Best AirPods alternatives: the best true wireless in-ear headphones


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What’s the best Apple AirPods alternative? Acme true-wireless earphones tested


What’s the best Apple AirPods alternative? Peak true-wireless earphones tested

Ding dong, the wicked wire is expressionless

Despite what Apple’s marketing department would accept you believe, its wireless earphones are non the only respond for faff-complimentary cordless audio. And while the AirPods are impressive, the best alternatives offer just as much portability, audio quality and fashion – often for a smaller chunk of alter.

Shopping for a fresh set up of cordless in-ears? The listing beneath features our option of the best AirPods rivals. From affordable ‘buds to premium earphones, we’ve tested all of the top options for easy listening.

And so whether you lot want earbuds to buddy up with your Android smartphone or audiophile-form wireless in-ears, you lot’ll find your platonic AirPods alternatives right here.


The criterion: Apple AirPods (3rd gen) review


Sony WF-1000XM4

Best AirPods alternative: Sony WF-1000XM4

The Sony WF-1000XM4 are a punchy, detailed and well-balanced listen, more than capable of soothing merely as easily as getting yous fix for the dancefloor. They sound spacious, unified and convincingly musical. They’re an endlessly engaging listen, with a stack of sonic talents every bit long as your arm.

On top of that, they cancel external sounds pretty effectively, have battery life that’s just the right side of ‘acceptable’ and are, bluntly, streets ahead of any nominal rival where ergonomics are concerned. By doing pretty much everything really well, the WF-1000XM4 proceed Sony’due south long and proud tradition of building the best true wireless in-ear headphones you can purchase.

Stuff says: ★★★★☆


Beats Studio Buds

Best AirPods alternative: Beats Studio Buds

The Beats Studio Buds are a fantastic pair of truthful wireless buds. Offer a lot to love at a reasonable price, they are an obvious alternative to Apple’s AirPods.

With a refined sound signature that’south no longer so large on the bass but remains punchy and energetic at every turn, with a stiff sense of space in the presentation and skillful separation beyond the frequency range. In short, they deliver superb performance for the money, with decent noise-cancellation, a comfy design and a more than inclusive approach for Android users.

Their feature set isn’t as extensive as some buds out at that place, while the Transparency mode and phone call quality leaves a picayune to be desired. Battery life could exist a impact amend, besides. But these are minor grumbles in an otherwise convincing little parcel that feels more slick and well-rounded than many others at this price.

Stuff says: ★★★★☆


Bowers & Wilkins PI7

Best AirPods alternative: Bowers & Wilkins PI7

The Bowers & Wilkins name always brings with it sure expectations when it comes to audio quality – and they’re emphatically met with the PI7.

Performance is exceptional, possibly the all-time we’ve heard however from a pair of true wireless buds, and the build quality is of a similarly high standard – but the PI7 also stand out for reasons you might not expect. The retramission tech on the Bluetooth charging instance, which turns the charging case into a Bluetooth transmitter when you plug it into a wired source like an in-flying amusement system, is a fantastic idea that actually solves real earth problems.

Information technology’s plenty to make upward for the fact that the battery life is goose egg special and you can get better ANC elsewhere, especially considering the cost. At to the lowest degree their soothing sounds volition come up in handy when you see the neb.

Stuff says: ★★★★★


Sennheiser CX True Wireless

Best AirPods alternative: Sennheiser CX

Are your ears big enough? That’s actually the big question – because as long as your lugs can conform the CX True Wireless’ slightly unhelpful dimensions, all the other stuff about them is positive.

As long every bit y’all’re not expecting accented Swiss-way neutrality from the sound of your in-ears, there’s loads to like nearly the way the CX True Wireless perform. They’re a bold, upfront listen that tin can be a little in-your-face, only they still accept delicacy to match the muscle, especially where voices are concerned.

The touch on controls are responsive and near impossible to confuse, simply you lot can even so utilise the exemplary Smart Control app to tweak things if you don’t similar the way Sennheiser has assigned the commands. While there’south no ANC and battery life could exist better, this is yet money well spent.

Stuff says: ★★★★★


Denon AH-C830NCW


Denon’s get-go true wireless in-ears arrive fashionably late. Adopting a dangly stalk approach, they don’t upset the design established trend either. But they are a relatively stylish case of the form, with well-made, ergonomic shells.

