It’s easy to see what the fuss is about once you find the right pair of true wireless earbuds. They’re portable, powerful, and you never have to worry about cables getting yanked from your ears. However, they can tend to get pricey for a high-end setup — Bose’s and Sony’s best sets can run you over $200. We’re not here to break the bank, so let’s take a look at the best true wireless earbuds for under $50.
Buying the right cheap true wireless earbuds for your needs
When you browse cheap true wireless earbuds, you’ll make a few sacrifices, namely to build quality and features. Virtually every pair of true wireless earbuds that cost less than $50 will be made of plastic, but that isn’t immediately indicative of poor build quality. Many of our top picks feature an IP rating, which means they can resist water to a certain degree. This is great for athletes on a budget, and people who live in unpredictable climates.
Sound quality takes a hit since R&D funding just isn’t there for cheap audio products. The driver materials and tuning yield inaccurate audio quality more often than not. Again, this isn’t always a bad thing as many of us prefer bass-boosted audio, but don’t expect to get studio-quality sound from any of these earphones.
We’re careful to pick the best true wireless earbuds under $50, so you make as few compromises as you can while you work within your budget!
The best true wireless earbuds under $50
- The Edifier TWS1 is the very best pair of cheap true wireless earbuds you can get because sound quality and portability are both great for the price.
- The Mobvoi TicPods Free earphones are for listeners who like the AirPods but don’t have an iPhone.
- The JLab Go Air is for utilitarians because the charging case includes an attached USB cable and the earbuds just work.
- The OnePlus Buds Z are great for OnePlus and non-OnePlus smartphone owners alike thanks to the excellent fast charging and IP55 rating.
- The 1More PistonBuds are the most stylish earphones on the list and the touch controls are very good.
Edifier TWS1: The best cheap true wireless earbuds for most people
Edifier’s TWS 1 earbuds stick to the simple side, and that allows them to keep their priorities straight. Heck, Edifier didn’t even give the buds a creative name or anything. The TWS 1 are IPX5 rated so you can wear them for a workout, and the earbuds themselves are light as a feather. You should manage around seven hours and 10 minutes of playback on a single charge, but don’t expect a speedy recharge with the included micro-USB charging case.
The Edifier TWS1 does it all for less.
The TWS1 offer solid connectivity range thanks to Qualcomm’s powerful technology. We never experienced lag or latency in our testing, and we found that the TWS 1 automatically pair to the last device you used each time you open the charging case.
For a pair of true wireless earbuds that cost under $50, the TWS1 deliver respectable sound quality. They have an overall neutral sound profile with a consumer-friendly bass boost that’s perfect for most listeners. Isolation is fine — there’s no noise-canceling — but you’ll have better luck tuning out high-pitched sounds rather than low-pitched ones. The microphone is nothing to write home about but it’ll do for the sub-$50 category.
Check out our sister site SoundGuys‘ full review to learn more about the Edifier TWS1.
Mobvoi TicPods Free: The best stemmed earphones
As far as cheap earbuds go, the Mobvoi TicPods Free offer great isolation. They block out high-frequency noise very well. You’ll get the same consumer-friendly frequency response as most earbuds under $50, which means there’s plenty of bass to go around. The high frequencies suffer a bit though, and you can’t take advantage of mono listening, which may be an issue for the hearing impaired.
They’re IPX5 rated for water resistance, and automatic ear detection stops playback if you lose an earbud on accident. Mobvoi’s TicPods Free pack smart controls and you can activate your smart assistant easily in case you want to change songs in the middle of a workout. The stemmed design is comfortable, but the ear tips tend to run a bit small so you may need a pair of third-party tips. You won’t be blown away with just 3 hours, 35 minutes of battery life, but at least the charging case adds another charge cycle.
JLab Go Air: The best value
JLab’s Go Air earbuds are another great true wireless option for under $50. They’re IP44 rated, so they stand up better to dust than the previous pairs, though you’ll have to be more careful around water. JLab managed to craft a lightweight yet durable pair of buds, so they should survive a drop or two. If they do happen to break, you still won’t break the bank to replace them.
The charging case features an open design, which is a little odd, but the case itself is one of JLab’s best features. It packs an integrated charging cable that’s tested for 10,000 bends, so you can keep your battery topped up and ready.
JLab’s Go Air earbuds have decent connectivity, and the 4 hours, 5 minutes of battery life is just fine. They feature quick charging capabilities, so you should at least get back to full-strength in a hurry. You won’t get the best sound quality around, because the over-amplified bass makes it hard to hear much auditory detail from your music. However, the overall profile is fine for a cheap pair of wireless earbuds, and you can do worse for your money.
Check out our full review to learn more about the JLab Go Air.
OnePlus Buds Z: The best features
The OnePlus Buds Z is OnePlus’ best pair of cheap true wireless earbuds, which boast an IP55 rating, extremely efficient fast charging, and good sound quality. When you place the buds in the case for 10 minutes, you get 180 minutes of playtime. This outperforms most premium headsets’ fast charging capabilities.
