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Best Apple AirPods alternatives 2021: budget to premium

Best Apple AirPods alternatives Buying Guide: Welcome to What Hi-Fi?'s round-up of the best Apple AirPods alternatives you can buy in 2021.

With great battery life, the option of a wireless charging case and hands-free "Hey Siri" functionality, you can see why the Apple AirPods are so popular. But what are the best AirPods alternatives? If you're looking for a sportier pair, or a cheaper one, or one that takes them for sound quality, this is the page for you.

We've rounded up the best AirPods alternatives for every taste and budget, from cheap to premium, so you're guaranteed to find a pair that suits. All these pairs of wireless earbuds come with a charging case for topping up battery life. They can also be used to control your smartphone or tablet through physical buttons or in some cases touch-sensitive surfaces.

If you're not blown away by the AirPods design, aren't convinced by the latest AirPods, or just don't use Apple devices but still like the idea of true wireless earbuds, this is the page for you.

While you're here, why not check out our pick of the best headphones deals, where you'll find plenty of big savings on true wireless headphones.

Best Apple AirPods alternatives 2021

(Image credit: Sony)

1. Sony WF-1000XM3

The best AirPods alternatives out there, bar none.

SPECIFICATIONS

Connector: n/a | Cable length: n/a | In-line remote and mic: n/a | OS support: Android/iOS | Bluetooth: Yes | Noise-cancelling: Yes | Battery life: 6 hours (24 hours with charging case)

Reasons to Buy

Rhythmic, entertaining sound
Accomplished noise-cancelling
Impressive battery life

Reasons to Avoid

No aptX HD support
No IP rating

Impressive tech, a comfortable fit, excellent battery life and awesome sound quality. These Sonys tick all those boxes and then some, making them the best AirPods alternatives on the market right now. 

They were also the first only true wireless in-ears we'd seen to sport active noise-cancelling. The tech works remarkably well for a pair of in-ears, isolating you from the outside world and allowing the excellent sound quality into your ears unhindered. It's also handy if you just fancy a snooze instead of listening to any music

Battery life (with Bluetooth and noise-cancelling activated) is an impressive six hours per charge, with the supplied charging case bumping this to 24 hours. Which should last all but the most far-flung worker an entire week's commuting.

The touch controls take a bit of getting used to, and it would be nice to support aptX HD Bluetooth, but apart from that, you simply can't get a more musical and engaging performance from a pair of true wireless earbuds. We’re well and truly smitten.

Read the full review: Sony WF-1000XM3

Best Apple AirPods alternatives 2021

(Image credit: Cambridge Audio)

2. Cambridge Audio Melomania 1

A brilliant budget pair of AirPods alternatives.

SPECIFICATIONS

Bluetooth: Yes | Noise-cancelling: No | Battery life: 9hr | Charging: Micro USB | In-line mic and controls: Yes

Reasons to Buy

Punchy, detailed sound
Solid Bluetooth connection
9hr battery life

Reasons to Avoid

Can be tricky getting the right fit
Not the most attractive design

Cambridge Audio might be better known for hi-fi electronics, but its first venture into the world of wireless earbuds has produced an excellent pair of AirPods alternatives. 

The Melomania 1s come in under the price of the Apple AirPods, and although the tech - for example, the control mechanism - isn't quite as snazzy, the sound quality is excellent. Not only that, you get an impressive nine hours of battery life per charge which rises to 36 with the supplied carry case. That's a whopping total battery life of 45 hours, which should be more than enough for anyone. Be honest: when was the last time you spent that long away from a plug socket?

Four sets of tips come as standard - three silicone, one memory foam - which is pretty much par for the course when it comes to getting a good fit. The Bluetooth connection is also very stable, even holding up when we left our phone in the house and wandered outside.

Read the full review: Cambridge Audio Melomania 1

Best Apple AirPods alternatives 2021

(Image credit: Sennheiser)

3. Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2

Premium AirPods alternatives with excellent all-round appeal.

SPECIFICATIONS

Connector: N/A | Cable length: N/A | In-line remote and mic: N/A | OS support: Android/iOS | Bluetooth: Yes | Noise-cancelling: Yes | Battery life: 7 hours (+21 with case)

Reasons to Buy

Polished sound
Lightweight and comfy
Ease of use

Reasons to Avoid

Expensive
Bettered for timing

These AirPod Alternatives boast a refined design and petite and unobtrusive earbuds. When slid in and turned, they provide a comfy fit, able to be worn for upwards of five or six hours with no discomfort.

