Not All Audiophiles Are Made Equal
When Apple stunned the world with the announcement that their phones will no longer support a 3.5mm headphone jack, a new breed of wireless earbuds came to being. AirPods, Apple’s true wireless solution, with its wireless charging case, hands-free Siri, and longer talk-time have been coveted by tech-inclined users for a long time.
Now we have people looking for the best AirPods alternatives, be it for better audio, longer battery life, or just because of being budget savvy. That is why we have rounded up the best options to facilitate your level-up.
Apple AirPods (2019)
The One That Started It All
The AirPods are a fast pairing wireless earbuds that took the market by storm. The hands-free ‘Hey Siri’ functionality has also been a crowd favorite. We can never deny that the AirPods, just like all Apple designs, have quickly become iconic. These can also claim the title of being the originals that popularized the true-wireless earbud.
AirPods feel snug and comfortable. However, there is still the fear of them falling out when doing physical activities, such as running, skating or riding a bicycle. Given the exorbitant price tag of this device, the worry is understandable.
Audio-wise the sound is a bit off with higher-frequency sounds, and bass is not super powerful. But it is excellent in its own way, with or without impressing the seasoned Audiophiles. Overall, you mostly pay for the prestige and convenience (Siri) that go with this device.
- Universal fit that’s comfortable all day
- Automatically on, automatically connected
- Easy setup for all your Apple devices
- Quick access to Siri by saying “Hey Siri”
- Seamless switching between devices
- Easily share audio between two sets of AirPods on your iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, or Apple TV
Jabra Elite Active 65t Wireless Ear Buds
The Stylish Audio Performer
The Jabra Elite Active 65t is one of the comfiest pairs of buds out there. The build quality is great. They are resistant to water and dust which makes them a great partner for outdoor activities and gym.
The battery life lasts for up to 5 hours, perfect for your trip to the gym or a morning run. Audio-wise the device produces accurate detail and warm notes. You could distinguish instruments and vocals clearly, while bass is more laid back.
Jabra’s Elite Active earbuds are small and discreet, unlike Apple’s AirPods which scream from a mile away. If you opt for the Jabra, no one will notice that you have them in your ears. The buds are round, with a little arm and a protruding tip that snugs in your ears.
- True wireless earbuds for an active lifestyle: Wherever your day takes you, whatever your activity, it won’t get in the way of enjoying sports, music and calls;
- Personalize your sound – Whether you’re using these as Apple earbuds, Samsung earbuds or more, you can listen to your music the way you want to hear it
- No audio dropouts – With Jabra’s 3rd generation true wireless stability, you can take calls and listen to music without worry about audio dropouts
- Up to 15 hours of use - With up to 5 hours of battery on a single charge, and up to 15 hours in total with the included pocket friendly charging case
- Take work calls from home – Incredible 4-microphone technology offers best-in-class call performance, with up to 15 hours of battery for maximum productivity
Bose SoundSport Free
The Sporty Pick
The Bose SoundSport Free delivers an exceptional wireless audio quality in a comfortable design suitable for extended use. Although they don’t feel super bulky, they are still large.
They are costly, alright. And you would be right to fear they might just fall off. There is more than one true wireless earbud monster lurking in the shadows. Good thing the ear hook design will keep them safe in your ears even during your furious aerobic routines.
The audio quality is superior. Basslines are fluid and strong without compromising other frequencies, and overall, the sound quality is steadfast no matter the genre.
If you could get over the size of the Bose SoundSport Free, then these are pretty cool true wireless music companions.
- TRULY wireless Sport headphones for total freedom of movement, packed full of technology that makes music sound clear and powerful
- Earbuds are sweat and weather resistant (with an Ipx4 rating) and come with 3 different pairs of Stay hear and Sport tips
- Up to 5 hours of play time with each charge and an additional 10 hours with the included charging case and also features a charging time of 2 hours
- Track lost earbuds with the Bose connect App's "find My buds" feature
- Firmware update to improve Audio video synchronization for customers using iPhones, iPads and other Bluetooth devices
- SoundSport Free headphones have an integrated dual microphone array
The Audio Performer
Sennheiser is a brand that needs no introduction, and one would expect no less than them to offer one of the best-sounding Apple AirPods alternatives. The “Momentum” delivers exquisite audio to make Sennheiser proud, however, it comes at a price.
These true wireless earbuds come packed with advanced features, such as the Smart Pause. This feature will detect when they are in or out of your ear. If not in your ear, your music playback will be automatically paused.
