The AirPods and AirPods Pro remain highly popular true-wireless earbuds and we may see Apple’s next-generation AirPods Pro — perhaps called the AirPods Pro 2 — released later this year. But the AirPods now have plenty of competition, including from Apple’s own Beats brand, and there are plenty of great AirPods alternatives, many geared toward both Apple and Android users.
Most true-wireless buds are equipped with ear tips, while others, like Apple’s AirPods 3 and Sony’s new LinkBuds, have an open design with no tips (these are best for those who don’t like to have ear tips jammed in their ears but they do allow some sound in from the outside world). Top models can be pricey, but we’ve also included several more affordable earbuds on this list, and you can get surprisingly good earbuds for less than $100 — or even less. As new top earbuds hit the market, we’ll update this list.
No earbuds are perfect, of course, and not everybody will love the fit of the Sony WF-1000XM4 buds or be able to afford their high price. But if you’re looking for great-sounding earbuds with active noise cancellation, solid voice-calling capabilities and good battery life, these buds check all the boxes.
Water-resistant: Yes (IPX4 rating — splash-proof). Read our Sony WF-1000XM4 review.
$230 at Target
$230 at Best Buy
$228 at Amazon
Beats Fit Pro
Best sports buds for everyday use
Hot on the heels of the third-generation AirPods, Apple has another new set of earbuds, this time from its subsidiary audio company, Beats. Technically, the new Beats Fit Pro ($200) aren’t AirPods, but they’re built on the same tech platform as the AirPods Pro. Unlike Beats’ earlier and less expensive Studio Buds, the Beats Fit Pro include Apple’s H1 chip and have most of the AirPods Pro’s features, including active noise canceling, spatial audio and Adaptive EQ. I’d venture to call them the sports AirPods you’ve always wanted. And for some people, they might just be better than the AirPods Pro.
Water-resistant: Yes (IPX4 rating — splash-proof). Read our Beats Fit Pro review.
$180 at Amazon
$180 at Best Buy
$200 at Apple
Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 3
New Sennheiser flagship earbuds
The Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 3 earbuds have excellent sound, improved noise canceling and voice-calling performance as well a smaller, more refined design with stabilizing fins (so the earbuds stay in your ears more securely). They’re among the best new true-wireless earbuds for 2022. They’re also one of the best true-wireless earbuds overall, giving the Sony WF-1000XM4 a run for the money.
Water-resistant: Yes (IPX4 rating — splash-proof). Read our Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 3 review.
$250 at Amazon
$250 at Best Buy
Earfun Air Pro SV
Top budget pick
The Earfun Air Pro SV have a few things going for them. First, they sound shockingly good for a set of earbuds in this price range. They feature big, open sound with well-defined bass and good clarity. They’re also lightweight and comfortable to wear, their noise-canceling is effective and they have a fairly natural-sounding transparency mode that allows ambient sound in if you want to hear the outside world around you for safety reasons.
Earfun is highlighting how you can see the buds’ squared-off stems through the case — there’s a little window — but aside from the stems, the buds themselves have a similar shape and design to the AirPods Pro. While the case offers wireless charging, the buds are missing a sensor that pauses your music when you take them out of your ears (you can use a single bud if you want) and resumes playback when you put them back in. They’re IPX5 splash-proof, and battery life is rated at 6 hours with noise-canceling turned on. There’s also a low-latency gaming mode and touch controls that work reasonably well, and you can upgrade the buds’ firmware and tweak sound settings in a companion app for iOS and Android.
Earfun talks about them having “six professional mics for a stunning call experience” — and they work decently enough for calls — but I was slightly disappointed with the noise reduction while using them in the streets of New York City. Aside from that small gripe, they’re a very good value, particularly now that Earfun is offering them for $54 when you input the code SUMMER40 (40% off) at checkout on its site.
Water-resistant: Yes (IPX5 rating — splash-proof). Read our Earfun Air Pro SV first take.
