Just a year ago, functional and reliable cheap true wireless earbuds would have been an oxymoron, but now they’re being released in droves. You no longer have to shell out $150-plus for solid truly wireless earbuds, instead, save your money and enjoy the latest and greatest audio technology has to offer. Here are the best true wireless earbuds under $100.
Editors note: this list of the best true wireless earbuds under $100 was updated on March 20, 2021, to address an FAQ about Spotify and iPhones.
The Anker SoundCore Liberty Air 2 are the best true wireless earbuds under $100 for most listeners
Anker’s Liberty Air 2 true wireless earbuds hit it out of the park. These are by no means the “end all, be all” earphones, but they’ll suit the needs for most listeners on a budget. Whether you’re a commuter, chronic conference caller, or an athlete, the SoundCore Liberty Air 2 can work for you.
Anker SoundCore Liberty Air 2Full Review
These stemmed earbuds merit an IPX5 rating, meaning they can endure high-pressure sprays of water from nearly any direction; suffice to say, they can handle your workouts. SoundCore dropped the glossy finish in the first-generation earphones, and instead went with a more mature matte veneer. Not only does this look more premium, but it does a better job of repelling fingerprints. The case has been further improved and is a joy to flick open.
Despite the strong bass amplification, sound quality is good. If the exaggeration really bothers you, there are plenty of presets to choose from in the SoundCore app or you can make your own. While these aren’t noise cancelling true wireless earphones, they manage to block out low-frequency noise well and render it about 1/2 as loud as it would otherwise sound. Anker SoundCore ensures optimal audio quality thanks to dual high-quality Bluetooth codec support; both AAC and aptX may be used.
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Microphone quality is bar none for this price point. Voices of all pitches are transmitted clearly, which can be attributed to the four-microphone array. Not only does it work to relay voices accurately, but it also actively reduces background noise, so friends on the other end of the call aren’t subjected to environment clatters and such.
Anker SoundCore Liberty Air 2 microphone demo:
Battery life is above average for totally wireless technology: you’re granted 7 hours, 5 minutes of playtime on a single charge. Plopping the ‘buds into the case for just 10 minutes provides you with two hours of playtime, which is pretty efficient fast charging. Said case supplies listeners with an extra three charge cycles before it has to be re-charged, which may be done via the included USB-C cable or by way of a Qi wireless charging pad.
What you should know about cheap true wireless earbuds
The technology has vastly improved over just a few years
When true wireless earbuds were first released, it was lucky to get four hours of playback from a single charge. Now, we have earbuds exceeding 10 hours, setting a new standard for the technology. While shelling out more than $100 on truly wireless earbuds is worth it for many, it’s unnecessary if you’re just looking to get a basic, reliable pair of everyday earbuds. Companies like Creative and JLab are cornering the cheap true wireless market by pumping out good quality products for significantly less than the competition. Heck, even the Outlier Air support both AAC and aptX Bluetooth codecs.
Start here: Headphone buying guide
When you buy a cheap pair of earbuds, even the best true wireless earbuds under $100, you’re sacrificing style, build quality, and extra features like noise cancelling. Just because you’re saving money on your affordable truly wireless ‘buds, doesn’t mean you’re sacrificing basic Bluetooth performance though.
Battery life is getting better
Generally speaking, the included charging cases make up for an across-the-board poor standalone battery life. Huge battery life improvements have happened though. For instance, the Beats Powerbeats Pro exceed 10 hours of playback on a single charge. If you’re on an international flight, you may want to look at over-ear headphones instead. Whether you’re getting a pair of the best true wireless earbuds under $100 or the best earbuds you can find, the battery cells will deplete over time, forcing you to reach out to the company for repairs or to buy a new set.
Get the most out of wireless audio with high-quality Bluetooth codecs
Typically we advise listeners to keep an eye out for high-quality Bluetooth codecs. If you’re not too familiar with how codecs work, fear not. They dictate how data is transferred from a source (phone) to a receiver (headphones). Ideally, Bluetooth transfer rates wouldn’t have to make compromises between efficiency and quality, but bandwidth remains limited. Companies are always looking for inventive workarounds: Bluetooth SIG teamed up with Fraunhofer to produce LE Audio and the new LC3 codec, which will greatly improve wireless streaming standards and aid the hard-of-hearing community.
iPhone users should get earbuds with AAC support, while Android users should invest in aptX-supported 'buds.
If you’re an iPhone user, make sure to get earbuds with AAC support. Android users, on the other hand, should get something with aptX support. While Android devices support AAC streaming, its performance is inconsistent across the board.
Athletes need IP-certified earbuds
IP, or Ingress Protection, ratings denote how dust- or water-resistant a product is. Our deep dive into IP ratings is a great resource, but if you don’t have time, the higher the number the more resistant a product is to dust or water.
Isolation is key
None of the best true wireless earbuds under $100 will supply a wide range of ear tips or outperform something like Sony WF-1000XM3 or Sennheiser MOMENTUM True Wireless 2, but improving isolation is an easy way to improve sound quality. Take a few minutes to figure out which included ear tips are best for you or invest in a pair of third-party ear tips if it’s supported by the headphones. Doing so could end up preventing irrevocable hearing loss, too.
