Skip to main content

Best Apple AirPods alternatives

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 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, so you're guaranteed to find a pair that suit. All these pairs of wireless earbuds come with a charging case for topping up your headphones on the move. 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 or just don't use Apple devices but still like the idea of true wireless in-ears, this is the page for you.

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 volume controls
No aptX HD support

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're also the only true wireless in-ears we've seen that 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. 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.

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 true wireless headphones has been a very successful one. The Melomania 1s come in under the price of the Apple AirPods, and although the tech 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.

Bose SoundSport Free

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

Wireless connection could be better

These Bose in-ears sit comfortably without invading your ears and there are controls for playback and volume too. Not only that, they sound great too, delivering plenty of bang for your buck. The downside? We found they tended to drop out every now and again. The Sony's at the top of this list boast greater musicality, but the SoundSport Frees are still a great alternative to the AirPods.

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. The 10-hour battery life (or 30 with the case) means you've no excuse to finish that 5k run or marathon for that matter.

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.

Philips SHB4385 True Wireless Bass+

These decent in-ears can now be had for a song.

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 (12 hours with charging case)

Reasons to Buy

Loads of low-end for bass fanatics
Comfortable and well-built
Great battery life

Reasons to Avoid

Little detail or agility to low end
Rhythmically and dynamically uninspiring

Each earpiece houses a whopping 8.2mm driver, which gives it plenty of low-end rumble. And what they lack in detail they more than make up for in sheer oomph. Their design also does a pretty good job of isolating you from outside noise. If your genre of choice is something with a whacking great bassline, these could be the true wireless buds for you.

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 version is much-improved over the original: the sound is better balanced and more sophisticated, while the wireless tech is as reliable and impressive as ever thanks to Apple's new W1 chip.

Like the first-generation AirPods, the fit still won't suit everyone and the lack of buttons can be a pain, but it's good to see the AirPods have evolved into a pair of very capable headphones.

RHA TrueConnect

These headphones boast better-than-average-sound for a tempting 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

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.

Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless

Not cheap, but these headphones perform very well indeed.

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: 4 hours (12 hours with charging case)

Reasons to Buy

Impressive features
Good battery life
Balanced sound

Reasons to Avoid

Erratic touch controls
Not as musical as rivals

Sennheiser's debut true wireless headphones are good all-rounders: they have a classy design, useful features, decent battery life and impressive sound quality. But they were released with quite a hefty price tag, so you'd best get looking for a few bargains!

Samsung Gear Icon X

Talented AirPods rivals with excellent battery life.

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

Reasons to Buy

Finely balanced sound
Rhythmically and dynamically adept
Long battery life

Reasons to Avoid

Coarse upper mids and highs

Samsung's Gear Icon Xs sound so much better than the firm's more recent Galaxy Buds. These are well designed, with an impressive feature set and effortless connectivity. The sound is wonderfully balanced as well, but the mid-range and treble are prone to a slight coarseness. With a claimed seven hours playback from a single charge, they're well worth investigating for long journeys.

Sony WF-1000X

Sony's brilliant wireless in-ears are a cut above the competition.

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: 3 hours (9 hours with charging case)

Reasons to Buy

Excellent with timing and dynamics
Truly wireless
Decent noise-cancelling

Reasons to Avoid

Occasional wireless dropout

If you thought truly wireless headphones couldn't sound great, the Sony WF-1000Xs were the first pair to teach us otherwise. They sound superb and the built-in noise-cancelling has a subtle but audible impact. The carry case also powers the Sonys and gives you nine hours to play with. Want more? There's also support for Google Assistant and Siri. A true leader in the field.