Best Apple AirPods for 2023: Top Picks Across Generations
Apple’s high standards mean that the best AirPods have great sound. With so many options, you’ll be able to find the perfect pair.
Apple users, pay attention! If you already have an iPhone, iPad, MacBook, or another Apple product, you might want to buy earbuds from the same company. When looking for new headphones or earbuds, AirPods are a great option to think about. These headphones are great for listening to music because they connect easily to Apple devices. If you’re not sure which Apple products to buy, we’ve put together a list of tried-and-true ones from different generations.
1. AirPods Pro 2 from Apple
Apple says that the new AirPods Pro (2nd generation) are powered by the new H2 chip, which gives them more processing power while using less power. When the new chip is combined with the new low-distortion drivers, the sound is clearer and has more depth. Apple says that the new AirPods have “double” the noise cancellation of the original AirPods Pro.
Also, the new AirPods have an extra hour of battery life, so they can be used for six hours instead of five. Plus, the case has a speaker that makes a sound that helps you find your friends using Find My if they try to hide.
Even though Apple has stopped making the original AirPods Pro, you can still buy them at a discount until they’re gone. But if they can afford it, most people should get this newer model instead. Read our review of the Apple AirPods Pro 2.
2. Beats Fit Pro
The Beats Fit Pro is easy to use with both an iPhone and an Android device. Beats, which is owned by Apple, seems to be trying to reach a wider audience, and it works. With the ear tip fit test and multiple ear tips, the Fit Pro fits like a pro. Most athletes will be happy with the Fit Pro’s sound quality, but you can also use it in the office. The price is the main thing that keeps the Beats Fit Pro from being gold.
The Beats Fit Pro is another set of headphones from Beats that work with both Android and iPhone. With the weird wing tips on the buds, it might be hard to get them to fit right, but Beats has thought of this and made an easy ear tip fit test. You also get high-end features like active noise cancellation (ANC), controls on the earbuds themselves, and automatic ear detection.
The newest Beats headphones are made by Apple, but they are not AirPods. They don’t have a case with wireless charging or MagSafe compatibility, but they have most of the features of the AirPods Pro in a sportier design and come in different colors. You should check these out before spending almost the same amount on the AirPods 3 or AirPods Pro.
.With the buds’ funky wing tips, you might have trouble getting them to fit properly, but Beats preempts this with an intuitive ear tip fit test. You get other premium features out of these earbuds like active noise cancelling (ANC), onboard button controls, and automatic ear detection.
Let’s dig into all there is to love about these oddly shaped Beats, and all that might hold you back from buying a pair.
3. The AirPods Max
Apple’s first full-size headphones are full of high-end features like noise cancellation, spatial audio, and easy integration with Apple devices. Yes, paying about the same as you would for a PS5 sounds crazy, but here’s what’s even crazier: They’re kind of worth it, as long as you don’t feel burned by their lack of support for full lossless audio and lack of included cable for wired listening (which must be purchased separately).
We’ve seen the price of the Apple AirPods Max go as low as $395 for some colors, but right now, most stores have them for around $480.
The AirPods Max do a great job of being high-end headphones. The aluminum ear cups and stainless steel headband feel strong, and I don’t think they’ll break if I throw them in my backpack. With so much metal, the AirPods Max are also very heavy at 385 grams. This is much heavier than the other best noise-canceling headphones we’ve tried, and you can feel it. That doesn’t mean, though, that these aren’t comfortable. The headband is brilliantly made so that the weight is spread out evenly.
The padding is soft and the headband is made of a light fabric that feels great. The ear cups are my favorite part of the headset because they feel so good. They are comfortable, and the padding is easy to take off and replace when it wears out. This lets you mix and match colors, but if you want to do that, you’ll have to pay another $69 USD.
