True wireless earbuds look like the future. In fact, they look like the kind of future with jetpacks and hoverboards that actually work, and now that true wireless tech has matured, you can snag a pair of buds on any budget. With improvements to Bluetooth stability and ergonomics, it’s no wonder folks are shedding cables, before ditching wheels. These are the best true wireless earbuds under $200 that can bring the future to you today.
The best earbuds under $200 is the Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro
If you have an Android phone, there’s a good chance it’s a Samsung phone. Much like how iPhone users default to the AirPods Pro (more on that below), it should follow that Samsung users get the Galaxy Buds Pro. For one, you benefit from the Samsung Scalable Codec which constantly adjusts for quality and stability. All other users get their pick of AAC or SBC.
Samsung Galaxy Buds ProFull Review
A battery of 4 hours and 48 minutes with the (pretty darn good) active noise cancellation (ANC) enabled means the Galaxy Buds Pro suits a commute well. With the case, you get an additional 13 hours of life. Meanwhile, the sound profile works well with most music. It has a reasonable dose of bass and a strong emphasis on higher frequencies, making it consumer friendly. The app also includes EQ presets, so you can find one for your tastes.
With a very good microphone and IPX7 rating, you can pretty much do anything and go anywhere with the buds. From professional Zoom calls to jogging in the rain, Samsung has it figured out. Samsung’s buds even have touch controls, though they’re a bit sensitive for our liking.
What you should know about true wireless earbuds under $200
What makes a good set of true wireless earbuds
The technology of true wireless earbuds has improved vastly in recent years, and for under $200 you can ask for pretty much everything. While battery life is still the Achilles’ heel of any wireless product, some manufacturers have an ace up their sleeves. Features like quick charging take a useless dead battery to a moderately charged one after a brief five to 15-minute delay in your listening session. How many charges does the case yield? Sometimes you can forgive a shorter battery life if it has a lot of charges to spare in the charging case.
Durability as measured through IP ratings makes the difference between a good workout companion and potentially shorting out your buds without a warranty. In an ideal world, everything would at least have an IPX4 rating for sweatproofing. However, if you’re using your true wireless buds earphones for productivity in an office setting, it’s not as important. On the other hand, if you head to the gym from the office or expect a lot of rainfall, you’ll want some protection.
Bluetooth codecs matter
Bluetooth codecs help make the difference between an okay sound and a very good sound, and here’s your friendly reminder that the headphone jack is still the queen of quality. Codecs allow your smartphone or laptop to communicate with your headset. Every Bluetooth audio device supports SBC by default, so at the very least your earbuds can stream over that. If you’re steeped in the Apple ecosystem, all you need to know is AAC is your codec of choice.
For Android users, the situation seems more nebulous and dependent on both your device and your use case. If the earbuds in question only have AAC and SBC, sometimes you get better quality results with SBC. Otherwise, to reduce latency (which is a real bugaboo with Bluetooth and video) look for higher resolution options like aptX, or aptX-LL. Some manufacturers (similar to Apple) have chosen to optimize for their own ecosystem. Samsung’s proprietary codec works best with other Samsung products.
Basically, pay attention to codecs. SBC might be a one size fits all situation, but maybe you want some tailoring.
What is a frequency response?
If you’ve poked around our site enough you’ve probably seen frequency response charts. Basically, we measure how accurately an audio product reproduces the sound source. A completely accurate frequency response appears like a straight horizontal line, but you’ll never get a deviation-free response from a pair of headphones or earbuds. Don’t worry though; most people don’t love that frequency response casual listening, so we created our ideal consumer response to measure each product against. You can read more about how we settled on that, but the gist is that this is what works well for most people.
A good frequency response is one that does not unduly hide (or mask) other frequencies by being too loud. In other words, if bass sounds are too loud, you probably can’t hear quieter sounds of other frequencies as well. That’s how human brains work. We just don’t process quieter sounds as well as louder ones. This often results in folks turning up the volume, and you want to keep your hearing, right?
