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Apple consistently debuts groundbreaking technology. The iPhone may not have been the first smartphone. But Apple’s iconic touchscreen device arguably popularized the touchscreen device. Moreover, Apple continues to eschew the norm. Whether it’s avoiding removable batteries or expandable storage or replacing keyboard buttons with a touchscreen, Apple remains creative. In a bold move the latest iPhone version even nixed the headphone jack.

Rather than wired earbuds, Apple’s AirPods replaced the default headset. Currently, Apple AirPods are the best selling wireless headset on the market. Should you buy AirPods or opt for a different wireless headset? Let’s explore why you should and shouldn’t buy the Apple AirPods and these five alternatives.

Why You Should Buy Apple AirPods

Apple AirPods sell really well. They also function with select iPhones, iPads, and Apple Watches You Can Finally Buy a Pair of Apple AirPods You Can Finally Buy a Pair of Apple AirPods Apple is finally selling the AirPods, its wireless headphones which are set to become an essential piece of kit for anyone buying an iPhone with no headphone jack. Read More . This isn’t necessarily a surprise as almost anything Apple performs in its market. You’re guaranteed a quality product and compatibility with most Apple products.

The AirPods function with the iPhone 5 through iPhone 7. This includes variants like the iPhone 5c and iPhone 6s. Additionally, AirPods are guaranteed to function with select iPads, the iPod Touch, and Apple Watches. You can see a full AirPod compatibility list over on Apple’s website.

Despite Apple’s instance otherwise, AirPods do function with Android devices. Here’s how to use Apple AirPods with Android devices How to Use Apple AirPods With Android Devices How to Use Apple AirPods With Android Devices Apple's AirPods are available for purchase, and while they're meant for Apple devices, they'll still work with Android. Here's how to pair them with other devices. Read More . Though at first dubbed “Bluetooth-like,” it’s confirmed that AirPods work over Bluetooth. At least on some devices. For instance, according to a Q&A section, AirPods don’t function with PlayStation 4 Bluetooth. So you should buy Apple AirPods if you’ve got a compatible device and are really dedicated to Apple.

Why You Shouldn’t Buy Apple AirPods

Apple AirPods aren’t bad audio devices. They should work with almost any Bluetooth device such as an Android smartphone or tablet. However, as with many Apple products, AirPods cost a hefty premium. A pair of AirPods retails for $160. Additionally, if you lose your AirPods, Apple will charge you $69 Apple Will Charge You $69 for Lost AirPods Apple Will Charge You $69 for Lost AirPods It's almost as if this courageous decision to ditch the headphone jack is a license for Apple to print money. But that can't be true, can it?! Read More .

At this price, you’re not even getting a product compatible with the entire Apple product array. Even if you can pair AirPods via Bluetooth on another Apple or non-Apple devices, some features might not function. They’re essentially reduced to a standard Bluetooth headset when paired over Bluetooth alone.

For a pair of $160 wireless headphones, the AirPods lack high-quality performance. Special features such as a five-hour battery life are in fact only available when paired with an iPhone 7. Like Apple’s notoriously uninspired wired headphones, you can do much better for the money.

AirPod Pros

  • Good build quality.
  • Five-hour battery life (with iPhone 7 only).
  • Can pair with almost any Bluetooth device.

AirPod Cons

  • Lack of wires between buds means a propensity to get lost.
  • Unimpressive sound quality.
  • Expensive.
  • Extra features might not work via Bluetooth on unofficial devices.

Apple AirPod Alternatives

Sorry Apple, but the AirPods don’t offer great value. For a bit of Bluetooth help overall, check out this beginner’s guide to finding the right Bluetooth headset The Beginner's Guide To Buying The Right Bluetooth Headset The Beginner's Guide To Buying The Right Bluetooth Headset The dirty little secret to buying the perfect Bluetooth headset is that there is no "perfect" headset. Read More . If you’ve been debating a pair of Apple AirPods, here are five Bluetooth headsets to get instead.

1. Samsung Gear IconX Cordfree Fitness Earbuds

Samsung Gear IconX 2016 Cordfree Fitness Earbuds with Activity Tracker - Black - Discontinued by Manufacturer Samsung Gear IconX 2016 Cordfree Fitness Earbuds with Activity Tracker - Black - Discontinued by Manufacturer Truly cable-free design with comfortable, stabilizing ear gels to keep the headset where it belongs and a charging carrying case, for storage and charging when not in use Buy Now At Amazon $139.99

Samsung IconX

Samsung’s Gear IconX cord free fitness earbuds are about the same price as a pair of Apple AirPods. Yet Samsung packs in many more features. You’ll find 4 GB of built-in flash memory for music, standard. This means you can take your songs on the go even without a phone.

Fitness trackers are all the rage. For $154, you get a quality set of earbuds with an activity tracker. The Samsung IconX sports a heart rate monitor and fitness tracker standard. What’s more, these are compatible with select 3rd party fitness apps. As dedicated sport headphones, these earbuds boast sweat and splash resistance.

