December 4, 2023

If you’re an Apple user by any means, it’s hard to beat the quality, noise cancellation, and convenience of Apple AirPods. The company’s headphones and earphones are always on top This year’s best headphones lists. But it got more complicated since Apple released several different versions of its AirPods product. These different versions include the standard AirPods, AirPods ProAnd the AirPods MaxBeats headphones. But do not worry! We’ll break down the differences and benefits of each.

Check out some of the features below to choose the best AirPods for you or your loved ones. Oftentimes it can come down to balancing functionality and price, so we’ve pinpointed the latest prices for you too. Without further ado, here are your top picks while searching for Apple AirPods deals this year.

Read more: Best true wireless earbuds 2022

AirPods 2022 pricing


Apple Store price

Best price now

Best price at all times

AirPods 2




AirPods Pro 2021




AirPods 3




Beats Fit Pro

$ 200

$ 200


AirPods Max




We update this story frequently to reflect current prices.

Sarah Teo / CNET

Despite their launch in 2019, Apple’s AirPods Pro are still the best true wireless earbuds, thanks to their comfortable fit, decent sound, active noise cancellation and an attractive feature set, which includes Apple’s spatial virtual surround sound feature. Their transparency mode, which allows you to hear the world around you while wearing clothes, is also the gold standard. Apple AirPods Pro are the best and premium true wireless earbuds for making calls.

With third-generation AirPods getting MagSafe compatibility, Apple has updated AirPods Pro to include MagSafe, so be careful to get the latest version of the new AirPods Pro (the updated version is sold for the same price as the “older” model).

While the AirPods Pro’s list price is still $249, the new model — with a MagSafe charging case — is generally available for around $190 on Amazon (and sometimes drops below).

Read our AirPods Pro review.

David Carnoy/CNET

Apple’s latest Beats headphones aren’t AirPods, but — except for the lack of a case with wireless charging and MagSafe compatibility — they pretty much have most of the features found in AirPods Pro in a sporty design and are available in multiple color options. You should definitely check this out before buying AirPods 3 or AirPods Pro at roughly the same price. Read our Beats Fit Pro review.

David Carnoy/CNET

The latest AirPods 2021 deliver better sound quality than their predecessors while maintaining an open design. Slightly bigger and shaped like AirPods, it should be better fit for more people’s ears, but at the same time, it may not fit those who have very small ears and perfectly fit the second generation AirPods. Read our AirPods 3 review.

David Carnoy/CNET

Apple’s first full-size earbuds packed with cutting-edge features like noise cancellation, spatial audio, and easy integration with Apple devices. Yes, paying the same amount you would for a PS5 might sound crazy, but here’s the craziest thing: they’re actually kind of worth it, as long as you don’t get burned by their lack of support for full lossless audio and the lack of included cables for wired listening (which must be purchased separately).

We’ve occasionally seen Apple AirPods Max prices drop to $429 in certain colors. Otherwise, they hovered around $479.

Read our AirPods Max review.

Apple’s second generation AirPods are still in line but no longer include a wireless charging option going forward. Apple has lowered the official price of the AirPods 2 to $129, although you can sometimes find them for $100 or less.

It’s not as feature-packed as the other AirPods on this list, but it remains an attractive option for people on a tight budget or those who have used up their original pair but love their convenience and simply want to replace them.

Read our AirPods review.

What are the latest AirPods?

Technically speaking, the latest AirPods are the 2021 3rd Generation AirPods with enhanced functionality, which hit stores on October 26. It features an updated design, improved sound, and better battery life. However, the Beats Fit Pro – which shares most of the AirPods Pro’s features – arrived on November 5. Although they’re not AirPods by name, we and others have referred to them as the “always-on-wanted sports AirPods.”

Note that an updated version of AirPods Pro with MagSafe compatibility was released at the same time as AirPods 3rd generation. MagSafe compatibility is the only difference between the “old” and “new” AirPods Pro versions.

Are the new Beats Fit Pro better than AirPods Pro?

Yes, in some ways, the new Beats are better than AirPods Pro at about the same price. We think they sound a little better and their battery life is better – up to 6 hours with noise canceling compared to up to 4.5 hours on the AirPods Pro. The noise cancellation of the Beats Fit Pro appears to be on par with the AirPods Pro and so is the Transparency Mode. Integrated wing tips also lock buds into your ears for sporting activities and everyday use. While the Fit Pro should comfortably fit most ears, some people don’t like the wingtip design.

The Fit Pro is missing the wireless charging and MagSafe compatibility found in the updated version of AirPods Pro, which was released at the same time as the third generation AirPods.

Should I buy AirPods from the Apple Store?

If you can help, no: Various AirPods models usually sell for less online at other retailers like Amazon and Walmart. In the meantime, Amazon usually matches the lowest price of other retailers. In general, we will only buy AirPods from the Apple Store if we want an inscription, which is not available anywhere else. However, if you choose to enter the Apple Store for Apple deals, you should ask about price matching. While Apple does not appear to have any official policy, it has been reported that they will offer up to 10% off price matching. For example, that would be $25 off AirPods Pro, which are worth $249. It’s not much, but it’s worth asking to see if you can get a 10% discount.

Is spatial sound different on different AirPods?

The short answer is, not really when you’re talking about spatial audio with head tracking for watching movies and TV. While AirPods Max offer the best sound overall, using the default audio feature for spatial audio is pretty much the same experience on all AirPods that support it.

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