The ‘buds too benefit from active dissonance-cancelling, with an ambience mode to boost external sounds – although operation is decent, rather than outstanding. With muting smarts enabled, the earphones deliver effectually v hours of battery life, with a farther 4 from the neat charging case.

What you don’t get is any control app or EQ. Each earbud features a impact surface for pausing tunes, skipping tracks and cycling through noise-cancelling modes. Annoyingly, there’s no volume command, so you’ll need to adjust that on your source device.

And with no voice-assistant back up, the approach is boldly old-schoolhouse. Luckily, the earbuds have the audio chops to make upwards for information technology: bass frequencies are deep and textured, nevertheless nicely balanced against an expressive mid-range and nicely judged high frequencies – something not all truthful wireless earphones are dauntless plenty to deliver. Rivals offer more features for similar money, but Denon’s ‘buds deliver existent sonic satisfaction.

Stuff says: ★★★★★

  • Read our total Denon AH-C830NCW review hither

Devialet Gemini

Best AirPods alternative: Devialet Gemini

There’s nothing special about the design of Devialet’southward Gemini buds, or the charging example, or the battery life, or the ANC, or the app. Even the proper noun is a fleck naff… and the sound out of the box is arguably overcooked in the upper mids.

But after a little scrap of tweaking in the EQ section of the app, nosotros’re of a sudden in happy hi-fi land. The sheer space in the midrange makes lesser buds sound crude and muddy in comparison, and reveals the kind of details that justify the invention of remastering. The bass isn’t supernaturally expansive merely it’due south deep plenty, without any hint of looseness, while the treble is as fresh and fifty-fifty as an overnight sprinkling of Ribena-flavoured snow.

What you become from these AirPods alternatives (somewhen) is proper loftier-fidelity luminescence in an inexpensive and ultra-portable package. So who really cares about the residuum?

Stuff says: ★★★★★


KEF Mu3

Best AirPods alternative: Kef Mu3

KEF’s lean musical beans live inside a slightly bulky but well-built charging case. Each bud has a single button, so y’all’ll need to memorise a set up of single-, double- and long-printing commands if you don’t desire to reach for your phone every fourth dimension you lot demand to skip a runway, adjust the volume or summon the vocalisation assistant.

The focus for these AirPods alternatives is very much on performance. That means no wear-sensors or apps, but yous practise become active noise-cancelling – although information technology’s non the virtually effective out there. Sound quality more than makes up for all that, though: songs sound lifelike with bags of texture and detail, bass is forceful merely controlled, and yous tin can really choice out the positions of the instruments.

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Stuff says: ★★★★☆


Cambridge Audio Melomania 1+

Best AirPods alternative: Cambridge Audio Melomania 1+

An updated version of Cambridge’southward five-star Melomania 1s, these bullet-like buds take flat, round ends, so wearing them makes it look a little bit similar you’ve had a magic wand inserted in one ear and out of the other. At £120, they’ll save you a fair chunk of cash compared to some of the other pairs here.

These AirPods alternatives come with a wide range of both silicone and memory foam tips – and in one case you observe the right fit y’all won’t desire to take them out. While they can’t quite reach the same sonic heights as KEF’s Mu3, there’s a lovely residue to the sound, with real depth and a nice wide soundstage. An app lets you tweak the EQ, check on the (impressive) bombardment life, and locate them if they become lost. Although there’s no ANC, at this price, they’re impossible to fault.

Stuff says: ★★★★★


Jabra Elite Sport

Best AirPods alternative: Jabra Elite Sport

As their name might propose, Jabra is aiming the Elite Sport at gym bunnies, with some fancy features upwardly their sleeve to give you lot a helping hand during workouts. Their design is pretty bulky, which ensures a snug fit – not just for staying put when you’re on the treadmill, but likewise for reading your center rate. This doesn’t make them the comfiest AirPods alternatives we’ve tried though – and after an 60 minutes or two, you might need to give your ears a rest.

