Apple’s AirPods wireless headphones offer an iconic look, exceptional convenience and strong audio quality. They come with a premium price tag, however, so it’s important to shop around for a good deal… or find a bunch of tech experts who’ll do this for you. That’s where we come in.
In this article we round up the best AirPods discounts and bundle deals to help you save money. We’ve got the best prices on the new 3rd-generation AirPods launched in October 2021, and we’ve dug up superb deals on the AirPods Pro, early-2019 AirPods and AirPods Max.
Best AirPods deals
Apple sells two sets of basic AirPods: the new 3rd-gen model introduced in 2021 (MSRP $179 in the US, and RRP £169 in the UK), and the 2nd-gen model from 2019 ($129/£119).
The automatic price-comparison tables below gather the latest and best prices on the AirPods from the major retailers.
AirPods (3rd gen, 2021; MSRP $179)
Apple finally updated the ultra-popular AirPods last October, after a wait of more than two and a half years. The new models feature a more Pro-like design and a MagSafe-compatible charging case; they also have improved battery life and water resistance, and support for Spatial Audio. Get all the info you need in our AirPods 3 review.
As you can see it’s a struggle to find a huge discount, but you shouldn’t be paying full price at this point. Best Buy had been selling the AirPods for $169 ($10 off Apple’s price) but that deal appears to have ended; Amazon, meanwhile, is usually good for a small discount. If you can’t find these earbuds below the MSRP we’d recommend waiting for a better price.
In the UK, John Lewis, AO, and Currys, all have the 3rd-gen AirPods for £159, or £10 off the RRP, but Amazon has them for £131.84. We recommend that you visit multiple sites to check the delivery charges to your area, and bear in mind that John Lewis offers a longer guarantee.
AirPods (2nd gen, 2019; MSRP $129)
Note that this version of the AirPods comes with an old-fashioned charging case which needs to be plugged in, as opposed to the wireless charging case bundled with the 2021 AirPods and AirPods Pro. (You can buy a wireless charging case separately, however.)
Check the automated table below for any deals that have popped up since we last updated this article.
Apple is your baseline, selling in the US for $129, but you should be able to find a discount elsewhere. As with the third-gen AirPods, however, Best Buy has withdrawn what was a very appealing deal: the 2019 AirPods were recently $109.99, but have reverted to the MSRP of $129. It may be worth waiting.
The AirPods Pro came out in 2019, and we believe a new version may be released later this year. If you buy direct, Apple will sell you the AirPods Pro for $249/£239, but there are better offers elsewhere. The comparison table below gathers the lowest prices on the AirPods Pro so you can be sure not to miss out on any appealing deals.
AirPods Pro (MSRP $249)
Best Buy and Amazon are leading the way in the US, selling the AirPods Pro for $199.99: that’s a discount of $50, or about 20 percent.
In the UK, John Lewis, AO, and Laptops Direct are all selling the AirPods Pro for £189 (an excellent £50 off the current RRP); check them to all to see if there are delivery charges for your area. All else being equal, we’d go with John Lewis for its two-year guarantee.
As you can see in our automated table embedded below, third-party retailers are starting to undercut Apple by a significant margin.
AirPods Max (MSRP $549)
Amazon is the best bet in the US right now, selling all five colors for $479, a savings of $70. It’s worth checking Best Buy as well, since it recently advertised the AirPods Max for just $449, but at time of writing the site is charging $499.99.
In the UK, until recently Laptops Direct had at least one color finish for under £400, but the best it can manage now is £429 on the pink, green, blue, and silver models. (The site doesn’t appear to have any stock of the Space Grey version.) It’s worth checking to see if Amazon can do better on your favored color.
Good AirPods deals are rare and tend not to last long. If you see one (and you’re sure the supplier is legit: look it up on TrustPilot if you’ve not bought from there before), grab it.
The recommend price of the AirPods Max is $549 / £549 / AU$899.
For the AirPods Pro it’s $249 / £239 / AU$399.
For the early-2019 AirPods it’s $129 / £119 / AU$219.
