AirPods are well on their way to dominating the world of earphones and headphones. Their popularity crosses ages and gender and into the cultural zeitgeist, appearing in countless numbers of TV shows and movies. Instantly recognizable, their lightweight build and easy syncing with Apple devices have made them the talk of the town. However, AirPods are not the only headphones in town. The competition is plentiful and quite good. Let’s take a look at some of the best AirPods alternatives on the market that you can purchase today.
Best Cheap Wireless Earbuds
If you’re looking for cheap and wireless that offer some of the same benefits as AirPods, the Beats Flex is the answer. The best aspect of the Beats is the inclusion of the W1 chip, which offers the same seamless connectivity to your iPhone, iPad or Mac as any pair of AirPods. With up to 12 hours of listening, these headphones more than double the battery life of even the AirPods Pro (without the case).
Even with an inexpensive price tag, you still get on-device controls for music, calls and a voice assistant. The built-in microphone reduces wind if you are outside for better voice calls, and should you swap between your iPhone and an Android device, the Beats Flex works as well with one as the other. Best of all, you can get 1.5 hours of battery life with only ten minutes of charging.
Best Cheap True Wireless Earbuds
The landscape for inexpensive, truly wireless earbuds is incredibly broad. Everywhere you turn on Amazon, there are 25 pairs all vying for your dollar. Making the decision can be tough but does not have to be. That’s why the EarFun Air True Wireless Earbuds are such a great find. We even have a review for that. EarFun may never have the same name recognition as Anker, Apple or Jabra, but that’s okay. A whopping 35 hours of playtime are available with the case, and you can get up to two hours of additional playtime with only ten minutes of charging.
If you really want to conserve battery, go for the single earbud option which provides slightly more battery life or enables you to focus on two things at once. Bluetooth 5.0 ensures a strong connection to your smartphone or tablet, and with four different silicone ear tips included, there is definitely a good fit for you.
Best Earphones for Exercise
When it comes to exercise, look no further than the Bose Sports Earbuds. When you are ready to exercise, pop these in your ear, and with an IPX4 rating, you can run, jog, walk, lift and climb without worrying about sweat or splashing water.
Bluetooth ensures a tight connection with your smartphone and strong battery life of up to five hours per charge. Want two more hours of battery life? That only requires 15 minutes in the case, and you are good to go. The charging case gives you up to 15 hours of total battery, which is more than enough to get you through a full day.
When noise-cancelling is the most important factor in your AirPods alternative search, the Sony WF-1000XM3 are the industry leaders. Their price isn’t too far off from the AirPods Pro, which is okay considering the QN1e processor all but cancels out external noise. Pair active noise cancelling with up to 24 hours of battery life, and it’s one more reason why these are worth a hard look.
When you need more battery time, ten minutes in the case will get you up to 90 extra minutes of playtime. And if active noise canceling doesn’t already sell you, the quality of Sony’s hands-free calling will definitely do so.
Best for Android
For iPhone owners, the AirPods are undoubtedly best-in-class. Android owners have the Google Pixel Buds A-Series. These true wireless headphones are a standout deal for Android users in that they offer excellent sound for both calls and music. With three eartip sizes included, you can be sure the Buds will stay in your ear. When you want to answer calls or play, pause and skip tracks while listening to music, touch controls are literally a tap away.
Water and sweat resistance will make these useful every day whether it’s to workout or listen to podcasts all day. As a Google product, you have all the hands-free help you need thanks to “Hey Google.” Owners will receive up to five hours of listening time or 2.5 hours of talk time with an additional 24 hours of charge courtesy of the charging case.
When you want to step up from the AirPods Pro, Apple’s best true wireless headphone, look to the Sony WF-1000XM4. Like its cousin above, Sony leads the pack in sound, noise-cancellation and, in the case of the XM4, water resistance. Everything great about the 1000XM3 is present but the XM4 takes it up another step (and in price). An IPX42 water resistance rating means you can wear them on your commute or while running outdoors.
Alexa ensures you have voice assistance with news, music and additional information. Want to reduce the volume? Just speak to chat and the XM4 handles the rest. When noise cancelling is enabled, you can still get up to eight hours of battery life, more than the current AirPods Pro can offer. The 6mm driver produces a fantastic and dynamic sound that makes you wonder how Sony did all of this in such a small size.
Best Battery life
If you value battery life above all else, look to the Lypertek PurePlay Z3 true wireless earbuds for the answer. On their own, the PurePlay Z3 earphones offer up to 10 hours of playtime on a single charge, which is nearly double that of the AirPods. On top of that, they can be charged another seven times using the case, extending your total battery life to an incredible 80 hours before recharging.
When you do need to recharge, USB-C and Fast Charge will have you back in business in no time. Don’t forget that the case is wireless charging enabled as well. Add in Bluetooth 5.2, and with the strong battery life comes an equally solid connection to all of your devices. Graphene drivers ensure sound is dynamic, and with the downloadable app, you can adjust the equalizer for your perfect settings.
Best Voice Assistant
The “best” voice assistant is definitely a subjective argument, but when it comes to headphones, Amazon’s Echo Buds (second generation) are a great first choice. As an Amazon product, it’s no surprise to find primary support for Alexa, but these earbuds also work for Siri and Google Assistant as well. Go entirely hands-free with Alexa for podcasts, music, and audiobooks and say “Alexa, read ‘Shadow and Bone’ on Audible.” When you need to make a call, you can ask Alexa.
Want to remind yourself to pick up milk? Just say “Alexa, remind me to pick up milk.” Amazon marks a commitment to privacy, including the ability to mute the Alexa microphones and delete all of your voice recordings anytime you want.
When you really want something showy that still offers exceptional sound, Bang & Olufsen’s Beoplay E8 sport true wireless earphones are the answer. Fortunately, the big price tag comes with big battery life with 28 hours of playtime with the case on top of seven hours from the earphones directly. Bluetooth 5.1 ensures that you always have a solid connection, and with aptX Adaptive technology inside, iPhone and Android users alike will have some of the clearest wireless sound available.
For phone calls, four built-in microphones add stand-out call quality and do a solid job of filtering out background noise. On top of all that, IP57 waterproofing makes these ideal for both the boardroom and fitness room.
Best for Multiple Devices
As good as all of these earphones are, few offer a similar multiple device experience as the Jabra Elite 85t true wireless earbuds. These popular earphones add multipoint technology, so you can seamlessly switch between multiple devices without resyncing each and every time. Built-in Alexa adds voice-assistant support and is surprisingly one of the least notable features.
What does stand out are the 6 mics that offer wind protection to make telephone calls as easy as possible. The 12mm speakers add powerful sound, while 5.5 hours of battery life plus 25 hours of battery life with the case keep you going all day long. When you really want to get the best sound, download the Jabra Sound+ app, tweak the equalizer and find your own favorite profile that’s just right for you.
If there is one definitive truth, it’s that the headphones’ market is crowded, and you will have no issue finding a great AirPods alternative. AirPods may be popular, but they may not be the best in terms of battery life, noise cancellation, etc. Apple definitely has its work cut out to retain its position as the earphone leader. Now we just need Apple to make them work with lossless music.