The Sennheiser Momentum true wireless earbuds deliver build and sound quality that is on par with most wired headphones out there, and audiophiles who are searching for the best sounding AirPods alternative can’t go wrong with these. Bass is defined, while mids are warm and precise. Vocals are transparent. No doubt, the audio quality of the Sennheiser Momentum is outstanding.
- Exceptional clarity experience sound that's like ‘being there’ thanks to sennheiser category leading truly wireless technology
- Fingertip control control your music, calls and voice assistant simply through intuitive touchpad technology built into both True Wireless earbuds
- Stay aware transparent hearing keeps you aware of your surroundings, allowing you to easily listen and chat wirelessly
- Extended listening 4 hours of truly wireless listening becomes 12 with our compact charging case that gives you 2 full extra charges.Microphone sensitivity: 94 dB SPL at 1 kHz
- Handle conditions made for every True Wireless listening environment with durable, Tough, splash resistant materials.
Best Value Pick
Samsung Galaxy Buds
The Android Hero
The Samsung Galaxy Buds are definitely a fan-favorite. The overall lightweight build and comfortable fit have made this bud a worthy contender.
The Galaxy Buds deliver great audio performance, courtesy of their AKG-tuned drivers. These drivers ensure precise, neutral-leaning audio that fares well for a variety of genres.
These buds are compatible with the Ambient Aware technology, which will let you program your buds to a customizable volume setting for allowing ambient noise to your preferred degree. For example, if you want to hear chattering or traffic noise, you can tweak it to your preference.
There is also an update that adds some great features. Users will have free access to the Bixby assistant, and voice customization of equalizer settings. Gym goers will also find their fitness buddy in these Buds, as they are water-resistant and sweatproof.
Last, but not least – the battery life is approximately six hours, which makes you pretty independent while on the move.
- PREMIUM SOUND: The sound that moves you is now made to move with you. With sound by AKG, Samsung Galaxy Buds provide a balanced and natural sound with superb dynamic range and exceptional accuracy
- AMBIENT AWARE: Turn on Ambient Aware to control how much surrounding noise you let in. With Quick Ambient Mode, you can listen in on street traffic, catch flight announcements, and hear when your kids or coworkers call out to you
- BATTERY: Get up to 13 hours of battery life when you are on the go with a case that doubles as a wireless charger. One full charge provides up to six hours of play time and the charging case provides up to an additional seven hours.
- RESISTS WATER: Thanks to IPX22 splash-resistant technology, your Galaxy Buds can handle splashes, a little sweat and even the accidental spill
Your Travelling Companion
The Sony WF-SP700N is a great option for those with active lifestyle and commuters alike. They’re unobtrusive and well-designed, plus they are water-resistant.
When it comes to audio quality, the bass won’t shatter your eardrums but vocals and mids are superb in clarity. They also do a great job of keeping unwanted noise at bay – muddy sounds or out-of-line notes are out of the game.
You can download the Headphones Connect app for free to further optimize your musical experience. You will be able to swap between sound modes with a single tap, and you will have eight EQ modes to choose from.
You can adjust playback controls and volume directly from this app too. I also like the fact that you can choose to prioritize connection stability or sound quality when listening, and the controls are pretty intuitive.
- TRULY WIRELESS: Compatible with Apple or Android cell phones, sync using Bluetooth connection & NFC
- DIGITAL NOISE CANCELING: WF-SP700N headphone set minimizes distractions & noises for crisp listening. Driver unit is 0.24" (Dome Type)
- AMBIENT SOUND MODE: Blend music & environmental sounds during fitness sessions or outdoor workouts
- SPLASHPROOF: IPX4 rated to handle sweat or rain splashes when you're at the gym or outside running
- LONG BATTERY: SP700N has up to 9 hours of playback battery life during workouts or athletic training
- POWERFUL SOUND: EXTRA BASS delivers punchy low spectrum sound quality for big beats from each earbud
Sol Republic Amps Air 2.0
Amazing Bass, Solid Performance
The Sol Republic Amps Air 2.0’s most notable asset is bass performance. These buds will hit the soft spot of bass freaks. Skip, if you tend to run for cover when audio is not exquisitely tender.
Though the bass is dominant, the drivers are still tuned to produce clear mids and highs and manage to achieve somewhat decently balanced overall representation.
Design-wise the earbuds are furnished with a rubberized matte finish but it lacks navigation controls.