You should never pay more than these prices: we’ve seen unscrupulous retailers claim the MSRP/RRP is higher and work out ‘savings’ based on that.
The 2016 AirPods were removed from sale as soon as the early-2019 models came out, so never officially got a price cut from their launch price of $159/£159. But if you do plump for these much older models, you shouldn’t be paying even $100. If you can’t find a seriously good deal, go for newer ones instead.
Remember to take delivery and postage fees into account when evaluating deals; we include it in our list of prices but most retailers won’t add it until you’re at the checkout. And watch out for deals that seem too good to be true, but turn out to have no stock. We see this a lot.
The best way to get a good price on AirPods may be to bundle them with a phone, although this is mainly an option in the UK.
Three offers a variety of bundles that includes the AirPods. Visit the company’s accessories page to browse the best options for you.
EE lets you add AirPods to your plan for £10 a month spread over 11 months plus a £10 upfront fee (if you’ll settle for the 2019 models), or £15 a month + £10 for the 2021 models. The AirPods Pro, including the new MagSafe case for 2021, are £22 a month but with no upfront fee. In each case you’ll need to click Apple, then your choice of AirPods model.
Whichever bundle you go for, remember to check if you’re getting the AirPods Pro, the early-2019 AirPods (sometimes called the second-gen or AirPods 2) or the new 2021 AirPods (third-gen or AirPods 3). If you’re getting the AirPods Pro, find out if they include the new MagSafe charging case.
AirPods buying advice
Wondering if a pair of AirPods is right for you? Let’s discuss the pros and cons.
First of all, there are four models, of which three are still on sale: the original AirPods (2016), long discontinued; the early-2019 AirPods, which are similar but add Hey Siri; the late-2019 AirPods Pro, which add improved audio quality and active noise cancellation, plus a new design; and the 2021 AirPods, which add MagSafe support, improved battery life and some elements of the Pro design.
(Plus there’s the AirPods Max from 2020, which are over-ear headphones and essentially a completely different product to the rest of the AirPods range. For this reason we will discuss the Max model separately.)
All four non-Max models are wireless, sitting in your ears and in theory staying there through snugness of fit alone. The advantages of this are clear–they allow you to go running or work out without worrying about snagging the cables–but they may fall out once you pick up the pace. Our experience, however, is that the AirPods are among the best earbuds around in this regard.
The AirPods Pro offer a snugger fit than the others because they have a choice of flexible ear tips, and are actually able to tell you whether you’ve selected the right tip or not.
Sound quality is decent but not exceptional on the original and early-2019 models; the AirPods Pro are a step above thanks in part to their better fit and implementation of active noise cancellation. (We haven’t tested the 2021 AirPods’ audio quality yet, but Apple as ever talks a good game.) What AirPods consistently do better than non-Apple headphones is co-ordinate with other Apple products, thanks to the W1 chip (in the 2016 model) and H1 chip (2019 and 2021) which makes pairing with an iPhone a breeze.
Battery-wise, most non-Max AirPods will last around five hours, but that’s not the end of the story: they come with a little charging case with its own larger battery, so you can pop them back in for a rapid top up. The case should offer another 24 hours (give or take) before it’ll require charging. The 2021 AirPods, however, offer more in this department, with claimed figures of six hours out of the case and 30 hours in total. We’ve got some advice on getting better AirPods battery life.
Apple’s 2019 AirPods can respond to Hey Siri commands, charge wirelessly if you opt for the Wireless Charging Case, and offer more talk time than the originals. Those features are kept in the 2021 models, with Spatial Audio and Adaptive EQ added to the mix.
The AirPods Max are a lot more expensive and a totally different proposition. Audio quality is almost universally considered to be exceptional, but it’s debatable whether it’s exceptional enough to justify that premium price tag. And many reviewers have pointed out that the case is oddly designed, given that the one part of the headphones that it doesn’t protect–the mesh headband–is the one that’s most vulnerable to damage.
The AirPods Max are an appealing prospect, but unlikely to be practical for most budgets.