As convenient as AirPods are, they’re not perfect. There are plenty of valid complaints to be made about the product be it about fit, isolation, or the lack of a waterproof build. As is the case with anything, there are some features that would undoubtedly make them a better product overall. We hoped for some of them to be resolved when the AirPods 2 came out, but these issues are still just as annoying to deal with as the day the product was announced. Luckily, there’s a booming accessory market aimed at fixing some of the pain points. So whether you’ve had AirPods since their release date or just got a pair for the holidays, these are the best AirPods accessories out there.
Editor’s note: this list of the best AirPods accessories was updated on October 13, 2020, to address sale prices for the Nomad Rugged Case.
Want a better fit? Get Earhoox
Our biggest complaint when it comes to the AirPods is fit. Like the EarPods, Apple’s true wireless buds take a one-size-fits-all approach. Unfortunately, one size does not fit all. While they fit so well on some people that they can use their AirPods in the gym, others (myself included) are stuck living a life of being constantly aware of the earbuds perched precariously in my ear. If that sounds like you, you should probably get the Earhoox 2.0. These are small, sweat-resistant, silicone ear tips similar to those that come with the Jaybird X4 that ensure these won’t fall out of your ears.
To make your case water-resistant, pick up the Catalyst case
You’ve probably been raised to know that electronics and water don’t mix, but that really isn’t the case anymore. Everything from smartphones to Bluetooth speakers has some sort of protection against water nowadays, which is why it’s so annoying that the AirPods aren’t in that conversation. If you get stuck in a bad rainstorm or fall in a pool with these in your pocket, you’re out of luck. That’s where the Catalyst case comes in. It’s a watertight silicone case that you can keep around the charging case to protect your investment from water damage.
AirPower may be nowhere in sight, but you can still get a nice dock
elago AirPods Stand
If you watched live on the day that the AirPods were announced, you’ll know that Apple also announced a sleek wireless charging station for your Apple accessories. It would charge your watch, phone, and AirPods all at once. It seemed too good to be true and seeing as it still hasn’t been released two years later, it was. That hasn’t stopped other companies from making a few sleek charging docks for your AirPods, though, including this one from Elago, which costs less than $15. We’re not sure what the AirPower one would have cost, but it’s safe to assume it wouldn’t have been this cheap.
Don’t lose your AirPods with this cable from Spigen
Spigen AirPods Strap
When it comes to true wireless earbuds, losing one is a real concern. This isn’t just true with AirPods, but of all makes and models. Luckily for AirPod owners, there’s an inexpensive solution to this problem which comes in the form of this cable from Spigen. It securely attaches to each AirPod to keep them from falling to oblivion if they fall out of your ears and can be conveniently wrapped around the charging case when not in use. Whether you use your AirPods during your commute and don’t want them falling down a drain or only use them at the gym and are tired of chasing a single Pod every time it falls out, this simple solution might be for you.
Show some style with this leather case from Nomad
Nomad Rugged Case
If you have no problem with how the AirPods fit or how you use them, then maybe just spice them up with a bit of style. The Nomad Rugged Case is made of vegetable tanned leather that has no purpose other than making your AirPods charging case look stylish and unique. It comes in both black and brown color options and like all premium leather products, will patina nicely over time the more you use it.
The Nomad Rugged Case usually sells $29.95, however the company has recently been offering it for just under $10. If you’re looking to class-up your AirPods, be sure to snag this one for 60% off while you still can!
What you should know about the best AirPods accessories
AirPods are easily lost, fragile, and not very long-lasting, so there have been a lot of accessories sold online to try to address these shortcomings. However, there’s a lot of crap on Amazon—and it’s not always easy to tell what’s good and not. That’s why we generally recommend that you buy officially-licensed accessories. But with Apple doubling-down and refusing to help its users out, they’re forced to turn to the likes of us for help.
What is the H1 chip?
