If you missed out on ordering your AirPods for a pre-Christmas delivery, there’s still a chance you might get ahold of a pair because they’ll be available in Apple’s retail stores on Monday, December 19th. Don’t, however, get your hopes up because this will likely mirror the Apple Pencil launch where “available in store” really means “good luck with that.”
AirPods are Apple’s wireless earbuds first showed off at the iPhone 7 launch event in September. They use Apple’s W1 chip to make pairing with your iPhone simple, and once paired they automatically work with every device linked to your iCloud account.
Apple planned on shipping AirPods in October, but missed that target. When Apple finally started taking orders on Tuesday, December 13th, they went from a December 21 delivery date to a four week shipping backorder in about an hour. That has since stretched out to six weeks.
Considering how quickly AirPods sold out it doesn’t seem likely there will be much inventory available for stores. That’s exactly the problem Apple had with Apple Pencil when it first shipped: Online orders were backlogged for weeks, and the handful that occasionally trickled into stores were snapped up as soon as they came in.
That lack of inventory is frustrating for how have been waiting since September to put AirPods in their ears, and considering how limited inventory seems to be, most won’t get a chance to get a pair for several more weeks.
If you’re planning on trying to buy a pair in person next week, try showing up when your local Apple Store opens and ask an employee to personally check to see if any are in stock. From our experiences with Apple Pencil, sometimes Apple’s retail stores have product that’s arrived but isn’t showing up in their in-store inventory system yet.