Cricut Explore vs Cricut Explore Air – What’s the difference?

Update: Cricut has now released the Cricut Explore 3. The orginal Explore and Explore Air are no longer being manufactured. Check out the difference between the latest machines in the Explore line in my article Cricut Explore 3 vs Explore Air 2: What’s the Difference.

Not too long ago, the Cricut Explore Air was released, and it seemed to have created some buzz. So, what’s really the difference between the Cricut Explore and the Cricut Explore Air?

Well, not much, unfortunately. That’s not to say that the machines aren’t good machines. They are, and you can read the Cricut Explore Review. But I think some of us were expecting something more.

Cricut Explore Air

Amazon Price

According to Provo Craft, the only difference is the Cricut Explore Air has built-in wireless capabilities. The Cricut Explore does have Bluetooth capabilities, but an adapter must be purchased separately.

Here is what Provo Craft had to say about the differences:

The Explore and Explore Air only have one difference. The Cricut Explore Air™ comes with a built-in Bluetooth® and does not require the Cricut Explore® Wireless Bluetooth® Adapter. The Explore requires the Bluetooth® Adapter to connect via Bluetooth® to cut wirelessly.

If you have the Cricut Explore Air, you don’t have to use the wireless. It still has a USB connection to hook directly to the computer.

This means, if you have the external Bluetooth adapter for the Cricut Explore, you can do everything that the Cricut Explore Air can do.

Cricut Explore Wireless Bluetooth Adapter
Cricut Explore Wireless Bluetooth Adapter

Well, this isn’t technically the only difference. The Cricut Explore Air does come in a nice looking blue, so if you don’t like the green, you do have more options.

What’s the advantages of going wireless?

If your wondering if you should go wireless with the Cricut Explore, there are a couple advantages. For one, it means less wires and greater portability. Have you wanted to move the machine but the cord wasn’t long enough? Or put the machine on a shelf? Or even have the machine be in the next room over? Well, that’s what you can do with wireless.

Another awesome thing you can do with the wireless Bluetooth is use it with your iPad (iPad 2 and newer). And, according to Provo Craft, they are working hard to create an app for Android users as well.

If you are looking for the Cricut Explore App, you can download it from iTunes.

Cricut Explore iPad App
Cricut Explore iPad App

Should you upgrade? And which machine should you buy?

If you have the Cricut Explore already, I would not recommend upgrading. If you want the wireless feature, save some money and buy the Cricut Wireless Adapter.

If you are deciding between the two machines, the Explore Air is nice, but you may be able to save some money by buying the Cricut Explore and purchasing the wireless adapter separately.

Amazon Price

83 thoughts on “Cricut Explore vs Cricut Explore Air – What’s the difference?”

  1. I just bought a cricut explore.. it was only $179.. the wireless adaptor is $49 .. on sale the explore air was $249.. so even if I decide to buy that later it will be a savings. I dont really know why anyone would buy the Air if you can get all the advantages for less money.

    • Glad to hear it Judy! We agree, the Cricut Explore with the adapter is a much better bargin. The machine seems to be discontinued from Cricut’s website, but you can still buy it from some vendors.

      • I don’t think the adapter gives you wireless capabilities, only Bluetooth. Be certain before you buy. Big difference between bluetooth and wireless.

        • Well, wireless Bluetooth 🙂 But yes, people should be aware the technology uses Bluetooth. Thanks CDJ!

        • Bluetooth is wireless, just make sure your device such as phone or laptop have the Bluetooth settings turned on. My printer has Bluetooth capabilities and I connect to it using my phone which allows me to print basically anywhere in range of the printer. Hope this helps.

  2. I purchased the explore one from HSN, but as a new user didn’t realize the difference was that the air has two arms, one for the pen and one for the cutter. I wish that had been better explained because now I’m limited as to what I can do with this cricut. Is there a way to add another arm to the one?

    • Hi Melanie, unfortunately, you cannot add a second carriage to the Cricut Explore One. Sorry that you purchased the wrong machine!

