Why do you need an accessory for an accessory? Well, when it’s one of the most popular products around like Apple’s AirPods, it tends to create its own accessory ecosystem complete with supplementary cases and other add-ons that help overcome minor shortcomings of the AirPods that may be major for some people.
Here’s a quick look at some of our top AirPods accessory picks, based on my own hands-on experience with each product mentioned over the past few weeks and months. They’re mostly cases and earbud enhancements, with a few other interesting things I’ve found.
I’ll be adding more as new candidates appear.
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Sarah Tew/CNETYou can find cheaper knockoff versions of Catalyst’s AirPods Case ($25), but the Catalyst is arguably the best AirPods case you can get. Not only does it protect your AirPods’ own case but makes it fully waterproof. Another key feature: The bundled carabiner lets you hook the case onto a belt loop or backpack to help keep your AirPods from getting lost. The case available is available in a few different color options, including a glow-in-the-dark version and special Apple Store only colors for $5 more.
EarBuddyz 2.0 Ear Hooks
Sarah Tew/CNETSome people find AirPods fit so securely in their ears they can run with them. But other ears, like mine, aren’t perfect AirPod receptacles. And that’s where silicone cover options come in, including many that feature integrated earhooks or “sport fins.”
I’ve used the EarBuddyz, which now come in a version 2.0, but you can find plenty of other similar options, including ones from AhaStyle and others that work with both EarPods and AirPods. They all cost around $10 for two or three sets of hooks.
The only issue is that to get the AirPods back in their case you have to remove the fins and store them somewhere. That’s a nuisance, and you might want to invest in case that fits both the AirPods and EarBuddyz. The new AhaStyle ear hooks come with a little carrying pouch for the hooks but not for your AirPods.
Sarah Tew/CNETThe fidget-spinner craze may have come and gone, but the new $30 ZenPod from Air Vinyl Design may help bring it back.
Yes, this is the first spinning case for your AirPods and it’s frankly kind of ingenious. Available in three color options, the ZenPod has precision bearings on each side of the case that give it that spin factor that we’ve all secretly craved.
Alas, it doesn’t add wireless charging capabilities to your AirPods case (where is that new case, Apple?), so it’s not totally Zen, but who knows — maybe we’ll see that feature in a future version?
Sarah Tew/CNETThe PowerPod is a wireless charging case for your AirPods while you wait for Apple to make its own previously teased wireless charging case. It’s a little expensive at $40 but it does work — and it protects your AirPods case. Not included: a wireless charging pad. The Belkin is shown here.
AhaStyle Earbuds Ear Hooks
David Carnoy/CNETThis accessory solves two AirPod issues with one accessory. AhaStyle’s Earbuds Ear Hooks integrate a sport fin with earbuds and turn the “open” AirPods into a noise-isolating design that helps keep ambient sound out and improves bass performance.
You get two fins — small and large — both of which have the same size ear tip, which is on the small side. I wasn’t able to achieve a tight seal with the included ear tip (it would be good if medium and large tips were included) but there was enough of a seal to improve bass performance and the overall sound of the AirPods. It’s also worth noting that a small silicone carrying case is included that you can attach to a keychain.
Twelve South AirSnap case
David Carnoy/CNETMade of leather and equipped with a snap closing system, as well “loss-prevention” clip, Twelve South’s AirSnap case is a little bit of a different take on an AirPods case. It’s available in three color options for $25.
TaoTronics Bluetooth transmitter
David Carnoy/CNETWhat do you do if you want to use your AirPods with an in-flight entertainment system or the TV built into a machine at the gym that requires a wired connection? Well, one workaround is buying a relatively inexpensive Bluetooth transmitter that you can plug into any 3.5mm audio jack. There are several transmitters available from TaoTronics and other little-known brands (I tried the TaoTronics). They cost $25-$35.
To pair your AirPods with a transmitter you have to turn off the Bluetooth on your phone (or just put it into AirPlane mode), put your AirPods in their case, hold down the Bluetooth button on the transmitter until it goes into pairing mode and then hit the pairing button on the AirPods case.
Panasonic ErgoFit earbuds
Why would we put a set of wired earbuds in a roundup of AirPods accessories? Well, if you don’t shell out for a Bluetooth transmitter (about $30), you won’t be able to use your AirPods on a plane to watch in-flight entertainment. Of course, you could ante up for an expensive set of noise-canceling headphones (you can see our top noise-canceling picks here), but it doesn’t hurt to have a cheap, good-sounding pair of wired headphones on hand. We’ve always liked the Panasonic ErgoFit RP-HJE120 earphones, which cost less than $10.