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All the Headphones That Work Best with Your iPhone

The "magic" of AirPods is no longer exclusive to AirPods.

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When Apple released the first AirPods in late 2016, they had what no other wireless headset had before it: Apple's W1 chip. This special processor allowed AirPods to quickly pair to an iPhone — no need to open Bluetooth Settings and wait to be discovered — which was actually a pretty deal at the time; 2016 was also the year when Apple introduced the iPhone (iPhone 7) without a 3.5mm headphone jack, so more and more people were converting to Bluetooth headphones.

In addition to fast pairing, the W1 chip helped the original AirPods establish a more stable Bluetooth connection to your iPhone. It worked with the AirPods's built-in optical sensors so that music automatically play/paused when you placed the earbuds in/out of your ears. It also allowed for quick switching between Mac and iOS devices. And, thanks to later software updates, the W1 chip enabled features like audio sharing so that two people with AirPods could listen to one iPhone.

Apple's Headphone Chips: W1, H1 and H2

Apple has made newer and better versions of its original W1 chip. In 2019, Apple released its next-generation H1 chipset which enabled an even faster and more secure Bluetooth connection. It also enabled hands-free "Hey Siri," meaning any wireless headphones or earbuds with the H1 chip could respond to a voice command. (Previously, early AirPods summoned the voice assistant with a double tap on their side.

As of September 2022, Apple has introduced the H2 chipset with the newest AirPods Pro. This builds on the W1 and H1 platforms but enables the AirPods Pro to have significantly improved noise-cancellation and transparency modes. It also enables personalized Spatial Audio, which allows the newest AirPods Pro to deliver an even more immersive experience.

If you're in the market for a new pair of wireless headphones or wireless earbuds that work particularly well with your iPhone and other Apple devices, we've rounded up the best options below with the W1 and H1 chips below.

More Guides to Wireless Headphones and Earbuds

      Apple AirPods Pro 2

      AirPods Pro (2nd Generation)

      amazon.com
      $239.00

      Chip: H2

      Released in September 2022, these are the newest AirPods Pro — which are the only AirPods Pro that Apple now sells. They are the same size, shape and design as the 2019-released AirPods Pro but pack Apple's new H2 processing chip. This helps these newest AirPods Pro sound better, as well as drastically improve their noise-canceling and transparency abilities. The H2 chip powers personalized Spatial Audio, too, so they are able to sound even more immersive.

      Apple AirPods 3

      Apple

      AirPods (3rd Generation)

      amazon.com
      $204.99

      Chip: H1

      The AirPods 3 are Apple's mid-range wireless earbuds. They fit similarly to the AirPods Pro (although without the silicone ear tips), but lack active noise-cancellation and transparency modes. They do, however, support spatial audio and wireless charging. They're sweat- and water-resistant. And they have a battery life of up to 6 ears (per earbud), which is better than any other model of AirPods (except for the new AirPods Pro 2) that Apple sells.

      Beats Fit Pro

      Courtesy

      Beats Fit Pro

      amazon.com
      $199.95

      Chip: H1

      Released in October 2021, the Beats Fit Pro have a lot in common with Apple's AirPods Pro (first generation). They are powered by the same H1 chip. They have the same active noise-cancellation and transparency modes. They also support spatial audio with dynamic head tracking. They don't sound quite as good, however. And the other big difference is that the Fit Pro has a flexible earwing tip design that helps them better stay in your ears.

      Apple AirPods (2nd-Gen)

      Apple

      Apple AirPods with Charging Case (Wired)

      amazon.com
      $158.50

      Chip: H1

      Apple released these second-generation AirPods in early 2019. They're upgraded with Apple's newer H1 chip, which gives them improved battery life — Apple says 50 percent more talk time — and enables hands-free "Hey Siri." You can buy them with or without a wireless charging case.

      Apple AirPods Pro (1st-Gen)

      Courtesy

      AirPods Pro (1st Generation)

      amazon.com
      $249.00
      $219.99 (12% off)

      Chip: H1

      Released in 2019, the AirPods Pro are Apple's original noise-canceling wireless earbuds and the first to feature silicone eartips and a truncated design. Compared to the regular AirPods, the Pros had upgraded drivers and new sensors; this allowed them to support higher-end audio technologies, such as spatial audio and Dolby Atmos.

      Note: Apple no longer makes these AirPods Pro because, as of September 2022, it released the second-generation models. However, you can typically get a pretty good deal on these still excellent wireless earbuds from other third-party sellers.