The Sennheisers also boast active noise cancellation and the ability to reduce background sound to just a faint murmur. It works well and is almost as effective as the noise-cancelling you get from the Sony WF-1000XM3s.

Like a lot of AirPods alternatives, you can customise the touch controls on each earbud using an accompanying app, which is a nice touch.

Battery life is a healthy seven hours (though less with active noise-cancellation activated), while the carry case adds another 21 to play with.

And the sound? Excellent, with plenty of precision and focus, and an impressively spacious soundstage. This is a mature, sophisticated-sounding pair of earbuds that perform no matter what you throw at them.

Read the full review: Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2

Best AirPods alternatives

(Image credit: Bose)

4. Bose QuietComfort Earbuds

Fantastic AirPods alternatives blessed with superb noise-cancelling tech.

SPECIFICATIONS

Bluetooth: Yes | Noise-cancelling: Yes | Battery life: 6hrs (18hrs with charging case) | Charging: USB-C | Built-in mic and controls: Yes

Reasons to Buy

Exciting, entertaining sound
Superb balance
Impressive noise-cancelling

Reasons to Avoid

No volume controls
Average battery life

Historically, the vast majority of Bose's noise-cancelling headphones have been on- and over-ear designs, but the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds are up there with the very best AirPods Alternatives.

The Bose are lightweight and we have no issues listening for a hours at a time. For the average commute or exercise session (the QuietComforts are both sweat and weather-resistant) they are great to live with and they feel like a quality product too. Battery life is six hours from a single charge, with the charging case supplying an extra two charges, making 18 hours in total – decent, but by no means class-leading. Being able to customise some features and controls, and adjust the excellent noise-cancellation in the companion app, enhances ease of use.

The sense of enthusiasm and excitement conveyed by these AirPods alternatives is highly infectious. There’s power, poise and a fantastic sense of dynamism. Bass notes sound full-bodied, go deep and the QuietComforts squeeze out lots of detail.

All in all, the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds are great all-rounders, capable of impressive musicality and topped off with excellent noise cancelling. They’re more than a match for any rival at this level.

Read the full review: Bose QuietComfort Earbuds

Best Apple AirPods alternatives 2021

5. Bose SoundSport Free

Bose's in-ears are top of the podium when it comes to sporty AirPods alternatives.

SPECIFICATIONS

Connector: N/A | Cable length: N/A | In-line remote and mic: N/A | OS support: Android/iOS | Bluetooth: Yes | Noise-cancelling: No | Battery life: 5 hours (15 hours with charging case)

Reasons to Buy

Weighty, full-bodied sound
Deep, powerful bass
Even tonal balance

Reasons to Avoid

Nothing of note

Unlike some truly wireless headphones, these Bose in-ears sit comfortably without invading your ears. They're secure enough to stay in during a jog or workout session, without ever feeling too intrusive. It's a fine balancing act that many sports models get wrong.

The earbuds themselves feature controls for playback and volume, so you won't be constantly reaching for your phone while you're getting a sweat on. And they sound great too, delivering a bold-but-balanced sound with rich and weighty bass. The solid, unwavering performance works well across a wide range of music genres. Highs aren’t wrapped in cotton wool, nor do they sound excitable or bright.

The Sony's at the top of this list boast greater musicality, but the SoundSport Frees are still a great alternative to the AirPods, especially if you regularly suit up in lycra leggings.

Read the full review: Bose SoundSport Free

Best Apple AirPods alternatives 2021

(Image credit: JBL)

6. JBL Reflect Flow

If you’re after sporty alternatives to the AirPods, these JBL's make a lot of sense.

SPECIFICATIONS

Connector: N/A | Cable length: N/A | In-line remote and mic: N/A | OS support: Android/iOS | Bluetooth: Yes | Noise-cancelling: No | Battery life: 10 hours (30 hours with charging case)

Reasons to Buy

Good detail
Strong bass depth
Long battery life

Reasons to Avoid

Can be beaten for dynamics
Carrying case is a bit big

JBL is a heavy hitter when it comes to wireless sports earbuds, and given the AirPods can be hit and miss for exercise, you might want to consider the Reflect Flows as an alternative option.

