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8th Aug 2019
Update: - Replaced Rowkin Ascent Micro with Xiaomi Mi True Wireless - Interlinking - Beefed up Monoprice section

 

Xiaomi Mi True Wireless earbuds in the charging case which is open and resting on a black surface.

Although the new 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.

See: Full cheap true wireless earbuds article 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 Air

The Creative Outlier Air earbuds on a pink comic book with the charging case in the background.

These cheap earbuds have an LED ring to indicate connection status.

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 7.78-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.


2. Anker Soundcore Liberty Air

Pictured are the Anker cheap true wireless 'buds on a Pixel 3.

The Anker Soundcore Liberty Air are great for Android users that don’t have the built-in W1 chip of Apple products.

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 autoconnect to the last used device, too. Battery life is solid, clocking in just below 5 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

JLab JBuds Air Sport on teal yoga mat.

Each earbud has a touch-capacitive panel for playback controls.

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. Monoprice True Wireless

Monoprice cheap true wireless earbuds in case an din front of a black vintage lens.

The Monoprice True Wireless earbuds are IPX4-rated, and smaller than most of the competition.

You may be more familiar with Monoprice for its affordable, reliable audio cables. The company’s truly wireless earbuds stay true to the Monprice philosophy. For just $49, you get IPX4-certified earbuds with a compact charging case. Features are limited, but the earbuds reproduce vocals clearly. If you enjoy a bit more oomph to your music, a pair of memory foam ear tips may be a smart investment. Unfortunately, connection strength leaves a lot to be desired. This is, however, still a salient issue among true wireless earbuds.


5. Rowkin Ascent Micro

Rowkin Ascent Micro earbuds on a couch with the charging case in the background.

The Rowkin Ascent Micro is one of the more expensive options listed, but it’s designed with athletes in mind and is easy to grip with sweaty hands.

These feature-packed cylindrical earbuds are a steal for less than $100. The textured charging case and earbuds are easy to grip, which is supremely important when handling such small, untethered parts. The touch-capacitive earbud panels are a nice touch, rarely seen in affordable true wireless earbuds. Battery life is average: you get just over three hours of playback before requiring a recharge. Anyone who wants a versatile pair of earbuds should seriously consider the Rowkin Ascent Micro.


For greater detail, read the full article; it includes excellent alternatives and more information regarding how we chose and tested the awardees.

Notable mentions

JLab JBuds Air true wireless: The earbuds in the case which is open and angled away (slightly) from the lens.

The JLab JBuds Air truly wireless earbuds lack aptX and AAC support but stay connected within a three-meter range.

  • 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.

Why you should trust SoundGuys

Working at SoundGuys is a full-time job for each team member, and every writer has multiple years of experience when it comes to reviewing audio products. SoundGuys is constantly checking the pulse of the rapidly evolving world of audio, allowing the team to understand what consumers what and what they deserve.

Adam wearing the Samsung Gear IconX, which are too expensive to be cheap true wireless earbuds.

The SoundGuys team tests as many audio products as possible through both subjective and objective measures.

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