If you’re a music lover, then you’ve probably already thought long and hard about which pair of wireless earbuds to go with. AirPods have been the go-to for a while now, but you’re probably wondering, are there options out there that are better than AirPods?
Unfortunately, it’s largely the case these days, especially for iPhone users, that you’re going to have to grab a pair of wireless headphones if you want to enjoy your music in a higher fidelity. Most companies just aren’t making wired earbuds anymore, which has jacked up the prices of these devices.
The good news is that most of these wireless earbuds are pretty good. In this post, we’re going to be comparing AirPods, Google Pixel Buds, and Beats Fit Pro against one another. In my mind, these are the three most cost-effective and popular options you can go with. I’m not saying they’re the best, of course. But for the price, they’re pretty great for the average user who wants to listen to their music on the go.
Better than AirPods: Three big names in wireless audio
Before we dive too deep into the differences between these devices (and determine if any are better than AirPods), let’s quickly cover what each of these devices is. That way, we’re all starting on the same page.
What are AirPods?
I would be surprised if anyone reading this post doesn’t know what AirPods are, but just in case, here’s a recap.
The first generation of AirPods was launched in 2016, alongside the iPhone 7. I know – they’re already seven years old! These wireless earbuds launched alongside the iPhone 7 because that’s the year that Apple removed the headphone jack from its iPhone lineup. The AirPods were presented as the solution to this problem.
For whatever reason, AirPods didn’t really explode onto the scene until 2018-2019. It took people a while to warm up to them, but once they did, AirPods quickly became one of the most popular products that Apple had ever released.
Put simply, AirPods are the standard for wireless earbuds. They’re elegant, simple, easy to use, relatively comfortable, provide decent sound quality, and connect to and switch between Apple devices seamlessly. The standard AirPods are nothing exceptional, and in my opinion they’re actually pretty overpriced. Still, they’re rock solid.
What are Google Pixel Buds?
A year after Apple’s AirPods launched, Google released the Pixel Buds to go along with its Pixel phone. And, sadly, these things kind of had a rough launch.
They launched with a cable connecting them, which people were not crazy about. And they boasted cutting-edge features (like live translation) that didn’t really pan out so much in practice.
Still, over the years Pixel Buds have improved. They’re now truly wireless, have a pretty unique design to AirPods, and solid in their own way. They’re nowhere near as popular as AirPods, but there’s probably at least one Android user in your life who has a pair.
Despite having a different design and slightly different features, Google’s Pixel Buds are more or less the same as AirPods. They’re just the Android flavor.
What are Beats Fit Pro?
That brings us to the next pair of headphones that might be better than AirPods, and that’s the Beats Fit Pro. For those that don’t know, Beats is a headphone company that was launched by the musical artist Dre. Eventually, Apple bought up the company and is now responsible for manufacturing, designing, and shipping these things.
That’s right, one of the alternatives to AirPods is actually a totally distinct wireless earbud that is still made by Apple.
Despite both of these devices being produced by Apple, though, they are actually pretty different. Beats Fit Pro and the rest of the Beats lineup features a pretty distinct style and appeal. Where AirPods go for a neutral, Apple-y look, Beats Fit Pro really have a panache of their own. They’re more fun, sporty, and all around cool. And in general, they hold up pretty well in a comparison with AirPods products, sometimes offering more bang for your buck.
Better than AirPods: Comparing three great pairs of wireless headphones
Alright, now that we have an idea of the wireless earbuds we’re going to be comparing, it’s time to start stacking them up against each other to see if any are better than AirPods.
The one caveat to this comparison is that I am not really an audiophile. I would consider myself a serious music fan – I probably listen to music 6-8 hours a day and go through several new albums each week. But when it comes to audio, I really just ask that the experience isn’t tinny, weak, or filled with static.
None of these devices are going to provide a music listening experience at that low of a level, but they’re not going to blow your mind, either. These are just solid earbuds, and not much more. It’s the comfort, wireless features, etc., that we’re going to be comparing in this post.
AirPods work seamlessly with other Apple products
Perhaps the biggest benefit that Apple’s earbuds have in their favor (and it’s a key reason that few wireless headphones are better than AirPods) is their integration with Apple products.
You can pretty much use AirPods with any Apple product that produces sound. Mac, iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, Apple Watch – these all connect to AirPods quite easily. If you’ve never owned a pair of AirPods, then you’ll probably find that setting them up feels like magic.
To do so, you just open the AirPods in their new case a few inches from your iPhone. A popup will appear on your iPhone asking if you want to connect to these AirPods. You tap yes, they connect, and you’re done! You can start listening to music within about thirty seconds of opening up your AirPods.
AirPods also switch between Apple devices automatically. So say your AirPods are connected to your iPhone, then you start playing a video on your iPad. The music on your iPhone will pause, the headphones will connect to your iPad, and you’ll be able to hear that video on your AirPods. Admittedly, it’s a little finicky sometimes, but when it works, it’s pretty cool.
So yeah, no surprise here – AirPods work great with Apple products. They work just fine with other brands, too. You can use them with an Android or Windows computer, so long as those devices have Bluetooth connectivity. But you’ll miss out on some of the magic.
Beats Fit Pro offer more features at a (somewhat) friendlier price
If you’re familiar with the Beats lineup of wireless earbuds, then you may find it strange that the Beats Fit Pro made their way onto this article. That’s because, technically, they’re the premium version of Beats, whereas we’re just looking at the standard AirPods and Pixel Buds.