A contributing factor in finding the perfect true wireless earbuds has to do with fit. Fit matters because we can post about all sorts of awesome features, but none of them make a difference if the buds fall out of your ears. More often the topic of fit means something more subtle. Do the buds adequately seal your ear? A poor fit actually alters your perception of the frequency response. Fortunately, most earphones ship with a selection of different sized ear tips, and when in doubt, try a third party option.
Finally, any product with an equalizer (EQ) is worth its weight in gold (which might not be much, considering truly wireless earbuds are fairly light). You can rescue a default frequency response you don’t like by using an EQ to make corrections—some products even feature a mobile app that has an EQ. If you hear too much bass, simply drop the EQ slider in the bass frequencies down to offset it.
What is isolation/active noise cancelling (ANC)?
You know how fit matters for hearing things correctly? It also matters for achieving isolation. Isolation works much in the way that earplugs do: by creating a physical barrier between your ears and the noisy world. Inherently, some designs isolate better than others. Sometimes that’s so you can hear your surroundings out of safety. Isolation works best typically for higher pitched incidental sounds, like clangs in a café.
Active noise cancellation uses microphones that detect your environmental surroundings and basically using the opposite soundwaves to cancel the noise out. Frequently there is a small delay while it detects the environmental noise. For that reason, ANC fights droning sounds best, because it is somewhat predictive in nature. A fast, brief burst of sound is typically too quick for ANC to dramatically quiet it, hence why isolation is the best tool for clangs. ANC is your friend for airplanes, as it typically works on repeating sounds that land in lower frequencies.
iPhone owners, just go with the Apple AirPods Pro
Apple popularized the true wireless earbud revolution with the (not so amazing) AirPods, but don’t confuse those for the AirPods Pro, which comes with ANC and silicone ear tips so you can find a good fit. If you have an iPhone, the efficiency of the H1 chip along with fast pairing and easy device switching makes the AirPods Pro a good choice. iPhone owners also get the benefit of battery optimization, Spatial Audio and head tracking, hands-free Siri access, and more.
Apple AirPods ProFull Review
Apple smartened up and got the AirPods Pro an IPX4 rating, so you can go to the gym wirelessly. The frequency response sounds pretty decent with a pleasant amount of bass and accurate mids. The microphone is quite good and the stemmed design helps with that.
If you want something that just works, try the AirPods Pro. If you don’t mind the Apple tax, at least you know what you get isn’t a gamble.
The most durable option is the Jabra Elite Active 75t
Equipped with an IP57 rating, the Jabra Elite Active 75t withstands dust and a half-hour dunk in a meter of water. Jabra released a big update back in 2020 that granted the Elite 75t series ANC capabilities (though it’s not very good). Without ANC on, the Elite Active 75t gets 7 hours and 14 minutes of battery life, which is healthy. The case boasts more than two additional charging cycles and 15 minutes in the case yields an extra 60 minutes of playtime. The case itself needs over 120 minutes to fully charge.
Jabra Elite Active 75tFull Review
The default frequency response has a heavily amplified bass response, and under-emphasized mids and highs. Fortunately, the app can help with that by adjusting the EQ. With Jabra’s industry leading success in manufacturing professional headsets, it’s no surprise the Elite Active 75t has four pretty good mics. With a solid and comfortable fit, the Elite Active 75t handles most tasks you throw at it. You’re limited to AAC and SBC codecs, and the buttons are a little sensitive. Otherwise, it’s a solid buy.
For workouts try Bose Sport Earbuds
If you want something that just works for your workouts, the Bose Sport Earbuds has you covered. It lacks a few features like Bluetooth multipoint, and custom EQ adjustment. On the other hand, it’s tried and true, with a stable connection, IPX4 sweatproof, and has a decent noise-reducing mic system.
