The rapid growth of the true wireless earbuds market has been a sight to behold, but no matter how many great new models get released, there’s always this one constant that never changes – the AirPods series is king.
And this status isn’t unwarranted or inflated. Apple has managed to craft true wireless earbuds that offer great sound quality, plenty of features, seamless integration within the Apple ecosystem, and even a unique look. Whether or not you’re a fan of the design with the protruding stems, there’s no denying that it has become iconic.
Nevertheless, the AirPods just aren’t for everyone. Be it because of their price, the need to use them with non iOS devices, or any other reason, many shoppers are looking for the best AirPods alternatives instead.
These devices offer many of the same features but cost less, work better on Android devices, or perhaps even offer more premium features that aren’t found on the AirPods.
So if you’re looking for the best AirPods alternatives, look no further.
- Good sound
- Tile integration
- Mediocre battery life
- Physical buttons
First up, we have the Skullcandy Sesh Evo. When looking for the best AirPods alternatives, we had to ask ourselves what’s so special about the AirPods in the first place. Sure, they sound good, we can’t undermine this point, but if you’re only looking for audio quality you can find other models that sound just as good, if not better, and cost less.
So a huge part of their appeal is simply that they are Apple AirPods. They’re stylish, they’re prestigious, and they’re instantly recognizable. And the Sesh Evo has good style and brand recognition in spades.
Aside from this, it’s also got great instrument separation, three distinct EQ options – music, movie, and podcast – and powerful bass. Each bud can hold 5 hours of battery life, and the total battery life goes up to 20 hours with the charging case. All in all, they can see you through an entire day of playback, but you will have to charge them more often than the other models in this guide.
Thanks to an IP55 rating, you can use them while in the gym as well as for casual listening. And seeing as they come equipped with Bluetooth 5.0, you won’t have to worry about lag or connection issues even if you stray a bit from the audio source.
Overall, the earbuds are comfortable, regardless of whether you use both of them or just one. Using only one bud is typically a good way to lose it, but thanks to Tile integration, finding the buds isn’t too difficult when you misplace them. All this is available at a price significantly lower than that of the AirPods.
The only major downside is that the Sesh Evo uses button controls. This requires you to push the entire earpiece into your ear, which can get really uncomfortable really fast. For example, cycling between EQ presets takes four button presses.
- Highly customizable
- Great sound
- No water resistance
- No volume control
Up next, we’ve got the WF-1000XM3, a pair of hugely popular true wireless earbuds made by Sony. While not the AirPods killers many expected them to be, they still offer great value if you’re looking for a premium pair of AirPods alternatives.
First things first, the WF-1000XM3 boasts a design which isn’t similar to that of the AirPods but is nonetheless just as conspicuous. Finding the right ear tips to support this weirdish design is paramount, but thankfully Sony packs the WF-1000XM3 with no fewer than 6 pairs of ear tips with different sizes and materials.
Once you’ve found the right fit, there’s no need to worry about the earbuds falling off during everyday activities as they’re fairly stable, but we still wouldn’t recommend headbanging to metal with reckless abandon.
Although if metal is your jam, you’ll find the loud and balanced sound of the WF-1000XM3 fits it quite well. And thanks to the EQ options accessible through the app, you can customize the sound for many different genres of music.
The app offers a large level of control over other aspects of the earbuds as well, which is something we’d love to see in more devices. For example, you can map of the touch controls to your liking, but unfortunately, there’s no way to map volume controls.
Aside from this, you get loads of features like accurate auto-pause, multi-connectivity, natural-sounding ambient mode, active noise canceling, and codec support for AAC and SBC.
In terms of battery life, the Sony WF-1000XM3 can see you through an entire 8-hour workday without the ANC, and the charging case holds three additional charges which you can make use of expeditiously thanks to quick charging.
The major downside here is that the WF-1000XM3 lacks waterproofing of any kind, making it useless in certain scenarios where many of us want and need to use earbuds.
- Long battery life
- Dual-driver configuration
- Limited codec support
Of all the devices featured in this guide, the Galaxy Buds Plus feel the least like AirPods alternatives, mainly because they lack the highly conspicuous design that the AirPods are known for. Instead, the Galaxy Buds Plus offer an inconspicuous, low-profile design that still looks gorgeous, but doesn’t scream for attention like Hollywood celebrities during the pandemic lockdown.
Thanks to lots of ear tips and wing tips, the Galaxy Buds Plus shouldn’t have any trouble remaining firmly planted in your ears. This makes them great for use while working out, but keep in mind that their IPX2 rating isn’t anything to write home about as far as water resistance is concerned.
The main selling point of the Galaxy Buds Plus is their dual-driver configuration. Each earpiece comes with its own tweeter and woofer, which split the workout along the frequency response and therefore sound way better than most single driver devices. Even though they cost way less than the AirPods Pro, the Sony WF-1000XM3, and the upcoming Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2, the Galaxy Buds Plus arguably sound the best.
