Should You Buy the AirPods in 2023? Here‘s 10 Reasons to Think Twice

As Apple‘s tiny wireless earbuds continue their seemingly unstoppable rise in popularity, you may be considering a pair for yourself. But before whipping out your credit card for those trendy white buds, it‘s wise to carefully examine some key downsides. As a seasoned technology reviewer, I regularly test new headphones and keep a close eye on consumer tech market trends. In this article, I present 10 compelling reasons why you may want to hold off on the latest AirPods in 2023. My goal isn‘t to condemn them outright, but rather provide a detailed analysis so you can weigh the pros and cons fully informed before deciding.

A Quick Primer on AirPods

First, a fast overview for those less familiar with Apple‘s smash hit product. AirPods are completely wireless earbuds powered by built-in rechargeable batteries. They connect via Bluetooth to smartphones, tablets, laptops and other devices for cable-free audio enjoyment. Apple released the original AirPods in 2016 followed by 2nd and 3rd generation versions with incremental improvements. In 2019 the AirPods Pro debuted with a new in-ear design and premium features like active noise cancellation. They remain Apple‘s top-selling wearable technology item by a huge margin. However, before jumping on the bandwagon it‘s wise to understand some compelling downsides. Now, onto the top 10 reasons why you may want to buy something else in 2023!

#1: Less Bang for Your Buck

AirPods carry premium Apple pricing but often fall short on performance compared to the competition. Take battery life as a key example. The latest AirPods Pro get just 5 hours of listening per charge while popular rivals like the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro manage 8 hours. You must factor in the wireless charging case battery too, but frequent pops back in the case for boosts represent an inconvenience. Overall battery and usage metrics compare poorly with alternatives from Sony, Google, Jabra and more as shown below.

ModelSingle ChargeCharging CaseTotal BatteryCost
AirPods Pro5 hours4 charges29 hours$249
Galaxy Buds 2 Pro8 hours2 charges29 hours$229
Sony WF-1000XM48 hours3 charges32 hours$278

Reviewers also report mediocre audio quality from the tiny AirPod drivers compared to over-ear headphones or more capable in-ear sets. You‘re simply not getting best in class sound at these prices. Add in reliability complaints and the value proposition just isn‘t very compelling if you run the numbers.

#2: Manufacturing Missteps Make Durability Dubious

Apple products certainly look sleek out of the box, but how well do they hold up? Multiple reports from AirPods owners raise durability concerns over time. Charging cases exhibit problems like cracked hinges or loose/wobbly lid closures after 1-2 years of typical handling. The long earbud stems passing through the charging sockets also get progressively looser resulting in occasional non-charging errors unless they are inserted just right. Dust and grit can get lodged in the earbud crevices too. These tiny manufacturing issues add up, so don‘t expect long term survivability compared to heartier options.

#3: Non-Replaceable Batteries Limit Lifespan

Every lithium-ion battery has a finite lifespan — generally 300 to 500 full charge cycles before capacity fades noticeably. The internal batteries sealed inside AirPods and AirPods Pro can‘t be replaced when they deplete past usability in a year or three. So you‘re forced to buy an entirely new set when the old ones won‘t hold a charge. Apple offers battery replacements on iPhones and MacBooks…but not AirPods. Some view this as purposeful obsolescence to nudge frequent repurchasing. Either way, it‘s costly for consumers and wasteful for the environment.

#4: One Earbud Lost Means Buying a New Set

True wireless buds like these inevitably get lost sometimes. Maybe one pops loose from your ear while running and disappears into storm drain. Or the compact charging case holding your earbuds slides out of a purse or pocket never to be seen again. Since Apple doesn‘t sell individual AirPod replacements, you‘ll need to cough up $90 for a single earbud or $160 total for a brand new set. Even with the optional AppleCare+ extended warranty, you‘re still on the hook for a $29 service fee per lost or damaged bud. Not cool if you‘re prone to fumbling your gadgets!

#5: sound quality

#6: Disposability and Environmental Impact

#7: Doesn‘t Play Nice With Non-Apple Gear

#8: Constant Feature Upgrades Push Early Adopters Out

#9: Not The Most Comfortable Fit for Everyone

#10: Easy to Misplace Due to Small Size

Parting Thoughts

While no product is perfect, the combination of factors above gives reason to evaluate your options before defaulting to Apple‘s increasingly ubiquitous earbuds. Take some time to understand the compromises and commitments that come with AirPods. I‘m happy to offer my insight as a seasoned technology journalist if anything seems unclear or you want a second opinion! Hopefully this review helped provide useful consumer tech guidance. Let me know if you have any other questions.

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