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Best wireless earbuds under $100
Just a few years 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 wireless earbuds under $100.
Editors note: this list of the best wireless earbuds under $100 was updated on July 1, 2022, to include the JLab Go Air POP and Beats Flex as Highlight picks and to update the Notable mentions section.
Why is Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus the best wireless earbuds under $100 for most?
The Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus includes IPX2-rated earbuds and a USB-C charging case that also supports wireless charging. Both iPhone and Android users can download the appropriate mobile app to access firmware updates and customize the user experience, though Android phones have the most features (e.g., direct Spotify access through the touch controls and access to the Galaxy Labs experimental toggles).
The sound quality is quite good as AKG, a Samsung subsidiary, tuned the earphones to have a consumer-friendly frequency response. This means that bass and treble notes are gently amplified to add a bit of oomph without losing higher-pitched instrumental detail. You can use the Galaxy Wearable app to choose from a few EQ presets if you don’t like the default sound profile.
You might like: Apple AirPods Pro vs Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro
If you only have $100 USD to spend, we highly recommend this headset. The Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus occasionally goes above $100 USD, though it’s regularly listed for $99 USD.
The microphone quality is pretty good for wireless earbuds but it won’t fool anyone into thinking that you have a professional setup.
Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus microphone demo (Old):
How does the microphone sound to you?
Battery life exceeds most other wireless earphones, including the AirPods Pro. You get nearly 12 hours of playtime from the earbuds and the case provides one reserve charge cycle, lasting you nearly 24 hours before you have to top it up. You can fast charge the earbuds by tossing them in the case for 3 minutes to net 60 minutes of playback. Samsung Galaxy device owners can even place the case on top of a compatible handset to take advantage of Wireless PowerShare, which lets you charge the buds and case from anywhere.
The Google Pixel Buds A-Series is the smartest set of budget earphones around
The budget-friendly Google Pixel Buds A-Series succeeds the famed Google Pixel Buds (2020), and the A-Series has almost all the same specs as its pricier sibling, including an IPX4 rating, a Bass Boost feature, and Google Assistant integration. Few of the best wireless earbuds support hands-free Google Assistant access, let alone the best wireless earbuds under $100.
Upon its release, the Google Pixel Buds A-Series had some volume quirks (it was far too quiet), but Google has since released firmware 233 to bring the output up to an acceptable level. Listeners who enjoy spoken word content will appreciate the Pixel Buds A-Series’ under-emphasized bass response which yields much clearer vocal reproduction. If you’re exercising or just enjoy more of a bass-heavy sound, then take a minute to enable the Bass Boost response in the Pixel Buds app (Android only).
Ultimately, this is a really solid set of earbuds with plenty of advanced software and hardware to keep up with newer releases.
While the Pixel Buds A-Series lacks noise cancelling, it uses Google’s Adaptive Sound which essentially adjusts the volume based on background noise. This is a fine feature, but it can wreck the dynamics of a song. The earbuds have pressure relief vents which should mitigate any of that uncomfortable suction-like feeling that you get with other earphones.
The microphone is quite good on the Pixel Buds A-Series but its quality decreases as you introduce background noise. Take a listen to our sample below.
Google Pixel Buds A-Series microphone demo (Old):
How does the microphone sound to you?
The Nothing Ear 1 is a great alternative to AirPods
The Nothing Ear 1 boasts transparency from the case to the earbuds, and it’s more than a see-through set of AirPods. Nothing’s earphones cost just $99 and include premium features like active noise cancelling, automatic ear detection, an IPX4 rating, and fast and wireless charging via the case. The noise cancelling doesn’t stack up to similarly priced options like the Amazon Echo Buds (2nd Gen), but it does the trick and actually fairs quite well against the AirPods Pro.
Sure, the stemmed design emulates the AirPods, but you get such a great bang for your buck with the Ear 1 headset. Microphone quality is very good and certainly passable for personal calls along with most professional calls. Battery life is on par with other noise cancelling wireless earbuds as the Ear 1 lasts 4 hours, 30 minutes with ANC enabled. When you disable noise cancelling, you’ll get closer to 6 hours of playtime. What’s unique about the Ear 1 is that both the earbuds and case support fast charging. When you toss the earphones into the case for 10 minutes, you get 60 minutes of playtime; when you plug the case into a USB-C cable for 10 minutes, you get 8 hours of battery life.
If you want a set of earbuds that can do much of what the AirPods Pro can for less than half the cost, think about the Nothing Ear 1.
The default frequency response closely follows our house curve, so most general consumers should be pleased with the sound. If you want to take matters a bit more into your own hands, you can choose from a few EQ presets within the free mobile app that’s available to Android and iPhone owners alike.
The Nothing Ear 1 microphone is pretty good but will still transmit background noise as you can hear in the “office” demo below.
Nothing Ear 1 microphone demo (Ideal):
Nothing Ear 1 microphone demo (Office):
How does the microphone sound to you?
The Sony WF-C500 can go anywhere
The Sony WF-C500 isn’t a particularly notable pair of earbuds because it isn’t a specialist, rather, this pair of IPX4-rated earbuds gets the job done at just about every twist and turn.