Bose Sport EarbudsFull Review
Importantly, the StayHear Max ear tips ensure a comfortable grip on your ears. This means you can do all the Zumba or parkour you want to whatever music you desire. With a 5-hour and 17-minute battery life, the Sport Earbuds keeps up with most people’s needs. Like most Bose wireless products, the buds only support the AAC and SBC codecs.
Related: Best workout headphones
The frequency response does not egregiously exaggerate or under-emphasize any frequencies, save for a bump around 10kHz. In other words, you won’t be getting blasted by bass. You only get this single EQ option, which might suit you if you like podcasts when you exercise. You also might like it if you dislike the more common bass-forward frequency responses in exercise-oriented products.
The best bang for your buck is the Amazon Echo Buds (2nd Gen)
If you want the most for your money, landing well below the $200 mark is the Amazon Echo Buds (2nd Gen). Unique to the Echo Buds is the genuinely helpful Ear Tip Fit Test. Fans of Amazon’s Alexa can enjoy the easy integration with things like Amazon Music HD. Using the Alexa app you have access to EQ, find my device, ANC settings, and a host of stats for the data happy. You can also switch your voice assistant to Siri or Google Assistant (though, neither third-party assistant supports hands-free access). The battery rates as average with 4 hours and 42 minutes of life, so most people shouldn’t run out of juice in one session.
Amazon Echo Buds (2nd Gen)Full Review
Sporting an IPX4 rating, you can easily take your Echo Buds to the gym. However, lacking an extensive wireless range, you may need to keep your phone nearby. With AAC and SBC support and in our tests some sizeable latency, video may occasionally have sync issues. As always, this can be difficult to predict because it varies from one device to another. Using the ear tip fit test helps ensure that ANC in combination with isolation effectively quiets the world.
The default frequency response of the Echo Buds looks a tad wonky, with an under-emphasized bass response and strong emphasis on the highs. This is a great opportunity to try your hand at adjusting the, albeit limited, equalizer in the Alexa app. Like nearly all bang for your buck deals, the Echo Buds is not perfect, however, it offers quite a lot of value and opportunities to customize the experience.
Best true wireless earbuds under $200: Notable mentions
- Anker Soundcore Liberty Air 2: Shockingly, you can get aptX (and AAC) at under $100. Perhaps it doesn’t have the best frequency response, but if you like bass for workouts and an IPX5 rating, try this gem.
- Bose Sport Open: This is for the person who does not want, or need, ANC. In fact, this person wants to hear everything. With such a niche set of earphones, the Bose Sport Open keeps you aware while you exercise, and provides a stable fit. It’s AAC and SBC codec support only and the case doesn’t provide any battery charging.
- Google Pixel Buds (2020): The second generation of Pixel Buds offers easy Android integration. It’s well made, with an IPX4 rating, and an alright fit. It loses marks because it does not isolate well, and frankly, battery life and ANC are pretty average. Given that Google has discontinued it, you might find it for cheap.
- Jaybird Vista 2: If you plan on running over your earbuds while dunking them in mud, the Vista 2 sports IP68 and MIL-STD-810G certifications. The price teasingly sits just below the $200 mark, which is why it’s here. However, you get good sound quality and a comprehensive app. Great isolation and above-average ANC makes the Vista 2 a solid alternative.
- Nothing Ear 1: Go ahead, get seduced by the retro-futuristic translucent plastic of the Nothing Ear 1. For about $100 it ticks most boxes, but does not excel in any particular category, except for having multiple ANC settings. The consumer-friendly frequency response and sound quality suggest it’s not just all looks with nothing underneath.
- OnePlus Buds Pro: If isolation and great ANC are not a priority, you might like the Buds Pro. It has the usual AAC and SBC, and also supports LHDC (a low latency, higher resolution codec). OnePlus also imbued the Buds Pro with waterproofing, dustproofing, and even waterproofed the case. The sound quality and frequency response aren’t bad either.
- Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus: Samsung users will get the most out of the Galaxy Buds Plus with the proprietary codec, but other features like Spotify integration works across Android. You don’t get any ANC, but you do get about half a day of playback.
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