Unfortunately, its sound quality falls far from great. Don’t expect the same range of highs and lows as you’ll find on a decent pair of wired or wireless studio headphones. Nevertheless, the Samsung IconX earbuds are perfect for those seeking a true cord free AirPod replacement.

You may also consider the GRDE Bluetooth earbuds or SmartOmi Boots Mini wireless earbuds. Both offer the same cord free experience at a fraction of the price. Sure, they’re off-brand and lack built-in memory. But considering how easy it is to lose a pair of wireless earbuds, the savings may be worth it.

Pros

  • Splash and sweat resistant.
  • Cordfree.
  • Decent sound quality for earbuds.
  • Built-in 4 GB for phone-free music storage.

Cons

  • Pricey.
  • Average sound quality.

2. QCY Q29

Wireless Earbud, QCY Q29 Mini Dual V4.1 Bluetooth Headphones with Charging Case 12 Hours Stereo Music Time Built Mic for IPhone 7 Plus,Motorola and Most Android Smartphone (Black) Wireless Earbud, QCY Q29 Mini Dual V4.1 Bluetooth Headphones with Charging Case 12 Hours Stereo Music Time Built Mic for IPhone 7 Plus,Motorola and Most Android Smartphone (Black) CAUTIOUS: We provide the One Year protected from the date of purchase for manufacturer defects. If the device fails due to a manufacturing defect, please contact seller directly to initiate return and protected process. CAUTIOUS: this TWS(True Wireless) earbuds need a new pairing method which may be a little bit complex. If you are not quite comfortable for learning the different tech, please think twice before purchasing Buy Now At Amazon $35.00

QCY Q29

QCY Q29 wire free Bluetooth earbuds provide phenomenal value. Lending a similar wireless form factor as the AirPods, the Q29 wireless earbuds come at a portion of the price. There’s Bluetooth 4.1, superb stereo sound, and 12 hours of music and talk time. A built-in mic means you can use the QCY Q29 with almost any device including iPhones and Androids.

There’s a charging case for on the go charging and storage. However, as with the AirPods and Samsung Gear IconX, the cable-free design means these are easier to lose. Some reviewers noted occasional audio issues. Additionally, pressing the button built into the earbuds drive the Q29 into your ear. However, for less than $100, the QCY Q29 wire-free Bluetooth earbuds emulate the look and feel of AirPods at a more affordable price point.

Pros

  • Bluetooth 4.1.
  • Cable-free.
  • Excellent battery life.
  • Charging case.

Cons

  • Occasional interference.
  • Built-in button uncomfortable to use in-ear.

3. JayBird X3

Jaybird X3 Sport Bluetooth Headset for iPhone and Android - Blackout Jaybird X3 Sport Bluetooth Headset for iPhone and Android - Blackout MINI WIRELESS BUDS - The X3 Headphones by Jaybird are designed to be as small as possible without sacrificing performance and looks Buy Now At Amazon $70.00

Jaybird X3

The JayBird X3 sport Bluetooth headphones might not be wire free. Nevertheless, this Bluetooth headset comprises a pair of earbuds. Its battery offers eight hours of use. Compared to the X2, the X3 receives a smaller form factor — it’s 34 percent smaller. CNET reviews praised its light weight and sweat resistance. However, the noise isolation, as pointed out, stands as a potential safety concern for outdoor exercise.

A hydrophobic nanocoating protects against water and sweat. Therefore, the X3 offers superb durability. Lots of EQ settings allow sound profile personalization. Plus, you can wear the Jaybird X3 over or under the ear. The Jaybird X3 Bluetooth headphones are an excellent AirPod alternative. Even so, you may want to consider the TaoTronics Bluetooth earbuds for a similar sports headset at a fraction of the cost.
TaoTronics Bluetooth Headphones, Wireless 4.1 Magnetic Earbuds aptX Stereo Earphones, IPX5 Splash Proof Secure Fit for Sports with Built-in Mic [Upgraded Version] TaoTronics Bluetooth Headphones, Wireless 4.1 Magnetic Earbuds aptX Stereo Earphones, IPX5 Splash Proof Secure Fit for Sports with Built-in Mic [Upgraded Version] Perfect workout headphones that are snug and secure so the headphones stay put while running, biking or at the gym. Buy Now At Amazon

Pros

  • Sweat resistant.
  • Lightweight.
  • Excellent sound quality.

Cons

  • Proprietary charging accessory.
  • Noise isolation potential concern.
  • High price, better sound available for the price.

4. JBL Reflect Mini BT

JBL Reflect Mini Bluetooth In-Ear Sport Headphones, Black JBL Reflect Mini Bluetooth In-Ear Sport Headphones, Black Lightweight design - as the lightest jbl Bluetooth Sport earphone, the reflect Mini bt provides long lasting comfort during a variety of athletic activities Buy Now At Amazon $68.50

JBL Reflect Mini BT

If you’re seeking a lightweight Apple AirPod alternative, check out the JBL Reflect Mini Bluetooth in-ear sport headphones. This headset pumps quality sound but remains small. Additionally, it’s tailored to athletes with its IPX-4 water resistance rating.

