AirPods 2 for $89 are an early Apple Black Friday deal that sounds great

Apple may have its new AirPods (3rd generation) to appeal to your ears, but an early Black Friday 2021 promo has brought second-gen AirPods down to their lowest price so far, though that's not the only reason you might want to jump on the deal. Usually, a set of AirPods (2nd generation) would cost you $129 from Apple direct, but one retailer is offering them for just $89.

That's a not-insubstantial $40 saving, and also brings the AirPods down to their lowest ever pricing since Apple first launched the second-gen model in early 2019. As you might expect, there are some caveats to bear in mind, though.

For a start, these are the second-gen AirPods with the standard charging case. Not, then, the version of the earbuds with the Qi wireless charging case. It'll mean plugging in a Lightning cable to top the case up, though the $89 that Walmart is charging does include that cable in the box too.

The other consideration is the shape. Apple switched to a new design for its non-noise-cancelling AirPods with the third-generation model, which it unveiled earlier this year. Gone were the extended stems and small earbud tips; in their place, much shorter stems borrowing the design from the AirPods Pro, and a larger, reshaped head.

Apple's argument is that the bigger head of the latest AirPods makes for a better fit in the average ear. Neither the second- or third-generation model will perfectly block out all ambient sound – you'll need AirPods Pro for that – but the newer earbuds are definitely intended to fill your ear more snugly.

That is, assuming you have an "average" ear according to Apple's design research. As I found when I reviewed the AirPods (3rd generation), I actually preferred how their predecessors fit my ears instead. It definitely comes down to personal choice.

There are, of course, some other things to take into account. The second-gen AirPods lack spatial audio support, aren't IPX4 water resistance rated, and they don't have the new skin detection in-ear sensor which promises to better distinguish between, say, the earbud being in place versus on a table or in a pocket. Maximum battery life is five hours, too, versus the third-gen AirPods' six hours.

Still, you'll pay $179 at the moment for those latest earbuds, and that's more than twice what Walmart is charging in its AirPods Black Friday 2021 deal. While those with an eye on active noise cancellation or a more snug fit for workouts may want to look elsewhere – and might I suggest, in that case, Beats' Fit Pro, which I actually prefer to Apple's AirPods Pro – you're getting a lot here for $89.