AirPods Wired vs Wireless – Which is Better?

AirPods are popular wearable technology that lets you to music and audio on the go. And since its first release in 2016, they’ve improved the device more and more. Now, you have the choice of AirPods wired vs wireless.

Choosing between wireless and wired AirPods can be challenging. After all, they don’t have many differences! But despite that, AirPods have such different price points!

This post discusses the in-depth differences between AirPods wired and wireless to help you see which suits your best.

What are AirPods?

a pair of AirPods tossed by a hand

AirPods, whether the oldest model or the latest one, are wireless Bluetooth earbuds. But don’t confuse them with the classic Earpods, as even the 2016 AirPods model is wireless! 

Apple designed these wireless earbuds to work on iPhones and iPads. Despite that, most AirPods also work on other gadgets, regardless of the brand. After all, they’re Bluetooth audio devices, making them quite flexible.

Even if Apple provides free wired earbuds with their products, consider getting AirPods. After all, they offer many advantages unique to them.

How is AirPods Different than Regular Earbuds?

Since the first iPhone release in 2007, Apple has added wired earbuds to their products. And if you’ve owned any iOS device, you’ve likely used them! Since they’re wired earbuds, they have a built-in Y-connection to an audio connector or jack. That’s where you plug the earbuds into your phone.

But during the release of the iPhone 7, Apple halted the conventional headphone jack. And now, their wired earbuds come with a unique lighting port connector. Those came with a built-in media controller, allowing you to play, pause, skip, or adjust the volume.

Still, despite all those upgrades, the wires were an inconvenience to most. And in 2016, Apple released the first AirPods, which were 100% wireless devices. They have no cables and don’t connect. Instead, both earbuds have individual Bluetooth radios that pair with other Bluetooth-abled devices.

With this, you’ll be able to listen to your music or audio on the go and don’t need to worry about tangles! You can pause the music by tapping on the earbuds, bringing you to the next track without opening your phone.

An In-Depth Lookin into AirPods Features

So far, Apple’s released four AirPods, with the first released in 2016. They have similar looks but have crucial differences, explaining their price differences.

The first AirPods used Apple’s W1 wireless chip, while the latest ones have newer chipsets. With this, the succeeding AirPods work faster and sound better. But despite that, all AirPods include an accelerometer. It senses the user’s gestures via optical sensors, letting them know if they’re in your ears.

Moreover, all AirPods have built-in mics made for calls using Apple’s AI, Siri. 

But the charging method is the most significant difference between the older AirPods and the newer ones. All AirPods came with charging cases, but the first generation had a wired charging case. That means you still need to plug the device into an outlet to recharge the AirPods. Meanwhile, the newer ones come with wireless charging cases.

How AirPods Work 

Begin by connecting the AirPods to your chosen device and adjust the volume level to your liking. And since AirPods have set designs for the left and right ear, you need to see which earbud is for what ear. Either way, AirPods earbuds have “L” and “R” printed for your convenience. 

Once you figure out which piece is for what ear, insert them in your ears with the stem pointing down. The device should squeeze in your ear’s notch for a snug fit.

AirPods don’t have power control since they have built-in accelerometers and optical sensors. These let the earbuds know once you’ve inserted them into your ears. As a result, they should be ready to work and play your chosen track or audio ASAP!

Aside from that, most AirPods can also pause audio whenever you remove them from your ears.

Still, as similar as AirPods are, the different models have unique functions such as:

  • Old AirPods (1st generation model). You need to double-tap one of the earbuds to wake Siri, the built-in AI, and have it perform tasks. 
  • New AirPods (2, 3, and 4). Double-tap one of the earbuds to skip audio or track. And to wake Siri, say, “Hey Siri,” like your other iOS devices.

AirPods Wired vs Wireless (A Detailed Comparison)

airpods wired vs wireless (infographic)

Airpods wired vs wireless? Which to get? To find the better pair for your unique sound needs, check out the differences between the two:

AirPods Wired vs Wireless Features:

Energy Connection

Wired AirPods have regular charging cases that need a direct connection to an outlet. It would be best if you plugged them in via a lightning connector to recharge the earbuds. 

