Best cheap wireless earbuds under £50

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

Why you can trust What Hi-Fi? Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing products and services so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test.

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.

Best cheap wireless earbuds under £50: Earfun Air

The Earfun Air were the first cheap wireless earbuds to earn five stars from us. (Image credit: Earfun)
Wallet-friendly and feature-packed cheap wireless earbuds.

Specifications

Bluetooth version: 5.0
Noise-cancelling: No
Total battery life: 35hrs (buds: 7hrs; case: 28hrs)
Charging: USB-C
Built-in mic and controls: Yes

Reasons to buy

+
Punchy, expansive sound
+
Great feature set
+
Classy build and finish

Reasons to avoid

-
Treble needs more refinement

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

Best cheap wireless earbuds under £50: JBL Reflect Flow

JBL's older Reflect Flow have now been replaced by the Pro model, but you can still pick up the originals at a great price. (Image credit: JBL)
If you’re sporty and looking for the best cheap wireless earbuds, look no further.

Specifications

Bluetooth version: 5.0
Noise-cancelling: No
Total battery life: 30hrs (buds: 10hrs; case: 20hrs)
Charging: MicroUSB
Built-in mic and controls: Yes

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 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

Best cheap wireless earbuds under £50: Beats Flex

Cheap, colourful and bags of fun, the Beats Flex are a great option for wireless listening on a budget. (Image credit: Beats)
Fun and fuss-free wireless wonders.

Specifications

Bluetooth version: 5.0
Noise-cancelling: No
Total battery life: 12hrs
Charging: USB-C
Built-in mic and controls: Yes

Reasons to buy

+
Punchy lows
+
Durable build
+
Extra features for iOS users

Reasons to avoid

-
Treble is rounded off
-
Fit may be an issue

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

Best cheap wireless earbuds under £50: SoundMagic TWS50

These have a waterproofing rating way beyond what their price would suggest. (Image credit: SoundMagic)
Light and comfortable – some of the best cheap wireless earbuds going.

Specifications

Bluetooth version: 5.0
Noise-cancelling: No
Total battery life: 31hrs (buds: 6hrs; case: 25hrs)
Charging: MicroUSB
Built-in mic and controls: Yes

Reasons to buy

+
Expansive soundscape
+
Clear and agile treble
+
Light and comfortable earbuds

Reasons to avoid

-
Beaten for dynamics and timing
-
Case design is fiddly

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

Best cheap wireless earbuds under £50: Skullcandy Smokin' Buds 2 Wireless

They may not be true wireless, but the Smokin' Buds 2 are crazily cheap and decent to listen to.
These ridiculously cheap wireless earbuds spring a sonic surprise.

Specifications

Bluetooth version: 5.0
Noise-cancelling: No
Total battery life: 7hrs
Charging: MicroUSB
Built-in mic and controls: Yes

Reasons to buy

+
Full, fun sound
+
Great price

Reasons to avoid

-
No aptX Bluetooth or NFC
-
Bass is a bit slow

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

Best cheap wireless earbuds under £50: Sony WF-XB700

The Sony WF-XB700 are all about the bass, but there's a lot more to them than that... (Image credit: Sony)
A reliable pair of cheap wireless earbuds with lashings of bass for outdoor use.

Specifications

Bluetooth version: 5.0
Noise-cancelling: No
Total battery life: 18hrs (buds: 9hrs; case: 9hrs)
Charging: USB-C
Built-in mic and controls: Yes

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 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.

Joe has been writing about tech for 17 years, first on staff at T3 magazine, then in a freelance capacity for Stuff, The Sunday Times Travel Magazine, Men's Health, GQ, The Mirror, Trusted Reviews, TechRadar and many more (including What Hi-Fi?). His specialities include all things mobile, headphones and speakers that he can't justifying spending money on.

  • Davidddd
    Thanks for sharing. Could you do a review of Naenka earbuds? Thanks again.
    Reply
  • J_Ampersand
    Really appreciate these reviews and I'd like to give a bit of feedback if I may.

    Having searched the internet for reviews of budget/cheap earbuds I was glad to see this article. Got to say though that my enthusiasm was dampened by the first review saying a pro was it's low price. At £49.99 it's the highest price possible in the category of "under £50" so, while it's a pro in general it's kind of missing the point of the list and should really be a con here.

    The JBL sports earbuds come out well but I don't feel informed enough to buy with confidence. When looking at reviews for budget sports earbuds, apart from obvious quality issues, I check for the following:
    Do they stay in your ears when you run?
    Do they have good bass?
    Does one bud start losing volume after a week or two, indicating that the waterproof rating was a lie and they can't even handle sweat?

    I don't put much faith in reviews on comfort because people have different requirements for that; I'd like to know if they do what the manufacturers claim.

    I'd like to know what happens if the earbuds are actually submerged 1m for 30 minutes, or at least worn in the shower. Pretty much all the £19.99 earbuds on Amazon claim to be IPX7 or 8 but have dozens of reviews saying otherwise.

    I'd like to know they've been worn on a few 5k runs and stayed in place, otherwise I'll have to assume buds with earhooks are a better choice.

    One thing I found in general online is that budget or cheap are widely interpretated and few sites are, IMHO, realistic. I don't see £160 as cheap. I don't even see £49.99 as cheap. The market for under £25 earbuds is clearly huge because so many are sold and reviewed by customers, but none of my Google searches found trustworthy sites going anywhere near that price range.

    So I was very pleased to see your review of the £5 Amazon earphones and your acknowledgement that there were thousands of positive but possibly unreliable reviews.

    Amazon has many, many sports earbuds for around £20-25, some with a handful of reviews and some with many thousands. Few reviews can be trusted as some companies apparently offer free gifts if you leave a good review.

    I, like tens of thousands of other customers, would love to know if any of these brands are any good and if maybe the risk isn't worth it and JBL are the best option in the end, even if they, possibly, don't stay in my ears.

    Thanks again. I hope this feedback was ok. It's just the POV from a low income music lover, but I think that's a collective that has always been important to musicians.

    All the best.
    Reply