These true wireless buds are very good indeed, especially if you want a bass-heavy sound for the gym without resorting to cans. (Because let's be honest, you have to be pretty ripped to pull off cans in the gym.)

But there's more to the sound than just bass. Even complex songs retain a sense of distance between instruments so proceedings never become too muddied. It's an impressive showing, especially for a sporty pair.

The 10-hour battery life (or 30 with the case) means you've no excuse to finish that 5k run or even a marathon for that matter. In fact, with the carry case in your pocket, you'd have enough juice to complete an Ironman, providing you're up to it.

Whether you're a weekend warrior or hardcore fitness fanatic, the Reflect Flows will see you through your routine.

Read the full review: JBL Reflect Flow

Best Apple AirPods alternatives 2021

(Image credit: EarFun)

7. Earfun Air

Excellent AirPods alternatives at a fraction of the price.

SPECIFICATIONS

Connector: N/A | Cable length: N/A | In-line remote and mic: N/A | OS support: Android/iOS | Bluetooth: Yes | Noise-cancelling: No | Battery life: 7 hours (35 hours with charging case)

Reasons to Buy

Punchy, expansive sound
Great feature set
Classy build and finish

Reasons to Avoid

Treble needs more refinement

Earfun isn't one of the first brands that spring to mind when researching AirPods alternatives, but the Earfun Airs could change that. These buds are ridiculously cheap and they sound wonderfully cheerful too!

Noise isolation is excellent (noise-cancelling isn't available at this price point) and these attractive earbuds feel comfy too. They're IPX7 certified (i.e. waterproof), support virtual assistants and include Qi wireless charging if you own a suitable charger.

Battery life is seven hours from the buds and a further 28 hours from the charging case. Amazingly it all feels fairly premium too. The Bluetooth 5.0 connection is solid and stable and for the money, calls sound clear, and the wireless earbuds offer an energetic and spacious sound.

If you’re after something fun-sounding and a cheap alternative to AirPods, the Earfun Airs are just the ticket.

Read the full review: Earfun Air review

Best Apple AirPods alternatives 2021

(Image credit: Sony)

8. Sony WF-SP800N

A fine pair of headphones, thanks to their vigorous, subtle and dynamic sound.

SPECIFICATIONS

Connector: N/A | Cable length: N/A | In-line remote and mic: N/A | OS support: Android/iOS | Bluetooth: Yes | Noise-cancelling: Yes | Battery life: 9 hours (+ 9 hours from charging case)

Reasons to Buy

Vibrant, buoyant sound
Good noise-cancelling
Comfortable fit

Reasons to Avoid

Slightly coarse sound
Average battery life

The Sony WF-SP800N earbuds certainly try to please everyone. They want to please those who need accompaniment to their workout and also those who have a commute to endure. They aim to please those who don’t want to spend an arm and a leg on some well-specified, true wireless in-ear headphones with active noise-cancellation, but also those who have spent enough on a Deezer or Tidal subscription to have access to 360 Reality Audio, Sony’s spatial audio format. And in a nutshell, they succeed.

These Sonys may have average battery life (18 hours total) and an arguably daft look (they aren't exactly discreet and do fill your lugholes), but their dynamic sound, decent noise-cancelling and indisputable build combine to ensure they're front-runners in their field.

Read the full review: Sony WF-SP800N

Best Apple AirPods alternatives 2021

(Image credit: Jaybird)

9. Jaybird Vista

These excellent AirPods alternatives will suit active lifestyles.

SPECIFICATIONS

Connector: N/A | Cable length: N/A | In-line remote and mic: N/A | OS support: Android/iOS | Bluetooth: Yes | Noise-cancelling: No | Battery life: 6 hours (16 hours with charging case)

Reasons to Buy

Vibrant, entertaining sound
Hefty bass
Superb fit

Reasons to Avoid

Could be more insightful

For all the AirPods' strengths, one thing that can people can struggle with is the fit. This means they can be limited when using them for exercise. And this is where the Jaybird Vistas come in. The fit is superb, with the SportFit integrated silicone eartip and fins providing both comfort and stability. They're also IPX7 water- and sweat-proof and even crushproof, so should be able to withstand a stampede if you happen to drop one.

