We compared Apple's $159 AirPods to Xiaomi's $30 AirDots and the winner was clear

  • AppleAirPods have a low-price competitor: Xiaomi came out with $US30 knockoffs called AirDots that are currently only available in China.
  • We tried the AirDots to see how they compared against Apple’s $US159 AirPods.
  • Watch the video above to find out if AirPods are worth the cost or if AirDots provide the same quality wireless headphones for a fraction of the price.

These are AirPods, Apple’s $US159 wireless headphones and these are AirDots, Xiaomi’s $US30 wireless headphones.

Xiaomi has long been referred to as the Apple of China. So we wanted to know, how do the headphones compare? Are AirPods worth the cost? Or can AirDots provide the same quality for one-fifth the price?

Let’s start with looks. AirPods weigh approximately 46 grams or 1.6 ounces (4 grams per each AirPod and 38 grams for the case). And the AirDots weigh approximately 39 grams or 1.4 ounces (4.2 grams per each AirDot and 36 grams for the case). Both come in a container about the size of a pack of floss.

As for design, AirPods basically look like your normal Apple EarPods without the wire. They’re long, sleek, and are generally moulded to the shape of an ear. The AirDots look more like hearing aids. They’re in-ear headphones that have an oval shape exterior which makes the earbuds bulky and a little bit heavy despite being a fraction of the weight of the AirPods.

Both the AirPods and the AirDots will automatically connect to your Bluetooth device when you put them in your ear. The AirPods do connect a little faster to your iPhone because it’s an Apple product, but the AirDots still connect pretty quickly. Bluetooth, in general, is still an issue. I’ve had my AirPods glitch on me one or two times before. The sound would go in and out and there was one instance where only one of my AirDots was connected.

The AirPods are pretty comfortable and require very little effort to place in your ear. AirDots, on the other hand, require a bit more effort to stick them in your ear. Since they’re in-ear headphones, the silicone rubber earbuds can be uncomfortable to wear. You might feel like your ears are clogged, as if you’re in an aeroplane or underwater and they might take some time to fit and adjust in your ears. However, once they are in there, they rarely fall out no matter how hard you shake your head.

Moving on to the most important part, the sound quality. AirPods don’t have a noise-cancelling feature but music still sounds crisp and there’s a decent bass. AirDots have a really good noise-cancelling feature, a powerful bass, and clear sound. Unlike the headphones that sit in the outer ear, these earbuds extend into your ear canal, blocking out most sound from your surroundings. While this can provide you with some high-quality music, it might not be good if you like hearing everything around you. I wore them while walking down the busy streets of New York City and I couldn’t hear any honking cars or the loud crowd.

You can also make phone calls on both devices. AirPods filter out the background noise pretty well and are able to emphasise the person’s voice, but AirDots have limitations. You can hear a lot of background noise, like ruffling sounds from your clothes and your footsteps, which is distracting when you have to take a call on the go. If you use earbuds a lot for phone calls, you might wanna stay away from AirDots, despite them being good at blocking background noise while listening to music.

To end a phone call, you have to double tap your AirPods. For AirDots, you can single tap. You can also single tap either side of your AirDots to play a song, pause a song, or double tap to open voice assistant. While single tapping sounds like a more simple gesture it can actually be an issue. You could be adjusting your AirDots in your ear but it would register it as a tapping motion on the headphones. AirPods, on the other hand, offer a double tap feature that you can customise for each bud. You can set one AirPod to play the next or the previous track and the other pair to pause a song, open Siri, or turn the feature off completely. Taking one AirPod out of your ear also stops the music from playing.

These headphones also offer similar ranges. Apple claims the AirPods have a range of about 12 meters or 40 feet while Xiaomi says the AirDots can reach about 10 meters or 32 feet.

As for battery life, AirPods can last up to 5 hours of constant listening while AirDots can last up to 4 hours. Both devices come with a case that charges them. However, the AirPods will show you the battery percentage for both the case and the headphone on your phone while the AirDots will only show you the battery icon on your connected mobile device. There are lights on both headphones that indicate when they’re charging. The AirPods use the same lightning cable as your iPhone so you don’t have to worry about carrying another cable to charge them, whereas the AirDots use a micro USB cable.

Overall, for $US30, I say the AirDots are a great deal. They’re a solid set of wireless headphones that have most of the features of the AirPods at a fraction of the price. But if you don’t mind the high price tag, want the customisation of AirPods, and are already in Apple’s ecosystem, the AirPods may be the way to go.

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