Meanwhile, wireless AirPods have unique charging cases without a charging port. They often have built-in Qi-charging components. And that’s why they come with a Qi-compatible charging mat and lightning cable (for the charging mat). 

Charging Case Performance

AirPods wired vs wireless charging cases work well. 

Wired AirPods have charging cases with built-in charging ports. You can recharge the earbuds via a direct connection to your electrical outlet. At most, you only need to wait up to an hour to charge your AirPods to 100%. 

Meanwhile, wireless AirPods have cases without a built-in charging port. Instead, they have built-in Qi-compatible components. But as space-saving and convenient as this is, it isn’t the fastest. At most, you need to wait at least 2 to 3 hours to charge your AirPods to 100%. 

If speed matters to you, go for wired AirPods as they charge faster — there’s no competition!


Wireless AirPods are more convenient than their wired counterparts. After all, you’ll be dealing with 0 cables, and all you need to do is place the case on the Qi charging mat. And despite the long waiting time, you don’t need to think about finding a cable. 

How much you need to charge your AirPods determines how convenient they are. Generally, charging your earbuds once should be enough for wired and wireless cases in a day. But if you use your AirPods often, recharging twice a day should be enough. 


Since wireless AirPods use more advanced technology, they tend to be more expensive. Meanwhile, if you’re looking for wireless earbuds and don’t mind the charging case’s cable needs, wired AirPods are your best bet! 


Wired and wireless AirPods have a 1-year warranty on their charging cases. So, it doesn’t matter if you have a wired or wireless charging case since both offer the same coverage. 

A Summary

Wired AirPods

Wired AirPods are the best on charging speed since they connect via an outlet directly. The lightning connector lets you connect the charging port to your electrical outlet. But this cable can be inconvenient, especially if you travel often. 

And wired AirPods are more limited since they can only get recharged via a lightning cable. The trouble of looking for a lightning connector whenever you need to charge your AirPods can be a bother. 

The cable often gets lost in the house, at the office, in your car — there’s no in-between!

Highlights: Wired AirPods
  • Wired Airpods are cheaper than their wireless counterpart.
  • They charge faster since they connect via a cable to an outlet.
  • Despite being an older model, Wired AirPods still rock the same design as the wireless.
  • The wire isn’t too long and intruding, allowing you to bring it on the go.
Who It’s For? 
  • Individuals who don’t mind carrying a cable around.
  • Those who prefer wired devices. 
  • People who already have a lightning cable.

Wireless AirPods

Although wireless Airpods are more expensive than their wired counterparts, they make up for it through convenience. After all, these don’t need any wire — everything’s wireless! It’s incredibly convenient, eliminating the need for cables and making your space neater. 

Aside from that, some wireless AirPods models also have a wired charging option. So, you can still charge your earbuds if you get stuck in a predicament without your charging Qi mat. 

Highlights: Wireless AirPods
  • Most wireless AirPods models allow wired charging, promoting better flexibility. 
  • They’re ideal for avid travelers since they don’t need cables.
  • Excellent design, guaranteeing clutter-free charging.
  • Wireless AirPods are 100% portable, allowing you to charge on the go as long as you have a Qi charging mat.
Who It’s For?
  • Individuals who prefer dabbling in the latest technology.
  • People who are already using other wireless devices. 
  • Those who don’t mind splurging on quality earbuds.

Which AirPods to Get?

man wearing one AirPod piece on his left ear

If you’re struggling to decide between wired and wireless AirPods, here’s how to pick the best one for you:

✔️ Check the Cost

As cheap as wired AirPods are, they aren’t as convenient as the newer wireless models. And even if they charge faster, the earbuds quality of the wireless models is better. 

The lightning connection makes it hard to charge the wired AirPods when you’re on the go. After all, it requires you to connect it to an outlet to recharge the earbuds.

