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 May 3, 2021, to include the Anker SoundCore Liberty Neo.
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.
Edifier TWS1Full Review
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.
Related: Ultimate headphone buying guide
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.
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.
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 Anker SoundCore Liberty Neo have good isolation
For a budget pair of true wireless earbuds, the Anker SoundCore Liberty Neo shut 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 support mono listening, but only for the right earbud.
Anker SoundCore Liberty Neo
The Liberty Neo have an IPX7 rating and button controls that support smart assistant activation. They don’t have the bells and whistles, like automatic ear detection, that you might find on a pricier set of earbuds, but they are a good gym companion. They unfortunately do not support any transparency mode, so to ensure your safety, you might want to listen to music in mono with the right earbud when you’re working out. They come with a variety of ear tips and wing tips to improve stability.
Their battery life is pretty good for true wireless earbuds, topping out at 4 hours, 48 minutes on a single charge. These buds don’t support quick charging since they charge via microUSB, but their case holds an additional 15 hours of battery life.
The JLab GO Air is another great choice
The JLab GO Air is another no-frills option for the best cheap true wireless earbuds. These buds have an IP44 rating, so they can withstand sweat but shouldn’t be submerged in water. They shouldn’t break but if they do, they’re cheap enough to replace without 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 1MORE PistonBuds do the stemmed design well
The 1MORE PistonBuds may mimic the AirPods’ stemmed design, but 1MORE adds a twist with its stout stems. This makes it easy to insert and remove the PistonBuds without drawing to much attention to the ear pieces. The earbuds features an IPX4 rating, making them resistant to most splashes that come their way.
You can use either earbud for mono listening, which is a must-have feature for anyone who lives with a hearing impairment. The sound quality is consumer-friendly: bass notes are amplified and sound twice as loud as midrange notes. This makes it easier for you to hear that beloved oomph from your favorite songs, but can also make it difficult to hear harmonic nuances.
The earbuds last 3 hours, 32 minutes on a single charge, which is slightly below average for true wireless earbuds. You can’t fast charge the earbuds in the case, though it only takes 90 minutes to complete a full charge cycle. Said case provides an extra 4.7 charges to your earbuds, so you don’t have to look around for that USB-C cable too often.
The OnePlus Buds Z are dust and water-resistant
If you’re looking for cheap true wireless workout earbuds, look no further. The OnePlus Buds Z have an IP55 rating, so they’re great for exercise. They come with three sets of ear tips, so you can find the right fit and ensure maximum isolation.
OnePlus Buds Z
Battery life is about average, these last 4 hours on a single charge, but the case boasts some of the most efficient fast charging we’ve seen: when you place the buds in the case for 10 minutes, you get 180 minutes of playtime. You can’t charge the case wirelessly, for that you need the unsealed OnePlus Buds.
OnePlus Buds Z microphone demo:
OnePlus tuned these to please most listeners, so bass notes sound twice as loud as low-mids. The frequency response slightly de-emphasizes upper-midrange notes, but this is a good thing because it reduces unwanted harmonic resonances that naturally occur within the human ear canal. The downside of this tuning is that you might notice some “missing” detail due to auditory masking.
You might like: Best noise cancelling true wireless earphones
Isolation is pretty good for a pair of budget earbuds, but it can’t compare to a good pair of noise cancelling earbuds like the Jabra Elite 85t, Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro, or even the Apple AirPods Pro. If you only have $50 USD to spend, the OnePlus Buds Z is a great option.
Best true wireless earbuds under $50: notable mentions
- 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.
- Jabra Elite Active 65t (Renewed): This headset is the predecessor to the Elite Active 75t, and despite its age it’s a great option for athletes on a budget. The buds cost a bit more than our $50 cutoff, though.
- JLab JBuds Air Sport: These are another great pair of workout earbuds. They have an IP66 rating and a stable fit with the ear hook design. They also have good isolation and decent sound quality, and you can cycle through a few EQ presets straight from the earbuds.
- 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.
Some people may be more inclined to get over-ear or on-ear headphones than earbuds, in which case we recommend you check out our list of the best headphones under $50.
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