They support both the SBC and AAC Bluetooth codecs, which means iPhone owners will enjoy consistent high-quality playback, but non-OnePlus Android owners may want to revert to SBC for more reliable quality. If you own a compatible OnePlus handset, you can enjoy Dolby Atmos content to the fullest, and all users can be bemused by automatic ear detection.
Check out our full review to learn more about the OnePlus Buds Z.
1More PistonBuds: The best design
The 1More PistonBuds may be affordable but they boast premium features like an IPX4 water-resistant build, touch controls, and USB-C charging. The stemmed design is different from the sea of AirPods lookalikes because the stems are short, and unlikely to catch on a facemask. The angled nozzles are comfortable, and the ear tips promote a proper seal to the ear, which is absolutely necessary if you want the best sound quality from these buds.
Bass notes are heavily amplified and sound twice as loud compared to midrange notes. You can’t equalize the sound in the proprietary app, so you’re stuck with the default sound profile. This is perfectly fine for commuting and working out, but may not please budget audiophiles. Battery life is fine: expect to get 3 hours, 30 minutes of listening from a single charge. Fortunately, the charging case provides an additional 16 hours of playtime, but fast charging isn’t supported.
Listeners who want a pair of cheap earbuds that perform well enough for everyday use, and can withstand a rigorous workout every now and then should get the PistonBuds.
Check out our sister site SoundGuys‘ full review to learn more about the 1More PistonBuds.
Looking for other recommendations? While the Edifier TWS1 is our top recommendation, keep reading below for other choices worth considering.
Best true wireless earbuds under $50: Honorable mentions
- Jabra Elite 65t (Renewed): These compact true wireless workout earbuds are IP56 dust- and water-resistant, so they can withstand nearly any workout.
- JLab JBuds Air Sport: If you like an ear hook design, these are the earbuds to get because they merit an IP66 rating, use Bluetooth 5.0, and support stereo audio for phone calls.
- 1More True Wireless Stylish: These are a bit pricier than the PistonBuds and include Bluetooth 5.0 firmware, up to 24 hours of total battery life, and aptX and AAC support. The earbuds also feature an IPX5 water-resistant rating.
What should you know about true wireless earbuds under $50?
What makes a cheap pair of true wireless earbuds good? Well, the answer gets tougher the more you limit your budget. Here are a few key features that are sure to come into play while you shop:
Not all Bluetooth codecs are equal
No wires means that your new pair of earbuds will rely on Bluetooth to connect to your phone or laptop. A Bluetooth codec indicates just how much data makes it from your source device to your earbuds, so the more is definitely the merrier. Every Bluetooth-based device supports the SBC codec, but that’s only the most basic option. There are plenty of higher-quality options like aptX, LDAC, and AAC, but they’re not always present on budget buds.
You’ll most likely only get one or two codecs on each cheap pair of earbuds, so it’s important to track down the right ones. Every Bluetooth device supports SBC, which is the default, mandated Bluetooth codec. Android users should be careful to look for the aptX codec and iPhone users will want the AAC codec. Most people won’t be able to tell the difference while listening, but it’s always best to have the right setup.
Durable earbuds have IP ratings
If you want to work out, go to the beach, or spend time singing in the rain, then IP ratings have to become your new best friend. IP stands for Ingress Protection, and it’s a standard for how resistant a device is to water and dust. The rating follows an IPXX format, and the first X indicates dust-resistance while the second covers water-resistance.
Higher numbers are better, and IP1X to IP5X ratings are considered dust-resistant while IP6X devices are dust-proof. On the water side, IPX1 to IPX6 is water-resistant while IPX7 and IPX8 are waterproof.
A proper fit is key to optimal sound quality
No matter your budget, sound quality is an important part of any pair of earbuds. After all, who wants to spend money on something that sounds bad? Both frequency response and passive isolation are essential to overall sound quality, and it’s often difficult to find great earbuds that are lacking in one area or another.
Passive isolation covers how well your earbuds can block out external noise. Unless you have earbuds with active noise-cancelling technology — unlikely on true wireless earbuds under $50 — your passive isolation will rely exclusively on how well your earbuds fit into your ears. If they fit snugly in your ears and create a physical seal, you should have a much better listening experience. Many cheap earbuds come with multiple sets of ear tips, so you may have to experiment with sizing a bit.
The frequency response determines just how well each frequency is replicated in your earbuds. Many of our under $50 pairs of true wireless earbuds tend to skew towards a bass-friendly response. It’s not a bad thing because many users will want to feel the pounding basslines, but it’s not always the most accurate. The increased bass can mask higher-pitched sounds which can make your music sound off.
Very few true wireless earbuds have good battery life
We’ll be honest — the battery life on most true wireless earbuds isn’t great. On average, you can probably expect about four to five hours of playback, and it’s mainly because most manufacturers can’t pack large batteries into the small form-factor. However, most true wireless earbuds come with wireless charging cases, so you can probably recharge quickly for a few extra hours of playback. If budget is no issue, then you might want to consider Samsung’s Galaxy Buds Plus with nearly 12 hours of battery life.
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