Last week, I wrote a post reviewing a $20 pair of AirPods alternatives that I grabbed from Amazon. The purpose of that post was to compare the difference in quality between this pair and a standard pair of AirPods, given how vast the price difference is.
Of course, there are some issues in making a comparison like this. It’s hard to compare factors like longevity and quality control when I’m only reviewing a single pair of knock-offs for a few weeks.
While I’m happy with the review I gave (that pair of HSPRO knock-offs is still going strong!) I imagine that there are a lot of users who want an AirPods-esque pair of Bluetooth headphones that have more reliability and recognition backing them up.
So in today’s post, I’m going to give a more comprehensive list of Bluetooth headphones that could be considered true AirPods alternatives. These aren’t just buds made to look like AirPods. They’re respected, quality headphones at various price points, sound qualities, and so forth.
If you’re in the market for an AirPod alternative, this is the post for you. Below are ten great AirPods alternatives, presented in no particular order for your consideration.
Note: None of these products or brands have sponsored this post, nor are any of the included links affiliate links. These are my honest, unbiased thoughts on each of these products.
- The best AirPods alternatives in 2021
- 1. Anker Soundcore Liberty Air 2: A budget-friendly alternative to AirPods
- 2. Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless: Excellent high-end AirPods alternatives
- 3. RHA Trueconnect: Affordable AirPods alternatives for working out
- 4. Bose SoundSport: The perfect blend of sound quality and durability
- 5. Jabra Elite: AirPods Pro for the price of AirPods
- 6. Samsung Galaxy Buds+: Less compatible, more features
- 7. Google Pixel Buds: The “purest” (and most problematic) AirPods alternatives
- 8. Sony WF-1000XM3: High-grade noise canceling and audio performance, but lacking in comfort
- 9. Powerbeats Pro: A very Apple alternative to AirPods
- 10. Raycon E55 Wireless Earbuds: A more comfortable, bassy AirPods alternative
- Which AirPods alternatives are right for you?
The best AirPods alternatives in 2021
1. Anker Soundcore Liberty Air 2: A budget-friendly alternative to AirPods
Kicking off our list is an offering from Anker. If you’ve never heard of Anker, they’re an extremely popular third-party accessory manufacturer, known for making quality, affordable alternatives to first-party accessories. When your Apple chargers, headphones, or cases fail you, you grab an Anker product.
With that background in mind, it’s no surprise that Anker makes one of the best budget-friendly pairs of Bluetooth earbuds on the market. The Anker Soundcore Liberty Air 2 might not have the catchiest name, but they’re overall one of the best AirPods alternatives.
- $79 on Amazon ($64 with Amazon Prime)
- 7 hours of playtime without the case, 28 hours with the case
- HearID is a unique feature that will test your hearing profile and then optimize your listening experience
- The Soundcore app gives you plenty of customization options
- Pairing and touch controls are easy and reliable
- Various in-ear tips to make a perfect fit
2. Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless: Excellent high-end AirPods alternatives
If you have even one audiophile bone in your body, you’ll have at least heard of Sennheiser. It’s a brand known for making some of the best (and costliest) sound products on the market.
The Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless earbuds are no exception. These wireless headphones are expensive and slick. The design is simple and effective, the case is snug and durable feeling, and you’ll have a hard time finding sound this great in a small Bluetooth package.
- $306 on Amazon ($256 with Amazon Prime)
- 7 hours of playtime, 28 hours with the case
- The sound quality is so good that Sennheiser markets it for watching movies at home
- Customizable touch controls
- IPX4 splash resistance means you won’t need to worry about sweat or rain (according to Sennheiser)
- The one drawback mentioned by users is that there is often a noticeable audio delay on certain devices (namely on a PC)
3. RHA Trueconnect: Affordable AirPods alternatives for working out
Next up on our list of AirPods alternatives are the RHA Trueconnect Bluetooth headphones. I would say that these are comparable to the Anker Soundcore Liberty headphones. The price range and build quality are about the same.
That said, there are a few differences that make these more ideal for someone who works out regularly. While both can be used at the gym or on a run, these have a higher splash resistance (IPX5) and fit more securely. The design feels sturdier, too.
- $64 on Amazon
- 5 hours of playtime, 25 hours with the case
- Generic sound quality, comparable to Apple’s wired EarPods
- Sometimes has connectivity issues in crowded situations according to some users (i.e., on the subway, in cafes, etc.)
- Plenty of different ear tips to ensure comfortable listening
4. Bose SoundSport: The perfect blend of sound quality and durability
Bose is another brand that has earned a reliable reputation for itself. While the sound quality isn’t directly competing with the likes of Sennheiser, Bose still offers excellent audio for the prices it offers.
For that reason, the Bose SoundSport has earned a spot on our list of AirPods alternatives. They’re reliable, look good, sound amazing, and are made to withstand your workouts.
The biggest drawback of the Bose SoundSports is that they aren’t completely wireless. Though they connect to your smartphone over Bluetooth, there is a wire connecting the two buds. This short cord will normally rest on the back of your neck while you wear these buds.
- $129 on Amazon
- 6 hours of listening time; no charging case (you plug them into the wall to charge them)
- Overwhelmingly positive reviews
- Extremely comfortable
- High-quality sound
- Integrated with Tile to make it easy to find them when lost
- Sweat and weather-resistant
- If you grab the Bose SoundSport Pulse, you can use these headphones to track your heart rate
5. Jabra Elite: AirPods Pro for the price of AirPods
It might seem strange that Jabra earbuds are so far down this list, considering that they’re many users’ first choice for AirPods alternatives. The reason I’ve placed them down a bit, though, is because I feel like these are competing with AirPods Pro, not AirPods.
