Apple AirPods 2 vs Jaybird X4: Which wireless headphones should you buy?

AirPods 2 charging case
AirPods 2 charging case (Image credit: iMore)

When considering whether to invest in the truly wireless AirPods and wireless (but tethered to itself) Jaybird X4, the former is niche and better designed for die-hard Apple fans, while the latter is a more traditional, widely used set of headphones meant for everyday use by everyday folks.

Decision time

You'd be hard pressed to find a better pair of true wireless earbuds than Apple's new AirPods. Its built-in goodies include a customized H1 chip that, among other things, allows you to automatically pair with other Apple devices that use the same iCloud account. And with all-new Siri integration, all you have to do is say "Hey Siri" to change your playlist, ask for directions, turn up the volume, and much more.

The Jaybird X4, meanwhile, is a more traditional pair of wireless earbuds, fitting in better with some recent, but older models. They're wired in the sense that the earbuds are physically connected and require a charging cable and Bluetooth setup on every device you want to connect. They're not wireless like AirPods.

Though the new AirPods may have more features and faster connectivity, the Jaybird X4 earbuds are the winner here for their simple set up and familiar design.

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Header Cell - Column 0 Jaybird X4Apple AirPods 2
Color choices31
Listening time between charges8 hours5 hours
Charging caseNoYes
Wireless charging case availableNoYes
Protection for the elementsIPX7None
Different sized earbudsYesNo
Custom EQYesNo

You have two great products here but if your search comes down to these two, I recommend the Jaybird X4. They last longer between charges, are available in different colors and are much more comfortable to wear thanks to the large assortment of included ear tips and fins. Besides, the X4 will survive a day in the rain. Officially, Apple has made no claims about AirPods being waterproof or water resistant. Therefore, it's recommended that you keep AirPods away from water.

The new AirPods might not fit your ears, while the X4 come with multiple eartips so you can find the best fit.

The Jaybird X4 earbuds allow you to create a custom sound experience using fully adjustable EQ in the Jaybird app for iOS. In doing so, it promises to provide a crisp, clear, and uncompromising sound. The Jaybird X4 supports both Siri and Google Now. To activate these voice controls, you must long press the middle button on the device, which obviously isn't as easy as just saying "Hey Siri."

By contrast, the unique design of the new AirPods might cause you some aggravation given its one-size-fits-all mentality and dependence on Apple's imperfect Siri voice assistant. The X4 come with multiple eartips so you can find the best fit. There's also the issue of the AirPods design which many don't like because they look like white sticks poking out of your ear. (Individual AirPods are also easier to lose, which is why Apple offers a replacement program!) Additionally, because AirPods come in only one size, they don't fit everyone.

On the positive side, only the AirPods come with a charging case that provides 24 hours of charge time. The Jaybird X4, offering eight hours between charges in total, doesn't include a portable charging case.

Bryan M Wolfe
Staff Writer

Bryan M. Wolfe has written about technology for over a decade on various websites, including TechRadar, AppAdvice, and many more. Before this, he worked in the technology field across different industries, including healthcare and education. He’s currently iMore’s lead on all things Mac and macOS, although he also loves covering iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch. Bryan enjoys watching his favorite sports teams, traveling, and driving around his teenage daughter to her latest stage show, audition, or school event in his spare time. He also keeps busy walking his black and white cocker spaniel, Izzy, and trying new coffees and liquid grapes.