Apple’s marketing department might beg to differ, but cordless audio doesn’t have to come from Cupertino. And while the iPhone-maker’s in-ears are undeniably impressive, the best AirPods alternatives offer just as much portability, sound quality and style – often for a smaller chunk of change.
Shopping for a fresh set of faff-free wireless earphones? From affordable earbuds to in-ears fit for audiophiles, we’ve tested all of the top AirPods alternatives. Some are simple, accessible solutions for cordless listening, while others go toe-to-toe with the AirPods Pro on features, performance and price.
So whether you want smart ‘phones to buddy up with your Android smartphone or cheaper earbuds that still serve up solid sound, you’ll find a range of capable AirPods alternatives reviewed and rated right here.
Beats Studio Buds
There’s nothing wrong with healthy competition, even if it comes from the same stable. With a clean design, refined sound signature and noise-cancelling smarts, the Beats Studio Buds are a home-grown AirPods rival. Fitted with a twist, the sculpted earbuds sit snug and light, no stems necessary. In the ear, the Studio Buds deliver a more balanced listen than previous Beats earphones, with a spacious presentation and decent detail. And there’s still plenty of punch and energy. No H1 chip means no multi-device pairing for Apple users, but Bluetooth 5.2 compatibility and one-touch Android pairing make the Studio Buds more inclusive. And while there’s no EQ, Apple Music users can enjoy Spatial Audio on Atmos tracks. Dashing out? Fast Fuel charging will fill the ‘phones for an hour’s playback in five minutes. Apple’s own earphones might edge them on features, but the Beats Studio Buds remain an attractive AirPods alternative.
With tidy styling and a polished sound, the Beats Studio Buds are an engaging AirPods alternative at an appealing price
Tech spec:Battery: 8 hours (earphones), 16 hours (case) • Wireless charging: No • ANC: Yes • Driver size: 8.2mm • Weight: 5g (earbuds), 48g (case) • Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.2 • Water-resistance: IPX4
Cambridge Audio Melomania 1+
Cambridge Audio’s first Melomania ‘buds were already five-star earphones in our book. Their successors only build on that benchmark, shaping up as a feature-packed and remarkably affordable set of AirPods alternatives. Styled like little bullets, the earbuds eschew ergonomics in favour of neat, uniform shells that are lightweight at 4.6g apiece. There’s no ANC, but the 1+ benefit from superb noise isolation, setting the scene for a wonderful listen: audio has a lovely balance, with a wide soundstage and real depth. EQ levels can be tweaked in the partner app, while battery life measures in at a class-leading 45 hours with trips to the charging case. Some will feel the absence of wear-detection, but voice assistant support gives the 1+ an additional dose of smarts. At full price, they’re hard to fault. At their latest, discounted ticket, the Melomania 1+ are an unbeatable AirPods alternative for buyers on a budget.
With intuitive controls, useful app features and excellent audio quality, the improved Plus earbuds are a compelling wireless package – provided you don’t need ANC
Tech spec:Battery: 9 hours (earphones), 36 hours (case) • Wireless charging: No • ANC: No • Driver size: 5.8mm • Weight: 4.6g (earbuds), 37g (case) • Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.0 • Water-resistance: IPX5
Beats Fit Pro
Combining AirPods tech with a fitness-friendly fit, the Beats Fit Pro are a superbly sporty alternative to Apple’s official earphones. Secured with flexible wings and silicone tips, they stay unshakeably in place during sprints and strolls alike. While Apple’s H1 chip means automatic switching for iOS devices, you don’t need an iPhone to access all the smarts: the Beats app for Android unlocks one-touch pairing, custom controls and more. While volume isn’t as loud as some rivals, the 9.5mm drivers inside ensure sound quality is excellent, pairing punchy bass with crisp clarity. It helps that the Beats Fit Pro benefit from the same ANC and Adaptive EQ as the AirPods Pro, tailoring sounds to your environment. There’s support for spatial audio too, which adds an immersive sense of dimension to the soundscape. Battery life is competitive at 30 hours, while wear-detect sensors prevent the Beats from playing in your pockets.