    • Hi Melanie, I just bought an Explore One. You can use a pen with it by inserting it into a special Explore One adapter. The adapter then goes into the arm that holds the blade. The scoring stylus also fits into this adapter. Unfortunately, you have to switch back and forth between the blade and the pen or stylus, but at least the machine has the capabilities of writing and scoring so you’re not as limited as you thought. It’s not as convenient, but it’s not as expensive, either.

  3. I saw on amazon the air can cut and print in one step and the explore doesn’t it requires a 2 step process please help as looking to get a one soon

    • Hi Nina, the both the Explore and Explore Air can cut and print in one step. The Explore and Explore Air are exactly the same, except the Air has built in wireless. The Explore One however is a two step process because it only has on carriage instead of two.

      Hope this helps. Let me know if you have any more questions!

      • Umm, everything I’m reading says there’s an Explore One and an Explore Air. Nothing about a plain Explore that has Air’s capabilities minus the wireless. So, I am now very confused. Any info on this?

        • Hi Zae! The plain Explore is no longer being made, but you can still find it in some stores. Hope this helps!

  4. Hi,
    I was looking into purchasing a the Explore, but I see that the Explore Air allows you to cut and write in one step. Is that a big deal or I should be fine with the Explore?

    • Hi Q.Barnwell, both the Cricut Explore and Cricut Explore Air machines cut and write in one step. The Cricut Explore One however has only one carriage head so it can’t.

    • Hi tiffany,
      What stores will have these machines on sale? I”m looking to buy one, but don’t want to pay full price (who does right?). With black friday coming in a few weeks, I figured if I wait until then, then I could hopefully save money. Do these machines go on sale for black friday? If so, where (what stores) would I find these sales?

  5. I was looking to buy cricut explorer but I don’t understand where the overlay goes on the new machine thanks Jackie Cincinnati ohio

    • Hi Jackie, thanks for the question! I am not sure what you mean by overlay? Could you describe it or maybe provide a picture of what you mean?

      • I think she means that rubber clear thing that came with older style cartridges… You laid it onto the ‘buttons’ spot on the machine like the Expression. So you knew what to press-

    • Hi Jackie, if you mean the overlay for the buttons that existed in the older machines like the Expression 1 and 2, the Explore machines don’t use an overlay. Cartridges can plug into the Explore machines, but the cartridges get linked to your online account, where everything is done through the software, which is why there are no buttons. Hope this makes sense.

  6. I purchased my cricut explore from hobby lobby on sale for $125, and bought an adapter on Amazon for $25. It only cost me $150 and a cricut air is $299

  7. I’m looking into purchasing one of the Cricut Explores (haven’t decided on model yet). Here are a few questions I need answered…

    1. Do you need an apple product (laptop/iPad) to use the design center? Or is there software that I can install on my HP laptop?

    2. Is it easy to download all of my current cricut cartridges into the design center so I can continue to use them?

    3. Am I able to save an image from say Google, and the Explore will cut it?

    Thank you!

  8. Since the Explore One has only one carriage, if I want to alternate from printing and cutting, will I have to manually install approapriate parts each time I want to print and cut? Will this be an inconvenient process?

    • Hi Ray! Switching between printing and cutting is a manual process, but it is very easy. All you do is remove the blade holder and insert the pen you wish to draw with. That’s it! Hope that helps!

  9. I am wondering if the pens purchased for the Explore can also be used in the Explore Air? A 3 day owner of a Cricut Explore Air.
    Mant thanks.

  10. I’m looking into starting my own planner sticker business. I see that the Cricut prints and cuts. I’m curious how it prints: I see that it prints with “pens”, but how would this translate for stickers? Stickers tend to be multi-color and have gradients, as well. Suffice it to say they are not mono-color. How would this work? Thanks very much!

    • Hi Kris, I don’t know if this will work with the types of stickers you are working with, but the Explore does have a Print Then Cut feature. This feature will let you print from your normal printer, then you can cut them out with the Explore. Here is a video of how it works:

  11. I am wondering if with the Explore Air or Explore if I can upload my own design and it cut it. Not one that I have drawn, but if I want to scan a picture, will it cut it?

