Are AirPods Worth It & Which AirPods Should You Buy?

What to Know

  • The base model AirPods offer great sound quality and work seamlessly with your Apple devices.
  • The AirPods Pro offer extra features like Noise Cancellation and Transparency modes.
  • AirPods Max are an over-the-ear headphone that offers studio quality sound and Noise Cancellation.

AirPods are undoubtedly the best wireless earbuds for iPhone users, due to their seamless integration and ease of use. You might be interested in picking up a pair of AirPods, but you’re unsure of which model to buy. That’s why we’ve put together this comparison of AirPods models to help you make an informed decision.

Jump To:

Are AirPods Worth It?

I love my AirPods because of how easy they are to use. You open the case, and they instantly connect to your iPhone. Not only that, but they also sound better than any other earbuds I’ve used in the past. Of course, this seemless integration and audio quality don't come cheap. In my opinion, AirPods are definitely worth the price, if you can afford them. But which AirPods should you buy? Let’s take a look at how each AirPods model compares one another. For more AirPods advice, be sure to check out our free Tip of the Day newsletter.

As of December 2023, there are three types of AirPods available from Apple: the base model AirPods (3rd Generation), the AirPods Pro (2nd Generation), and the AirPods Max.

iPhone Life
Discover your iPhone's hidden features
Get a daily tip (with screenshots and clear instructions) so you can master your iPhone in just one minute a day.

Base Model AirPods

The third-generation AirPods offer a high-quality listening experience, as well as Spatial Audio which makes listening more immersive. They also feature a touch-sensitive stem that can use multiple actions: press once to pause/play media, twice to skip forward, three times to go back one track, or press and hold for Siri. You can also use your voice to activate Siri.

You can also track your AirPods through Find My. You can track them one earbud at a time. Once you’ve found one and placed it in its case, you can then track the other bud.

AirPods Pro

The AirPods Pro, unlike the basic model, offers Noise Cancellation and a variety of other features, like Transparency mode. The design is a snug, in-ear fit with silicon tips. They also have longer-lasting battery life than the basic AirPods.

Transparency allows you to switch off Noise Canceling and filter sound so that you can hear everything around you. This is especially useful if you’re out on a walk and you need to stay aware of your surroundings instead of blocking out all sound. Transparency also adapts in real-time and can reduce loud sounds, like sirens or construction equipment.

The latest AirPods software also allows you to use Conversation Awareness with the AirPods Pro, which automatically lowers the volume if you start talking to someone.

Since the third-generation AirPods share a similar design to both AirPods Pro models, the same touch controls are present on the Pros: press once to pause/play media, twice to skip forward, and three times to go back one track. However, the AirPods Pro have additional controls. You can press and hold the stem to switch between Noice Canceling and Transparency mode. You can change the press and hold action to activate Siri if you desire. You can also swipe up and down on the stem to adjust the volume.

The last thing that separates the AirPods Pro from the other models is Find My. With the AirPods Pro, you can track both earbuds at the same time, as well as the case itself. The case also has a speaker so that you can use Find My to emit a tone, making it easier to find.

AirPods Max

The AirPods Max is very different from the other AirPods in that it is a wireless, over-the-ear headphone design, not earbuds. AirPods Max also offers studio-quality audio. It has similar features to the AirPods Pro, with Noise Cancellation and Transparency modes, as well as personalized spatial audio. While it does not have a charging case, it has the longest-lasting battery of any AirPods model at 20 hours of listening time.

Like the other models, you can also track AirPods Max with Find My.

What AirPods Are the Best?

If you’re considering getting a pair of AirPods, you should think carefully about your specific needs. All current AirPods models offer Spatial Audio and touch controls. However, if you want Noise Cancellation, go for either the AirPods Pro or AirPods Max. Then, if you want an over-ear design, the AirPods Max is an obvious choice, and if you want earbuds, the AirPods Pro makes more sense. If you don’t need or want any of the extra features offered by the Pros or Max, or you're looking for a lower-cost option, then the basic third-generation AirPods are best for you.


  • Which AirPods have noise canceling? The only AirPods with noise canceling are the 1st and 2nd generation AirPods Pro and AirPods Max. The basic models do not have noise canceling.
  • Is AirPods Pro 2nd gen worth it? This is an entirely personal preference. I love my AirPods Pro and think they’re worth it. I much prefer them to the basic AirPods because of the noise canceling and Transparency modes.
Images courtesy of
Master your iPhone in one minute a day: Sign up here to get our FREE Tip of the Day delivered right to your inbox.


Author Details

Rhett Intriago's picture

Author Details

Rhett Intriago

Rhett Intriago is a Feature Writer at iPhone Life, offering his expertise in all things iPhone, Apple Watch, and AirPods. He enjoys writing on topics related to maintaining privacy in a digital world, as well as iPhone security. He’s been a tech enthusiast all his life, with experiences ranging from jailbreaking his iPhone to building his own gaming PC.

Despite his disdain for the beach, Rhett is based in Florida. In his free time, he enjoys playing the latest games, spoiling his cats, or discovering new places with his wife, Kyla.