Apple AirPods are a superpopular iPhone accessory that have spurred a cottage industry of more accessories. Here are some of our top picks.
Updated Aug. 1, 2023 11:00 a.m. PT
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David CarnoyExecutive Editor / Reviews
Executive Editor David Carnoy has been a leading member of CNET's Reviews team since 2000. He covers the gamut of gadgets and is a notable reviewer of mobile accessories and portable audio products, including headphones and speakers. He's also an e-reader and e-publishing expert as well as the author of the novels Knife Music, The Big Exit and Lucidity. All the titles are available as Kindle, iBooks, Nook e-books and audiobooks.
ExpertiseMobile accessories and portable audio, including headphones, earbuds and speakersCredentials
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Apple AirPods are the best earbuds you can buy for an iPhone. When you buy a new pair of AirPods, you might think that all you need, but there's a litany of accessories that can bolster your listening experience. Supplementary cases and other compatible Apple AirPods add-ons can help overcome minor shortcomings (which, for some people, are huge shortcomings). The best AirPods accessories help your shiny new gadget stay in its original condition for months.
These picks for the best AirPods accessories are based on my own hands-on experience and are mostly cases (including one charging case) and earbud enhancements, with a few other interesting AirPod accessories I've found. Note that these top picks of AirPods accessories are based on the non-Pro, or standard, versions of the true wireless earbuds.
You can find cheaper knockoff versions of Catalyst's AirPods Case ($25), but the Catalyst is arguably the best AirPods rugged case you can buy. Not only does this act as a cover to protect your AirPods' case but it also makes your case 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.
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, the design is 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.
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.
The fidget-spinner craze may have come and gone, but the $25 ZenPod from Air Vinyl Design may help bring it back.
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 case 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 battery charging feature in a future version?
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 this wireless charging case costs $79, which seems a tad pricey for the ability to have an easy way to charge your earbuds, especially as no charging pad is included with this AirPods charging case. (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.
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.
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