They work in unison with the smart Jaybird app which helps with pairing, control and sound customisation so you can get the earbuds set up just the way you want them. USB-C charging is provided, including a five minute 'super-charge' which injects them with one hour of battery life. A full charge gives you six hours, with the charging case providing an additional 10. They produce a lively, entertaining sound with loads of meaty bass - ideal for keeping your tempo up.

Read the full review: Jaybird Vista

Best Apple AirPods alternatives 2021

(Image credit: Future)

10 Apple AirPods Pro

Apple's first noise-cancelling, wireless earbuds put up a solid display.

SPECIFICATIONS

Connector: N/A | Cable length: N/A | In-line remote and mic: N/A | OS support: iOS | Bluetooth: Yes | Noise-cancelling: Yes | Battery life: 5 hours (19 hours with charging case)

Reasons to Buy

Comfortable fit
Impressive noise-cancelling
Balanced sound

Reasons to Avoid

Noise-cancelling impacts timing
Key rivals sound better

The AirPods Pros sit above the standard AirPods you'll find lower down this list. They're pricier, but you do get better sound quality, an improved level of comfort thanks to the inclusion of ear tips, and the addition of Apple's own noise-cancelling technology, which is up there with the best at this money. It shuts out street noise and reduces office babble to an easy-to-ignore background hum. Which is exactly what we want from active noise cancellation.

That boosted sound quality deserves a special mention. Typically Apple, the AirPod Pros have a neutral tonal balance rather than lashings of bass - nothing sticks out as not fitting in with the overall sonic cohesion. 

Though be warned: the sound quality is marred somewhat when noise cancellation is activated.

The Sony WF-1000XM3s do sound better, but if you're an iPhone user, you're going to want to give these wireless earbuds an audition.

Read the full review: Apple AirPods Pro

Best Apple AirPods alternatives 2021

11. Apple AirPods

These second-generation AirPods boast better sound and new features.

SPECIFICATIONS

Connector: N/A | Cable length: N/A | In-line remote and mic: N/A | OS support: iOS | Bluetooth: Yes | Noise-cancelling: No | Battery life: 5 hours (+19 with case)

Reasons to Buy

Even-handed sound
Decent dose of refinement
Faultless wireless tech

Reasons to Avoid

Fit can vary
No buttons
Sound hardens when pushed

We realise this is a list of the best AirPods alternatives, but Apple's headphones still deserve a mention. After all, they started the trend. 

This 2019 version is much-improved over the original. Apple has foregone any flashy redesign and focussed on the basics: getting the sound right. For a start, they go louder, which, seeing as they don't block the entrance to the ear canal and so let in plenty of noise, is very welcome indeed. The classic Apple neutral tonal balance has also been spruced up a little, adding more subtlety and sophistication to the mix. Low-level dynamic shifts are more granular and delicate, while bigger contrasts between quiet and loud are more pronounced and dramatic. There’s more detail to the delivery, too, and the presentation is a little more open and spacious. Organisation, meanwhile, is subtly improved thanks to better timing.

The wireless tech is as reliable and impressive as ever thanks to Apple's W1 chip. 

However, they still retain the same gripes as the first-generation AirPods: namely, the fit won't suit everyone and the lack of buttons can be a pain. But it's good to see the standard AirPods have evolved into a pair of very capable headphones.

Read the full review: Apple AirPods (2019)

Best wireless earbuds 2021

(Image credit: Sony)

12. Sony WF-XB700

A reliable pair of wireless earbuds with lashings of bass for outdoor use.

SPECIFICATIONS

Connector: N/A | Cable length: N/A | In-line remote and mic: No | OS support: Android/iOS | Bluetooth: Yes | Noise-cancelling: No | Battery life: 9 hours (+9 from charging case)

Reasons to Buy

Clear, punchy sound
Decent battery life
Comfortable, lightweight build

Reasons to Avoid

Rivals offer more detail
Reasonably large earbud design

Anyone looking for a pair of more affordable, and sport-friendly, wireless earbuds may well be tempted by the Sony WF-XB700. Battery life is a reasonable 18 hours – nine hours from the buds, nine hours from the case, while their IPX4 water resistance rating provides the buds (but not the case) with protection against ‘water splashing’. It takes a few twists to get them securely into place, but once they're in you can almost forget about them apart from when you need to use the button found on each bud to control them.

