True wireless earbuds are great. They’re portable, convenient, and you never have to worry about wires getting caught on something and ripping them out. But these things can get a little pricey sometimes—what are the best true wireless earbuds under $50?
Editor’s note: This list of the best true wireless earbuds under $50 was updated on November 5, 2020, to include information about mono listening with the Mobvoi TicPods Free.
The best true wireless earbuds under $50 are the Edifier TWS1
The Edifier TWS1 are truly no-frills true wireless earphones, allowing them to keep the important things in check. They’re lightweight and have an IPX5 rating, so they’re not afraid of a little sweat. Lasting 7 hours, 10 minutes on a single charge, you shouldn’t run into any issues with battery life. Unfortunately, because the Edifier TWS1 don’t support fast charging with their microUSB port (and take 1.5 hours to charge completely), you’ll have to leave the case charging for quite a while once it does tap out.
The connectivity is very good within a 10-meter range because of Qualcomm’s true wireless connection tech, and we didn’t experience latency or skips in our testing. In addition, the earbuds will automatically connect to the last paired device when you remove them from their case.
For a budget pair of earbuds, the Edifier TWS1 have respectable sound quality. Their sound is neutral-leaning with a slight bass boost that most people will enjoy. The isolation is alright, and while they don’t block out much low-end noise like car engines or the train, they block out high frequencies enough to prevent them from being distracting. The microphone quality isn’t great, but it’s usable for casual phone calls.
What you should know about the best true wireless earbuds under $50
What makes a pair of true wireless earbuds good? This can be an especially tricky question when you’re shopping with a budget. Keep an eye out for a few key features that will help you make the right decision for you.
True wireless earbuds don’t have wires, so they operate via Bluetooth wireless technology. A Bluetooth codec determines how data is transmitted from your source device to your headphones. Every Bluetooth product supports the SBC codec, but there are some higher quality options out there if your earphones support them. Obviously, the tiny cases of true wireless earphones make cramming in extra circuitry very difficult, so you’ll typically only have access to one or two codecs. Android users will want to keep a special eye out for earphones supporting the aptX codec, and if you have an iPhone, you’ll want to look for the AAC codec. These codecs are great for reducing audio-visual lag and streaming high quality audio, but its also possible that you won’t be able to tell the audio quality apart unless you have very good ears.
IP ratings, or Ingress Protection ratings, are a standard for how resistant a piece of technology is to water and dust. These ratings are formatted IPXX, with the first X being a placeholder for dust-resistance, and the second X a placeholder for water-resistance. If you’re planning to use your budget true wireless earbuds for workouts, it would definitely be a good idea to look for water resistance at the least.
|IPX1||✓||Dripping water (1 mm/min)
Limit: vertical drips only
|IPX2||✓||Dripping water (3 mm/min)
Limit: Device max tilt of 15° from drips
Limit: Device max tilt of 60° from sprays
|IPX5||✓||Water jets (12.5 L/min)
Example: Squirt guns
|IPX6||✓||Strong water jets (100 L/min)
Example: Powerful water guns
Limit: 1 m. for 30 min
Limit: 3 m. for 30 min
|IP1X||✓||A solid object > 50 mm|
|IP2X||✓||A solid object > 12.5 mm|
|IP3X||✓||A solid object > 2.5 mm|
|IP4X||✓||A solid object > 1 mm|
|I5X||✓||Dust-protected, small solid objects won't interfere with device operation|
|IP6X||✓||Any amount of dust, completely dust-tight|
Passive isolation and sound quality
If you’re shopping for earbuds, chances are you want them to sound good (who wants earphones that sound bad?). Both the passive isolation of your earbuds and their frequency response are important factors to their sound quality, and they play off of one another. Not only does passive isolation help cancel out annoying ambient sound, but it also greatly improves the quality of the music you’re trying to listen to.
Passive isolation refers to how well your earbuds can block out external noise. Unless your buds have active noise cancelling technology, their passive isolation will depend almost entirely on the way the ear pieces fit in your ears. If your earbuds create a suction inside your ear canal, they will be more effective at blocking external noise than earbuds that don’t. Many of the best true wireless earbuds under $50 come with several options for ear tip sizes to help you find the best possible fit, but some people may want to look into third-party ear tips. There are tons of options out there, and some companies even make memory foam ear tips which can improve both passive isolation and comfort.
The frequency response of your earbuds will determine how different frequencies are reproduced. Many of the best true wireless earbuds under $50 have at least slightly bass-y frequency responses, which just means that the low tones will sound amplified compared to higher tones. This isn’t necessarily a problem, because many average consumers prefer this sound signature, but in some cases you may find that a song sounds inaccurate to the way it was mixed, or that the amplified bass destroys the clarity of tones in the higher frequencies (eg. vocals, instruments).