They piece of work with the Jabra Sport app, which records your heart rate to create an informed conditioning study, but tin can likewise fix y’all up with a training plan or talk yous through one of its pre-programmed cross-training sessions. There are fifty-fifty some activities where the Aristocracy Sport’southward sensors can count your reps for you, and pretty accurately likewise. The heart-rate monitor, on the other hand, doesn’t have the accuracy of some more accomplished fitness wearables. It’ll give a practiced plenty idea for coincidental gym-goers, merely no more.

The Jabra Elite Sport haven’t forgotten they need to sound skillful either, with a crisp, clear performance and plenty of bass kick. There’s non quite as much airy detail here every bit you might find elsewhere, nor are they as explicit with dynamics, but they’re well organised, with a adept remainder and no precipitous edges in the treble. A very pleasant surprise indeed.

Stuff says: ★★★★★


Bose Soundsport Complimentary

BOSE SOUNDSPORT FREE (£180)

Yous probably acquaintance Bose with big, over-ear noise-cancellers, but now you can also associate them with big, in-ear sports headphones as well.

Yep, there’southward no getting away from the fact that the SoundSport Frees are a flake on the chunky side, with a fair portion of each bud protruding from your ear when they’re in place. Controls are built into the top edge of the correct earbud and they come up with Bose’s wing-shaped StayHear tips to proceed them from falling out. Despite their size, these AirPods alternatives are surprisingly comfortable – plus they’re also sweat and water-resistant.

Battery life is a fairly standard 5 hours, with the customary charging example offering an extra 10 on top of that. 1 affair that does make them stand up out from the competition is the Apple-esque Find My Buds mode offered via the Bose Connect app. If you happen to misplace one or both it’ll bear witness its location on a map and yous can even go them to emit a distress indicate when you’re in the vicinity, although given how chunky they are yous’ll hopefully never need to use it.

While at that place’due south none of Bose’s trademark racket-cancelling here, the SoundSport Frees do manage to create a decent amount of isolation. Audio is bold simply balanced with driving bass that’s suitable for gym bunnies and commuters alike.

The only real issue is a lack of reliability when it comes to Bluetooth connectivity. Say what you like about Apple’s AirPods only their wireless performance is rock solid. Unfortunately, nosotros can’t say the same about these. It’due south the just black mark confronting what is otherwise a well-performing pair of true wireless buds.

Stuff says: ★★★★★


Jabra Aristocracy Active 65t

JABRA ELITE ACTIVE 65T (£140)

Elsewhere on this listing you lot’ll find Jabra’s fitness-focussed Elite Sport in-ears. If your runs could be better described as Hungover Plod than Elite Sport, the Jabra Elite Active 65t might exist the AirPods alternatives for y’all.

Despite their bulbous appearance, they fit well – which is important if you’re going to be pounding pavements or pumping iron with them in. A choice of three silicone ear tips means they can be customised for dissimilar size ears, although it does hateful they’re not the most comfy for long listening sessions.

There are buttons built into each i: the left adjusts the book and skips tracks, while the correct is used to pause, receive calls and bring upwards your phone’south voice assistant. That’ll give you a few things to remember but you’ll pick it up before long enough.

You lot tin likewise toggle the HearThrough mode on and off, which allows you to arrange how much of the outside globe the earphones let in. The noise-cancelling is impressive merely it’southward just i of many functions you can tweak via Jabra’south Sound+ app, with an EQ bachelor for each mode. There’south besides an accelerometer congenital in to monitor your steps and auto-pause when you take them out, although detection can be a bit hit and miss.

Audiophiles will probably selection holes in their audio operation only we like our sports headphones to exist punchy and energetic – all the improve to help push you through the pain.

Stuff says: ★★★★☆


Sony WF-1000XM3

Sony WF-1000XM3 (£169)

With their atomic dimensions and small-scale batteries, true wireless earphones don’t ever come with racket-cancelling tech. Only Sony’s WF-1000XM3 manage to clasp in the hubbub-hushing tech while maintaining a relatively compact – if slightly elongated – shape.

They’re non as discreet as some of the more than bullet-shaped alternatives, just with various types and sizes of earbud included they’re comfy and fit well, with a grippy-but-not-too-grippy blanket helping to hold the 8.5g buds in.