The WF-XB700 are part of the company’s Extra Bass range of audio products and are tuned to emphasise low-frequency response, rather than deliver a neutral sonic balance. And although there’s meat behind their low-end, it doesn't overshadow mid and high frequencies. It's actually complemented by decent punch and pleasing tautness and agility. Some rivals boast greater detail and subtlety, but at this price, you could do a lot worse.

Read the full review: Sony WF-XB700

Best Apple AirPods alternatives

13. RHA TrueConnect

These AirPods alternatives boast better-than-average-sound at a great price.

SPECIFICATIONS

Connector: N/A | Cable length: N/A | In-line remote and mic: N/A | OS support: Android/iOS | Bluetooth: Yes | Noise-cancelling: No | Battery life: 5 hours (+20 with case)

Reasons to Buy

Impressive battery life
Neutral balance
Rich, full-bodied sound

Reasons to Avoid

A few wireless blips
Slightly awkward case

The TrueConnects might be a little pricier than the SoundMagics above, but they're still relatively affordable compared to competition. And for this money there's a lot to like about these true wireless in-ears from RHA. 

Like Apple's equivalent, there's a stem which points down when they're in place. The TrueConnects sit snugly which helps with noise isolation. When not in use, the headphones sit inside their own case which can also charge them and extend battery life 20 hours on top of their standard five-hours. Pairing takes just a few seconds, while music playback and volume are handled by a couple of short presses on the relevant earpiece controls. 

The sound is nicely balanced, while they dig up enough detail to give the AirPods a run for their money. They angle towards a neutral tonal balance, but the bass filler injection has been applied subtly enough to avoid turning a hi-fi style earphone into a ‘bass-head’ one. Overall, they're a sure sign that true wireless earphones are coming of age in terms of their sonic performance.

Read the full review: RHA TrueConnect

Best Apple AirPods alternatives 2021

(Image credit: Technics)

14. Technics EAH-AZ70W

Technics branches out with a fine pair of AirPods alternatives.

SPECIFICATIONS

Bluetooth version: 5.1 | aptX HD: No | Noise-cancelling: Yes | Battery life: 6 hours (+12 hours from charging case)

Reasons to Buy

Solid, punchy and spacious sound
Excellent bass response
Comfortable and easy to use

Reasons to Avoid

Not the most subtle sound

Technics might be better known for its turntables, but that hasn't stopped it entering the AirPods market with its own premium pair of wireless in-ear alternatives. The earbuds include Alexa voice control, touch controls, and 18 hr battery live (six from the earbuds with a further 12 provided by the case).

They include Technics' own noise-cancelling tech which uses three mics in each earbud to reduce background rumblings. The strength of the noise-cancelling can be tweaked in the Technics Audio Connect companion app, where you can also switch between different sound modes and even locate lost earbuds.

The connection is solid and stable, with these comfy buds favouring an entertaining and punchy sound. Bass goes deep and sounds well-defined with it. This isn't the cheapest pair of AirPods alternatives by any stretch, but they are a pleasant and talented option.

Read the full review: Technics EAH-AZ70W

Best AirPods alternatives 2021

(Image credit: Grado)

15. Grado GT220

Grado channels its sonic expertise into a good pair of wireless earbuds

SPECIFICATIONS

Connector: N/A | Cable length: N/A | In-line remote and mic: No | OS support: Android/iOS | Bluetooth: Yes | Noise-cancelling: No | Battery life: 7 hours (+30 from charging case)

Reasons to Buy

Positive, unequivocal sound
Good battery life
Responsive touch controls

Reasons to Avoid

Lack a little sonic refinement
Don’t look or feel special
No active noise-cancelling

Grado is obviously a dab hand when it comes to traditional-looking audiophile headphones, but this is the company's first pair of true wireless earbuds. And they're pretty decent for the money if a little unremarkable-looking. There's also no noise-cancelling, which many rivals at similar money now offer by default. We do have touch controls (including those for volume), which is good to see. And battery life is a respectable six hours per charge.

