Not everybody can afford more premium earbuds like Apple’s AirPods 3 and AirPods Pro or Sony’s WF-1000XM4 and LinkBuds S. But the good news is there are plenty of affordable earbuds that offer surprisingly good performance and sound for not too much money. I’ve tested a variety of budget true-wireless earphones and found several solid AirPods alternatives for budget-conscious shoppers. All of my picks cost $100 or less — and some even cost less than $50.
These budget wireless earbuds also work decently for making phone calls — and in some cases really well. I’ve also included info on battery life, as well as how water-resistant they are, in case you’re interested in using these for running or the gym. I’ll update this list as new affordable earphones are released.
Read more: Best Wireless Earbuds for 2022
Earfun Air Pro SV
Top budget true-wireless earbuds
$54 at Earfun
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 offer 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 six 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. 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. Read our Earfun Air Pro SV first take.
Jabra Elite 3
Value Jabra earbuds
$80 at Jabra
$80 at Amazon
The Jabra Elite 3 headphones are Jabra’s most affordable true-wireless earbuds to date and have a fairly basic feature set, though they offer strong sound and call quality for the money. They have 6mm drivers, four microphones for calls and Jabra’s HearThrough transparency mode. Qualcomm aptX HD audio is supported for aptX-enabled devices.
Battery life is rated at up to seven hours on a single charge at moderate volume levels, with the case storing an extra three full charges (28 hours total). They have an IP55 water-resistance rating, which means they can take a sustained spray of water and are also dust-resistant. As with the other new buds, you can use either bud independently in a mono mode.
While they don’t have such extras as active noise cancellation, the Elite 3 earbuds offer solid performance and a comfortable fit for a reasonable price.
Good sound for under $40
$32 at Amazon
The Tranya T20 remind me a little of a cheaper version of Samsung’s Galaxy Buds 2 without the noise canceling. They’re no-frills and don’t have features such as ear-detection sensors that automatically pause your music when you take a bud out of your ears. But they sound surprisingly decent for their modest price. If you get a tight seal, they sit pretty flush with your ears (they don’t really stick out much) and they have decent battery life — up to eight hours at moderate volume levels. They also work pretty well for making calls and are IPX7 waterproof.
The case feels a little cheap and the buds are lightweight. The Galaxy Buds 2 definitely feel more premium. However, the buds are well tuned and have a relatively wide soundstage. Don’t expect the world from them and I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
Earfun Air Pro 2
Impressive wireless earbuds for the price
$60 at Amazon
The Earfun Air Pro 2 have solid active noise cancellation, and 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 — 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, which 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 cancellation 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.