While the WF-C500 lacks noise cancelling, it has good enough isolation to rival other noise cancelling earbuds, and even outperforms the AirPods Pro with ANC on. The default frequency response is very good and should please most listeners. Still, if you’re someone who likes to tweak things to absolute perfection, the Sony Headphones Connect app (iOS and Android) has plenty to offer. Here, you can use its five-band equalizer to adjust the sound and choose to prioritize sound quality or connection stability.
This is the only headset listed to support any kind of 3D audio, and with the WF-C500 set up through the Sony app, you can take advantage of Sony 360 Reality Audio. Bear in mind, access to 360 Reality Audio content is limited to certain services like Tidal, Deezer, and Amazon Music.
The WF-C500 microphone is all right in ideal conditions but really lags behind the competition when it comes to sub-optimal environments.
Sony WF-C500 microphone demo (Ideal):
Sony WF-C500 microphone demo (Office):
How does the microphone sound to you?
Athletes and exercise enthusiasts should pick up the Jabra Elite 3
The Jabra Elite 3 is the company’s cheapest wireless earbuds to date, but it doesn’t skimp on features. You get Bluetooth 5.2 firmware along with SBC and aptX Bluetooth codec support. (Sorry, iPhone owners, no AAC here.) As with most other Jabra products, the Elite 3 is built to endure with its IP55 dust and water-resistant build, making it great for exercise.
Jabra features transparency mode with these affordable buds and a comfortable, sleek design that blends in with any outfit. The earbuds hardly protrude from the ear, and each one features a multifunction touch panel for playback and call controls. You can even select a designated smart assistant to help execute simple commands.
While Jabra’s MySound+ app usually adds a significant number of software features to its other headsets, the Elite 3 has just a few that includes EQ presets and HearThrough mode. You can also enjoy Spotify integration through the earbuds, something more companies are investing in like Samsung and Skullcandy.
Jabra nails all of the fundamentals with these earphones like sound quality and isolation, making it a great pick for anyone’s daily driver.
The Jabra Elite 3 microphone is average. Take a listen to our demo below.
Jabra Elite 3 microphone demo (Old):
How does the microphone sound to you?
What makes the JLab GO Air POP a good set of cheap earbuds?
For just $19 USD, you can get the JLab GO Air POP, undercutting the cost of most of the earbuds listed here. The GO Air POP earbuds have an IPX4 rating and make for great workout earphones, plus the case has an integrated USB-A cable for charging. Standalone battery life is uniquely good at just over 11 hours, with the case adding an extra 24 hours of playtime.
Isolation is quite good too. While the earbuds do little to block out low frequencies, they do render sounds higher than 1kHz up to one-sixteenth as they’d sound without the GO Air POP. Oh, and these earbuds sound good too, which is admittedly a bit surprising for the price. You get a consistent bass and midrange output with a reasonable amount of treble emphasis. Virtually all music will sound good enough through these cheap earbuds, and if you want more bass, you can cycle through three integrated EQ presets directly from the touch controls.
Now, what are the downsides to these colorful earbuds? The microphone quality isn’t very good in anything but optimal conditions. If you only speak from the peace and quiet of your home, the mic quality will be just fine. However, those who take calls while on walks or from the office, you may want to upgrade to something else.
JLab GO Air POP microphone demo (Ideal):
JLab GO Air POP microphone demo (Wind):
How does the microphone sound to you?
Need more bass? Get the Beats Flex neckbuds
Perhaps you want a bit more oomph to your tunes than our recommendations can offer, well, you’re in luck: the Beats Flex Boosts sub-bass a bit more than most headsets. It won’t absolutely wreck a track but you will notice it and if you don’t like bass that much, you may actually want to EQ it down through one of our favorite EQ apps.
Another reason that we recommend the Beats Flex is because this is much harder to lose than a set of true wireless earbuds. The earbuds magnetically stick together so you can wear it as a kind of necklace when not listening to music. Battery life is good at 10 hours, 24 minutes and it supports USB-C fast charging (10 minutes of charge yields 90 minutes of playback).
The biggest draw to the Beats Flex is its W1 chip which is great for iPhone owners. This means you get features like immediate pairing and auto-connecting, akin to Google Fast Pair with Android earbuds. Other W1 chip benefits include connection stability and improved battery performance when streaming from an Apple device.
For just $49 USD, the Beats Flex is a great pair of affordable earbuds for iPhone owners.
The best wireless earbuds under $100 USD: Notable mentions
- Amazon Echo Buds (2nd Gen): This costs a bit more than $100 USD, disqualifying it as a top contender, but it’s a great pair of entry-level smart earbuds that retails for much less than the likes of the Apple AirPods Pro. You get hands-free access to Alexa, which is helpful for smart home enthusiasts. Noise cancelling is very good and rivals more expensive competitors.
- Anker Soundcore Liberty Air 2 Pro: This brings ANC and a customized sound to your ears for less than $100 USD. The wireless charging case supports fast charging and you can EQ the sound in the free mobile app. If you want something similar without ANC, consider the Anker Soundcore Liberty Air 2.
