Best cheap wireless earbuds under £50 Buying Guide: Welcome to What Hi-Fi?'s round-up of the best cheap wireless earbuds under £50 you can buy in 2022.
Cable-free earbuds have been a game-changer when it comes to personal audio. Freed from the shackles of a smartphone, users can hit the gym, go running or simply go about their daily lives without fear of snagging an arm on a dangling cable.
They come in all different shapes and sizes, including premium models like the Sony WF-1000XM4 and Apple AirPods Pro 2, to more affordable options. The latter is what we're concerned with here: this is our pick of the best cheap wireless earbuds under £50.
How to choose the best wireless earbuds under £50
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So what should you look for in the best cheap wireless earbuds? Sound quality is obviously paramount, just don't expect them to rival the more premium pairs. A secure and comfortable fit is also vital, especially if you'll be wearing them for prolonged periods – there's no reason you can't find this on pairs at this price level.
Noise cancelling is rare at this price, though a charger-cum-carry case usually comes as standard.
Below, we've rounded up various cheap pairs that have passed through our testing rooms and left a lasting impression. While all quite different, they have two things in common: they've scored very highly in our reviews (some are Award winners, in fact), and they cost less than £50. Intrigued? Read on, and we'll find you a pair of the best cheap wireless earbuds.
These buds might be cheap, but they're packed with features. You don't get noise cancelling (that's reserved for their more expensive siblings, the Earfun Air Pro), but the Earfun Air do provide excellent noise isolation and they feel comfy in your ears too.
They're also waterproof to IPX7 standards (submersible in one metre of water for up to 30 minutes), support virtual voice assistants and include Qi wireless charging if you've got a suitable charger to hand.
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, calls sound clear, and for the money, they produce an energetic and spacious sound.
If you’re after a pair of the best cheap wireless earbuds under £50, the Earfun Air are our number one recommendation.
Read the full Earfun Air review
JBL is a heavy hitter when it comes to sporty earphones and the JBL Reflect Flow is one of the best options out there at this price. While they may have launched with a little more expensive price tag, we're including them here as they have dropped to around £50 in recent sales.
Aimed at active lifestyles and gym-goers, they're IPX7 waterproof and provide 10 hours of playback (or 30 hours with the charging case) – that should outlast multiple workout sessions. Pop them in the case and these in-ears will go from empty to fully charged in two hours.
Whether pumping iron or beavering away in an office, the 'Ambient Aware' and 'TalkThru' modes should come in useful. By short-pressing the left bud, you’ll scroll through to a slightly quieter sound (Ambient Aware) or very low volume playback (TalkThru) so you can chat to someone without taking the earbuds out.
Sound quality is solid, with a good level of detail and a pleasing amount of precision. Overall, the JBL Reflect Flow are impressive cheap wireless earbuds, perfect for the gym or running, and without breaking the bank.
Read the full JBL Reflect Flow review
The Beats Flex are a step up from Apple's bog-standard Lightning wired buds. They’re available in some fresh hues (including the Yuzu yellow sample you see here), they charge via USB-C, have a 12-hour battery life, and courtesy of one-tap audio share you can split sounds with nearby Beats or AirPod headphones (provided you have an iPhone 8 or later running at least iOS 14). They're very affordable, too.
Four ear tip options give a good chance of finding a decent fit, and the cable is flat, like a strand of tagliatelle. Magnets keep the earbuds together when not in use.
Pairing is a doddle (even more so using an Apple device). They don't support some more recent iOS features, including automatic switching to another device or hands-free Siri support. And there’s no noise cancelling either. But with the correct seal you’ll still enjoy good levels of passive noise isolation.
Audio quality is good and the Flex offer a considered, smooth sound profile that’s preferable to one that is harsh or bright through the upper frequencies. A solid bet at this end of the market.
Read the full Beats Flex review
Staying true to its affordable heritage, SoundMagic’s debut cheap wireless earbuds are very wallet-friendly indeed – in recent months they have dropped as low as £35. They're wonderfully light, and provide a good, secure fit.
While the controls are a bit fiddly, as is the case, the buds are rated IPX7, making them waterproof up to 1m for up to 30 minutes. That's above and beyond what we would expect at this price bracket. And they'll last around 30 hours (using the carry case) before needing a mains recharge.
Audio-wise, there's an awful lot to like for the money. Voices are full-bodied and it's a detailed, expansive soundscape.
If this is the extent of your budget, you’ll get a competitive battery life, one of the lightest and most comfortable earbuds we’ve tested and an expansive listen that offers plenty in the way of sound-per-pound value. In other words, a fine option.
Read the full SoundMagic TWS50 review
These Skullcandys are some of the most affordable wireless earbuds on the market and represent serious value. Sound is full and fun, and while it won't trouble a more premium pair, it's very impressive given the price.
As you might expect, features are thin on the ground. The cable can be removed from the flexible neckband and the battery life is a decent 6-7 hours. You get a basic three-button remote just below the left earpiece and a little plastic fastener that lets you loop the cable together when you're wearing them but not listening to music.
There are no frills here, so aptX Bluetooth, fast charging and NFC are all absent from the spec list. But if you're looking for some of the best cheap wireless earbuds, these offer a dynamic and fun sound for the money, with a relatively wide and well-separated soundstage.
Read the full Skullcandy Smokin' Buds 2 Wireless review
Anyone looking for a sporty take on the best cheap wireless earbuds might 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, they're that comfy.
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.
Their balance is actually complemented by decent punch and agility. Some rivals boast greater detail and subtlety, but at this price, you could do a lot worse.
They sell for just over £50, but shop around and you might find them for a few quid less.
Read the full Sony WF-XB700 review
How we test wireless earbuds
We have state-of-the-art testing facilities in London, Reading and Bath, where our team of experienced, in-house reviewers test the majority of hi-fi and AV kit that passes through our door.
Of course, testing wireless earbuds often doesn't require such facilities. What is important in our headphones reviewing process is that each pair is compared to the best in its price and style class – whether that's one standout pair or a few we favour the highest among the 100+ pairs we listen to each year for reviews and What Hi-Fi? Awards judging. What Hi-Fi? is all about comparative testing, and we keep class-leading products in our stockrooms so we can always compare new products to ones we know and love.
We are always impartial and do our best to make sure we're hearing every product at their very best, so we'll try plenty of different types of music and give them plenty of listening time (and time to run in). It's not just about sound quality, of course. If a pair has active noise cancellation – increasingly the case these days – we'll ensure part of our testing involves using them in different environments.
All review verdicts are agreed upon by the team rather than an individual reviewer to eliminate any personal preference and to make sure we're being as thorough as possible, too. There's no input from PR companies or our sales team when it comes to the verdict, with What Hi-Fi? proud of having delivered honest, unbiased reviews for decades.