Heavy listeners might be disappointed to find out that it only offers a mere 3-hour playtime. The bundled charging can still provide you enough store juice for up to 15 extra charges.
Unlike what we have come to expect, excellent audio doesn’t always come at a high price. Sol Republic has proved this more than once. The Amps Air 2.0 is a shining example. With good sound and solid build, these earbuds will certainly make the cut.
- PREMIUM SOUND: These Sol Republic Amp Air earbuds deliver a rich and full sound that bring you straight to the source. These wireless buds fit independently into each ear so you'll have no restrictions.
- FEATURES: These rain and sweat resistant (Ipx4) headphones are great for better workouts and longer product life. They have a multi-function button that allows you to easily access microphone and music controls.
- AUTHENTIC DESIGN: The two separate earpieces fit snugly and comfortably into each ear. They come in a sleek portable and compact charging case that can fit easily in your purse or bag. It is the perfect size for traveling.
- RECHARGEABLE & COMPATIBLE: The charging case has a built in 2200mAh battery that allows you to charge the buds up to 15 times, and use it as a backup charger for your phone or other devices
JLabJBuds Air Executive
If you want the stylish Airpods but you’re still a Benjamin short, then the JLabJBuds Air Executive might work the magic.
The included charging case appears premium, and the first thing to notice about the JLabJBuds Air Executive is their sophisticated design that doesn’t seem to match the low price.
These earbuds are equipped with 3 EQ cycles with different modes. They are the JLab signature, balanced, and bass boost. Very intuitive, and can help if you want to optimize and tweak the sound to your liking.
When it comes to audio, bass-heavy sounds feel a bit lacking, even with the bass boost on. Mid and highs are not that impressive overall, but not bad enough to wipe the smile off your face.
These earbuds are a bargain pair vested in premium appearance. Audio quality isn’t heart-melting, but it’s passable and well worth the dough.
- Updated Version Long Travel Playtime: The earbuds hold a 6-hour battery life and the compact case provides 24+ additional hours of playtime.
- C3 Calling: The JBuds Air Executive feature stereo audio and C3 (crystal clear clarity) phone calls from upgraded dual microphones.
- Auto On & Connect: The earbuds will automatically turn on and connect to each other right out of the case, as well as instant connect to your phone.
- Control It All & Custom EQ3 Sound: Featuring touch sensors to control all your music and phone calls with just a tap or hold, it’s easy on-the-GO.
- INCLUDES: JBuds Air Executive True Wireless Earbuds, Charging Case with Integrated Charging Cable, 3 Sets Gel Tips, 1 Set Cloud Foam Eartips, 1 Set Cush Fins, JLab Two Year Warranty.
Bragi’s The Headphone
A Simple Beauty
Dubbed as The Headphone, Bragi’s earbuds boast nearly 6 hours of playback and steady connectivity. I was quite disappointed that the carrying case can’t charge the buds without being plugged in. This might be a turn off to some.
The overall design is minimalistic, and small buttons on the right bud can be a challenge to press. These aren’t the flashiest earbuds out there. They just sport a shiny black plastic with a matte, textured finish.
These are not audiophile-grade earphones, however, they are still great for casual music binge. Bragi’s The Headphone delivers a clear and deep bass, not top-notch but decent enough.
- This refurbished product is tested and certified to look and work like new. The refurbishing process includes functionality testing, basic cleaning, inspection, and repackaging. The product ships with all relevant accessories, and may arrive in a generic box
When I first laid my eyes on these earbuds, I was impressed by their unique look. It is like a combination of the Apple design with a standard earbud design. We at Real Gear were so intrigued, that went to write a full review on them!
The BlitzWolf Bluetooth Wireless Earbuds are lightweight, so they are comfortable even for long music sessions. However, the 3-hour battery life might be a concern for heavy users.
The BW-FYE1 is a serious contender if you want to own true wireless earbuds while still staying on a budget. Being in the lower price spectrum, the sound quality is sweet. Though the bass is not that strong, they manage a well-balanced audio that is passable. However, I don’t recommend answering phone calls, as the mic quality is poor. If music playback is your main objective, then they are worth a thought.
The Apple AirPods have been a status symbol for tech-inclined millennials, but even a device that has gained iconic status will sometimes not make the cut for everyone. Luckily, there are tons of alternatives on the market, and this shortlist should be sufficient for you to find your perfect match. If not, feel free to improvise, adapt and overcome. Oh, and before charging, play your favorite war tune first.