However, despite booming audio with decent bass and punchy highs, it’s not bass-heavy. Earbuds typically don’t offer booming bass, and PC Mag notes that the JBL Reflect Mini BT is not for bass junkies. Beats by Dre. Powerbeats3 or even Powerbeats2 provide Bluetooth wireless earbuds and loads of bass. Further, the JBL Reflect Mini BT lacks an auto-power off feature. This fails to conserve the battery well.

Ultimately, the JBL Reflect Mini BT is a phenomenal value. With its range of highs and lows, it hits well above its price range in sound and build quality.

Pros

  • Excellent range of highs and lows.
  • Water resistant.
  • Lightweight.

Cons

  • Not bass-heavy.
  • No auto-power off feature.

5. SoundPEATS Bluetooth Headphones

SoundPEATS Bluetooth Headphones Sport Wireless Sweatproof Earphones APTX Bluetooth 4.1 for Running with Mic CVC 6.0 Noise Cancelling-Black SoundPEATS Bluetooth Headphones Sport Wireless Sweatproof Earphones APTX Bluetooth 4.1 for Running with Mic CVC 6.0 Noise Cancelling-Black [Bluetooth 4.1+aptx]: Supports two connected devices simultaneously and allows to automatically connecting after paired successfully for the first time, high-fidelity stereo sound quality with aptx codec. The Headphones are compatible with most cell phones, iPhone and Android. Buy Now At Amazon

SoundPEATS BT

Sporting Bluetooth 4.1 and aptX, the SoundPEATS Bluetooth sports wireless headphones may be the best value around. With noise canceling, IPX-4 rated sweat resistance, and ear hooks to ensure a secure fit, the SoundPEATA deliver phenomenal sound and features.

Really, the only complaint you can find is that the SoundPEATS fail to provide a Bose range of sound. But for $22, you get great sound quality and rugged build.

Pros

  • Bluetooth with aptX.
  • IPX-4 rated.
  • Five-hour battery.
  • Noise canceling.
  • Lightweight.

Cons

  • Noise cancellation potential exercise hazard.
  • Middling battery life.

Hear, Hear: Apple AirPod Alternatives

Ultimately Apple AirPods don’t offer spectacular value. If you’re looking for a cable-free experience, try the QCY Q29 or Samsung Gear IconX. However if wireless isn’t a priority, you’ve got plenty of choices. Any lightweight Bluetooth earbuds should provide the same wireless audio and small form factor appeal. Plus, these are usually easier to keep track of than cable-free earbuds.

Instead, I recommend getting a standard pair of Bluetooth earbuds. Try these top 2016 Bluetooth headphones Best Bluetooth Headphones in 2016 Best Bluetooth Headphones in 2016 Android and Apple phones may dispense with their audio jacks. Bluetooth, on the other hand, may replace wires entirely. So you may want to invest in Bluetooth headphones. But which one? Read More , or snag a Bluetooth headset with superb battery life Now Hear This: 4 Bluetooth Headsets With Good Battery Life Now Hear This: 4 Bluetooth Headsets With Good Battery Life Looking for a Bluetooth headset with good battery life? You'd be surprised how hard it is! We've rounded up some of the longest lasting Bluetooth headsets on the market. Read More .

Are you using Apple AirPods? Which AirPod alternatives are your favorites?

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  1. Beans
    January 31, 2017 at 11:43 pm

    "Apple consistently debuts groundbreaking technology."

    I'm just blown away reading this, I had to struggle hard to resist the urge to instantly close the tab and never come back to this website again so I could comment.
    Is this tongue in cheek? Or do you work for Apple marketing? Sorry, my bad Apple is just a marketing company these days, nothing else.

    • kurpaige
      February 3, 2017 at 9:54 pm

      None of these come close to Airpods. When you take one out of your ear do they pause the music for you and resume when you put it back in? Airpods haven't failed me yet in connection or interference. Comfortable, great battery life, charging case charges the pods, sounds great to me so I don't know where you got the Unimpressive sound quality from. Expensive? True wireless cost 150-200 on average so where are they exspensive? Ahhh cause apple made them I get it.

      • Adam Morris
        October 6, 2017 at 1:44 pm

        Elegant design, but I’m far from sold on the audio quality.

    • Adam Morris
      October 6, 2017 at 1:44 pm

      Apple do debut groundbreaking technology. Were it not for Apple we would still be stuck in the hideous world of slow, bug-ridden Windows and incomprehensible Nokia dumb phones. Apple also introduced the world’s first functioning portable computer, laser printer, DTP system, user-friendly GUI, mouse, music player, tablet and smart phone. Everyone else just copied. Apple may not have invented all these technologies, but they brought them to the public in ways that actually worked, elegantly and easily.