- Anker Soundcore Life A1: Anker’s IPX7 earbuds cost just $49 USD, and feature stabilizing ear wings that keep the buds in place no matter how you move. The boosted bass response may be a bit much for most listeners but you can amend this from your media player’s EQ module.
- Audio-Technica ATH-SQ1TW: For just $79 USD, Audio-Technica’s earbuds provide great sound quality and above-average isolation. You don’t get any app support, though, and the earbuds only stream audio over the SBC Bluetooth codec.
- JLab Epic Air Sport ANC: Okay, this set of earphones is an epically good deal and ranges from $79-99 USD depending on if you catch it on sale. Even at its full price, you get some premium features like top-notch ANC, an ear hook design, and relatively consumer-friendly sound. The touch controls aren’t great, and neither is the mic quality, but if you can overlook those things, you’ll love these buds.
- 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.
- OnePlus Buds Z2: This set of earbuds merits an IP55 rating and you can use either bud in mono mode. When you buy the Buds Z2, you get access to Bluetooth 5.2 which opens the door for LE Audio support. These Buds Z2 has good noise cancelling, especially for the price, but it limits you to SBC and AAC streaming.
- 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.
- Skullcandy Push Active: The Push Active earbuds have an IP55 dust and water-resistant rating that makes it a great option for athletes. You can access your smart assistant hands-free due to Skull-iQ, making it a smart and strong pick.
- TCL MOVEAUDIO S600: If you don’t mind the AirPods-like look and feel of TCL’s earbuds, you’ll enjoy the premium features at an affordable price like ANC, an IP54 rating, and fast and wireless charging.
- 1MORE ColorBuds 2: The 1MORE ColorBuds comes 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 ComfoBuds Mini: This pair of earbuds is as small as it gets and includes great features like SoundID, wireless charging, and very good ANC for the price.
Hold up! Something’s different:
Some of our picks’ frequency response and isolation charts were measured with our old testing system. We have since purchased a Bruel & Kjaer 5128 test fixture (and the appropriate support equipment) to update our testing and data collection. It will take a while to update our backlog of old test results, but we will update this article (and many others!) once we’re able with improved sound quality measurements and isolation performance plots. These will be made obvious with our new chart aesthetic (black background instead of white).
Thank you for bearing with us, and we hope to see you again once we’ve sorted everything out.
What you should know about cheap wireless earbuds
When you buy a cheap pair of earbuds, even the best wireless earbuds under $100 USD, you’re sacrificing style, build quality, and extra features like noise cancelling. Just because you’re saving money on your affordable wireless buds, doesn’t mean you’re sacrificing basic Bluetooth performance though. You can read our in-depth buyer’s guide or skim the important stuff below.
How long do wireless earbuds last?
When true wireless earbuds like these were first released, you were 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 USD on 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 Jabra and Sony are cornering the cheap wireless market with good quality products for significantly less than the competition.
The battery life of Bluetooth earbuds is already improving! For instance, the Beats Powerbeats Pro exceeds 10 hours of playback on a single charge. Generally speaking, the included charging cases make up for an across-the-board poor standalone battery life.
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 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.
What is a Bluetooth codec?
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.
What is isolation and how should earbuds fit?
None of the best wireless earbuds under $100 USD will supply a wide range of ear tips or outperform something like Sony WF-1000XM4 or Shure AONIC Free, 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. Ear tips that fit well will seal to your ear canals and stay in place as you jostle your head around. If you can’t get the provided tips to work, invest in a pair of third-party ear tips. Doing so could end up preventing irrevocable hearing loss, too.
How should wireless earbuds sound?
Wireless earbuds are typically aimed toward your average consumer, so the frequency response will reflect that with amplified bass and treble notes relative to the mids. Generally speaking, this is how we created the SoundGuys Consumer Curve, which we use as a way to score how a headset sounds. This curve is by no means a universal truth for what sounds good, but it is what most people will find pleasant.
If your headset manufacturer also has a mobile app, you can probably use that to EQ the sound profile. Not all earbuds, especially those under $100 USD, come with a companion app though. If that’s the case, you may want to check your streaming service to see if it has an EQ module (like Spotify), or download a third-party EQ app.
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.
Why you should trust SoundGuys
We at SoundGuys pride ourselves on our ability to provide readers with a focused understanding on the subject of consumer audio. We adhere to a draconian ethics policy and don’t allow ads or sponsored content on our site in an age where that’s more and more commonplace. Our income depends almost exclusively on people being happy with the products they buy after researching them.
Frequently asked questions about wireless earbuds under $100 USD
The Anker Soundcore Liberty Air 2 do not have active noise cancelling. They have passive noise cancellation which is achieved through sound isolation thanks to their silicone ear tips. If you want earbuds that don’t create a seal to your ear with silicone tips, we’d recommend the Mobvoi TicPods 2 Pro. They aren’t quite within the budget, retailing at $130, but they’re a solid pair of earbuds with AI-enabled head gesture controls.
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.
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.