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When Apple announced their third generation AirPods in Oct. 2021, I think a really important point was glossed over pretty quickly: This should make it really easy to find second generation AirPods for under $100.
Not only is there the obvious discount Apple products get when they’re no longer the new generation, but during Black Friday, I see the best standalone deals on all second generation AirPods.
Below I’ll spell out how I think this shakes out, and why I think we could see AirPods for as low as $75 during Black Friday 2021. But if you miss the holiday sales, I have you covered with a few other alternatives to ensure you don’t overpay on your next headphone purchase.
And don’t forget to download the official KCL app and bookmark our Apple deals page—that way you’ll get every deal sent straight to your phone as soon as they drop.
1. Skip Apple—go to Walmart or Amazon instead—for AirPods at the lowest price.
With the release of Apple’s third generation AirPods, the price on second generation AirPods has dropped from $159 MSRP to $129 MSRP. But there was never a reason to pay full MSRP anyway, even if you bought from retailers at regular price.
That’s because throughout 2020, Walmart and Amazon sold AirPods for $30 less than the MSRP.
Since the third generation of AirPods dropped, Walmart and Amazon have only reduced the second generation AirPods to $10 below regular price. But, given past Black Friday sales, I expect Amazon and Walmart to offer significant discounts during the holiday season.
2. Expect AirPods to drop below $100 during Black Friday 2021.
Don’t buy second generation Apple AirPods during Black Friday unless you can get them for $100 or less. During Black Friday 2020, Amazon sold second generation AirPods nearly 40% off their regular price for $99.
Buy 1 Apple AirPods with Wired Charging Case (reg. $159) $99.99, sale price
Free shipping with Amazon Prime or on orders of $25+
Final Price: $99.99
If retailers like Amazon and Walmart discount second generation AirPods by at least the same percentage in 2021, then you’ll see prices on AirPods dip below $75.
See all KCL Black Friday deals.
3. Or shop during back-to-school and get free AirPods with any MacBook, iMac, or iPad purchase.
If you don’t get AirPods during the 2021 holiday season, then your best bet is to wait until back-to-school deals in July or August of 2022.
That’s because back-to-school sales have been the only time we’ve found Apple AirPods for free. In 2021, Apple offered free AirPods to anyone who purchased an iMac, MacBook, or iPad.
The best deal we saw was on the iPad Air, which retails for as low as $549—but still came with a free pair of AirPods.
Buy 1 Apple iPad Air $599-$849, regular price
Buy 1, receive free AirPods
Final Price: as low as $549, plus free AirPods
4. Apple AirPods Pro are $120 more than regular AirPods—are they worth it?
The Apple AirPods Pro are $120 more than second generation AirPods at the Apple Store. The third generation AirPods are $50 more than their predecessors.
The major differences? AirPods Pro have noise cancellation, better audio quality, and water/sweat resistance. The third generation is basically the same, but without noise cancellation or silicone earbuds and with the best battery life.
If you’re an audiophile who prefers noise cancellation and the other features, the $50 – $120 extra might be worth it for you. If you’re just looking for the AirPod experience, save big and go with the basics. Or ditch Apple altogether.
5. Buy the $79.99 Anker Soundcore Life P3s for $49 less than second-gen AirPods.
If you were content with Apple’s second generation AirPods, then you really should consider saving money and going after Anker’s Soundcore Life P3 earbuds (reg. $79.99), which boast some capabilities you’d only find in the (reg. $249) AirPods Pro.
The Soundcore Life P3s offer noise cancellation, which Apple only offers through its AirPods Pro, and over-the-ear headphones. Plus, the Soundcore earbuds can still take calls, are compatible with Siri, and have better battery life.
Other alternatives from JBL, Beats, and Jabra will probably offer better sound quality, but the price on earbuds from these companies will likely be twice as much as the Anker Soundcore Life P3.
6. If you miss the holiday sales, save an extra $20 with refurbished AirPods on Amazon.
If you don’t feel the need for brand-spanking-new hardware, go with refurbished AirPods. Outside of a slightly diminished battery life, they should be just as good as new.
I recently saw second generation refurbished AirPods for just $107 on Amazon. It’s not the dramatic savings we’ll see during Black Friday, but that’s still $20 to keep in your pocket.
Plus, refurbished AirPods come with a 90-day guarantee, so if you change your mind and want to go new, you’ve got a few months to decide.
Let me know if you have any other ideas for how to save on AirPods in the comments below. Thanks for reading!