Why Are AirPods So Expensive? (11 Reasons Why)

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Fletcher Crawford

Fletcher Crawford is a 20-year veteran of the electrical engineering field. He has worked on everything from Linux systems to Apple products, and is passionate about technology.

Upon hearing AirPods, we tend to think of the creator, Apple, and how expensive its product offerings tend to be compared to other brands.

While it’s true that AirPods are pretty expensive, it begs the question, “Why are they so expensive?” Here’s what I found!

Why Are AirPods So Expensive?

AirPods are expensive because they are designed and manufactured by Apple, a company known to charge high prices for product offerings. Additionally, increased demand, innovations in design, and sound quality contribute to the hefty price tag. Expensive components also play a role in dictating the price of these wireless earbuds.

Keep reading to learn more interesting things about Apple AirPods, from hardware to sound quality!

1. AirPods Are In High Demand

In 2021, Apple sold around 90 million units of AirPods during the holiday season alone, which is indicative of the extremely high demand for these wireless earbuds.

That said, when demand for a certain product is high, it allows companies that produce these items to charge a premium to customers.

Furthermore, high demand can be attributed to the brand reputation of the company involved, which plays a part in how much an item is sold for.

2. Apple’s Brand Reputation Contributes To AirPods Pricing

It can’t be denied that a significant portion of the price of AirPods relates to the marketing that goes into the product.

That said, since Apple is known as a luxury tech brand, people have come to expect to spend quite a bit of money to own an Apple product.

Additionally, spending hundreds of dollars for an iPhone or MacBook is not unheard of, and the same can be said of wearable tech accessories like the AirPods.

For example, a pair of second-generation AirPods can be purchased at Apple stores and other retailers for $129, while third-generation AirPods are available for $179.

Also, there are higher-end variants; the AirPods Pro and AirPods Max cost $249 and $549, respectively.

3. Expensive Design And Assembly Cost

Aside from the marketing costs, design and assembly play a role in driving up the price of AirPods.

That said, AirPods are designed to appear minimalist, with the sleek design and the fine details such as the shorter stems on newer versions of the in-ear AirPods and the buttons.

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Further, these things require a team of engineers and design experts to work together to come up with a product that is worthy of the Apple name.

4. Hardware & Software Bring Up Production Costs

Related to my previous point, hardware and software trademarks are often costly to acquire, and these add to the already high cost of AirPods.

Also, the battery of in-ear AirPods can be found in the stems, while each earbud contains a microphone that provides high-quality sound in each ear.

Moreover, these hardware specifications, the microprocessor, and other parts contribute to its price.

At the same time, there is firmware that supports some of the features that contribute to what makes AirPods not just unique but expensive.

5. AirPods Performance Is Superb

Beginning with second-generation AirPods, longer battery life was applied, allowing users to keep listening and talking for long periods without charging them after a few hours.

Also, Apple introduced an H1 chip that ensured that the newer generations of AirPods were an improvement from previous versions.

That said, this new chip provided AirPods with Siri integration, as well as the other performance improvements mentioned above.

Additionally, AirPods are certified water and sweat-resistant, so you don’t have to worry about sweat when working out.

With that, this isn’t to say that you should swim or shower with AirPods, but rest assured AirPods won’t break if exposed to a little moisture.

Moreover, AirPods have a water resistance rating of IPX4, which falls under IEC standard 50259.

As you can imagine, testing and certification as proof of conformity are costly, contributing to the high price of AirPods.

6. Seamless Integration Within The Apple Ecosystem

6. Seamless Integration Within The Apple Ecosystem

A main selling point of AirPods is that they work seamlessly with other Apple devices.

Because of this, it’s quick and easy to switch from using an iPhone to an iPad without struggling with disconnecting and reconnecting sources.

That said, this can drive up the price of a pair of AirPods because this requires software updates and changes, which take teams to ensure that they pair seamlessly with compatible devices.

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7. AirPods Are Convenient And Prioritize Ease Of Use

On a related note to the above, the integration makes it easy and convenient to use AirPods.

Further, the design of AirPods is intuitive such that you don’t have to fumble with tangled wires and earbuds not sitting snugly in your ear.

Additionally, AirPods have a feature where music or videos will automatically pause a song once it detects that AirPods have been removed.

That said, this feature drives up costs because it uses sensors that detect whether the AirPods are in your ears.

Lastly, these sensors are among the components that make AirPods expensive.

8. AirPods Pro Have Superb Noise Cancellation

The first version of AirPods didn’t have suitable noise-canceling technology, which many people found disappointing.

That’s now a thing of the past, as proper noise cancellation was introduced with newer iterations of AirPods.

Further, Active Noise Cancellation is accomplished by using microphones to detect and block out external sounds.

That said, these microphones are an additional component that drives up the price of  AirPods.

Sometimes, noise cancellation can be cumbersome during situations like when you need to speak to someone or when crossing streets.

Moreover, AirPods have a feature called Transparency Mode, where you’ll be able to hear external sounds while still listening at a reduced volume.

Additionally, users can toggle between Active Noise Cancellation and Transparency mode via force sensors and buttons.

As you can imagine, these components contribute to the cost of production of AirPods, which in turn further bring up the price of AirPods.

9. Share Audio Without Sharing AirPods

If you have friends who also use AirPods, you can both listen to music or watch a video on the same device without sharing one pair of AirPods.

That said, you can do this through the Audio Sharing feature, which allows up to two pairs of AirPods to connect to one device.

Moreover, it eliminates the need for clunky audio splitters or your device’s external speaker, which doesn’t always have the best sound quality.

Additionally, audio sharing keeps things hygienic by letting each person use their pair of AirPods.

With hygiene and health concerns being relevant topics today, avoiding the transmission of bacteria and diseases is something people are more willing to spend money on.

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10. AirPods Innovation Improves Sound Quality

Speaking of sound quality, AirPods have supported huge changes to how we hear audio.

Starting with third-generation AirPods, Apple has implemented support for Spatial Audio and Adaptive EQ.

Further, Spatial Audio is similar to surround sound, wherein you get an immersive listening experience.

So, just like how cinemas employ strategically placed speakers to make it seem like a sound is coming from a specific direction, Spatial Audio does the same thing.

Meanwhile, Adaptive EQ is a new piece of technology where AirPods adjust how music will sound based on the shape of your ear.

Additionally, microphones in the AirPods are used to create a tailor-made listening experience that allows you to listen to audio without sacrificing sound quality.

Therefore, while spatial audio and adaptive EQ are exclusive to Apple, AirPods still make audio sound top-notch on non-Apple devices.

Lastly, these features drive-up AirPods prices because they use sophisticated microphones and other components that aren’t currently available on other wireless earbud brands.

11. Higher Duties & Taxes Depending On Where You Live

Depending on where you live, AirPods can be more expensive than the prices I stated above.

That said, this variation is due to the cost of shipping the goods across countries, which can incur an import tax.

Additionally, other regional taxes may be applied to AirPods, increasing the price even more.

To learn more, you can also read our posts on why cameras are so expensive, why PC parts are so expensive, and why laptops are so expensive.

Conclusion

There are many reasons why AirPods are expensive, and these mostly have to do with the branding, design, and features.

At the same time, demand is rather high and only increasing annually. Therefore, it makes sense that AirPods cost as much as they do.

Author

  • Fletcher Crawford is a 15-year veteran of the electrical engineering field. He has worked on everything from Linux systems to Apple products, and is passionate about technology.

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