Why do you need an accessory for an accessory? When it’s one of the most popular wireless headphones around — Apple’s— it tends to create its own accessory ecosystem, complete with supplementary cases and that help overcome minor shortcomings that, for some people, may be major.
There’s plenty of variety when it comes to Apple AirPods and their accessories. If you want a leather case, a silicone case, a charging case or a wireless charging case, all of those are out there. If you’re looking to personalize things further, you can even get an AirPods Pro case cover or an AirPods skin. The options are almost endless.
But, you’ve gotta start somewhere. Here’s a quick look at some of CNET’s top picks of accessories for AirPods, based on my own hands-on experience with each product mentioned over the past few weeks and months. They mostly fall into the protective case and earbud enhancement buckets, with a few other interesting things I’ve found. I’ll update this as I test more of the best AirPods Pro accessories.
You can find cheaper knockoff versions of Catalyst’s AirPods Pro case ($30), but the Catalyst is better than many of the imitators, not to mention one of the top AirPods cases you can purchase. This AirPods case cover protects your AirPods’ own case, as well as makes it fully waterproof. Another key feature: The bundled carabiner lets you strap the case onto a belt loop or backpack or use it as a keychain case to help keep your wireless earbuds from getting lost. The case is currently available in black, blue or red. Expect more colors in the future.
Nomad makes nice leather cases for the iPhone and the original AirPods. Its AirPods Pro case is one of the best I’ve tested. It’s not waterproof like the Catalyst, but it fits like a glove and weathers nicely over time. Available in brown and black for $35.
There’s no shortage of generic AirPods Pro case covers on Amazon. I’ve been disappointed with several of them, including those from Spigen. This model, which comes in several different color options, fit well and was thicker than some of the other generic AirPods cover cases I tried. It only costs $7. You can get it with or without the imprint of the AirPods Pro.
Be aware that all silicone (rubber) covers tend to attract a little dust.
RHA has a slightly different take on a wireless flight transmitter. This one has two foldable 3.5mm jacks: You can either opt to use one 3.5mm plug, or two for those older in-flight systems that have two jacks. Both plugs tuck back into the transmitter. The pairing process is the same as with the Twelve South transmitter and was straightforward. Like that model, this uses Bluetooth 5.0. It’s also rated for 16 hours of battery life and charges via USB-C. It also works with the Nintendo Switch.
What 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 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’ve also tried the TaoTronics.) They cost $25 to $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. (This video explains how to pair to your AirPods.)
Battery life is rated at 16 hours and the AirFly Pro uses Bluetooth 5.0.
Made of rugged leather and equipped with a snap closing system, as well a “loss-prevention” S-Clip, Twelve South’s AirSnap leather case is a slightly different take on an AirPods case. It’s available in three colors in leather for $40. You can wirelessly charge your AirPods Pro with the case on.
The AirPods Pro feature wireless charging, so you’ll need a wireless charging pad to take advantage of that feature. A good affordable option for both your AirPods Pro and your phone is the Anker PowerWave. It offers 7.5-watt charging for your iPhone and 10-watt charging for Android models that support it. It costs $14 but sometimes goes on sale for less than $10. Available in black, white and blue.
Read more AirPods and headphone advice
Originally published earlier this month.