      AirPods Max

      AirPods Max

      bestbuy.com
      $499.99

      Chip: H1

      These are Apple's first and only pair of over-ear headphones — and they're luxurious. The earcups are made entirely of stainless steel (no plastic) and the sound quality and noise-canceling ability are both top-notch. They have all the same features and abilities of the AirPods Pro, such as support for spatial audio and Dolby Atmos. If you can stomach the high price tag, you can't go wrong with the AirPods Max.

      Beats Powerbeats Pro

      Beats

      Powerbeats Pro

      amazon.com
      $249.95
      $199.95 (20% off)

      Chip: H1

      The Powerbeats Pro are wireless earbuds for people who want AirPods but want them to fit more securely and be more sweat-resistant. They have an earhook design and swappable silicone eartips, so they'll fit pretty much any ear. They also have button controls on the earbuds, making adjust the volume and play/pausing very easy. Lastly, they're available in several colors other than white.

      Beats Powerbeats

      Beats

      Powerbeats

      staples.com
      $166.49

      Chip: H1

      The Powerbeats are the exact same as the Powerbeats Pro, but there's a wire connecting the two earbuds. The features and sound quality are the same. The advantage of the two earbuds being tethered together is that the Powerbeats are less likely to have connectivity issues (sometimes a left or right earbud doesn't sync). Plus, they're more affordable.

      Beats Flex

      Beats

      Beats Flex

      Amazon
      $69.95
      $57.70 (18% off)

      Chip: W1

      Released in late 2020, the Beats Flex are the next generation of the 2017-released BeatsX wireless earphones. The two big upgrades of the Flex are that they charge via USB-C (as opposed to Lightning) and they cost just $50 (as opposed to the $150 that the BeatsX originally sold for). They still have Apple's W1 chip so they can fast pair with your iPhone, but they lack hands-free "Hey Siri" because they don't have Apple's newer H1 chip.


      BeatsX

      Courtesy

      BeatsX

      amazon.com
      $93.89

      Chip: W1

      The BeatsX are older versions of the Beats Flex and have since been discontinued. At the time of their release they were selling for $150, which is their biggest downside over the $50 Flex. They also charge via Lightning rather than USB-C.

      Beats Solo Pro

      Beats

      Beats Solo Pro

      bestbuy.com
      $199.99

      Chip: H1

      Released in late 2019, the Solo Pro are wireless on-ear headphones that look very similar to the company's Solo3 Wireless, but they pack a couple of big differences. They have Apple’s newer H1 chip, charge via Lightning charging port and, most importantly, they have active noise-cancellation. Additionally, Beats gave the Solo Pro improved drivers and redesigned earcups so that they sound better are better at blocking out ambient noises.



      Beats Studio 3 Wireless

      Beats

      Beats Studio 3 Wireless

      amazon.com
      $349.95
      $229.00 (35% off)

      Chip: W1

      Released in 2017, the Studio 3 Wireless were the first over-ear headphones by Beats to feature Apple's W1 chip. At the time, they were selling for $350, but you can buy them for significantly less than that now. If you're in the market for over-ear noise-canceling headphones that work really well with your Apple devices but can't quite stomach the price of AirPods Max, these are your best bet. One of the big downsides, however, is that they charge via micro-USB.

      Beats Solo 3 Wireless

      Courtesy

      Beats Solo 3 Wireless

      amazon.com
      $199.95
      $149.00 (25% off)

      Chip: W1

      Released in 2018, the Solo 3 Wireless are quite different than the Studio 3 Wireless. They have an on-ear design rather than over-ear, and they don't have noise-canceling or transparency modes. Other than that, the two headphones have the same W1 chip and work basically the same. The Solo 3 Wireless also charges via micro-USB, unfortunately.

      Beats Studio Buds

      Beats

      Beats Studio Buds

      amazon.com
      $149.95

      Chip: None

      Released in mid-2021, the Studio Buds are noise-canceling wireless earbuds that can be viewed as an affordable alternative to the AirPods Pro. They are an outlier on this list because they do not pack either W1 or H1 chipset, but since Apple owns Beats they figured out a way to work similarly to AirPods Pro — such as fast iPhone pairing and support for spatial audio and Dolby Atmos — but also allowing them to work with Android smartphones. The downside to not having an Apple chipset is that the Studio Buds don't sync with your iCloud account and don't support audio sharing.

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