Earphones vs Earbuds vs Airpods: What’s the Difference?

There comes a time in every smartphone owner’s life when holding the phone to one’s ear ends in an epic disaster. Whether the result is getting a hefty traffic ticket or your phone shattering into a million pieces, the result unquestionably tells you its time for an earpiece.

But which one should you choose? The debate between earphones vs earbuds vs AirPods falls isn’t easy to track unless you’re a technology buff.

Check out this guide to understanding the who, what, when, and where of all things earpiece related.

What are AirPods?

AirPods are Apple’s signature earpiece products. These earpieces are easy to recognize because they come in one signature color: white.

AirPods are one of the fanciest possible options for an earpiece with a price tag to match. Many Apple users swear by these earpieces because they’re relatively convenient.

The earpieces communicate seamlessly with iPhones using Bluetooth. Though this technology is nothing new, it’s the way your phone looks for AirPods that make their BlueTooth setup special.

In most cases, you manually open your phone’s BlueTooth menu to search for available devices. But not with the Apple AirPods.

When you power on your AirPods, your phone somehow magically shows you the earpieces along with their name and battery level. This happens each time you open the AirPod case near an iPhone.

This is helpful if you’re sharing AirPods with someone else and don’t want to keep syncing your device over and over. The downside to AirPods is that you have to use them with iPhones.

Some users might want to switch phones, but after spending close to $200 on AirPods, they’re stuck. Think twice about buying Airpods if budget is an issue.

They look cool in your ears making you look like one of the elite Apple users that sport them, but they’re not necessarily necessary for making basic calls.

If you don’t have to have the latest and greatest technology, there are plenty of affordable options available in both earbud and earphone formats.

Earphones vs Earbuds

The technology between earbuds and earphones drastically varies. There are plenty of unregulated products from China to be wary of.

These products don’t have stable electrical circuits and can easily short the power connection on your phone. When this happens, you won’t be able to charge your device or might notice glitches along the way.

Many people steer clear of this issue by opting for certified products from their smartphone manufacturer. This quality issue is especially important with Apple products which can be expensive to replace.

AirPods are Apple’s solution, but these are expensive and can be easily lost. There is a tracking service on AirPods, but only with the case.

If you lose the actual buds, you’re on your own. So, what are your other options?

Try earphones and earbuds made by American manufacturers. Well-known audio brands make versions of both that are worth trying.

Here’s a quick look at how earphones and earbuds differ.


Earphones are usually wired devices that allow you to connect to your smartphone or device using a cord. The cord plugs into your device to allow you to hear sound through the earphone speakers.

But with advances in tech, there are now plenty of wireless earphones on the market. Many are connected by wires together so that you can drape them around your neck.

These are some of the best-priced earpieces on the market. They’re more difficult to lose if you choose a wired model and much cheaper to replace.

Credible brands make earphones in larger over-the-ear versions and in-ear versions. Some cell phones come with factory earphones to get you started.

Apple’s earphones are no longer compatible with newer phones in an effort to steer customers toward the more popular AirPods.


If you notice tiny earpieces in a person’s ear that looks something out of mission impossible, these are earbuds. Earbuds are wireless little pods that go inside the ear canal.

They’re the most portable earpiece you can find. Many of the same companies that make earphones also make an earpiece version for people who want to stay away from wired audio.

If you choose earbuds, make sure you have a variety with long battery life. One big complaint about earbuds is their inability to maintain a charge throughout the day.

Top brands have better battery life but come at costs comparable to the AirPods. If you’re willing to invest, you can find an option to use for years to come even if you switch phones like those found at https://setapp.com/lifestyle/should-you-buy-apple-airpods-pro-vs-airpods-2.

Cheap models easily become unpaired making it impossible to use them while driving. If you’re investing in earphones or earbuds, start first by narrowing down brands with amazing reviews and a great warranty program.

Should I Invest in Headphones?

Most audiophiles already know which to choose when thinking of earphones vs earbuds. If you’re asking which earpiece is right for you, chances are the most affordable option is best.

What you don’t know won’t hurt you when it comes to sound. The average person just wants a hands free option when taking calls, not high tech surround sound for a cinematic movie-watching experience.

Settle your expectations knowing that as long as you choose a credible brand, you’ll keep your device safe and maintain your hearing abilities for years to come. Still, as an Apple user AirPods should be in your top two choices at all times since they’re the only earpieces guaranteed to work across Apple devices.

For more information and tips, visit our blog for updates.

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