital sound characteristic is essentially the identical expertise on all of the AirPods that help it. | Greatest AirPods for 2021 – CNET


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