With the cost of living rising everywhere in the world, it makes sense to spend less on things that aren't exactly necessities. For a lot of people, this can mean spending less on their gadgets. With Apple churning out newer models of its products annually, it can get costly to keep up. In addition, you could be due for an upgrade due to planned obsolescence. Because of this, you may be thinking of swapping out other devices for more affordable ones, such as AirPods.
Because AirPods are so in demand, the market is flooded with fake or counterfeit products, which are becoming increasingly difficult to distinguish from the original models. However, while fake AirPods can look legitimate at first glance, they're not in the key ways that matter. In recent times, there are several reasons why Apple charges a premium for its products, especially because it offers a lot of other benefits to its users apart from just listening to music.
So, if you're on the fence about buying a counterfeit or authentic pair of AirPods, here are some reasons why spending extra for a real one is worth it.
Many audiophiles will argue that plenty of other AirPods alternatives sound better for less money. But for many original AirPods owners, its sound quality is more than enough for their day-to-day use. Not to mention, there are plenty of hacks you can try to improve the AirPods sound quality at your disposal. Unfortunately, this isn't the same for fake or counterfeit AirPods, whose sound quality can be unpredictable. When it comes to fake AirPods, you're never sure if its components are built up to standard, leading to a possible subpar listening experience.
Aside from listening quality, genuine AirPods also have a specific battery life capacity for each model. Under the right conditions, Apple claims its AirPods Pro (2nd generation) can get up to 30 hours of listening time or 24 hours of talking time. Unlike cord-based earphones, AirPods rely a lot on good battery life to make sure you can keep listening without having to charge your device.
Although the battery, like many other devices, will likely degrade with time, fake AirPods are not incentivized to create products that will work efficiently after your initial purchase. On the other hand, Apple introduced optimized charging features for its AirPods Pro and AirPods (3rd generation) models, which helps reduce the overall wear on your battery. With optimized charging, your AirPods will remain charged at 80% until you're just about to use it, spending less time fully charged and leading to a longer battery lifespan.
Because of stringent quality assurance practices, you can more or less expect the same build quality from the original AirPods, regardless of where it is purchased. For companies like Apple, maintaining the quality of their products is important because it reflects on their brand value, which dictates their ability to price their products higher.
However, how long your AirPods last depends on how you care for them. Depending on what AirPods model you own and how long you've owned them, its ability to withstand the elements may vary. Although not waterproof or sweatproof, Apple claims that its AirPods Pro and AirPods (3rd generation) are sweat and water-resistant. Knowing this, your AirPods can be your companion for a good amount of time, as long as you don't accidentally drop it in running water or add it to a laundry cycle. In general, SoundGuys claims that original AirPods should last up to three years.
On the other hand, fake AirPods from dubious brands will not be incentivized in the same manner. After all, if they're willing to copy another brand's intellectual property, they're not too concerned with building customer loyalty and trust. Because of this, counterfeit products could potentially also pose a safety risk, especially if they're made of inferior or non-compliant materials. While there have been cases of AirPods exploding, you'll have no protection or compensation if anything happens with your counterfeit AirPods.
In addition, original AirPods will typically trigger a pop-up menu on your iPhone or iPad during connection. During this process, you'll be able to see the battery life of your individual AirPods and your case. While some fake AirPods models can make this happen, others will not. In fact, starting iOS 16, many iPhones will display an alert when fake AirPods are connected. Because many use Apple products to display status, having a fake AirPods notification can trigger judgment by your peers. When you lose your official AirPods, you also have the benefit of using Apple's Find My features to find it.
Not to mention, fake AirPods may be at par with real AirPods during their initial release, but they won't be able to receive any firmware updates. In some cases, these updates don't just improve or optimize existing performance, but they also add new features and increase your safety.
Support and warranty
When your original AirPods are no longer working, you'll have several options at your disposal. In general, Apple AirPods come with a one-year hardware repair coverage, which means you won't have to worry about things like manufacturing issues for the first few months of ownership. Additionally, you can even replace a single AirPod or its charging case as well. Although Apple doesn't honor liquid-damaged AirPods under its basic warranty, there are plenty of tricks you can use to save your device.
If you live near the beach, spend a lot of time near water, or are simply a clumsy person, you can pay a little bit more to help you sleep better at night. In 2018, Apple added AirPods to its extended warranty program, Apple Care+, wherein your AirPods are protected for up to two years from the warranty purchase (with some limitations) for $29. For fake AirPods, you'll be lucky to have a replacement warranty from your seller, which may not even last a few days (if at all).
Lastly, if you encounter any issues with your AirPods, you can ask for help from Apple's customer support. Through Apple support, you can ask for help on how to maximize your AirPods' features, resolve an ongoing issue, or assist in filing any warranty claims.
Compared to fake AirPods, you can sell working, authentic AirPods without a stain on your conscience. So, when you're in the mood for an upgrade, you can definitely get a few bucks back from your old AirPods to help fund your new one.
Unlike iPhones, iPads, and other larger devices, even original AirPods can't be traded in for store credits. However, it does have a pretty lucrative second-hand market. According to BankMyCell, the average resale market value of a used AirPodsPro is $45 (as of November 2023). On the other hand, it shares that the average resale value of a used AirPods Max is $205.
Bear in mind that second-hand selling prices will fluctuate depending on your individual AirPod conditions, such as cosmetic issues, sound quality issues, or if you can include the original box. Some of the top stores wherein you can sell your old AirPods are eBay, Amazon, or directly to a buyer through online marketplaces, such as Facebook.
If you're big on sustainability and want to dispose of electronics the right way, Apple even offers free recycling for old products. Knowing this, you can be sure that your old AirPods will have less damage to the environment during its afterlife. On the other hand, appropriately disposing of a counterfeit product is solely your responsibility.
Why buying original AirPods matters
Although one can argue that tech giants like Apple won't collapse if a few people decide to buy fake devices, supporting counterfeit products disincentivizes tech companies from continuing to develop better products in the future. While fake products can offer the temporary satisfaction of being part of the AirPods club, this feeling will be short-lived when you start experiencing issues, especially when the cost of replacing them ends up becoming more expensive than buying the real thing the first time.
Aside from the ethical and legal issues, buying fake AirPods means using your money to vote for a world wherein researchers, developers, and brands are not properly compensated for their work. At the end of the day, real AirPods offer benefits and surprising features that fake or counterfeit products simply don't have. If you're considering getting fake AirPods because of budget constraints, consider buying older models of AirPods from authorized resellers or second-hand from people looking to upgrade their existing AirPods models.
While you may feel married to the Apple ecosystem, the reality is that if you're not planning to use all of its features, plenty of other brands out there are offering similar products at a fraction of the price.