Providing they fit properly, almost AirPods alternatives will offer a chip of dissonance isolation, simply the XM3’s active system takes things to another level, while consuming very little power. With information technology switched on you’ll go vi hours out of them, eight when information technology’due south turned off. And while the sturdy charging case is a scrap bigger than some rivals, it’ll requite you a full three charges, extending the total battery life to between 24 and 32 hours.

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Play some music and the XM3s are organised, agile and punchy, with a fair flake more dynamism than their competitors also. They just serve up the music in as realistic a fashion every bit possible. Fifty-fifty call quality is half-decent, despite the mics existence a fair distance from your oral cavity.

Stuff says: ★★★★★


Beats Powerbeats Pro

Beats Powerbeats Pro (£220)

The Powerbeats Pro might come packed with a lot of the aforementioned tech that you’ll find within a set up of AirPods, just the true-wireless cousins couldn’t look more different. The Powerbeats’ over-the-ear hook design is meant to proceed them safely stowed in your lugs, no affair how hard you work out – but information technology’due south every bit reassuring for anyone who’s but afraid of seeing their expensive earphones disappearing beneath the wheels of a passing Uber. They’re also IPX4-rated for water and sweat resistance

Sound isolation isn’t the all-time, and they might become a bit uncomfortable if you lot clothing them all day – only with a total of 24 hours of battery on offer when yous include the juice stored in the chunky case, that’s the just thing stopping you from doing and so.

Apple’s input is evident: unless you’re an Android user, connecting them to your phone is the aforementioned seamless experience that you go with AirPods. You lot tin can choose between using Siri or a set of on-bud tap controls for interacting with your telephone.

Beats products have a reputation for overbearing bass, but these AirPods alternatives are more grown-up. The sound is refined and well-rounded, whether you’re listening to Beethoven or Danny Brown. Even the logo that adorns them isn’t obnoxiously large.

Stuff says: ★★★★★


Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless

Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless (£280)

Everyone wants to sell you a pair of true wireless in-ears these days – merely not many companies accept as much experience in making headphones as Sennheiser.

The Momentum Truthful Wireless are big lads only the blueprint is pretty discreet. The plastics are on the thin side but they feel robust and it’southward easy to become a good fit, so they’re hardly a brunt to wear. That means the USB-C charging example is a fiddling larger than others also, but information technology’s hardly going to take up that much more infinite in your pocket. It’due south just a shame battery life is a pretty ordinary four hours (with only two total charges stored in the instance).

With aptX Bluetooth onboard wireless connectivity is solid, phone call quality is decent, while interaction with your telephone’s voice banana is every bit painless as information technology’due south possible to be. If you prefer to permit your digits practice the work, there are also adequately extensive touch on controls built-in, while an accompanying Smart Control app allows you to tweak the EQ and adjust the Transparent Hearing style.

Bass is bold but expertly judged. It doesn’t swamp everything above it and so mid-range fidelity is outstanding and the top end is equally impressive. There’s high- and low-order dynamism in spades, aplenty assail and a pleasantly widescreen overall presentation. They don’t have quite the aforementioned level of outright book and excitement equally the about accomplished AirPods alternatives – only at this cost, you lot tin can’t mutter.

Stuff says: ★★★★★


Jabra Elite Active 75t

Jabra Elite Active 75t (£169)

Jabra’due south Elite Agile 75t in-ears are in many means the same as the excellent Elite 75ts that they’re replacing in this list. They’re the same size and weight (20% smaller than the Elite 65t series), have the aforementioned 28-hr battery life with the charging case, the same comprehensive (if a little choosy) touch controls, and feature the aforementioned 6mm drivers.

For a slight price bump, the Aristocracy Agile 75ts offer a grippier, more secure overall fit, plus an IP57 rating which ensures they’re fully waterproof. If you’re into your all-weather running, they’re probably worth the extra cash.

At that place’s no agile racket-counterfoil on lath, but the seal on each bud does a pretty beauteous job of blocking out roaring weightlifters and train station announcements. There’south a transparency mode that theoretically comes in handy when you demand to hear more of your surround, merely we couldn’t really tell the divergence during our testing.

If you need your music to behave a flake of extra thump on your morning jog, yous’ll be glad to know that the Elite Active 75ts have been noticeably upgraded in the bass department, making them solid all-round performers. There’s also a decent EQ to mess effectually with to get your ideal sound.