The Edifier TWS1 are supremely portable
Listeners on a budget will enjoy the Edifier TWS1 for their premium audio features, including aptX and Qualcomm TrueWireless Stereo Plus support. Few of the best true wireless earbuds support this technology, let alone the best true wireless earbuds under $100. For less than $50, listeners can enjoy high-quality audio streaming on Android devices, and all smartphone users reap the benefit of advanced connection stability afforded by Qualcomm.
Edifier TWS1Full Review
That said, the earbuds don’t just sound good, they’re tough too due to an IPX5 certification. Each earbud panel is touch-sensitive, so you can make basic playback and call controls without withdrawing your phone. Consistency poses an issue when making commands: oftentimes multiple taps weren’t registered.
Edifier TWS1 microphone demo:
Surprisingly, the Edifier TWS1 includes a microUSB charging case. This outdated technology is a nuisance but not a deal breaker. What may prove more annoying to listeners is the complete lack of fast charging capabilities, so you’ll have to be patient when topping up both the earbuds and case.
Generally speaking, if you’re looking to get a portable package with great sound quality, there aren’t many better deals than the Edifier TWS1.
The RHA TrueConnect block out the world around you
The first-generation RHA TrueConnect true wireless earbuds have angled nozzles, making their fit very secure and ideal for maximizing passive isolation. Their onboard controls are comprehensive and they offer an IPX5 rating, so these are great for workouts or commutes, and you’ll never have to take your phone out of your pocket to adjust your music.
RHA TrueConnectFull Review
The RHA TrueConnect operate via Bluetooth 5.0 firmware but they only support the SBC codec. The microphone is fine for everyday use and does a decent job at combatting ambient noise. They have a 4.38 hour battery life and the case holds an additional 4 hours of charge. They support fast charging as well.
While their passive isolation is very good, the sound signature itself is extremely bass-heavy. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, though, as many consumers prefer emphasized bass. It does, however, mean that mid and treble frequencies are more likely to fall victim to auditory masking, making them lose their detail.
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The 1MORE ColorBuds introduce whimsy to the world of cheap true wireless earbuds
The 1MORE ColorBuds come in a variety of fun colorways, so you can express your style through your headset. The earphones are durable too, as denoted by the IPX5 rating. 1MORE dropped the O-hooks used in its popular noise cancelling earphones, but the ColorBuds manage to maintain a secure fit thanks to the rubberized material.
1MORE ColorBudsFull Review
1MORE’s earbuds operate via Bluetooth 5.0 and support both aptX and AAC for high-quality wireless audio to any smartphone OS. Connection stability is consistent within the 10-meter wireless range, and you can enjoy mono playback with either ear piece.
1MORE ColorBuds microphone demo:
The earphones reproduce a bass-heavy sound, which will be familiar to most consumers. Sub-bass notes are twice as loud as certain midrange notes, which can make it hard to perceive vocal clarity. Unfortunately, you can’t EQ the sound profile, but this may change with an update to the 1MORE MUSIC app.
When you remove the earbuds, playback automatically pauses and it resumes when you reinsert the buds. This is a nifty feature, and one usually reserved for more expensive earbuds. Battery life is above average: you get nearly 6 hours of playback on a single charge, and the case can fast charge the earbuds. The ColorBuds USB-C case also supports wireless charging, so you have plenty of ways to top it up.
Spend a little, and enjoy a lot with the JLab GO Air
The JLab GO Air is a spartan headset, but is sure to please any listener who just wants a pair of dirt-cheap true wireless earbuds that work. In fact, these are among our favorite totally wireless earphones under $50. JLab includes premium features in its cheapest headset, like Bluetooth 5.0 firmware and an IP44 dust- and water-resistance rating.
JLab Go AirFull Review
The charging case leaves the earbuds exposed, which isn’t great if you typically toss your earbuds into a blackhole backpack: the earbuds can separate from the case, if knocked around too much. While this is certainly a design drawback, the case has its advantages too. It houses an integrated USB charging cable, so you can just connect it to a charging brick and immediately recharge the case and buds.
JLab GO Air microphone demo:
As with other JLab earphones, the JLab GO Air supports a comprehensive set of touch gestures that allow you to take full control of music playback and incoming calls. Connection strength is reliable thanks to JLab’s Dual Connect technology, which allows each earbud to create an independent connect to your source device. The earbuds only support one high-quality Bluetooth codec (AAC), but this is to be expected given the economical price.
Related: Best true wireless workout earbuds
If you want something smart, get the Amazon Echo Buds with Alexa built-in
The Echo Buds cost a bit more than $100, disqualifying them as a top contender, but they’re a great pair of entry-level smart earbuds that retail for much less than the likes of the Apple AirPods Pro. For just $130, you get hands-free access to Alexa, which is helpful for smart home enthusiasts. If your home is full of Internet-of-Things (IoT) products, then the Echo Buds make it easy to control your light bulbs, routines, and more, all while keeping your phone in your pocket. Sound quality, clarity in particular, leaves a lot to be desired, but the selling point is Alexa integration. Athletes may breathe a sigh of relief knowing these are IPX4 water-resistant, and morning commuters may enjoy Bose noise reduction technology.