And remember, top quality doesn’t often come cheap, so prepare to pay a lot.

✔️ Know the Codecs

See which codecs your chosen wired or wireless AirPods support. The older models often only work with SBC, a codec with limited transmission speed. It’s incapable of supporting high-resolution audio. As a result, you get flatter sounds that don’t sound as good as the newer codecs.

For AirPods, I recommend checking to see if the earbuds can support AAC. And though they can also help SBC, AAC guarantees better quality sounds. So, getting AirPods that only work with the former wastes money and time.

✔️ Determine Which Ear Tips You Prefer

When searching for AirPods, one of the most crucial things to consider is ear tips. Choosing too small or shallow ones can’t form a sturdy steal with your ear canal. As a result, you get flat and terrible sounds. You’ll also hear more external noises than the one you’re playing from your playlist!

Unfortunately, AirPods don’t have the best ear tips, which can be offputting. Their seals are below average as they need to get stored in a charging case when not in use. So, their ear tips don’t provide much of a snug fit within the depression where the earbuds sit. 

That means you won’t be able to close the charging case’s lid if the earbuds have large ear tips. So, to guarantee an excellent deal, you must ensure the AirPods come with separate ear tips. These should come in different sizes to help you find which pair would fit your ears best. With this, you’ll be able to guarantee an efficient seal!

Aside from that, some wireless AirPods also come with a minuscule ear-fin. It helps keep the earbuds in your ear, guaranteeing an effective seal. 

✔️ See How Crucial is Battery Life for You 

The older wired AirPods might charge faster, but they don’t have as long battery life as the newer models. The latter can last you between 3 and 5 hours in one go. But if you use the AirPods sparingly, they should last up to 15 hours.

AirPods charging cases have a battery that holds enough charge to top up earbuds 3x to 4x before the charging case itself needs recharging.

Doing this increases their charge via the built-in battery running throughout the case. 

Generally, you can expect to knock off approximately 20% of the set figure. So, if a pair of AirPods has a 12 to 15-hour playtime, remember, it’s not for continual use! Or it isn’t on one charge. Ideally, you must know how long you can use the AirPods before you need to recharge them. 

Doing so helps you see how convenient the AirPods will be, especially if you’re going to use them often. 

✔️ The Easier the Controls, the Better 

Wireless AirPods can have a control pad or button built into the earbuds. Here, you can tap or double-tap to control the volume, skip tracks, take calls, or issue a voice command. And these are the most effortless controls you should find on AirPods. 

Older AirPods models can be more complicated to use despite having fewer controls. For instance, the first generation only lets you activate Siri via a double tap. And as convenient as it is to tell Siri what to do, it’s better to do it yourself with one or two fixtures. 

You’ll still need your phone nearby to do more complicated tasks, such as skipping tracks or adjusting volume levels.

So, you can see why controls are a crucial element when choosing AirPods. Remember, pick the best pair with responsive and convenient controls.

✔️ Check the Noise Canceling Quality of the AirPods 

Noise-canceling is incredibly crucial to the AirPods’ sound quality. And the newer models offer built-in noise-canceling features so powerful that they can block off even the loudest external noises like a drone or plane engine. But remember, this feature eats battery fast, explaining why the latest AirPods can only last up to 4 hours on one charge.

Aside from that, AirPods with noise-canceling features can have chunkier earpieces. After all, it accommodates the batteries needed by the circuitry. And some models also use a “Hear-Thru” feature, helping you adjust the noise canceling with one tap. 

With this, you’ll be able to completely tone it down without removing the earbuds from your ears.

✔️ Double-Check the Charging Case 

Check out the AirPods’ charging case performance and speed to choose the best model for you. As mentioned earlier, older AirPods with wired charging cases charge faster. 

Meanwhile, the newer wireless AirPods have built-in Qi components that let you charge the device via charging mats. And these are more convenient for those always on the go. 