$54 at Earfun
Bang & Olufsen Beoplay EX
Best-sounding buds with stems
Bang & Olufsen’s Beoplay EX buds are the company’s best true-wireless earbuds yet. They feature a comfortable, secure fit (except perhaps for those with really smaller ears), top-notch build quality, great sound, good noise canceling and improved voice-calling performance over B&O’s EQ buds, with three microphones in each earbud they help with reducing background noise while picking up your voice. While they’re out of most people’s price range, they’re arguably the best earbuds out there with stems and offer superior sound to the AirPods Pro with better clarity, deeper more powerful bass and richer, more accurate sound.
Battery life is rated at 6 hours at moderate volume levels with noise canceling on and there’s an extra 14 hours of juice in the brushed aluminum charging case (wireless charging is supported). The buds have an IP57 water-resistance rating, which makes them waterproof and dust-resistant. They feature Bluetooth 5.2 and multipoint Bluetooth pairing so you can connect to two devices at the same time, such as a computer and smartphone. You can use a single bud independently and the earbuds have ear-detection sensors so your music pauses when you remove them from your ears.
The buds support AptX Adaptive for devices like Android smartphones that support Bluetooth streaming with the AptX HD audio codec (AAC is also supported). They’re available in the gold tone pictured as well as a graphite color.
Water-resistant: Yes (IP57 rating — dust-resistant and fully waterproof.)
$399 at Amazon
Sony LinkBuds S
Smaller Sony with big sound
Unlike the “open” LinkBuds, the LinkBuds S are traditional noise-isolating earbuds with tips you jam in your ears. They’re more compact and lighter than Sony’s flagship WF-1000M4 and also feature Sony’s V1 processor. While their sound and noise canceling don’t quite measure up to the WF-1000XM4’s, they’re close and cost less. They’re the Sony buds for people who can deal with larger buds like WF-1000XM4 but want 80 to 85% of those buds’ features and performance for $80 less.
Water-resistant: Yes (IPX4 rating — splash-proof). Read our Sony LinkBuds S review.
$200 at Target
$200 at Amazon
Apple AirPods Pro with MagSafe
Still hard to beat
While they’ve been out a while and the AirPods Pro 2 should be coming sometime in 2022, the Apple AirPods Pro remain a great pair of true wireless earphones. That’s largely due to their winning design and fit, good sound, effective noise canceling and spatial audio, a virtual-sound mode for watching movies and TV shows (only works with iPhones and iPads running iOS 14 or higher and the 2021 Apple TV 4K). They’re also excellent for making voice calls and have a top-notch transparency mode.
Yes, they’re expensive at $250 from the Apple Store, but they tend to sell for $200 or less. The updated version adds MagSafe compatibility, so these stick to magnetic wireless chargers.
Water-resistant: Yes (IPX4 rating — splash-proof).
$175 at Amazon
$180 at Best Buy
$249 at Apple
JBL Live Pro 2
New AirPods Pro alternative for less
Over the years, JBL has put out some decent true-wireless earbuds, but nothing that really got me too excited. That’s finally changed with the arrival of the Samsung-owned brand’s new Live Pro 2 and Live Free 2 buds. Both sets of buds — the Live Pro 2 have stems while the Live Free 2 have a pill-shaped design — offer a comfortable fit along with strong noise canceling, very good sound quality and voice-calling performance, plus a robust set of features, including multipoint Bluetooth pairing, an IPX5 splash-proof rating and wireless charging.
The Live Pro 2 and Live Free 2 are equipped with the same 11mm drivers, six microphones, oval tubes and oval silicon tips. Aside from the design, the biggest difference between the two buds is battery life; the stemless Live Free 2 are rated for up to seven hours, while the Live Pro 2 are rated for 10 hours. The Live Pro 2 are available in four color options.
Water-resistant: Yes (IPX5 rating — splash-proof). Read our JBL Live Pro 2 first take.
$150 at Amazon
Earfun Air Pro 2
The Earfun Air Pro 2 not only features solid active noise cancellation but their sound is also impressive for their relatively modest price, with overall well-balanced sound, decent clarity and solid bass performance. Some of Earfun’s buds have had a bit too much treble push — sometimes referred to as “presence boost” — but these mostly manage to avoid that. They do sound better than the original Air Pro.