    • Hi Shanan, it might work if you can scan the picture, then print and cut it out using the Print and Cut feature. This isn’t really ideal since you would need to print out the image that you already have.

      There are a couple machine that will do a better job. The Silhouette Cameo allows you to take pictures of designs with a camera and then upload the picture to the computer. The machine will then know how to cut it. Another machine, the Brother ScanNCut actually comes with a built-in scanner, which might be what you are looking for.

  12. I just upgraded and bought Cricut Explore Air because I was excited about the wireless connection. Unfortunately, I just discovered my PC does not have Bluetooth capability. Is there anything I can do to add it?

  13. I’m debating between the cricut explore and the air. I read a few reviews and it sounds like you can’t use cartridges or use the machine (air) at all unless you have Internet connection. Would it actually be better then to purchase the cricut explore bc you would have both options (to use a cartridge or not to use one)? Please advise.

    • Hi Rachel, all the Cricut Explores machines (Cricut Explore, Explore Air, and Explore One) require an internet connection to operate. All the machines can use cartridges, but you must first link them to your online account.

  14. If I have a subscription to the craft room with my Expression machine, is it good for design studio also with the Explorer?

    • Hi Robin, I believe the subscription would be good for both the Craft Room and Design Studio, but I would contact Cricut to be 100% sure.

  15. I’ve been comparing the three machines all morning trying to get the best bang for my buck (I’ve never owned a Cricut machine so it’s all new to me). The Cricut website boasts how the Explore One and Explore Air can “upload and cut your own images and fonts” but didn’t say that the Explore can do this. Is this one main difference other than the wireless capability or does the Explore allow this as well?

    • Hi Jillian, all three Cricut Explores use the same software, so you will be able to upload and cut your own images and fonts with the Explore machine as well.

  16. I’m new to these cutting machines and ready to purchase one, I’m a graphic designer and would like some freedom to create my own art in say photoshop, then import them into circuit. I’ve read reviews that the images are pixelated or low res. Is that true?

  17. I just purchase the beginner’s DVD for the Circut machine to assist a new comer to the Circut family,but what the DVD explain is the older models and not the Curcut Air. I am more confuse about the Circut machine then before. Is there a DVD or a better guide to help a new comer like myself, to learn the basic steps.

  18. I just bought a circuit explore one, I want to cut a 5 to 7 mil vinyl, will the explore one cut a vinyl this thick? Will I have to buy a different blade? Thanks for any help! Regina

    • Hi Regina, I can’t say for sure, but using a German carbide blade with the double cut setting might help.

  19. Hi I received my circuit for Christmas it the explore air from Michaels but then I looked in Amazon and it was on sale . So I ordered that one but when it came the bottom is blue and the same product from Michele’s the bottom is green other then that the boxes look the same and both say circuit explore air. So I am wondering the difference?
    Also do u have any helpful tips or website or book for first time users?

    • Hi Denna, the green one is the Original Cricut Explore, and the blue one is the Cricut Explore Air. “Air” just means wireless. The blue one has built in wireless. That’s the only difference.

      I would join some facebook groups and watch youtube videos to help you get started. Enjoy!

  20. Hi! I received an Expore Air for Christmas and am just really getting around to using it. I purchased the Everyday Fonts cartridge to use. I am able to get it to link, but unable to find the fonts anywhere. I see the everyday fonts listed in the scroll down but they each say $4.99. Could anyone assist in helping me find these fonts and do I need the keypad overlay?? THANKS

  21. I just started looking into getting a Circut, what’s the difference between the air and the gold machines


    • Hi Lisa, the Gold Cricut Explore Air is the same machine as the Green Cricut Explore Air. The gold is just a different color.

    • Hi Lisa, the Gold edition is the same as the Explore Air, except it comes with Anna Griffin content. The machines themselves are exactly the same.

      Hope that helps!

