The second-generation AirPods are the cheapest way to get a pair of Apple’s truly-wireless earbuds, but are they still worth buying at $129?
The second-generation AirPods are the cheapest wireless earbuds sold by Apple, but are they still a good buy in 2022? The AirPods 2 debuted three years ago in 2019 as a follow-up to the widely-successful first-generation model. AirPods were initially criticized for a few different reasons — skeptics called the AirPods a solution to a problem Apple created by removing the headphone jack on iPhones, and the design was mocked by social media users — but by the time the second-gen model was released, AirPods were a hit. The second-gen model kept the same exact design as the original AirPods, but provided under-the-hood improvements.
The AirPods 3 were released back in October 2021, but Apple still sells the second-generation model at Apple Stores, its online store, and third-party retailers. It’s part of a market strategy employed across just about every one of Apple’s product lineups. The company continues to sell older hardware to keep the cost of entering the Apple ecosystem low. For example, the Apple Watch Series 3 remained in the lineup for years after launch and the 9th-generation iPad is sold alongside the newer 10th-generation variant. But just because Apple continues to sell an older product doesn’t mean it’s still good value.
The second-generation AirPods are at the bottom of Apple’s lineup of truly-wireless earbuds, starting at just $129. However, that price is still too high in 2022. The AirPods 2 feature technology that is three years old, and that’ll be noticeable to even the most casual users. Specifically, this model does not support wireless charging of any kind — let alone MagSafe charging — something that’s now become mainstream across the AirPods lineup.
What Should You Buy Instead Of AirPods 2?
The argument for wanting a pair of AirPods makes sense – users want spatial audio, water-resistance, longer battery life and more. The problem is that at $129, the second-gen AirPods don’t deliver on those features. For just $20 more, the Beats Studio Buds — which have the same Apple tech as the original AirPods Pro — check a lot more boxes than the second-gen AirPods. That means the Studio Buds have active noise-canceling, Spatial Audio, and one touch pairing. And although the earbuds don’t support wireless charging, they charge via a USB-C port on the case.
The feature gap is even greater when the AirPods 2 are compared to the AirPods 3, which cost $60 more at $169. This model features a redesign and adds Spatial Audio and wireless charging, but lacks active noise-canceling. People on a budget can find more value in third-party wireless earbuds at a much lower price than the $129 second-generation AirPods. Though it’s easy to look at the lowest priced pair of AirPods available and make a quick purchase, particularly for iPhone users, the value proposition of an item is important to consider. Three years later, it’s better to buy other earbuds — both above and below the $129 price point — than to grab an outdated pair of second-generation AirPods.
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