True wireless earbuds under $100: notable mentions
- 1MORE Stylish True Wireless: These earphones use Bluetooth 5.0 firmware and support both AAC and aptX high-quality codecs, which is rare at this price point. If you like the idea of the Monoprice True Wireless but want more bass, get these.
- Apple AirPods: These earbuds run you more than $100 and, even though they’ve been outdated by the AirPods Pro, they’re the best and most affordable true wireless option for your iPhone. Granted, they do have their flaws like poor isolation.
- Anker Soundcore Spirit Dot 2: These earbuds have a stable and comfortable fit along with an IPX7 rating making them great for workouts. While the sound quality isn’t impeccable, but they have solid Bluetooth connection strength and have a 6 hour, 2 minute battery life with quick charging support.
- Helm Audio True Wireless 5.0: These earphones support aptX for high-quality streaming on Android devices and Bluetooth 5.0 firmware that facilitates efficient power consumption. Listeners get up to six hours of playtime on a single charge with an additional 30 hours supplied by the charging case.
- Jabra Elite 65t (Renewed): This too is going to run you quite a bit more than the $100 limit, but we crowned it as the best true wireless earbuds for nearly a year. If you’re not opposed to refurbished products, you can easily find it for under $100.
- JLab JBuds Air Icon: JLab’s second go at its successful JBuds Air cheap true wireless earbuds hits it out of the park with improved battery life, connectivity, and smaller housings.
- OnePlus Buds Z: If you like the design of the original Apple AirPods, but want something that seals to your ears, you should check out these budget buds. They have an IPX4 rating, quick charging, support the AAC codec, and have good mic quality.
- Samsung Galaxy Buds: The Galaxy Buds used to be on this list, but they’ve since increased in price to $110. However, they are still an excellent pair of earbuds with a neutral-leaning frequency response, 6.53 hours of battery life, and an IPX2 rating.
- Skullcandy Indy: Skullcandy nailed the fit and compact design of the Indy earbuds. These are affordable and boast an IP55 certification. However, there are some drawbacks like disappointing battery life and fickle touch controls.
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How we tested the our pick of cheap true wireless earbuds
While we encourage you to read our comprehensive article elucidating how and why we test, the short of it is that we run three basic tests: frequency response, isolation, and battery life when applicable.
As with all valid tests, we make sure that the results of each one are repeatable and not just a fluke. As for battery life, we subject each pair of earbuds or headphones to a constant 75dB(SPL) output until the unit’s battery is completely drained. In order to record the battery life, we make sure the output is being recorded by software through a dummy head.
Why you should trust SoundGuys
SoundGuys serves as each of our day jobs, or rather we serve SoundGuys as our nine-to-fives, and Adam, Chris, and Lily each have multiple years keeping tabs on the audio industry. Our collective experiences allow us to pick out the good from the bad, or the unremarkable, reducing the time you have to spend doing independent research.
While our site does use referral links, none of our writers may benefit from suggesting one product over another; in fact, they won’t even know if a link was ever clicked. Ultimately, we just want you to enjoy your purchase because we get that picking out audio products can be an overwhelming, time-consuming process. If you so choose, we recommend reading up on our ethics policy.
Frequently Asked Questions
The way songs streamed over Spotify sound won't depend on your earbuds specifically. However, better quality earbuds will make any streaming service's music sound better. As for iPhone, you'll want to look for a pair of earbuds that support the AAC codec. This codec works well with iPhones to efficiently transfer data from the source device to the earbuds, so it will maintain the quality of your music very well.
The most durable earbuds in this best list is the JLab JBuds Air Sport, which features an IP66 rating. This rating indicates that the earbuds aren't likely to be affected by dust or strong jets of water.
When you seen an IP rating like IP56 or IPX5, the last two digits indicate the level of dust resistance and water resistance respectively. If you see an X in place of a number, it indicates that the product was not tested for dust or water resistance. To learn more, check out our article on decoding IP ratings.
In most cases, yes. If, for example, you notice your Anker SoundCore Liberty Air 2 case is low on battery but your earbuds still have enough charge to use, you can just plug in the case and continue wearing your earbuds. Then, when you do need to charge the earbuds themselves, the case will be ready to top them off.
Only the earphones listed to support ambient mode or passthrough listening support it. For instance, the Anker Soundcore Liberty Air does not support ambient sound mode, but the Samsung Galaxy Buds headset does as is listed or omitted from the positives and negatives section at the top of the list. However, it is possible that companies like Creative add such functionality in a firmware update.
Between the Creative Outlier Air, Edifier TWS1, Rowkin Ascent Micro, JLab JBuds Air Sport, and Anker Soundcore Liberty Air, the Edifier TWS1 has the best microphone quality. If you're strictly prioritizing mic quality for cheap true wireless earbuds, the Jabra Elite 65t earphones are your best bet. These occasionally dip below $100, and can be had for just $64 when bought renewed.