Charging speed aside, I also recommend checking how robust the cases are. After all, it’s responsible for storing your AirPods earbuds and charging them! At most, the charging case should be able to withstand a fall or two and not break ASAP.

✔️ Determine How Easy it Its to Adjust Volume Levels 

Despite having many similarities, AirPods don’t have the same volume levels adjustment. For instance, you need to turn up older wired AirPods to the max volume. Meanwhile, the newer models can deliver enough sound even halfway!

If you’re comparing AirPods, check out the volume levels. After all, the newer wireless models tend to have better sound control. Meanwhile, the older wired AirPods sometimes need to be cranked up for you to listen to the audio.

Also, see how convenient it is to adjust the volume of the AirPods. After all, whipping out your phone to change the volume levels can be a hassle over time. Most of the latest AirPods let you control the volume via the earpieces alone. Meanwhile, the first generation AirPods let you control the volume via Siri.

Is It Possible to Charge AirPods Without a Charging Case?

hand holding a bunch of AirPods

Regardless if you choose wired or wireless AirPods, what happens when you lose the case? Although charging them without the case is impossible, there are alternatives to try. 

  • Use a different AirPods charging case. If you’ve broken or lost your AirPods case, use another charging case from the same AirPods model. It should be able to recharge your earbuds for four and a half to 6 hours of listening time. But remember, charging your AirPods with a different model charging is impossible. 
  • Get a replacement. Depending on the agreement, you can get free replacement charging cases from Apple. But some charge for it, and they all have varying processes. So, if you’ve lost or damaged your AirPods case, go to Apple ASAP.
  • Third-party. If you aren’t too eager to spend another couple hundred for AirPods, you can always buy from a third party. You can find these affordable charging cases from electronics retailers selling the same for a lower price. 

Despite the many hacks on the Internet to charge your AirPods without a case, don’t try it. After all, not only does it not have a solid guarantee, but it can also be dangerous for the device and your safety.

If you’re dealing with a damaged, defective, or lost AirPods charging case, you can always have it checked at the Apple store. Also, I don’t recommend relying on third-party charging cases since their quality isn’t the same.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What’s the difference between AirPods wired vs wireless?

A: As their name states, the AirPods can have a wired or wireless charging method. Wired AirPods have wired charging cases, recharging earbuds with a lightning cable. Meanwhile, wireless versions get juiced up via wireless charging pads. Apple offers MagSafe, a wireless charger for AirPods, separately.

Q: Is getting wireless charging AirPods worthwhile?

A: If convenience is essential for you, wireless AirPods are worth the steep price. They let you charge the device without worrying about cables getting tangled. But the issue is that charging is slower since it doesn’t have a direct electrical connection. At most, you’ll need to wait at least an hour to charge your AirPods fully. 

Q: Are wireless AirPods better than those with wired charging cases?

A: Despite one charging case requiring a cable, both AirPods wired vs wireless work well. For instance, wireless is the way to go if you don’t mind waiting longer than usual to recharge your AirPods. And if you want to save money, go for wired AirPods

Q: What’s the difference between the new AirPods with their older versions?

A: The newer AirPods have improved active noise cancellation, producing better sounds. And the model adds more depth to its sounds thanks to its upgraded bass. Also, the earbuds’ designs are different, whereas the latest ones are more compact. They cling to the ear better, reducing their risk of falling off.

Q: Is plugging in wireless AirPods still possible?

A: Wireless AirPods don’t come with charging jacks, so plugging them in is impossible. They have built-in Qi charging, allowing you to place the device on any wireless charger. And with this, there’s no need to plug in your wireless AirPods with a lightning connector.

Final Words

AirPods, whether wired or wireless, produce quality sounds on the go. But they have such steep price differences it’s essential to know which would suit you best. Generally, wired AirPods charge faster but can be inconvenient to carry around. Meanwhile, wireless is slower but more convenient.

The best way to decide between AirPods wired vs wireless is to consider how those charging specs are. With that, you should be able to pick the best pair of AirPods for your unique preference.