They’re not every bit stylish or simple to use equally the AirPods, but you’ll be difficult-pressed to find a pair or earbuds that pack in so much for the price.

Stuff says: ★★★★☆


Urbanista Athens

Urbanista Athens (£119)

Urbanista’south headphones have been a fleck hitting ‘n’ miss over the years – only when it gets things right, there’s usually a lot to love about its affordable audio offerings.

The design of its sporty Athens in-ears won’t plough any heads, just when it comes to truthful wireless buds that’s usually a good thing. In the ear, the 6g lumps are far less prominent than you lot might expect. You get five different wings and tips to find the right fit for you and if you twist slightly as you insert them they’ll stay put through commutes and CrossFit sessions alike. They’re even hardy enough to take for a swim.

AptX Bluetooth v.0 is onboard and Urbanista has been generous with the bass, so as long as you pick the right tunes they’re more than capable of getting your claret pumping. Yes, the soundstage could be a little more expansive and that strong bottom finish can sometimes overwhelm the mids, simply for the price the performance is impressive. The passive noise isolation is truly excellent too.

The charging case, which holds three full charges, means y’all get a total of 32 hours out of the Urbanista Athens. It’south too ane of the more pocketable packages, with a smoothen, soft-impact end and a satisfying magnetic click when you drop the buds in to replenish.

Similar RHA’s TrueConnect they’re non large on frills but as true wireless buds get they’ve got all the principal bases covered – and without breaking the bank either.

Stuff says: ★★★★☆


Technics EAH-AZ70W

Technics EAH-AZ70W (£240)

You might associate Technics with turntables but its EAH-AZ70W are a tech-packed pair of true wireless earbuds that offer plenty of bang for their not insignificant buck.

Design-wise, the buds’ pleasing mix of IPX4-resistant simulated aluminium and plastic means they’re most closely aligned to Sennheiser’s Momentum Truthful Wireless 2, just they’re slightly heavier. A choice of five silicone tips is included, so finding a snug fit is simple.

Touch controls on each bud are simple to grasp and instantaneous in their implementation, plus there’south a companion app that allows you to exercise things like tweaking various audio settings and select your preferred voice assistant.

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Thanks to generously sized 10mm drivers and a combination of analogue and digital processing the Technics deliver a clean, energetic audio with enough of low-end. Noise-cancelling is impressive, if not quite Sony standard, with an Ambient Sound Manner included too.

The but real chink in the armour is bombardment life. A svelte USB-C charging instance only offers an extra 12 hours on height of the six in the buds, which isn’t bad because the noise-cancelling but is hands browbeaten by some of the competition.

If you’re looking for a pair of truthful wireless earbuds with a touch of the lavish sheen that’s usually reserved for high-finish separates and reference-grade turntables, Technics’ EAH-AZ70W offer pretty much everything you could inquire for. Only don’t forget to accuse them.

Stuff says: ★★★★★


RHA TrueConnect ii

RHA TrueConnect 2 (£130)

If yous’re the kind of person who forgets to put their phone on charge at night, RHA’s TrueConnect 2 are the best AirPods alternatives for you. With ix hours of listening per charge – and 35 in the example – even the nigh absent-minded owner will find it hard to get caught out by a dead battery.

Smart without being flashy, the IP55-rated TrueConnect ii accept a soft-touch matte end, which gives them a more quality feel than your bog-standard shiny plastic. The subtle stem blueprint is back also, with a silicone tip that helps them to sit down securely in the ear, fifty-fifty during exercise.

The impact controls take a little getting used to, as you need to tap right in the center for information technology to be recognised, but that’s hardly unique to these buds. A companion app to customise the controls would’ve been overnice, and you’ll have to look elsewhere if you desire more than advanced features like noise-cancelling or auto-break, but all RHA’s effort has gone into the audio – and the results don’t disappoint.

At their price betoken, there are few headphones that tin meliorate the TrueConnect 2 on sound lone. A bit of extra kicking in the low finish makes them an fifty-fifty more enjoyable listen than their already first-class predecessors.

