Apple Airpods is the best-selling model of wireless headphones. Cost: at least 130 euros. Clones from China start at 6 euros. What can you?
UPDATE: Aldi will be selling true wireless headphones in Airpods look from May 28, 2020. The Maginon BIK-3 cost 25 euros in the store. While they are already sold out in many branches, the discounter is still selling them online. There, including shipping, a good 35 euros will be charged. This is still a very good price compared to the original Airpods. However, there are far cheaper alternatives, as this article shows.
Hardly any headphones are discussed anymore. Some smile at them as toothbrushes or microwaves in their ears, others are annoyed about the price and comfort. The fact is: no manufacturer sells as many true wireless headphones as Apple (AirPods: sales reportedly doubled in 2019). There are plenty of alternatives, as our guide shows: True wireless headphones under 100 euros in a comparison test.
Airpods from 1 to 3
After the Airpods (test report) and Airpods 2 (test report), the Pro version of the Airpods came onto the market in 2019. The biggest innovation in addition to price, optics, and noise-canceling: The Pro version now uses silicone plugs for the ear canal.
Anyone who previously bought Airpods and was dissatisfied with the fit had to fall back on accessories. We have that in our guide: The most important accessories for Apple Airpods also summarized. The classic Airpods in toothbrush look are not only still available, but also much cheaper and correspondingly popular. As is so often the case, this calls for cheap producers from the Far East.
You can get the Airpods clones for just one euro – plus shipping. At the price you shouldn’t expect anything or not much, that’s clear. The lousy counterfeit i7s TWS (test report) finished accordingly poorly with grade 5.
If you are looking for visually successful replicas, you can get something suitable for around 7 euros – including a Lightning socket. Here, too, the workmanship and sound are not premia, but the look doesn’t reveal anything. Clones like the TWS i12 are at least perfectly deceiving by far. And that is crucial: for 7 euros you can walk through the streets like with real Airpods. The ticket wins – that’s enough for some.
Not all clones are alike
Do you also get high-quality clones that can compete with the Airpods? No, at least not for less than 30 euros. There is a wide variety of replicas, they all go by the name TWS, which stands for True Wireless Sound, and depending on the generation, have i7, i8, or now i1000 as the abbreviation behind it.
The i12 TWS and i10 TWS are also good clones. The situation is similar here: the look of the i12 is close to the original. The charging case is a bit bigger, otherwise, everything is correct. In the case of the i10, it doesn’t really fit in with the look, but with the sound. In terms of prices, the models start at 25 euros. Other models like the i13, i20, and i200 have similar points of criticism.
Surprising: While the i1000 and i80 are recognized by iPhones as original Apple Airpods, the configuration screen is the same on the i12, although they are called i12 there. The i10 cannot be connected as is typical for Apple. Our model is not recognized, so we have to take the detour via the Bluetooth connection. Also surprising: the headphones have very different defects, which is probably due not least to the low price. The i10 like to continue playing music when they are already in the case, the i12 show spontaneous failures for a good two seconds.
Law and conscience
In addition to Amazon, eBay & Co., retail chains such as Mediamarkt also have replica Airpods in their range. There they are sometimes called differently and are significantly more expensive – such as the Corn Technology One style TWS-BT-V10 for 70 euros at Mediamarkt.
The fact is: As long as Apple isn’t on it somewhere, the logo has not been used or the Apple font is boldly printed as on the i1000, then consumers have little to fear. For buyers, the risk is manageable, because that exists solely for the manufacturer and the dealer. The worst-case scenario is the loss of warranty rights.
But then the question of one’s own conscience still arises. Who would agree that their own idea is stolen – their own lyrics, the concept for an innovation? Those who buy fakes have to accept this aftertaste.
Yes, there are confusingly similar AirPods clones. And yes, they only cost around seven to twelve euros if you order in the China shop. But no model is really good. If you really only want to show off with optics, you should drive best with the currently affordable i12.
If you expect good sound and can do without fakes, you should read through our comparison test: True wireless headphones for less than 100 euros. Here it starts at 35 euros – for independent products with sometimes surprising sound quality. If you are looking for headphones without silicone, you will find a wide selection in our guide: In-ear headphones without rubber tips. The bottom line is to say:
Fakes are worse than the original, always. Not to mention the legal gray areas.