The reason I’m bringing in the premium version of Beats is that these things are pretty closely priced to the starting prices for AirPods and Google Pixel Buds. That’s actually one of the reasons that the Beats Fit Pro might be better than AirPods.
For around the same price range, the Beats Fit Pro offer additional features such as active noise cancelling, transparency mode, seven color options, and spatial audio, as well as the standard features that come with all of Apple’s headphones. That’s thanks to these being manufactured by Apple.
In short, the Beats Fit Pro cost just a bit more than a regular pair of AirPods, but are packed with way more features.
Google Pixel Buds are the “Android version” of AirPods
In all honesty, there isn’t too much that makes the Pixel Buds better than AirPods. They’re simply better at being AirPods for Android than AirPods are. AirPods work with Android, but all of their best features are reserved for Apple devices.
The Pixel Buds, on the other hand, provide a lot of those features for Android users. They just work, they’re customizable, and they’re easy to connect to. They’re solid.
For that reason, a lot of Android users are probably going to want to go with the Pixel Buds, even if AirPods hold a little more prestige and popularity.
Both AirPods and Google Pixel Buds have a one-size-fits-all approach
Speaking of the similarities between Pixel Buds and AirPods, these devices are both relatively low on customization. Sure, you can customize the controls a bit. And Pixel Buds users will be able to fine-tune their audio settings a bit (more on that in a bit).
But overall, when it comes to both of these wireless earbuds, what you see is what you get. If they’re not comfortable in your ears, or you don’t like the limited color options – oh well!
IF you shop around, you’ll find that the majority of wireless headphones in this price range aren’t nearly as limited. Even Apple offers pricier options that come with more flavors. It’s just these default headphones that, for the price, are kind of limited when it comes to options.
Beats come in a variety of styles and prices, giving you more options
The Beats Fit Pro, on the other hand, are pretty customizable, From the look to the settings to the way they fit in your ears – you have a pretty solid level of control over it all.
Again, this makes them seem more appealing when it comes to comparing price tags. They aren’t as iconic as these other headphones, but they’re definitely worthy of being in the conversation of earbuds that are better than AirPods.
If you’re someone who values flexibility or who simply doesn’t find the Pixel Buds or AirPods comfortable, then you may want to give the Beats Fit Pro a shot.
Android users will have more settings and options when using Google Pixel Buds
I mentioned this briefly in an earlier section, but the Google Pixel Buds allow you to fine-tune your listening experience. Even though the physical earbuds are one-size-fits-all, you can customize what your audio sounds like. This is something that not even the priciest AirPods offer. Apple basically decides how the music is going to sound for you, and that’s the end of it.
With Pixel Buds, on the other hand, you can dig into the settings in the Pixel Buds app and mess with the EQ settings, increasing or decreasing qualities like bass and such.
This allows you to get a more precise or accurate sound, or simply a sound that is more preferable to you. If that’s something you really value, then the Pixel Buds might be better than AirPods for your needs.
Better than AirPods: Which should you buy?
Alright, now we’ve covered the pros and cons of each of these devices. Now, it’s time to really see if either of these is better than AirPods, or if AirPods reigns supreme.
It’s probably not surprising, but from what I can tell, these devices are largely comparable. It really comes down to what you’re looking for in a pair of wireless headphones.
If you’re an Apple user, go with AirPods
I hate to say it, but it really is that simple. I can’t really see why anyone who primarily uses Apple devices would go with Pixel Buds over AirPods. They’re more optimized in basically every way, they fit in with the rest of your Apple products, and they’ll work in a way that is comfortable and familiar.
Additionally, you’ll have an easier time troubleshooting problems, selling them, and getting them repaired. This is all due to the popularity of AirPods, particularly among Apple users.
So yeah, while these may not be the most robust or feature-packed pair of wireless earbuds, they’re certainly great. There’s a reason they’ve been the go-to for several years now, and it’s why it’s hard to find a pair of earbuds that you can confidently say are better than AirPods.
If you’re an Android user, go with Google Pixel Buds
Conversely, if you’re an Android user, then go ahead with Pixel Buds. While I don’t necessarily think they’re any worse or better than AirPods, they are better suited to the Android platform. You’ll have an easier time using and personalizing your wireless earbud experience.
The only real instance where I would recommend Android users don’t go with Pixel Buds (or where Apple users shouldn’t go with AirPods) is if they aren’t comfortable to you.
As mentioned, both Pixel Buds and AirPods are one-size-fits-all. So if you don’t like the way they feel in your ears, you should probably grab a different pair of earbuds.
If you want a budget-friendly, stylish, and high-quality option, go with Beats Fit Pro
Lastly, while I don’t necessarily think Beats Fit Pro are better than AirPods, they’re probably better for most people. They’re more affordable, are going to sound the same, will last just as long, and will be just as seamless with your Apple devices.
While I love my AirPods Max, if I decide to grab a pair of earbuds over my headphones, I’ll probably end up going with a pair of Beats. They’re just better for the price. And they’re a lot more fun to wear and style.
So my suggestion is basically:
- Apple users should grab AirPods for simplicity
- Apple users should grab Beats for more bang for their buck
- Android users are probably better off with Google Pixel Buds
Are any of these wireless earbuds better than AirPods?
And that’s it! Those are my thoughts on the wireless headphones that have a chance at being better than AirPods. In short, these are all pretty on par. It really comes down to the device you’re pairing these Bluetooth earbuds with than the earbuds themselves.
For more insights, news, and guides on all things Apple, check out the rest of the AppleToolBox blog.
See you next time!
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