Wireless earbuds have been game-changers when it comes to personal audio. Freed from the shackles of a smartphone, users can hit the gym, go running or simply live their daily lives without fear of snagging an arm on a dangling cable.
The good news is that even the best wireless earbuds (from in-ear wireless headphones to everything else) don't have to cost an arm and a leg, and you can find great wireless earphones for not a lot of money. To help make life easy and get you the best deal possible with the least amount of effort, we've compiled a list of the very best cheap wireless earbuds around that you can get for under $100.
With wireless earbuds becoming one of the most popular ways for consumers to enjoy their music, we've become adept at finding the finest models amidst a sea of middling models. We've tested more wireless in-ears than we can count, so you can be confident we're passing on our first-hand expertise to make sure you can come to an informed, reasoned decision.
How to choose the best cheap wireless earbuds for you
Why you can trust What Hi-Fi? Our expert team reviews products in dedicated test rooms, to help you make the best choice for your budget. Find out more about how we test.
The most important thing to realize when choosing wireless (or true wireless) earbuds is that inevitably everyone's ears are going to be different, so a perfect fit for you may not be a perfect fit for someone else. When looking at cheaper wireless earbuds, you're generally going to have fewer tips you can swap between on your earbuds than you get with more expensive offerings, too.
Outside of fit, you're going to want to think about what kind of battery life you will need, if your wireless earbuds need to be water-resistant or sports-friendly, and if you want features like Active Noise Cancellation (ANC), touch controls or virtual assistant support. With cheaper earbuds, there are generally fewer features on offer so you'll usually have to pick and choose to an extent, though ANC is increasingly trickling down from premium to more midrange and entry-level price points.
Wireless earbuds routinely go on sale, too, so make sure you keep an eye on our best wireless earbuds deals page to see if you can snag a pair with a big discount. There are lots of earbuds out there, so it's easy to feel overwhelmed, so hopefully our list below will be able to set you on the right path...
We know Sony can make awesome premium wireless earbuds, but its equally adept at pulling out a cheap pair that caters for the budget end of the spectrum. If you want quality without a high price tag, this is the only place to start. Want proof? The C500 won a 2022 What Hi-Fi? Award and have quickly become our go-to recommendation in the realm of cheap wireless earbuds.
Why? Firstly, the WF-C500 boast Bluetooth 5.0 and can handle both SBC and AAC codecs, meaning they sound far better than they have any right to at this price. Bass is ample, but never to the detriment of the other frequencies, offering a lot of what makes Sony's high-end earbuds such a great buy but without the price tag.
Second, they don't skimp on the features. Battery life is 10 hours from the buds and another 10 from the carry case, and like Sony's pricier buds, they work with the firm's Headphones Connect app, giving you greater control without crowding the buds with buttons. They can even upscale audio to near hi-res quality, something we didn't expect to find for such a modest price.
Don't want to dig out your phone? No problem. Voice controls come courtesy of Google Assistant and Siri, while the IPX4 rating means they'll survive being splashed with water – handy if you get caught in a downpour.
All in all, the best cheap wireless buds on the market.
Read the full Sony WF-C500 review
The AirPods are made for iPhones, and the Pixel Buds A-Series are aimed at Android users, so owners of Google-powered smartphones will not be disappointed.
They have an impressive feature set, with a noise-isolating design instead of noise cancelling, IPX4 splash resistance, and a light, comfortable design which means they can be worn all day.
The five-hour battery life can be bettered, but add in another 20 from the charging case and you've got a decent amount of time before you'll have to plug into the mains, while Fast Pair makes it a cinch to pair them with an Android phone or tablet.
Like the AirPods, they offer a balanced sound representation that doesn't stress any part of the frequency range above others. In other words, they're great all-rounders, and a great proposition for the price. If you're keen on Google products and have a preference for Android, the Pixel Buds could be worth your consideration.
Read the full Google Pixel Buds A-Series review
The Earfun Air were one of the first cheap pairs of wireless earbuds at this price that we awarded five stars, and that's despite having tested models from all manner of well-known and better-established audio brands.
The Air are a well-built set of earbuds that are comfortable to wear and that perform brilliantly. They have wireless charging, they produce a spacious sound, and they're even rated IPX7, so can be fully submerged in water, making them ideal for workouts in the rain (or even a dip in the pool).
Total battery life (including the charging case) is also impressive, at 35 hours, while features usually reserved for much pricier models, like in-ear detection that pauses playback when you take them out of your ear, have impressed us hugely. If you want some of the best cheap earbuds money can buy, the Earfun Air are certainly in the conversation.
Read the full Earfun Air review
And they're a brilliant option that more than justify their price tag. The buds are impressively small, and their lightweight design helps make them even more comfortable than Sony's XM4. Battery life is competitive at seven and a half hours from the buds and a further seven and a half from the case.
They lack aptX HD and LDAC but do feature noise-cancelling tech, which the WF-C500 don't have. Adaptive Sound Control automatically switches listening modes depending on your location, and Sony's DSEE (Digital Sound Enhancement Engine) upscales low-res digital audio files to higher quality.
The sound quality is superbly balanced too, with deep, detailed bass, expressive mids and engaging highs. They're a very musical listen for the money, and in terms of sound-per-dollar sonic value, we really can't think of many better buds.
Read the full Sony WF-C700N review
Until they were replaced by these, the standard Reflect Flow were a mainstay on this list since they launched in 2019. JBL's newer, pricier, premium-er Pro pair replicate that success admirably.
They add active noise cancellation to the mix, along with ambient and TalkThru modes that make you more aware of your surroundings (handy while you're out running). They're dust-tight and can be fully immersed in water, so won't be troubled by even the heaviest of downpours.
Whether pumping iron or beavering away in an office, the 'Ambient Aware' and 'TalkThru' modes could 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 with someone without taking the earbuds out.
They sound pretty great too, with plenty of bounce to power you through that fifth mile. They're not quite as refined as a dedicated music pair, but for sports-focused buds, they tick all the boxes.
Read the full JBL Reflect Flow Pro review
How we test wireless earbuds
At What Hi-Fi? we review tons of wireless earbuds every year, and while we use our dedicated testing facilities in Bath, Reading and London for the majority of our reviewing, we of course undertake wireless earbud testing outside our facilities to get a feel for using them out in the world. Our team reviews products together, ensuring no voice goes unheard, and we fill our ranks with experts in the audio world complete with decades of experience.
To gauge how a pair of earbuds' sound quality fares against the current competition, we always compare against similarly priced class leaders to get a good sense of a product's value. Performance-per-pound (or indeed dollar) is an incredibly important metric for us at What Hi-Fi? so we always keep plenty of pairs on-site for when we require them.
Of course, outside of audio quality, we also test how effective noise-cancellation is (if they have them), how clear call quality is from both ends, and generally how good they and their companion apps are to use. Cheap wireless earbuds are everyday items so you'll want a pair that's easy to live with from all aspects.
As a rule, no input from PR companies or sales teams when it comes to verdicts is ever allowed, with What Hi-Fi? enjoying a pristine reputation of delivering honest, unbiased feedback for decades.
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