Great Budget Picks For The Best Cheap Wireless Earbuds For 2023
Premium wireless earbuds like Apple’s AirPods Pro 2, Sony’s WF-1000XM4, or Bose’s QuietComfort Earbuds 2 may be great, but many people can’t afford them or don’t think they’re worth the money. But the good news is that there are more and more affordable and even cheap wireless earbuds that not only sound good but also work well overall, with solid battery life, reliable Bluetooth connectivity, and good voice call quality for both Apple and Android devices.
I’ve tried out a number of affordable true-wireless earphones and found some great alternatives to AirPods for shoppers on a budget. All of my picks for the best cheap wireless earbuds cost $100 or less, and some of these Bluetooth true-wireless earbuds cost less than $50.
For these mini reviews, I’ve included information on battery life, sound quality, and key features, like whether or not they have active noise cancellation and their IPX rating if you want to use them for running or working out at the gym. I’ll add new affordable top wireless earbuds to this list as they come out.
1. Earfun Air Pro 3
In the last couple of years, Earfun has made a number of wireless earbuds that all have one important thing in common: they are all very good deals, which are made even better by the fact that they are often on sale. The company’s new Earfun Air Pro 3 earbuds come with the latest Qualcomm QCC3071 system-on-a-chip with aptX Adaptive for Android and other devices that support the new LE Audio standard and LC3 audio codec, which is better than the SBC codec (they also support AAC for Apple devices).
Easy to wear and not too heavy — I got a good seal with the largest ear tip size. These aren’t a huge improvement over the Earfun Air S, but they are better. They have wool-composite drivers that are a little bigger (11mm instead of 10mm), better noise cancellation, and longer battery life (up to seven hours with noise canceling on, according to Earfun).
In short, the Earfun Air 3 do a good job for how cheap they are. They have strong bass, good clarity, and a fairly large soundstage. They also come with a lot of features, like a case that charges wirelessly and the ability to connect to “multiple devices.” (I could connect them to two devices at once, but I had to pause the music on one device and hit play on the other for the sound to switch.) They are splash-proof up to IPX5 and work well, but not great, as a headset for making phone calls.
2. The Soundpeats Air3 Deluxe HS
The Soundpeats Air3 Deluxe HS are a set of open earbuds that work surprisingly well and are on sale right now. Their list price is $50, but for a limited time, there is a coupon on the page that takes an extra 20% off. This brings the price down to $40.
What makes these Soundpeats Air3 Deluxe HS buds stand out is that they sound surprisingly good for open earbuds; in terms of sound, they’re pretty close to Apple’s AirPods 3. On top of that, they work with devices that have Sony’s LDAC audio codec. Not many cheap open earbuds sound good, but these Soundpeats do. The bass response is good, and the sound is clear. They can also be used to make calls and have a gaming mode with low latency.
3. Earfun Air S
In the past, we’ve recommended Earfun’s AirPro SV and Air Pro 2 as good choices for noise-canceling earbuds on a budget. But the new Earfun Air S for 2022 may be the best of the three. It has multipoint Bluetooth pairing and the latest Qualcomm QCC3046 chip with the aptX audio codec for Android and other devices that support it. They have the same 10mm wool drivers as the AirPro SV and sound really good for how cheap they are. They also work well as headsets for making calls, and they do a good job of cutting out background noise. The buds have an IPX5 rating for water resistance, which means they can handle splashes and a steady spray of water.
4. Tranya T20
The Tranya T20 earbuds remind me of a cheaper version of Samsung’s Galaxy Buds 2 without the noise-canceling feature. They’re simple and don’t have fancy features like sensors that stop playing music when you take a bud out of your ear. But for how cheap they are, they sound surprisingly good. If you get a good seal, they don’t stick out much and sit pretty close to your ears. They also have a good battery life, up to eight hours at moderate volume levels. They are also IPX7 waterproof and work pretty well for making calls.
The case feels a bit cheap, and the headphones aren’t very heavy. The Galaxy Buds 2 feel much more high-end. But the buds are well-tuned and have a soundstage that is pretty big. If you don’t expect too much from them, I think you’ll be happy with what you get.
We use the best cheap wireless earbuds as if we had bought them ourselves to see how well they work. That means less time in the lab and more time outside, in both crowded and open areas, to test how stable the wireless connection is.
This also lets us test how well they block out noise and whether or not they have active noise cancellation (ANC). We test them on a computer and a smartphone to see how well they work in different situations. And if they’re sporty, we’ll go for a run or to the gym to see how well they stay in our ears while we’re moving around.