  22. If I was going to purchase one of the explore machines ( explore, explore air or explore gold). Which would do you recommend?

    • Hi Gwen, there is little difference between the machines. The Explore Air is the same as the Explore except with built in wireless. I believe the gold is exactly the same as the Explore Air but comes in a different color.

      Hope this helps!

  23. Thank you for the information. It was very useful. I am starting a greeting either machine business. Sometime I just want to cut my card stock into A2 size cards. Will either machine emboss ?

  24. Hi am looking at starting a business selling personalized name labels and iron on clothing transfer. I will be designing my own images. Since am new to this,Im researching on what equipment to buy to print and cut out on vinyl adhesive paper and iron on fabrics. Is the explore air or cameo suited for my need. Thank you so much for the detailed replies to all queries.

  25. Hello,
    Question In the cricut Air once you are subscribed to the 1 year air design are you able to keep the images?
    Or is this only during your 1 year subscription?
    Also can you buy images to keep forever?

  26. I have an Cricut Expression and recently bought an Explore Air. Is there any reason to keep the Expression? I don’t have a lot of room so only having one machine would help me save space. However, I don’t want to give up the ability to make something that I couldn’t make on the Explore Air. Thanks.

  27. Your comparison is very helpful. However, it sounds like the explore one is a step down from the explore one (two arms arm) but the explore is no longer for sale. Any suggestions? The wireless in my house isn’t great so I only see frustrations with the Air.

    • Hi Lori, the Cricut Explore Air works on Bluetooth, but if that is a problem, you can still use a USB cord. Hope that helps.

      • Thank you for answering my question. The cricut website says it works with ipad….will it work with my Samsung tablet as well?

  28. I’m wanting to buy a cricut, but I do not have access to internet all the time. I would be able to periodically. Do I have to have internet while operating the explore or explore air, or can I download what I want and cut later? I’ve never used a cricut, so I don’t know anything about them.

  29. I see that we can no longer purchase the Cricut Explore. If I buy the machine from someone who is selling it. Can you still use all of the features and will it still connect by using the adapter to the cricut and use it online while using the cricut craftroom?

    • Chelsey, I am not 100% sure but I think you if you bought the machine from someone else and have your own Cricut Craftroom account, it should still work. I would double check with Cricut Support to make sure.

  30. Thanks so much for the article, this was really helpful! I curious if you or any other cricut users can give me their opinion. I have the option to buy a used Explore or a new explore one for essentially the same price. I have the tendency to want the new product but it seems like the explore one may not be as great as the explore. Is there any reason to not buy a used machine? After reading your article I feel like the Explore is a better or more convenient machine but I have never used a cricut so I am afraid my lack of knowledge will get me the wrong machine.

  31. With Design Space software, can I use True Type Fonts (TTF) already loaded to my computer to make lettering or am I limited to what is in the Software only? I have design software for my embroidery machine that converts any TTF into stitches.

    Just wondering about versatility.

    • Hi Lynn, the original Cricut Explore is discontinued (although you can still buy it). I would go with the Cricut Explore Air.

  32. I bought my cricket about 10 years ago
    Used it for making signs and posters
    Now am retired and was planing to start back scrap booking
    What do I need to do to update my cricut or can I

  33. Does my Explore work with computers? I’m having such a hard time figuring out how big/small the images will be. I heard that using the computer screen is the way to go.. I’ve had my circuit now for a few years and have no clue how to use it.. I’ve tried so many times and just get frustrated..
    I need all the help I can get. I’ve watched u-tube videos too…


  34. just purchased a new in box CRICUT Explorer /with adapter. Have a laptop….wifi…Bluetooth. Interested in cutting fabric. I am a quilter. Any DVDS or suggestions for instruction? So green that I don’t know if I need special blades. Reading about craftroom subscription. Would this be helpful to me to cut pieces for quilting? Any advice is welcome. Seasoned crafter….just totally new to me. Faye

  35. hi I was given a air machine I have read a lot of question from other users is this a good machine to have and do I need the adapter I do not know what to do if you can give me some help I would be greatful

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