Although the Powerbeats and AirPods may suggest you have to pay a premium to get true wireless earbuds, we’re here to tell you that’s not the case. Good, cheap true wireless headphones are more prevalent than ever. Today we’re going to separate the high-value products from the rest.
Read the full list of the best cheap true wireless earbuds at SoundGuys
Best cheap true wireless earbuds:
Editor’s note: We will update this list of the best cheap true wireless earbuds regularly as new devices launch.
1. Creative Outlier Gold
These earbuds stand out from the crowd with their dual-codec support of AAC and aptX. Android and iPhone users alike reap the benefits of high-quality Bluetooth codec streaming, which yields lessened lag and greater data transfer. Athletes will appreciate the IPX5 water-resistant build. Despite the lack of wing tips, the earbuds stay in place during vigorous movement. Plus, the bass-heavy sound isn’t overpowering and appeals to a broad audience. Microphone quality is good for quick calls. The 10.3-hour battery life is great especially for this variant of Bluetooth earbuds. When it does deplete, you can top the case up via USB-C cable.
One of the Outlier Gold’s selling points is Super X-Fi audio processing, which renders audio as “holgraphic.” This processing gives listeners a greater perceived sense of spatial awareness and instrumental separation. However, there’s one thing holding the processing back: it’s limited to native audio files that must be played back directly through the SXFI app. This isn’t Creative’s fault as many songs on streaming services are protected from third-party applications playing them back. It’s not so much a knock on the earbuds as it is just something to be aware of prior to purchasing.
2. Anker Soundcore Liberty Air
The Anker Soundcore Liberty Air is a true wireless fan favorite. It also happens to be an AirPods lookalike, which may be a pro or con depending on where you stand with AirPods. They quickly auto-connect to the last used device, too. Battery life is solid, clocking in just below five hours of constant playback time. The earbuds are IPX5-certified, making them great for workouts and unexpected downpours. A glossy finish coats the earbuds and is a fingerprint magnet. While it doesn’t impair functionality, it may both those who like to keep their gear looking pretty.
3. JLab JBuds Air Sport
These IP66 earbuds are the perfect workout companion for any gym rat. The ear hook design stabilizes them during any exercise. Whether cycling or rock climbing, I never questioned the fit. The JBuds Air Sport also have safety features such as Be Aware mode, which amplifies external noise through the earbuds while playing music. It’s not as effective as bone conduction headphones but is better than being completely isolated from your surroundings when running outside. You also benefit from Class 1 Bluetooth 5.0 and AAC support. These don’t have the best sound quality, but they’re pack in a lot for less than $70.
4. Edifier TWS1
Edifier wants in on the cheap AirPods alternatives game and throws its hat in the ring with the Edifier TWS1. These earbuds retail for just $49 and include premium features such as Qualcomm True Wireless Stereo Plus. This technology facilitates two separate connections, one to each earbud, for a more stable Bluetooth experience compared to standard totally wireless earbuds. The usual method designates one ‘bud as the primary receiver and the other as the secondary, resulting in annoying audio-visual lag and connection stutters.
These earbuds also support aptX for high-quality streaming on Android devices. This bodes well for the relatively tame frequency response, which amplifies bass notes just enough to make them louder than vocals but not enough to severely degrade clarity. Edifier has you covered on durability, too: these received an IPX5 rating, making them nearly impervious to water splashes, just don’t dunk them into the pool.
5. Samsung Galaxy Buds
The Samsung Galaxy Buds may be a year older than their successor, but these earbuds remain some of the best to date by supplying a substantial 6.53 hours of playtime on a single charge and supporting unique features like Wireless PowerShare. This lets you charge the earbuds while in the case and atop a compatible Samsung Galaxy smartphone. The ‘buds support quick charging: just 15 minutes in the case supplies 1.7 hours of playtime. You also benefit from IPX2 water-resistance alongside AAC support. This codec mainly benefits iPhone users as its performance is shaky on Android devices, but Samsung users get to use the company’s scalable codec for optimal sound quality and connection strength. Sound quality is excellent: the drivers are tuned by Samsung subsidiary AKG, and nearly all musical genres will sound true to form from these earbuds.
For greater detail, read the full article; it includes excellent alternatives and more information regarding how we chose and tested the awardees.
- Creative Outlier Air: Creative’s debut true wireless earbuds made a huge splash in the cheap true wireless market, and remain a great deal for those who don’t need 10+ hours of playtime and don’t mind a bass-heavy sound.
- JLab JBuds Air: These are even more affordable than the JBuds Air Executive and are IP55-rated.
- Skullcandy Push: While these cost slightly more than $100, the 6-hour and 21-minute battery life is impeccable and worth checking out if you need your ‘buds to last the bulk of the day.
What you should know about the cheap earbuds
- High-quality Bluetooth codecs afford better audio quality and reduced latency.
- Standalone battery life with truly wireless earbuds is generally sub par, and the cheaper options are no exception. Granted, picks like the Creative Outlier Air are vastly improving battery life.
- Water-resistance, while not as prevalent as with workout earbuds, is an occasional feature in cheap true wireless earbuds.
- Cheap true wireless earbuds won’t typically don’t outperform their more expensive counterparts when it comes to sound quality, but that can be mitigated by a good fit and with proper ear tips.