4. Pro AirPods
The second-generation Apple AirPods Pro are just a little bit better than the first-generation AirPods Pro, but they still have the same iconic look. Apple’s updated H2 chip gives you better active noise cancellation (ANC) and longer battery life. The case’s U1 chip and built-in speaker make it easy to find with the Find My app. If you have an iPhone, the new AirPods Pro are a good choice, but there are other options as well.
Our moms and Apple want us to think that what’s inside is what’s important. The second generation of Apple AirPods Pro look almost the same as the first generation. It might look like Apple is just resting on its laurels, but the AirPods Pro are smarter than before thanks to their new case and chipsets. The AirPods line gets better sound quality, longer battery life, and active noise cancellation (ANC) thanks to these chips. Will the new AirPods Pro do better than the first-generation AirPods Pro, or will someone else take the crown for the best wireless earbuds?
The only difference between the first and second generation AirPods Pro is that the second generation has a glossy white case for charging. This time, Apple adds a silver lanyard loop and speaker to the block, which was previously empty. The case’s speaker doesn’t play music. Instead, it makes a sound that the Find My app can use to help you find it. You’ll also hear an alert tone when the battery is low or when pairing is done. You can turn these tones off through the Settings app on your iPhone, though. This is the first time Apple’s AirPods come with a case and earbuds that are both IPX4-rated. This means that they can both handle splashes and light rain. As before, you can easily open the case with your thumb and get to the buds.
Apple has stopped making the original AirPods Pro, so they’re getting harder and harder to find (Amazon is only stocking “renewed” versions). Even though they are not as good as the new AirPod Pro 2, you might want to buy them if you can find them for less than $180. Read our review of the AirPods Pro.
5. AirPods 2021 (3rd-gen)
The Apple AirPods (3rd generation) are a big step up from their predecessors in terms of sound quality, connectivity, and design. They also cost more, but we think it’s worth it if you have the older AirPods to upgrade to the newer ones. But we wouldn’t necessarily tell Android users to use them. The AirPods 3 are, as expected, optimized for use within the Apple ecosystem. This means that Android users miss out on a lot of the extra features that make them stand out from other true wireless earbuds on the market, and the lack of noise cancellation means they aren’t the most high-tech earbuds at this price.
The Apple AirPods 3 are the company’s newest set of truly wireless earbuds. They are better than their predecessors, the AirPods 2, because they have a lot of new features.
But if you also count the Pro range, they are no longer Apple’s newest headphones. This title now goes to the AirPods Pro 2, which just came out. These are the latest noise-canceling earbuds from the brand. Both in terms of features and sound quality, they are a big step up from the AirPods Pro.
The sound quality of the new 2021 AirPods is better than that of their predecessors, but they still have an open design. They are slightly bigger and more like the shape of the AirPods, so they should fit more ears better. However, people with very small ears who had a perfect fit with the AirPods 2nd Generation might not be able to use these. Read our review of the AirPods 3.
The newest AirPods are the AirPods Pro (2nd generation), which hit stores on September 23, 2022. They have better sound, noise cancellation, and battery life, as well as Apple’s new H2 chip. The third-generation AirPods, which have more features, better sound, and a new look, hit stores in October 2021. In the meantime, the Beats Fit Pro came out in November. It has most of the same features as the first AirPods Pro. Even though they aren’t called “AirPods,” we and other people have called them “the sports AirPods you always wanted.”
Beats Fit Pro may fit better than AirPods Pro 2 because they have built-in wingtips, and they cost $50 less (and sometimes even less when they go on sale). The AirPods Pro 2 are better in every other way. They have slightly better noise cancellation and sound quality, and they work better for voice calls.
Also, the Beats Fit Pro don’t have wireless charging or MagSafe compatibility, which are both features of the AirPods Pro 2.
When it comes to spatial audio with head tracking for watching movies and TV, the short answer is “not really.” Even though the AirPods Max have the best sound quality overall, using the virtual spatial audio feature is mostly the same on all AirPods that can do it.