Apple’s $159 AirPods vs. $35 AirPods knockoffs

“Take a look at this photo,” Rick Broida writes for CNET.

Can you spot the AirPods imposter? (photo: Rick Broida/CNET)
Can you spot the AirPods imposter? (photo: Rick Broida/CNET)

“Two pairs of Apple AirPods, right? Nope: One of them is a clone, a knockoff, an off-brand replica,” Broida writes. “If you’ve seen these before — and they’re kind of everywhere — I’ll bet you wondered the same thing I did: How do they compare? Can $35 true-wireless earbuds possibly rival Apple’s $159 ones?”

“For this test, I ended up going with the AirSounds True Wireless Earbuds, which cost $35,” Broida writes. “Although the AirSounds and AirPods cases are physically identical and within a millimeter of being the exact same size, the earbuds themselves are slightly different. Specifically, the earbud part of the AirSounds is larger — just a tiny bit, but enough to put a little pressure on my ear cartilage and feel uncomfortable after maybe 20 to 30 minutes. Your mileage may vary. If EarPods or AirPods tend to fall out of your ears, the AirSounds might prove a perfect fit.”

“In terms of features, the AirPods blow the AirSounds out of the water; the latter has none of the advanced features of the former, like automatically pausing playback when you take one out of your ear. I can live with that, but I can’t live without auto-connect,” Broida writes. “the AirSounds sounded pretty darn good. Better than the AirPods? No. But decent overall? Yes.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: In the end, Broda found himself questioning whether an AirPod clone makes sense at all.

Here’s the thing, even if these $35 pieces of junk did everything AirPods can do and sounded as good, it’s morally wrong to support a knockoff maker and eschew the actual innovator who did all of the work to create the product, regardless of the price difference. Being a cheapskate doesn’t absolve you of supporting IP-trampling, trade dress-stealing thieves. This goes for upside-down and backwards fake Macs (Windows PCs), iPhone/iOS knockoffs/wannabes (basically any Android phone), and any other knockoff you can come up with.

If you screw the innovators enough by supporting thieves, you retard the impetus to innovate to the detriment of everyone.


  1. “Indeed, my question is whether an AirPod clone makes sense at all. They’re still pretty dorky-looking, if you ask me, so unless it’s a status thing — like wearing a fake Rolex — I’d look at any number of AirPod alternatives.”

    So yes it does make sense to him. Did you stop reading when he finally said something you agreed with?

    1. Seems like you’re the one who stopped reading.

      Broida ends up recommending “BlitzWolf BW-FYE1” cheapo earbuds that are not AirPods knockoffs.

  2. I can somewhat see MDN’s bend on this, but I’d refrain heavily from using the words “morally wrong” here. What would be better would be for Apple to come out with a product at the prices they deem fair, then lower the price over time. Or continue to sell the older models and units at a reduced price. Some will criticize this response by saying, “They already do this!” But they don’t. Never have I seen Apple go beyond 1-2 product generations on their site. Sure, you can pick up old products at the refurb store, but that’s not the same as knocking the price down while expanding the line with new products and features. So, with Apple you’re always paying their premium for this year’s models or last year’s period. Case in point. Their Mac line. Much of it is super old technology (as noted by MDN’s pointing out lack of regular model updates). But you still pay the price of what the product sold for many months ago, as they have no new models arriving. That’s shameless and not is in essence ripping off the customers while challenging their loyalty. So, let’s not preach morality to Apple customers when the same can’t be said from the company we support toward their customers.

    Now, if you want to spend $35 on junk, you’re free to do so.

  3. I have to admit I’m a bit mistrusting of non-genuine Apple accessories. I once had a non-genuine iPhone charging cable and it gave me a couple of problems. Firstly, it was painfully slow with charging my iPhone plus it seemed to cause my iPhone’s storage to fill up with junk.

  4. Isn’t also “morally wrong” for apple to charge $199 for a pair of wireless earbuds that obviously don’t cost a fraction of that make and sell? AirPods should cost no more than $100–if that. So do i blame companies for jumping and filling the void for consumers? Hell no. It’s called competition.

    1. I agree. Yes paying for cheaper knockoff has its consequences in more ways than one but there are exceptions to this.

      A good example are those over priced offical Apple charging lightning cables that the insulation starts breaking off with normal wear and tear in a few months. I have bought third party cables that are about the same or cheaper price but are made a lot more durable material.

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