Why do you need an accessory for an accessory? Well, when it's one of the most popular products around like Apple's AirPods, it tends to create its own accessory ecosystem, complete with supplementary cases and that help overcome minor shortcomings that may be major for some people.
Here's a quick look at some of our top picks of AirPod accessories, based on my own hands-on experience with each product mentioned over the past few weeks and months. They're mostly cases and earbud enhancements, with a few other interesting things I've found.
Note:a new set of AirPods called the . Read our in-depth here. These top picks of AirPod accessories are based on the non-Pro or standard versions of the true wireless earbuds. I'll be adding more picks as new AirPod accessories appear and will put together a separate round-up of AirPods Pro accessories.
You can find cheaper knockoff versions of Catalyst's AirPods Case ($25), but the Catalyst is arguably the best AirPods rugged case you can purchase. Not only does it protect your AirPods' own case but it also makes it fully waterproof. Another key feature: The bundled carabiner lets you strap the case onto a belt loop or backpack or use it as a keychain case to help keep your wireless earbuds from getting lost. The case is available in a few different color options, including a glow-in-the-dark version and special Apple Store only colors for $5 more. Read more.
This accessory solves two AirPod issues with one accessory. AhaStyle's Earbuds Ear Hooks integrate a sport fin with earbuds and turn the "open" AirPods into a noise-isolating design that helps keep ambient sound out and improves bass performance of the wireless earbuds.
You get two fins -- small and large -- both of which have the same size ear tip, which is on the small side. I wasn't able to achieve a tight seal with the included ear tip (it would be good if medium and large tips were included) but there was enough of a seal to improve bass performance and the overall sound of the AirPods. It's also worth noting that a small silicone carrying case is included that you can attach to a keychain.
When I first saw the name of this accessory, I thought it was for the AirPods Pro. But Speck's first AirPods case is actually for the standard AirPods. While it's somewhat pricey at $30, it's better than many AirPods cases, with a hard plastic shell rather than the soft silicone finish of the Catalyst cases. The loop where the included carabiner connects to the case is more durable than the loop on the Catalyst case.
Some people find AirPods fit so securely in their ears that they can run with them. But other ears, like mine, aren't perfect AirPod receptacles. And that's where silicone cover options come in, including many that feature integrated earhooks or "sport fins."
I've used the EarBuddyz, which now come in a version 2.0, but you can find plenty of other similar options, including ones from AhaStyle and others that work with both EarPods and AirPods. They all cost around $10 for two or three sets of hooks.
The only issue is that to get the AirPods back in their case you have to remove the fins and store them somewhere. That's a nuisance, and you might want to invest in a case that fits both the AirPods and EarBuddyz. The new AhaStyle ear hooks come with a little carrying pouch for the hooks but not for your AirPods. Read more.
The EarBuddyz Ultra are similar to the AhaStyle option (they might have been made in the same factory) -- and cost the same price ($14). They do come with three sizes of ear tips instead of two. I would have liked for an XL tip to be included. The large tip didn't create a tight seal for me, but it did create some noise-isolation and improve the bass performance of the AirPods.
Yes, this is the first spinning case for your AirPods, and it's frankly kind of ingenious. Available in three color options, the ZenPod has precision bearings on each side of the leather case that give it that spin factor that we've all secretly craved.
Alas, this leather case doesn't add wireless charging capabilities to your AirPods case (where is that new case, Apple?), so it's not totally zen, but who knows -- maybe we'll see that feature in a future version? Read more.
Apple's new $249 AirPods Pro comes with a wireless charging case, but Apple also sells a wireless case separately for customers of the first-generation AirPods. The only issue is that it costs $79 (though you can currently find it for $69 on Amazon), which seems a tad pricey for the ability to have an easy way to charge your earbuds, especially as no charging pad is included. (The Belkin pictured here is an additional $45.)
Made of rugged leather and equipped with a snap closing system, as well "loss-prevention" clip, Twelve South's AirSnap leather case is a little bit of a different take on an AirPods case. It's available in three color options in leather for $35.
What do you do if you want to use your AirPods with an in-flight entertainment system or the TV built into a machine at the gym that requires a wired connection? Well, one workaround is buying a relatively inexpensive Bluetooth transmitter that you can plug into any 3.5mm audio jack. There are several transmitters available from TaoTronics and other little-known brands (I tried the TaoTronics). They cost $25-$35.
To pair your AirPods with a transmitter you have to turn off the Bluetooth on your phone (or just put it into AirPlane mode), put your AirPods in their case, hold down the Bluetooth button on the transmitter until it goes into pairing mode and then hit the pairing button on the AirPods case.
Why would we put a set of wired earbuds in a roundup of AirPod accessories? Well, if you don't shell out for a Bluetooth transmitter (about $30), you won't be able to use your AirPods on a plane to watch in-flight entertainment. Of course, you could ante up for an expensive set of noise-canceling headphones (you can see our top noise-canceling picks here), but it doesn't hurt to have a cheap, durable, good-sounding pair of wired headphones on hand. We've always liked the Panasonic ErgoFit RP-HJE120 earphones, which cost less than $9.
- See the best truly wireless headphones: AirPods and their top competitors
This article was originally published on March 2, 2019.