The battery life of most true wireless earbuds is not great
It’s rare to find a pair of true wireless earbuds that can last you an entire day of online school. The average battery life of a pair of true wireless earbuds is 4 to 5 hours, and this is simply because they are typically too small to be able to hold more charge. That being said, many true wireless earphones store additional charge in their carrying cases, and many also support quick charging—so you can use them for an hour after being charged for 5 to 15 minutes.
The Mobvoi TicPods Free have great isolation
For a budget pair of true wireless earbuds, the Mobvoi TicPods Free cancel out noise extremely well, especially when it comes to higher frequencies. The sound quality is also quite decent, with a consumer-friendly bass boost, though you may notice a big of clarity reduction in higher frequencies. They unfortunately do not support mono listening.
Mobvoi TicPods Free
The TicPods Free have an IPX5 rating, automatic ear detection, and touch controls that support smart assistant activation, so they’re super convenient for when you’re on the move or at the gym. Their stemmed design also improves stability, though you may want to invest in third-party ear tips to avoid the ear tips falling off when you remove the earbuds. Their battery life is a little weak at around 3 hours, 35 minutes, but the charging case holds 4 additional charges and they support quick charging.
The JLab GO Air are another great choice
The JLab GO Air are another no-frills option for the best cheap true wireless earbuds. They have an IP44 rating, so they can withstand sweat but shouldn’t be submerged in water. The earbuds themselves are lightweight, and durable enough that they’re not likely to break. And if they do break: they’re cheap enough to replace without also breaking the bank.
JLab GO Air
While the open design of the case itself is a little odd, the unconventional integrated charging cable is one of the most convenient things about the JLab GO Air. You don’t need to worry about being able to charge your computer at the same time as your earbuds, and, according to JLab, the cable itself can be bent 10,000 times before showing signs of damage.
The JLab GO Air have solid connection strength, and a 4 hour, 5 minute battery life along with quick charging capabilities. The sound quality of the GO Air isn’t the best you’re ever going to hear because the dynamic drivers aren’t great and bass frequencies are extremely over emphasized. However, for budget true wireless earbuds they sound fine, and they get the job done.
The Creative Outlier Air are the best sounding cheap true wireless earbuds
If you’re looking for a lightweight and portable pair of true wireless earbuds, the Creative Outlier Air are great for taking on the go. They also have a stylish design with colorful ring lights that turn off when media is playing. These buds have an IPX5 rating and a stable fit, so they’re great workout companions, and you can listen in mono with either earbud. The Outlier Air also have pretty great battery life that tops out at around 7.78 hours, though they don’t support quick charging.
Creative Outlier Air
The Creative Outlier Air support both AAC and aptX codecs, and the sound quality is pretty decent. The earphones boost bass notes to the occasional detriment of clarity, but they do a good job otherwise. Their isolation isn’t amazing, but their microphone is very good and you can hear call audio in both earbuds.
Get the Jabra Elite Active 65t refurbished for workouts
If you’re looking for cheap true wireless workout earbuds, look no further. The Jabra Elite Active 65t have an IP56 rating along with a 2 year warranty, so if they get damaged, you can get them replaced. While buying them new won’t put them within our $50 budget, you can get them refurbished around $45. They come with three adjustable ear tips to ensure you find the right fit and ensure maximum isolation. They do offer a hear through feature, though, if you need to monitor your surroundings.
Jabra Elite Active 65t Refurbished
The Jabra Elite Active 65t let you personalize their sound signature with the Jabra Sound+ app, and you can select from preset EQs or design your own. Though they do support smart assistant access and the AAC codec, their main downside is their connection quality. Many users have reported frequent connection stutters, so this is one thing to keep in mind if you’re thinking about getting the Elite Active 65t.
- Anker SoundCore Liberty Air: Though they don’t quite compare to their slightly pricier successor, the Anker SoundCore Liberty Air 2, these earbuds have great sound quality, mic quality, battery life, and have auto-connection and an IPX5 certification.
- Anker SoundCore Liberty Neo: If you want wing tips and waterproofing for your earbuds, these are a great buy. They isolate extremely well and have a consumer-friendly frequency response that is great for the gym.
- JLab JBuds Air: These are another great pair of workout earbuds. They have an IP55 rating and a stable fit with their swappable Cush Fins and ear tips. They also have good isolation and decent sound quality, and they allow you to equalize the sound signature straight from the earbud itself.
- Skullcandy Indy: These earbuds sound very good for Skullcandy’s brand, though bassheads may find the frequency response to be a bit underwhelming. They are IP55 certified with a stable fit and have a strong connection. They also have solid isolation and are portable and easy to use.
- 1MORE Stylish True Wireless: These don’t quite fit under the budget of $50, but we’re mentioning them anyways because of their style, battery life, and comfort.
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