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The best AirPods alternatives

Get more out of your music with these true wireless picks.
By
May 8, 2022
sony wf 1000xm4 review glam
Chris Thomas / Android Authority

Apple dominates the true wireless earbuds market, but there are plenty of alternatives too. Whether you need something for commuting, working out, or to match your outfit, we have a pick for you.

Start here: Headphone buying guide — A beginner’s guide to all things headphones

This best AirPods alternatives list comes from the audio experts at our sister site SoundGuys. Check out their in-depth take here.

Buying the right AirPods alternatives for you

It’s no secret that wireless audio doesn’t compare to the sound quality of wired options yet. When you listen to music over a Bluetooth connection, Bluetooth codecs, compress your audio, and data is lost in the process. However, there are still certain Bluetooth codecs to keep an eye on depending on your operating system. iPhone users should use AAC-supporting earbuds and Android users should go for aptX.

Isolation is absolutely key to accurate sound reproduction. You should take a few moments to experiment with the ear tips included with your ear tips. When you get a proper seal, the maximum amount of outside noise will be blocked out by the physical barrier of the earbuds. This optimizes audio reproduction, specifically bass notes.

Related: The best true wireless earbuds

The last thing to remember before you trot off with your favorite pair of true wireless earbuds is how the constant charge-deplete cycle degrades the battery capacity very quickly. You’ve likely observed a similar phenomenon with your smartphone, or even large Bluetooth headsets. This happens because lithium-ion cells can’t last forever, and again, the unending charge cycles are taxing.

Best AirPods alternatives:

  • The Amazon Echo Buds (2nd Gen) are great earbuds for Android smartphone owners who want a smart earphone experience and prefer Google Assistant.
  • The Sony WF-1000XM4 is the best pair of active noise-cancelling (ANC) true wireless earphones around.
  • The Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro offer plenty of features on Android, and even more so if you use a Samsung Galaxy phone. These ‘buds are IPX7-rated and have very good noise cancellation.
  • The Beats Powerbeats Pro are for iPhone- or Android-owning athletes who want most of what the AirPods Pro have to offer with a more secure fit.
  • The Google Pixel Buds A-Series have a comfortable and lightweight fit, and an IPX4 water-resistance rating.

Amazon Echo Buds (2nd Gen): The best AirPods alternatives for most people

The Amazon echo buds (2nd Gen) in white on top of a wooden surface.
Chris Thomas / Android Authority

The Amazon Echo Buds (2nd Gen) don’t mimic the AirPods shape, but Amazon and Apple’s earbuds share similar features. With the Echo Buds (2nd Gen), you get very good noise-cancelling that outperforms the AirPods Pro, an IPX4 rating, automatic play/pause, and an ear tip fit test. The Echo Buds (2nd Gen) may not be as simple to set up as the AirPods with an iPhone, but it takes little know-how to figure out.

The sound quality is perfectly fine but not great. In some relative instances, bass notes can sound twice as loud as mids, which makes it hard to hear vocals during percussion-heavy moments like a chorus.

Battery life is average, clocking in at just under five hours of listening on a single charge. The case supports USB-C charging, and you can pay a bit extra for wireless charging. You get an extra two charges from the case and it can fast charge the earbuds. Placing the ‘buds in the case for 15 minutes yields 120 minutes of playtime.

Rather than direct voice access to Siri, you get direct voice access to Amazon Alexa. This requires you to download the Alexa app, which is free on the Apple App Store and Google Play Store. All the magic happens within the Alexa app, so if you don’t want to do any fiddling, one of these other options may be more up your alley.

Amazon Echo Buds (2nd Gen) with Wireless Charging Case

Check out our full review to learn more about the Google Pixel Buds (2020).


Sony WF-1000XM4: The best noise-cancelling AirPods alternative

sony wf 1000xm4 review hero

It’s no surprise that the Sony WF-1000XM4 offer best-in-class ANC, especially given how their big brother (Sony WH-1000XM4) is among the best noise-cancelling headsets around. Sony completely revamped the design of its flagship true wireless earphone, making the buds and case much smaller than before. You also get a handful of memory foam ear tips to find the right fit. If the hardware isn’t enough, you can even take advantage of a software-powered ear tip fit test within the Sony Headphones Connect app.

The ANC reduces low-frequency sounds to a great degree, rendering them up to four times quieter than without noise-cancelling. High-frequency sounds, like nearby conversations and the clang of dishware, are quieted too, essentially nullified. Sony’s default frequency response is a bit wonky: it amplifies bass notes but hardly amplifies treble notes. While this sound profile is a bit odd for consumer earphones, you can quickly EQ it to your liking within the app.

While these earbuds aren’t perfect, they’re about as premium as it gets.

Sony WF-1000XM4 Wireless Earbuds

Check out our full review to learn more about the Sony WF-1000XM4.


Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro: The best features

Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro 10
Adam Molina / Android Authority
Galaxy Buds Pro

If you own a Samsung Galaxy S20 smartphone, the Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro are among the best AirPods alternatives for Android. These noise-cancelling earbuds are the first to support Samsung 360 Audio, which works with Dolby Atmos-encoded content. Other Samsung-exclusive benefits include direct voice access to Bixby and high-quality, adaptive streaming over the Samsung Scalable Codec (non-Samsung smartphone owners have the option to stream over the AAC or SBC Bluetooth codecs instead).

The earbuds seal to the ear which creates a more comfortable, secure fit for long-term use. You can exercise to your heart’s content with Samsung’s noise-cancelling earphones because they boast an IPX7 rating. If you have a Samsung Galaxy S10 device or later, you may wirelessly charge the earbuds from anywhere.

Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro

Check out our full review to learn more about the Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro.


Beats Powerbeats Pro: The best for athletes

Beats Powerbeats Pro 4
Sam Smart / Android Authority
If you want AirPods alternatives with all the benefits of the AirPods Pro and a workout-friendly design, look no further than the Beats Powerbeats Pro. These noise-cancelling earphones have an IPX4 rating and are feature-packed, whether you use them on Android or iOS. They also have a stable ear hook design to keep them on your ears while you work out. Rather than touch controls, the lowercase “b” on each earbud housing marks a button that you can press to control playback, volume, and more. These also have an excellent battery life just shy of 11 hours, making them a great choice if you frequently forget to charge your earbuds or have a long journey to go on.

Related: The best cheap true wireless earbuds under $100

You also get great features like H1 chip integration, which allows for hands-free access to Siri, and excellent connection strength due to Bluetooth 5.0 firmware. Sound quality favors the low-end, which is unsurprising for a pair of Beats, but the reproduction isn’t egregious by any means. If you’re an athlete who wants a stable fitting pair of earbuds, consider these.

Beats Powerbeats Pro

Check out SoundGuys’ full review to learn more about the Beats Powerbeats Pro.


Google Pixel Buds A-Series: The best AirPods alternatives under $100

A hand holds the open case of the Google Pixel Buds A-Series in front of a beach.

The Google Pixel Buds A-Series had some annoying issues, but those have been fixed in a firmware update (version 233 or later). With volume issues fixed, the Google Pixel Buds A-Series is a strong contender for one of the best AirPods alternatives. They have an IPX4 water-resistance rating, a comfortable fit, and great touch controls.

The isolation on these earbuds isn’t the best, but this can be a good thing if you want to be able to hear your surroundings while still having a good fit. Low-end sounds are underemphasized in these buds, but this isn’t a problem if you prefer spoken word content like podcasts, and you can use the Bass Boost preset to fix this a bit. These earbuds are a great option if you want an affordable pair of earbuds for listening to music or podcasts throughout your day.

Google Pixel Buds A-Series

Check out our full review to learn more about the Google Pixel Buds A-Series.


Best AirPods alternatives: Honorable mentions

The Jabra Elite 85t noise cancelling true wireless earbuds compared to the Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus, which are smaller than Jabra's buds.
Lily Katz / Android Authority
  • Beats Fit Pro: If you like the Powerbeats Pro but want something more compact, the Beats Fit Pro is just that. They support Spatial Audio and have an IPX4 rating just like the AirPods Pro, though the active noise-cancelling isn’t the best.
  • Beats Studio Buds: Apple first extended its olive branch to Android owners with the Studio Buds, a pair of small, vibrant ANC earbuds that work just as well on iOS as they do on Android.
  • Anker Soundcore Liberty Air 2: These earbuds are another fantastic budget option, with IPX5 water-resistance and AAC and aptX support, though the touch controls can be hit-or-miss.
  • Jabra Elite 85t: Jabra’s noise-cancelling earbuds effectively cancel out background noise, and are the perfect solution for travelers who don’t have much room in their bag to spare.
  • Microsoft Surface Earbuds: feature an open-fit design like the Apple AirPods, but Microsoft includes replaceable ear tips that help keep the earbuds in place. The ‘buds have an IPX4 rating and support SBC and aptX for high-quality streaming from Android devices.
  • Mobvoi TicPods 2 Pro: If you like the stemmed, unsealed design of the Apple AirPods but want something a bit more durable, consider these IPX4-rated earphones.
  • Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus: These earphones block out background noise more consistently than the Samsung Galaxy Buds Live because they securely seal to the ear canal. Sound quality is very good, and the microphone quality is perfectly fine for personal phone calls.
  • Samsung Galaxy Buds 2: Those who want noise-cancelling earphones in a compact package will love the Galaxy Buds 2. Android users can take advantage of the ear tip fit test and Galaxy Wearable app to customize the listening experience.
  • Nothing Ear 1: For less than $100, you can get a solid set of noise-cancelling earbuds from Nothing.
  • OnePlus Buds Z: OnePlus’ debut true wireless earbuds were a bit controversial, as the company required listeners to have a OnePlus phone to access basic necessities like firmware updates. OnePlus has since made updates accessible to all OS platforms with the OnePlus Buds Z, which feature a stemmed design that seals to the ear.
  • Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2: These earphones are beautifully crafted and feature some of the best noise-cancelling on the market. In typical Sennheiser fashion, the earbuds have a pleasant frequency response that you can EQ in the mobile app.
  • 1More PistonBuds: This is another pair of stemmed earphones, but they diverge from the crowd of AirPods alternatives, thanks to the much more stout stems that hang from the earbuds. These cost less than $50 and pack a punch for the price.
  • JBL Reflect Flow Pro: If you want durable earbuds for workouts inside or outside, the JBL Reflect Flow Pro come equipped with an IP68 water- and dust-resistance rating, as well as wing tips to fit securely into your ear. They also have a handy app for adjusting EQ, fit testing, and noise-cancelling, though the noise-cancelling isn’t great by any means.

Why you should trust SoundGuys

SoundGuys is our sister site specializing in all things audio. Each of the writers has kept pace with the changing audio world and its standards for years. What’s more, SoundGuys respects that audio is both an objective and subjective experience and applies that philosophy to each of its reviews and tests. If you’d like to read more, feel free to read over their ethics policy.