AirPods are great if you have an iPhone and don’t mind external noise infiltrating your ear canals while your listening to your favorite throwback hit. For those of us who are intrigued by the AirPods but want something a bit more functional, perhaps with a more attractive design, and certainly with better sound quality, we’ve compiled a list of the best AirPods alternatives.
Editor’s note: this list was updated on November 21, 2018, to account for price fluctuations.
Related: Don’t use AirPods with Android
The best AirPods alternative is the RHA TrueConnect
RHA’s TrueConnect goes head-to-head with the Apple AirPods, what with its stem design, and when it comes to AirPods alternatives, the TrueConnect serves as a sensible pick. The IPX5 water-resistant earbuds fit well due to the angled nozzles, which moderates auditory masking from external noise.
Additionally, the earbuds operate via Bluetooth 5.0 and maintain a reliable connection within the 10-meter range. If you do happen to stray from your phone, the earbuds offer a slew of comprehensive controls which include volume adjustments. This control is useful when working out as well as for daily use.
As far as design is concerned, the included charging case feels like an interactive work of art and charges via USB-C. It’s also able to charge the earbuds up to 50 percent after just 15 minutes.
Unfortunately, with all good things comes compromise and the RHA TrueConnect omit aptX and AAC support. That’s right, we’re left to fend for ourselves with the SBC codec; on the bright side, most of our ears are too old to differentiate between codec quality anyway.
What you should know about AirPods alternatives
- We all agree: wireless headphones can’t keep pace when compared to wired alternatives, at least not yet. If you’re an iPhone user looking for AirPods alternatives, you’ll want to look at ‘buds that support AAC. If, on the other hand, you’re an Android user who’s drawn to the AirPods but don’t actually want them, go for picks with aptX support.
- In a similar vein, true wireless connectivity isn’t as reliable as regular wireless earbuds, because the earbuds don’t connect simultaneously to your phone. Rather they go from the primary earbud to the secondary one.
- Isolation, or lack thereof, is what makes the AirPods sound so bad. External noise is allowed to seep in and mask the sound reproduced by the AirPods. Although this is safe when walking around a city, it’s bad for audio quality.
- Battery life isn’t great with any of these picks when compared to traditional wireless counterparts. Thankfully, charging cases are a given. While three or five hours may not seem like much, it helps that the ‘buds charge when inactive.
Ignore chatty neighbors with the Sony WF-SP700N
Sony’s been flexing their noise cancelling technology demonstrated by the WH-1000XM3 over-ear headphones. The company’s true wireless noise cancelling option is a nice, more portable option to have though.
These earbuds are also water-resistant, although less so than the TrueConnect, and have been awarded an official IPX4 certification. The fit is stable and comfortable, making the ‘buds a great option for athletes and commuters alike. If you do happen to commute with them, the noise cancellation will effectively combat low rumbles but can’t counteract abrupt, sharp noises very well.
Arguably one of the most frustrating things of these true wireless earbuds is the amount of concentration required to place them in the case. It’s surprisingly easy to think that you’ve done a fine job and that the earbuds are charging only to realize a few hours later the ‘buds were off by a millimeter and never actually charged.
Although the WF-SP700N doesn’t support aptX, AAC is supported which is good for iPhone users looking into AirPods alternatives. On the whole, these are an excellent pair of true wireless earbuds and the best when it comes to active noise cancelling technology.
The Mobvoi TicPods Free is an AirPods lookalike
If your top priority is something that most resemble’s Apple’s AirPods than the Kickstarter-conceived Mobvoi TicPods are a favorable choice. Like the Sony WF-SP700N, these earbuds boast noise cancelling capabilities—though they beat out by the Sony model—and support AAC.
Mobvoi TicPods Free
What’s more, the TicPods may effectively insulate listeners from their surroundings because of the angled nozzles that protrude from the earbud housings. Bass response if exaggerated yet enjoyable and the overall sound signature is consumer-friendly.
During testing, Chris did have a bone to pick with the included ear tips, which often slipped from the nozzles, but this can easily be remedied by investing in a pair of third-party ear tips.
Indulge in the handsome Master & Dynamic MW07
Master & Dynamic, a Brooklyn-based premium audio company, also tried its hand at true wireless with the MW07. Everything from the stainless steel charging case to the acetate housings scream extravagance. Heck, even the 10mm beryllium drivers are sleek even if invisible from the outside.
Master & Dynamic MW07
It’s not only about form, however; the MW07 can stand a bit of water as proven by its IPX4 rating. What’s more the functionality of the playback controls makes blind commands easy and convenient. If we had to nitpick one thing, it would be the battery life, which is average for true wireless earbuds.
That said, if you want your truly wireless earbuds to be recognized as a piece of modern art, the MW07 is the opulent choice.
The JLab JBuds Air is the best value
The JLab JBuds Air doesn’t offer aptX or AAC support, but the earbuds are IP55-rated, provide a stable fit, and the whole package can be had for less than $50. When it comes to running and working out, there isn’t yet a better bang-for-your-buck pick, especially considering that the earbuds provide a menu of comprehensive controls.
JLab JBuds Air
Naturally, as one may expect with cheap true wireless earbuds, this AirPods alternative forgoes design: the ‘buds are bulky. That is, however, counteracted by the included Cush Fins, which aid in maintaining a stable fit that can withstand vigorous movements.
Whether you want to save a buck or get something for your most gruesome exercise regimens, the JBuds Air earbuds can take whatever’s thrown at them.
- Crazybaby Air 1S: These true wireless earbuds are sleek and water-resistant but are a bit expensive for their performance which is outshined by the TrueConnect and TicPods.
- Rowkin Ascent Charge Micro: These earbuds don’t support aptX or AAC and may be uncomfortable for some small- to- average sized ears. They do include an AirPods-like charging case though.
- Earin M-2: If you’re interested in the idea of premium true wireless earbuds but think the MW07 too bulky, the Earin M-2 feature a sleeker, arguably sexier design.
- Jabra Elite 65t: These true wireless earbuds still stand as the best all-around true wireless earbuds available, but they’re beat out by our top picks when it comes specifically to AirPods alternatives.
How we chose the best AirPods alternatives
We strive to provide our readers with practical and reliable picks for our best lists and understand that audio is both an objective and subjective experience. The former is why we champion our in-house testing which we subject as many products to as possible, and the latter explains why we’re cover as much as possible about a particular product for its respective review.
As you can see, the frequency responses of the selected picks vary widely, which can be good since it provides an array of sound signatures for readers to choose from. Some picks isolate better than others, though; take, for instance, the RHA TrueConnect, which do an excellent job at isolating external noise by seal alone.
Why you should trust us
We work relentlessly to better understand the world of audio. Individually, each of us has multiple years tracking the audio industry, affording us as a team diversified skill set that we use to make the research side of consumer audio less intimidating for our readers.
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Still looking? Check out the following lists:
- Best true wireless earbuds
- Best iPhone earbuds
- Best Beats alternatives
- Best headphones from Best Buy
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