The Jabra Elite Bluetooth headphones offer active noise cancellation, high reliability, long battery life, and an extremely comfortable fit. This makes them a bit more robust and feature-rich than the standard AirPods.
All of that is to say that these are an excellent option for mid-range budgets.
- $149 on Amazon
- 5.5 hours of playtime, 24 hours with the case
- Four microphones allow for excellent active noise cancellation
- Super reliable for phone calls
- Secure, comfortable fit
- The included MySound app tests your hearing and creates a custom listening profile
- Sweat-resistant, but not rain resistant
6. Samsung Galaxy Buds+: Less compatible, more features
The Samsung Galaxy Buds are not only a direct competitor of but also a response to, AirPods. This makes them one of the best options on this list of AirPods alternatives.
Now, to be clear, there isn’t any considerable difference in terms of audio between these and standard AirPods. Both are plenty good enough for the average user, though you won’t come close to the sound quality of Sennheiser or even Bose.
What you do get, however, is a lot of great features that Apple has excluded from its base-level AirPods. This includes ambient noise pass-through, extra controls, and insane battery life.
- $149 on Amazon ($119 with Amazon Prime)
- 11 hours of playtime, 22 hours with the charging case
- Comes in black, red, white, and light blue
- Listen to ambient noise while also listening to your headphones
- Control the volume of your ambient environment with a slider
- If you have a Samsung Galaxy smartphone, get exclusive features like instant setup
7. Google Pixel Buds: The “purest” (and most problematic) AirPods alternatives
The Google Pixel Buds had a rough first-gen. Not only was the design less than stellar, but pairing and audio issues abounded. Now, the Pixel Buds 2 have been out for a year with a much-improved design – and many of the same issues.
That said, the vast majority of Pixel Buds users won’t experience these problems. And for those users, the Pixel Buds represent a product somewhere between the AirPods and the AirPods Pro. The design is great (I actually prefer it to AirPods Pro) and it has more features than AirPods at a lower price than AirPods Pro.
- $179 on Google’s website (not available on Amazon due to a brand feud)
- 5 hours of play time, 24 hours with the case
- Comes in white, orange, mint green, and black
- Seamless pairing with Android
- Sweat-resistant up to IPX4
- Hands-free Google Assistant
- Live translation allows you to speak to people of other languages in real-time while wearing Pixel Buds (crazy!)
- A common complaint is that these earbuds become uncomfortable after an hour or so of listening
8. Sony WF-1000XM3: High-grade noise canceling and audio performance, but lacking in comfort
Admittedly, very few of the AirPods alternatives on this list have had very catchy names. But Sony’s WF-1000XM3 wireless earbuds take the cake for terrible product naming. The product itself, however, is pretty good.
These are pricy headphones, competing with the likes of Sennheiser. True audiophiles will get a kick out of these. The audio performance is great for an in-ear headphone, the battery life is great, and the noise cancellation (according to many users) is almost unbeatable.
There is a problem with these headphones, however, and that’s that they seem to be very uncomfortable for most users. While I don’t own these, I couldn’t find many areas online where people weren’t complaining about how they felt in the ear. For many, it was so bad that they returned them. So I would definitely purchase these from a source that allows you to send them back, just in case you have this issue.
- $228 on Amazon
- 6 hours of play time, 24 with charging case
- Amazon Alexa built-in
- High-end noise cancellation with special features (such as canceling out specific noises like wind)
- Unique features like Quick Attention Mode, which allows you to cup a hand over an earbud to lower the volume and turn off noise canceling when someone talks to you
- A downloadable app for customization
- Reportedly uncomfortable by a significant number of users
9. Powerbeats Pro: A very Apple alternative to AirPods
Putting a Beats brand pair of headphones on a list of AirPods alternatives gave me a bit of strife. On the one hand, these headphones are technically made by Apple, so suggesting them as an AirPods alternative feels a bit like calling the AirPods Pro an AirPods alternative.
On the other hand, the Powerbeats Pro are pretty different from AirPods. So, as you can tell by this point, I’ve decided to go ahead and include them.
Powerbeats Pro use the same chip and software as the AirPods, so they have all of the AirPods “magic” you’re used to. They pair to your phone easily, switch devices automatically, work with Siri, etc.
- $199 on Amazon ($169 with Amazon Prime)
- 9 hours of play time on a single charge, over 24 hours with the case
- Unique design keeps them in your ears at all times, perfect for intense workouts
- More controls than AirPods (volume controls, extra taps, etc.)
- Features the same H1 chip as AirPods for seamless pairing with Apple products
- Comparable sound quality to AirPods, though lesser than AirPods Pro
- No noise cancellation features
10. Raycon E55 Wireless Earbuds: A more comfortable, bassy AirPods alternative
Admittedly, I mostly included this pair of earbuds out of curiosity. I’ve heard countless advertisements for Raycons by YouTubers and wanted to see if they held up to their marketing budget.
Based on my research, they do! Most sources agree that Raycons have a similar sound performance to standard AirPods, with an improved bass experience. Raycons are generally considered more comfortable as well thanks to their soft in-ear tips.
- $119 on Amazon (other models available for less)
- 7 hours of play time on a single charge, 35 hours with the case
- Very comparable sound to AirPods, with more bass
- Similar lifespan to AirPods (two years)
- Comes in navy blue, dark red, white, and rose gold
- Pairing is simple and reliable
- Many users who have owned AirPods reported higher satisfaction with Raycons
Which AirPods alternatives are right for you?
Hopefully, by the end of this post, you have an idea of which AirPods alternatives you want to grab. If you still can’t decide, then I’d suggest making a budget and comparing the options within it. And if all else fails, start with something affordable and if you don’t like it, trade it in for something better.
For more advice, guides, and reviews on everything Apple, check out the rest of the AppleToolBox blog.