If you're like me, you may have poked around Amazon looking for cheaper alternatives to Apple's AirPods, which start at 9 and hit 9 if you want wireless charging. (Read our in-depth AirPods Pro review here.) There are plenty of bargain models out there with high user ratings, but are they really any good?
In my experience, most of the time they're just all right -- and some aren't good at all. However, an increasing number of wireless buds are managing to rise above "meh" classification, and a few are actually decent. Here's a look at the best among the current crop of budget true-wireless earphones I've tested -- all are under 0, while several are under . All of these models feature Bluetooth 5.0 and maintain solid wireless audio connections; I encountered minimal Bluetooth hiccups with them. Most aren't great for making phone calls but they do work well enough in quieter environments. I'll update this best AirPod alternatives list as I test more models.
If you love AirPods but don't want to spend a lot of money, here are a few wireless headphone options.
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What's most impressive about the EarFun Free are the features: Bluetooth 5.0, both USB-C and wireless charging, and fully waterproof (IPX7), according to their specs. Do they sound fantastic? No, but they sound pretty good. They don't have the clarity of higher-end true wireless earbuds that cost 0 or more, but they do have plump bass and enough detail to avoid making music sound dull. They're also pretty solid for making calls. An excellent value at less than . Read CNET first take.
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AirPods and other name-brand truly wireless headphones cost 0 and up. But the Anker Soundcore Liberty Air 2 earbuds have an appealing design and deliver solid sound quality at 0. Available in black or white, this second-gen model offers USB-C charging, better battery life (up to 7 hours) and call quality. In fact, except for active noise canceling, it offers much of what the AirPods Pro do for a lot less, including a compact charging case that has a nice matte finish. Its noise-isolating design seals out a lot of ambient sound passively and it's a top-notch set of earbuds for making calls -- very close to the performance level of the AirPods Pro.
With an IPX5 water-resistance rating (they can sustain a stead stream of water but can't be fully submerged), they're suitable for the gym and running.
Now that Anker's released the Liberty Air 2, which feature better battery life and improved voice calling (it's much better) as well as USB-C charging, the price of the original Liberty Airs has come down to around . If you plan on making a lot of calls with your buds, then you should step-up to the Liberty Air 2, which carry a list price of 0. But the standard Liberty Airs are still a decent value and a good AirPod alternative. It's unclear how long Anker will keep them on the market now that the Liberty Air 2 is available. Read our Anker Soundcore Liberty Air review.
Read more: AirPods 2 vs. Sony WF-1000XM3: The best wireless earbuds are. . .
We're fans of Tribit's XFree Tune over-ear headphones and its XSound Go Bluetooth speakers, both of which deliver very good sound for their modest prices. The company's X1 True Wireless Earbuds also perform well and -- if you can get a tight seal -- sound quite good for , with strong bass and decent clarity (better than the AirPods, which don't seal your ear canal). The earpieces stick out a little from your ears, but they're comfortable, lightweight and work OK for making calls.
I can't guarantee they'll fit everyone's ears well (you have to jam the tips in to have the earphones stay in your ears securely; there are no stabilizing fins), but if you can get a good fit, you'll be surprised by the sound of your music. One drawback: Battery life is short at 3 hours. But the charging case is rated to give you an additional five charges on the go.
Read more: Best wireless headphones for making calls in 2019
I like the fit of Anker's Soundcore Liberty Airs better, but the Soundcore Liberty Neos sounds as good and cost less (they list for but are on sale for less than at times). These are similar to the Tribit X1 but are a little heavier and seem a little sturdier. Like the Tribit, how good they sound is dependent on how good a seal you get from one of the included ear tips. They're rated for 3.5 hours of listening time (a little short) with an additional 8 hours or so of battery life from the charging case.
Read more: An impressive Apple AirPods alternative for just
The TaoTronics TWS TT-BH053s look similar to the Anker Liberty Airs, with the same pipe design, but don't sound as good. However, at they cost less and sound better than you'd expect for a truly wireless model at this price. They offer solid wireless performance and 5 hours of battery life at moderate volume levels. Their charging case delivers an extra five charges. Read TaoTronics TWS TT-BH053 review.
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I don't really know how stylish the 1More Stylish True Wireless earphones are (yes, that's their name), but they do sound good. With a list price of 0, they're the most expensive of any of the models on this list. 1More made a name for itself with its wired earbuds, the Triple Drivers, which sound great and were a good value when wired headphones were still a thing. The same clear, balanced sound found in that headphone is present in 1More's first true wireless earphones (they don't sound as good as the Triple Drivers but they sound good for true wireless).
This pair of earbuds has more of an audiophile sound profile, with more "accurate" sound, so deep bass lovers may be a little disappointed listening to music, but I liked them. Of course, it helped that I was able to get a tight seal with one of the included ear tips. However, the stabilizer fin did nothing for me (I just jammed the tip into my ear to get a secure fit).
Their battery life is rated at up 6.5 hours (expect closer to 5 if you listen to music at higher volumes), with an extra 17 hours or so of battery life available from the charging case. Read 1More Stylish True Wireless review.
Read more: Sony's WF-SP700N true wireless sport earbuds are a steal at
Originally published earlier this year. Last updated to add Anker Soundcore Liberty Air 2 headphones.B:
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