Best Apple AirPods alternatives Buying Guide: Welcome to What Hi-Fi?'s round-up of the best Apple AirPods alternatives you can buy in 2020.
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, so you're guaranteed to find a pair that suit. 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, which see plenty of big discounts on true wireless headphones. Or perhaps these AirPods deals will tempt you back towards Apple.
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.
Read the full review: Sony WF-1000XM3
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.
Read the full review: Cambridge Audio Melomania 1
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.
Read the full review: Bose SoundSport Free
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.
Read the full review: JBL Reflect Flow
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
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 and the addition of Apple's own noise-cancelling technology, which is up there with the best at this money. 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
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 - 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.
Read the full review: Apple AirPods (2019)
For £150, 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.
Read the full review: RHA TrueConnect
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 at twice the price of the Sony WF-1000Xs, they're a slightly harder sell, unless you can find them at a reduce price somewhere. Better get bargain hunting...
Read the full review: Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless
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.
Read the full review: Samsung Gear Icon X
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