The earbuds have some extra features, like an ear-detection sensor (your music pauses when you take the buds out of your ears) and a case that has USB-C and wireless charging, that you don’t often find at this price. Equipped with Bluetooth 5.2, they’re splash-proof with an IPX5 rating and offer up to seven hours of battery life on a single charge at moderate volume levels, though you’ll probably get closer to six hours with noise canceling on.
There’s also a transparency mode that lets ambient sound in. It actually sounds pretty natural and is closer than I thought it would to the AirPods Pro’s excellent transparency mode. Alas, there’s no companion app that allows you to tweak the sound or upgrade the firmware.
Earfun talks up the Air Pro 2’s voice calling capabilities — the buds have three microphones in each earbud — and I thought call performance was good but these didn’t reduce background noise as much the new Soundpeats T3, which are also good for the money ($40). However, while the Soundpeats T3 are better for calls, the Earfun Air Pro 2’s noise-canceling and transparency modes are superior and the Soundpeats don’t have the ear-detection sensor. Also, the Earfun Air Pro 2 buds sound better, with richer, more dynamic sound.
Water-resistant: Yes (IPX5 rating — withstands sustained spray).
$80 at Amazon
JBL Live Free 2
Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro alternative
Like the Live Pro 2, JBL’s new Live Free 2 buds are surprisingly good. With 11mm drivers, six microphones, oval tubes and oval silicon tips, they combine a comfortable fit along with strong noise canceling, very good sound quality and voice-calling performance. Features include multipoint Bluetooth pairing and wireless charging, and they’re rated for up to seven hours.
The Live Free 2s fit securely in my ears and are smaller and superior to Samsung’s Galaxy Buds Pro, particularly in terms of comfort. The buds are available in three color options.
Water-resistant: Yes (IPX5 rating — splash-proof). Read our JBL Live Free 2 first take.
$150 at Amazon
Jabra Elite 7 Pro
Line-topping Jabra buds
Coming in at 16% smaller than the Elite 75t, the Elite 7 Pros are Jabra’s top-of-the-line earbuds in its new range and include the company’s new MultiSensor Voice technology with a bone-conduction sensor, four microphones and intelligent algorithms to deliver new “ground-breaking call quality,” Jabra says. The voice calling performance doesn’t quite live up to the hype, but Jabra has updated the buds’ firmware, adding multipoint Bluetooth pairing and slightly improving sound quality, noise canceling and headset performance. It took a while but they’re now excellent all-around buds.
These have adjustable active noise cancellation, Jabra’s HearThrough transparency mode and Bluetooth 5.2. They offer up to nine hours’ play time at moderate volume levels with noise canceling on, and nearly three additional charges in the charging case — total battery life is rated at 35 hours. The charging case has wireless charging capabilities.
The earbuds’ IP57 rating means they can be submerged in up to 1 meter of water. For those who like to use only a single bud, you can also use either bud independently in a mono mode.
Water-resistant: Yes (IP57 rating — dust-resistant and fully waterproof).
$200 at Amazon
Samsung Galaxy Buds 2
Available in four color options, the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 hew more closely to the newer Galaxy Buds Pro and Galaxy Buds Live, both of which have eye-catching glossy curved designs and the same compact charging case as this new model. In fact, it’s the Buds 2’s design and fit — they’re 15% smaller and 20% lighter than the Buds Plus — that make them a potentially more likable alternative to the slightly better-sounding Buds Pro.
Like the Buds Pro, the Buds 2 are equipped with active noise canceling. That means all the latest Galaxy Buds models now feature some form of active noise canceling, though it’s slight with the Buds Live, which have an open design sans ear tips. While the Buds 2 look more like shrunken versions of the Buds Pro, I found them more akin to the Buds Live in that they barely stick out of your ears and are fairly discreet. Because they sit more flush with your ears — and have that curved design — they also pick up less wind noise.
Water-resistant: Yes (IPX2 rating — sweat-resistant). Read our Galaxy Buds 2 review.
