Apple's AirPods are sold out for the holidays; here are some alternatives


TIME's tech deputy editor Alex Fitzpatrick and tech editor Lisa Eadicicco unbox the iPhone 7, and discuss the phone's new features including double lenses, lightning port headphones, and AirPod wireless earbuds. Time

 (Photo: Apple)

LOS ANGELES — Apple's AirPods, the $159 Bluetooth accessory for iPhones, is sold out at Apple Stores through January. 

Best Buy and Target show the same story, while the AT&T online store promises two-day delivery with an extra $14.95 delivery fee. 

Apple has been struggling to get AirPods to its customers since they were introduced in 2016. Originally slated to debut in October last year, they were delayed until late December, missing much of that holiday season. Apple has been trying to play catch up with consumer demand ever since. 

Tim Bajarin, an analyst with Creative Strategies, said it shouldn't be a surprise that the AirPods sold out. "It's been the hottest of all the wireless earbuds for months," he says. ."

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He says the AirPods struck a chord with people because of the affordable price, sound quality, "and it just does the job."

Newer iPhones have eliminated the standard headphone jack, requiring a purchase of a Bluetooth, wireless replacement. While there are many brands available, the AirPods are built for the iPhone and connect within seconds thanks to the company's proprietary W1 chip.

In an earnings call in May, Apple CEO Tim Cook addressed the supply issue. "We have increased production capacity for AirPods and are working very hard to get them to customers as quickly as we can, but we are still not able to meet the strong level of demand.”

With Christmas on Sunday and many last-minute shoppers hoping to pick up AirPods for under the tree, many consumers are forced to shop elsewhere, most notably auction site eBay, where many re-sellers have jacked up the price of the units, as high as $350. 

Apple had no comment. 

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Plenty of alternatives

Beats powerbeats 3 wireless hero2 (Photo:

If you are looking for wireless headphones, AirPods are far from the only option.

Those looking for the simplicity of Apple's W1 chip will find it in the company's latest line of Beats Bluetooth headphones including the Beats X earbuds, Powerbeats 3 earphones and Beats Solo 3 and Studio 3 headphones.

Pricing for the Beats products ranges from $99 for the Beats X to $349.95 for the Studio 3. And while all have that Apple chip for seamless pairing with Apple devices, none of the products offer the truly wireless earbud experience that AirPods offer.  Both the Beats X and PowerBeats have a wire that runs from the left to the right ear, while the Solo and Studio are regular headphones.

If you are looking for wireless earbuds, two options worth considering are Samsung's $149.99 IconX and the $329 Dash Pro from German startup Bragi.

Bragi Dash Pro wireless earbuds. (Photo: Bragi)

Like the AirPods, both products are truly wireless Bluetooth earbuds, offering completely untethered sound. Pairing is not as simple as with the AirPods, but both options utilize apps (they each work with iOS as well as Android devices) to help make the process a bit easier. 

Samsung's Gear IconX wireless earbuds. (Photo: Samsung)

Both earbuds promise five hours of battery life when streaming over Bluetooth. Like the AirPods, the carrying case for each double as a portable charger to recharge on the go. Bragi's buds are also waterproof up to one meter for up to 30 minutes and feature a heart rate monitor if you plan to use them while working out. 

One other plus to Bragi and Samsung's versions: They look a lot more subtle than AirPods.

More: How to choose the best smart speaker for you: shopper's guide

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Follow USA TODAY's Jefferson Graham on Twitter, @jeffersongraham

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