The case is solidly built, if a little on the large side, and while feature junkies will be better served by the Urbanistas, the RHA’south comfy fit, unshakeable connectivity and unbeatable battery life hateful they do all the important stuff very well indeed.

Stuff says: ★★★★★


Urbanista London

Urbanista London (£129)

While at that place’s nothing especially luxurious about the way Urbanista’s London earbuds look or feel, you’ll struggle to detect some other pair that hits the toll/performance sweet spot as successfully as these. Graduates of the ‘slightly dangly’ school of wireless in-ear design, the stalk of these AirPods alternatives is mercifully curt. At a bear on under 4.7g per bud, they’re lightweight and comfy too, with a trio of tips making it easy enough to find a secure fit.

The neat ‘Urbanista’ logo on each IPX4-rated earbud signposts the touch on-command surface area. Sensitivity is pretty good, and it doesn’t take long to commit the few relevant controls to retentiveness –although y’all can’t skip a track forwards or backwards, which is a bit odd. Remove ane of the buds and whatever’south playing will pause until information technology’south put back.

At 25 hours – five in the buds and four full charges in the Qi-uniform instance – battery life isn’t spectacular, only a five-minute rest will yield 30 minutes of playback, while one-half an hour is enough to keep them going for three.

Urbanista has targeted excitement alee of precision, but the audio they brand is nevertheless pretty sensibly judged. There’s an up-and-at-’em quality to their audio performance that makes the London buds more enjoyable to listen to than some less perky, more than high-minded alternatives.

Stuff says: ★★★★★


Huawei Freebuds Pro

Huawei Freebuds Pro (£170)

Stick a load of truthful wireless earphones in an identity parade and non many will stand up out. While Huawei’s Freedbuds Pro are hardly a radical departure from the norm, their boxy design is certainly different – although it does make getting them in and out of the charging case a petty fiddly.

You’ll want to have them in your ears as much equally possible though, because the Freebuds Pro audio nice and well-baked, with juicy mids and bass that doesn’t lack that dynamic edge nosotros’re always looking for. There’s also a great level of item in vocal representation: it actually stands out from the groundwork audio without feeling separate to information technology. That’southward helped by first-class active noise-cancelling and a bully AI feature that senses audio leakage and tells you lot if y’all’d be ameliorate off using a different-sized tip.

You can adjust the ANC via Huawei’south AI Life companion app. How high you have it will affect the battery life, merely yous should exist able to clasp six hours out of these AirPods alternatives betwixt charges, with a total of xxx hours when you include what’southward stored in the Qi-uniform instance. Yous don’t take to wait long to bring them back to life either: flat to full only takes almost 20 minutes.

Our just existent gripe is with the controls. Tapping to skip can always be a chip hit and miss, simply the pinching action that’s replaced information technology is just bad-mannered – although sliding up and down to change the volume works well.

Stuff says: ★★★★★


Soundcore Liberty Air 2 Pro

SOUNDCORE LIBERTY AIR 2 Pro (£130)

Soundcore’s Liberty Air 2 Pro entered the crowded in-ear headphone marketplace without making too much fuss. But if we were them, we’d exist shouting from the rooftops about what good value they are. Sure, they don’t wait like the fanciest pair of AirPods alternatives, merely the polish matte blackness deport-instance offers wireless charging and has a pleasing sliding mechanism. IPX4 water-resistance make them a good shout for a conditioning, also.

Each earpiece is controlled via integrated touch-sensitive panels: double-tap the left ear to skip forward, the right to play or suspension. You lot tin can usefully customise the functions in the Soundcore app, where you’ll also find personalisation options: a sound profile tin can exist created based on a hearing exercise, adapting the sound to your specific audible needs.

Audio quality is really impressive, with surprisingly impactful bass for such small earbuds. The ANC is reasonably effective too. No, information technology won’t cutting out everything – but so few earphones practice. A pocket-size gripe is that you can’t tweak the volume on the buds themselves, but and so that’s the same with Apple’south AirPods Pro. Battery life exceeds all expectations: hey’ll last roughly 7 hours from fully charged with a farther 21 hours in the QI charging case. For the cost, there’south not a lot to complain near.

Stuff says: ★★★★★

  • The 10 best on-ear headphones