Once you've achieved a decent fit with the supplied ear tips, you're presented with a detailed, exciting and fast sound. There's plenty of texture to instruments and bass notes and there's dynamic dexterity displayed throughout the frequency range. If you're happy to sacrifice a bit of refinement for a more upfront sound, these Grados are worth investigating.

Read the full review: Grado GT220

Best Apple AirPods alternatives 2021

(Image credit: Future)

16. Cyrus soundBuds

Cheap AirPods alternatives with good sound quality.

SPECIFICATIONS

Connector: N/A | Cable length: N/A | In-line remote and mic: N/A | OS support: Android/iOS | Bluetooth: Yes | Noise-cancelling: No | Battery life: 3 hours (15 with charging case)

Reasons to Buy

Good timing
Open and clear presentation
Lively enough sound

Reasons to Avoid

Poor battery life
More tip sizes would be nice
Not the most refined

British firm Cyrus might be better known for products, such as the soundKey DAC and CDi CD player, but this hasn't stopped the manufacturer from bringing out a pair of extremely cheap AirPods alternatives.

The eartips are connected to wings for added stability and you get three different sizes in the box. More choice would be nice, but we still managed to achieve a secure fit and seal. The IPX5 rating means they're good to go in the gym and out in the wild too.

The functional design includes circular control buttons on the top surface of each bud, although you can't change volume this way. You'll need to get out your phone for that. Pairing is simple and there's no accompanying app to worry about. It's a shame battery life isn't longer than three hours, but at least the charging case will provide an extra 12 hours. 

On the whole, the soundBuds produce a clear and open sound that ticks along nicely. Bass weight isn't particularly generous and dynamics could be better, but voices sound impressive and all the elements work together cohesively. A solid, budget pair of AirPods alternatives.

Read the full review: Cyrus soundBuds

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  • TᴏᴀsᴛᴇʀRᴏᴀᴅsᴛᴇʀ.xʙ
    What about the Jlabs? ≈$50 Noise canceling, fits good with all ear sizes, 3 EQ choices, change the volume/EQ settings/answer the phone (has mic)/ talk to Google-Siri by a touch of a button located on each bud without touching your phone. Good sound quality and has a decent punch of bass (if you want bass; can be turned off if not wished) compared to wired headphone/earbuds. Soft gel tips with cushion fins to secure the bud in ear without falling out if you’re out being physical (working out or moving a lot at work). “Noise cancellation can be bad” (yes I can agree in certain situations but just take one bud out) crank the volume up and it’ll work both ways, loud enough to cancel the background noise but if an alarm goes off or someone calls your name (or in an emergency “direction”) you can easily hear. You can also get them at your local Walmart (yes I know... smh) but still, give them at least a listen before doubting (if you don’t like them, return them) lol.
    Reply
  • ringdingdingo
    I just want to know who thought it was okay to write up a list of Apple AirPod alternatives and include in the list of alternative products to buy both the Apple Airpods and Apple Airpod Pros? Who approved this?
    Reply
  • Applesucks
    The Sony XM3 does have volume controls this is something that you can set within the system settings in the app. Custom settings can be applied to either left or right ear pieces.
    Reply
  • misio87
    Are these even an alternative ? People looking for alternatives are not looking for the models that you stick into your ear-canal. There are the JBL 220, but that is the only one I know that looks like an airpod.
    Reply
  • Jettgod
    ringdingdingo said:
    I just want to know who thought it was okay to write up a list of Apple AirPod alternatives and include in the list of alternative products to buy both the Apple Airpods and Apple Airpod Pros? Who approved this?

    Completely agree about the inclusion of the Apple products also, if you are interested in serious listening why on earth have the "Lypertek Tevi's' been excluded?
    Reply
  • Karsten Klinker
    Jettgod said:
    Completely agree about the inclusion of the Apple products also, if you are interested in serious listening why on earth have the "Lypertek Tevi's' been excluded?
    Thank you @JettgodI read all reviews and ended up buying Lypertek Tevi, on your recommendation. I Have never ever heard details like that, I honestly had to go through all my favorit albums again to hear what I have been missing all these years without Tevi in my ears.

    Lypertek - PurePlay Z3
    Is the new name for the Tevi model for those who want a pair of earphones with perfect sound.
    Reply