Part of what makes the AirPods so good is all due to Apple’s own H1 chip, and its 2nd-gen successor the W1 chip. It’s not the only product to have this brawn, with the newer offerings from Beats also having the H1 chip inside, but the effects are more evident with the AirPods. You can dig deeper into what exactly this chip does in our full explainer, but we’ll go over the basics here. In short, if your phone has a H1 chip (newer iPhones) as well as the headphones, some of the struggles of Bluetooth can be handed off to the W1 chip to lighten the load. Therefore, the Bluetooth connection is stronger, power management is more efficient, and you’re able to connect quickly and seamlessly between devices.
Why true wireless connectivity is so bad
One of the biggest reasons the AirPods are so convenient is because you rarely have to deal with a dropped connection thanks to the W1 chip. That’s one of the biggest issues plaguing true wireless earbuds. Apple had to literally make a brand new chip just to get around this and it still doesn’t play nice with Android users. While there are some other options that get the connectivity thing right (like the Master & Dynamic MW07 earbuds and the Earin M-2), the AirPods still do it the best assuming you have an iPhone. That said, there are plenty of companies trying to solve this issue, so expect improvements in this category coming this year.
If you’re thinking of buying ear tips for the AirPods, think again…
Although there are a lot of accessory manufacturers that sell ear tips for other earbuds, you won’t find any for the AirPods. This is due to Apple’s one-size-fits-all approach to design, which neglects the use of ear tips. This decision is what contributes to the AirPod’s poor isolation performance, and its tendency to fall out of some people’s ears.
If you’re willing to spend some extra cash, consider investing in the Apple AirPods Pro, which feature ear tips for improved isolation—in addition to active noise cancellation.
Related: Apple AirPods Pro vs Apple AirPods
Do the AirPods support wireless charging?
The AirPods only support Qi-Wireless charging if you pay the extra $40 upfront for the wireless charging case. If you have the standard case but want the convenience of wireless charging, you can buy the official wireless charging case on Amazon for about $65. That being said, if you know you’re gonna want to use wireless charging eventually, you might as well pay the Apple tax early, since hindsight is going to cost you more than a pretty penny or two.
If you already own the AirPods wireless charging case, a great and inexpensive wireless charging pad to consider would be the Anker PowerWave Pad. It delivers up to 10W of power to charge other devices than AirPods, and has a slip-resistant surface to ensure that your gadgets don’t just slide off while charging.
How to use AirPods accessories
When buying extra goodies for your AirPods, you want to make sure that you’re using them properly. This is especially true if you’re buying accessories that deal with the fit of your AirPods, which can drastically affect your listening experience. Imagine buying a pair of Earhoox, only to have the earbuds fall out because you didn’t install them correctly. If you’re buying a charging dock, imagine plugging it into a wall and having it accidentally short out—all because you plugged it into a socket with too much voltage.
Fortunately, many accessories are designed to be easy-to-use, with technical issues like checking power requirements becoming less of a concern. However, whatever you buy, it’s always a good idea to read the manufacturer’s instructions regarding proper use and care, ensuring that your investments last as long as possible.
AirPods aren’t the only good true wireless buds
Even though you probably have already settled on getting a pair of AirPods (or maybe you already have a pair), there are still other options that you should be aware of as well. We have an entire list ready of true wireless earbuds that you might prefer if you want something that looks a little sleeker, has better sound quality, or even something with some active noise cancellation so you can block out the world around you. The AirPods might have made this category mainstream, but they’re not the only good pair of true wireless buds.
Next: Best Beats alternatives
Frequently Asked Questions
Although the Earhoox 2.0 can help your AirPods better stay in your ears, it still wouldn't be the best idea to use your AirPods at the gym—even if this is common amongst users. This is because the AirPods are not water or sweat resistant, meaning that depending on your workout, you run the risk of damaging your earbuds. If you're in need of a pair of workout earbuds, consider investing in a reliable pair that is guaranteed to keep up with you. If you want to stick in the Apple ecosystem, consider the AirPods Pro or Beats Powerbeats Pro, both of which are water resistant.
No, it won't interfere with the Bluetooth performance of your AirPods.
Unfortunately, no. This is because the AirPods Pro features a redesigned charging case that differs from its non-pro variant.
We've compiled a list of the best alternatives to AirPods, which you can find here.