Competitive battery life, rich sound and a lock-tight fit put the Beats Fit Pro among the finest fitness headphones around
Tech spec:Battery: 6 hours (earphones), 18 hours (case) • Wireless charging: No • ANC: Yes • Driver size: 9.5mm • Weight: 5.6g (earbuds), 55.1g (case) • Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.0 • Water-resistance: IPX4
In white and at a distance, Denon’s first true wireless in-ears could readily be mistaken for a pair of AirPods. With a similar dangly stem design, their understated shells are neatly sculpted, fit comfortably and feel like they’re built to last. Where they sit apart from Apple’s wireless in-ears is in the smart stakes: unlike the AirPods, the AH-C830NCW have no smartphone partner app, no EQ to tweak and no voice assistant support. And while each earbud features a touch surface, it can’t be used to control the volume. So far, so old school. But while the Denon ‘buds don’t go big on connected intelligence, they excel when it comes to audio quality: deep, textured bass tones are balanced against an expressive mid-range and nicely judged high frequencies. Rivals might offer more skills for similar money, but Denon’s ‘phones deliver sonic satisfaction that’s up there with the best wireless earbuds.
What they lack in features and functionality, these well-built and balanced Denon earbuds make up for in expert sonic performance
Tech spec:Battery: 6 hours (earphones), 18 hours (case) • Wireless charging: Yes • ANC: Yes • Driver size: 11x10mm • Weight: 5.3g (earbuds), 43g (case) • Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.0 • Water-resistance: IPX4
Sony LinkBuds S
Featherweight earphones for all-day audio, Sony touts the LinkBuds S as the world’s lightest noise-cancelling wireless earbuds. At just 4.8g per ‘bud, they certainly go easy on your lugs, with an ergonomic shape and silicone tips ensuring a secure fit. Comfortable enough for long listening stints, the LinkBuds S also benefit from intuitive touch controls. Active noise cancellation isn’t the strongest, but the mics come into their own during voice calls: wind interference is minimal and clarity excellent. With relatively small 5mm drivers inside, sound output can lack a little energy. Bass is handled well, but higher frequencies tend to feel restrained. Battery life is average at six hours with ANC, which is fair when you consider the compact proportions. Pair with Sony’s Headphones Connect app to tweak the EQ, customise controls and adjust the Adaptive Sound Control, which automatically alters ambient noise levels based on detected actions and locations.
With a comfortable fit and enjoyable audio performance, Sony’s featherweight ‘phones are excellent everyday all-rounders
Tech spec:Battery: 9 hours (earphones), 14 hours (case) • Wireless charging: No • ANC: Yes • Driver size: 5mm • Weight: 4.8g (earbuds), 35g (case) • Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.2 • Water-resistance: IPX4
Soundcore Liberty Air 2 Pro
They might not look like the fanciest pair of AirPods alternatives, but the smooth matte black carry-case offers wireless charging and has a pleasing sliding mechanism. IPX4 water-resistance make them a good shout for a workout, too.Each earpiece is controlled via integrated touch-sensitive panels: double-tap the left ear to skip forward, the right to play or pause. You can usefully customise the functions in the Soundcore app, where you’ll also find personalisation options: a sound profile can be created based on a hearing exercise, adapting the sound to your specific aural needs. Sound quality is really impressive, with surprisingly impactful bass for such small earbuds. The ANC is reasonably effective too. No, it won’t cut out everything – but so few earphones do. A small gripe is that you can’t tweak the volume on the buds themselves, but then that’s the same with Apple’s AirPods Pro. Battery life exceeds all expectations: hey’ll last roughly seven hours from fully charged with a further 21 hours in the QI charging case. For the price, there’s not a lot to complain about.
Feature-packed and affordable, these noise-cancelling AirPods alternatives deliver a fun, bass-focused listen that belies their budget looks
Tech spec:Battery: 7 hours (earphones), 19 hours (case) • Wireless charging: Yes • ANC: Yes • Driver size: 11mm • Weight: 5.2g (earbuds), 50.5g (case) • Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.0 • Water-resistance: IPX4
Jabra Elite 7 Active
Sharing several specs with the Elite 7 Pro, Jabra’s Elite 7 Active exist to soundtrack your sporting pursuits. Contoured to fit the ear, a rubberised coating keeps the earphones firmly in place, while an IP57 rating beats the AirPods when it comes to water resistance. Bassy out of the blocks, audio can be balanced through the Sound+ app. Nuance might not be top of the order, but they give running playlists plenty of punch and energy. Passive noise isolation also proves effective, while ANC reduces background rumble reliably, even if sporadic sounds can still filter in. Staying power is impressive: eight hours is stretched to 30 with the charging case, putting battery life up there with the best in this bracket. You can find better-sounding earbuds for similar cash, but not with the same sweatproofing. For the money, the Jabra Elite 7 Active are tempting AirPods alternatives for fitness fans.