$110 at Samsung
$110 at Target
$110 at Amazon
AirPods 3rd Generation
Best open earbuds
Take one look at the new design of the third-gen AirPods ($179), and the first thing you’ll probably think is: “Those look like the AirPods Pro without ear tips.” You wouldn’t be wrong. While they’re more fraternal than identical twins, the AirPods 3 are shaped like the AirPods Pro, with the same shorter stems and same pinch controls as those of the Pro. Aside from the design change, which should fit most ears better than the AirPods 2nd Generation (though not very small ears), the biggest change is to the sound quality: It’s much improved. Also, battery life is better, and the AirPods 3 are officially water-resistant.
Water-resistant: Yes (IPX4 rating — splash-proof). Read our AirPods 3rd Generation review.
$150 at Amazon
$169 at Best Buy
$179 at Apple
Most innovative new design
The LinkBuds are, in a sense, Sony’s answer to Apple’s standard AirPods. While they don’t sound as good as Sony’s flagship WF-1000XM4 noise-isolating earbuds, they offer a discreet, innovative design and a more secure fit than the AirPods, as well as good sound and very good voice-calling performance.
Like the third-gen AirPods, their open design allows you to hear the outside world — that’s what the ring is all about. That makes them a good choice for folks who want to hear what’s going around them for safety reasons or just don’t like having ear tips jammed in their ears. They also have a few distinguishing extra features, including Speak to Chat and Wide Area Tap. Instead of tapping on a bud, you can tap on your face, just in front of your ear, to control playback.
They’re IPX4 splash-proof and thanks to their fins — Sony calls them Arc Supporters — they lock in your ears securely and work well for running and other sporting activities.
Water-resistant: Yes (IPX4 rating — splash-proof). Read our Sony LinkBuds review.
$158 at Amazon
Bose QuietComfort Earbuds
Excellent noise canceling
In many ways, Bose’s QuietComfort Earbuds are excellent true wireless earbuds, particularly when it comes to their great sound and noise canceling, which is some of the best out there right now in a set of earbuds. Performance-wise, they clearly have a leg up on Apple’s best-selling AirPods Pro. However, the AirPods Pro’s smaller design, somewhat more comfortable fit and superior voice-calling capabilities make it hard to declare the Bose the straight-up champ. Ultimately, it depends on what your priorities are.
Water-resistant: Yes (IPX4 rating — splash-proof). Read our Bose QuietComfort Earbuds review.
$219 at Bose
$219 at Crutchfield
$200 at Target
Bang & Olufsen Beoplay EQ
Bang & Olufsen’s earlier Beoplay E8 earbuds were good but underwhelming for their high price. The new Beoplay EQ are also rather expensive, but at least they’re among the very best true wireless earbuds available right now, with top-notch sound and adaptive noise canceling, along with a natural-sounding transparency mode. They have three microphones on each bud and are decent for voice calling though not exceptionally good.
Needless to say, the premium design elements are here — the aluminum-shelled case opens and closes with precise smoothness, and the buds themselves have their own aluminum accent on the outer surface where the touch controls live.
The buds are fairly large and do stick out of your ears like premium buds from Sony and Sennheiser. They fit me comfortably and securely and are suitable for sporting activities, with an IP54 splash-proof rating. Battery life is rated at around 6.5 hours at moderate volume levels, and you get an extra two charges from the case, which has USB-C and wireless charging.
The sound is big and dynamic with deep, well-defined bass and a wide soundstage. The mids sound natural, and the treble has nice sparkle to it. They’re a pleasure to listen to and among the best-sounding true wireless earbuds. I didn’t experience any listening fatigue over longer listening sessions. AptX is available for devices that support the AptX audio codec; these have AptX Adaptive and use Bluetooth 5.2.
Are they better than the Sony WF-1000XM4, which cost $120 less? The answer to that will depend partially on just how well they fit your ears and just how good a seal you get from the included ear tips. I personally ended up getting the best fit using Sennheiser’s large tips, which work best for my ears. They’re a great set of earbuds if you can afford them. Just buy them from a retailer that has a good return policy in case you’re not completely satisfied.
Water-resistant: Yes (IP54 rating — splash-proof).