Durability, endurance and a secure, wing-free fit: these bassy fitness ‘phones offer plenty for the price – even if their ANC is beaten by the best
Tech spec:Battery: 8 hours (earphones), 22 hours (case) • Wireless charging: Yes • ANC: Yes • Driver size: 6mm • Weight: 5.5g (earbuds), 44g (case) • Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.2 • Water-resistance: IP57
Nothing Ear (1)
Distinguished by see-through styling, these transparent AirPods alternatives arrive on a hype train worthy of Apple. Besides revealing neat circuitry beneath, their clear design is distinctive, if not exactly radical: the stem setup is a familiar one, as are the silicone tips which assist with fitting. Compatible with Google Fast Pair, the lightweight Ear (1) connect to a similarly minimalist app for iOS and Android, home to touch control customisation, four EQ presets and the option to disable wear detection. Tuned by the synth-tinkerers at Teenage Engineering, sound output from the 11.6mm dynamic drivers has nice depth and energy. High frequencies can be edgy on delicate details, but bass enjoys impressive presence. And while ANC can’t achieve total silence, it does reduce road rumble. They don’t trade blows with costlier competitors – especially on battery life – but Nothing’s earphones still offer an easy listen in unique packaging at a decent price.
Distinctive by design, these see-through earphones aren’t perfect, but a tempting price tag and plentiful features ensure they stand out
Tech spec:Battery: 5 hours (earphones), 29 hours (case) • Wireless charging: Yes • ANC: Yes • Driver size: 11.6mm • Weight: 4.7g (earbuds), 57.4g (case) • Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.2 • Water-resistance: IPX4
Google Pixel Buds Pro
Google’s best earbuds yet, the Pixel Buds Pro do plenty to tempt Android users in search of an AirPods alternative. Google shaped the two-tone ‘phones to nestle in the outer ear, and they’re certainly among the more secure wireless earbuds we’ve tested. They naturally play nicest with Pixel phones, but a clever companion app and Google Fast Pair support means other Android devices don’t miss out on the fun. Google’s Silent Seal algorithm enhances the effectiveness of ANC based on ambient noise, doing well to dent the din of nearby noise pollution, while monitoring pressure for a fatigue-free listen. Audio is punchy and enveloping, with 11mm drivers producing impactful but balanced bass, together with crisp higher frequencies. Not remotely neutral, the fun, energetic signature favours everyday listeners. With competitive seven-hour battery life on-board, the Pixel Buds Pro don’t dominate in any one area, but they do offer compelling overall value.
With dynamic sound, competitive battery life and effective ANC in comfy packaging, Google’s top-spec earbuds aren’t reserved for Android die-hards
Tech spec:Battery: 11 hours (earphones), 20 hours (case) • Wireless charging: Yes • ANC: Yes • Driver size: 11mm • Weight: 6.2g (earbuds), 62.4g (case) • Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.0 • Water-resistance: IPX4
Urbanears Boo Tip
A khaki colourway isn’t all that’s green about these affordable AirPods alternatives: 91% of their construction is recycled plastic. Ludicrously light at less than 4g per bud, the eco ‘phones feature a matte finish that’s subtly characterful, if not especially premium. 10mm drivers produce unexpectedly rich, well-balanced bass. While the soundstage can feel cramped on complex tracks, the Boo Tips benefit from an energy which belies their featherweight build and accessible price. Stem touch controls can’t be customised, although mirrored inputs are easy to master. Battery life is mediocre at 4.5hrs, but the most noticeable drawback is the noise isolation. In loud environments, the absence of ANC means the Boo Tips can struggle to keep external sounds from bleeding into what’s otherwise an enjoyable listen.
Featherweight and eco-friendly, these simple earbuds transform recycled trash into solid audio for a fair price – limited noise isolation aside
Tech spec:Battery: 4.5hrs hours (earphones), 25.5 hours (case) • Wireless charging: No • ANC: No • Driver size: 10mm • Weight: 3.95g (earbuds), 36.7g (case) • Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.2 • Water-resistance: IPX4