However, audio quality isn’t the only thing most of us look for in true wireless earbuds. What holds these earbuds back in particular is their limited codec support. Although this isn’t a problem when connecting the Galaxy Buds Plus to a Samsung device, as they then use the Samsung Scalable Codec. Still, many other features are a bit lackluster, like the Ambient Mode.
The battery life is incredible though, with each bud holding 11 hours of playback in it and the charging case packing another full charge. Add to this a fast charging feature that can net you an hour of playback for just 3 minutes of charging, and you’ve got yourself one of the most reliable true wireless earbuds for music listening.
- Bluetooth 5.1
- AAC, SBC, and aptX support
- Great sound
- No multi-connectivity
And lastly, if you’re after premium AirPods alternatives, we’ve got yet another model to recommend in the form of the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2. This is the most expensive device in this guide, but like the Sony, it justifies that price tag through excellent sound quality and a plethora of useful features.
While the Momentum True Wireless 2 may appear inconspicuous at first glance, like the Galaxy Buds Plus, it’s anything but that due to how bulky the earpieces are. They don’t exactly have a weird shape like the WF-1000XM3 or any of the AirPods, but they will definitely be noticed and appreciated by others while you’re wearing them. Most importantly, they manage to stay ergonomic and comfortable despite their size.
The sound quality is amazing, with noteworthy imaging and a detailed, powerful, and boomy bass. They’re packing Bluetooth 5.1 for the best wireless stability of all the devices in this guide, although their signal strength is, for some reason, not as far-reaching as that of the others. Nevertheless, so long as you don’t stray too far from the source, you’ll get amazing audio quality with plenty of codec support in the form of aptX, AAC, and SBC.
The most buzz-worthy feature of the Momentum True Wireless 2 has got to be the ANC, which is about as effective as the ANC on the WF-1000XM3 in that it’s great at eliminating low sounds but doesn’t eliminate surrounding chatter or music. All this on a 7 hours charge and with an additional 21 hours in the case.
Aside from this, you get a decent microphone for taking calls, customizable touch controls, an IP4 rating, auto-pause, transparency hearing, EQ customization options, and more. However, there is one missing feature we have to highlight as its absence is sorely felt and that is multi-connectivity. The Momentum True Wireless 2 can only connect to one device at a time, which is just disappointing.
How to Choose the Best AirPods Alternatives For You?
There’s no shortage of AirPods-like true wireless earbuds out there, from clones whose infringement on copyright can easily be called into question to original and unique devices – like the ones showcased in this guide – that do their own thing yet still have a lot of overlap.
You cannot go wrong by choosing any device featured in this guide, however, this isn’t to say that only the devices featured here are worthwhile. So if you can’t get your hands on any of the devices featured here, all you need to do is follow these few steps to find the best AirPods alternatives for you.
To begin with, let’s define an AirPods alternative. What separates the AirPods from any other pair of true wireless earbuds is not their audio quality, although they do have quality audio; it’s not their mic, although they do have better mics than most true wireless earbuds; it’s not the ANC found on some more expensive mods or any similar feature, although they are known for having good features.
What makes the AirPods line of true wireless earbuds so desirable is that they pack all of these things in a unique and instantly recognizable package – they are a status symbol. And if you find that this part of the equation isn’t all that important to you, then you’re not looking for AirPods alternatives so much as simply good true wireless earbuds.
That’s why a unique shape coupled with a popular brand is the winning combination for evoking the feeling you get from seeing AirPods. The Skullcandy Sesh Evo and Sony WF-1000XM3 exemplify this the best. They’re not just any earbuds, they’re made by Skullcandy or Sony.
Now as for why you would be looking for AirPods alternatives, there are two main reasons: price and compatibility.
Apple isn’t known for making inexpensive gadgets. So it’s perfectly reasonable to look for more affordable alternatives. The Skullcandy Sesh Evo is an all-around incredible device, and it has an MSRP of $59.99.
Now as far as compatibility goes, this is where things get a bit tricky. The most important thing here is to consider which device you’ll be pairing the earbuds with. If it’s an iOS device, and you don’t mind the price of the AirPods, then there’s no need to look for alternatives. But if you’re an Android user, you’ll likely want a good pair of alternatives that can use their full potential on that platform.
And if this is the case, you actually have a slight edge over actual AirPods users. Here’s why:
The AirPods line features some incredible devices, but because it has such a large target audience, it also needs to cater to the needs of so many potential users, which is impossible to do. But if you’re buying a pair of AirPods alternatives, you can make sure it has all the features that you highly value.
If this is listening to music, then you can get something like the Samsung Galaxy Plus, which is lacking in way of codec support but has incredible audio quality. If you need them for video streaming, make sure it has all the good codecs you need. If you’re a bass head, get bass-heavy earbuds – which the AirPods are not.
Keep your requirements in mind like this and you’ll find a pair of AirPods alternatives that’ll make you happier than actual AirPods.
All in all, if you’re looking for a pair of true wireless earbuds that can offer an experience similar to the AirPods, you’ve got plenty of choices.
The Skullcandy Sesh Evo carries all the glamour associated with the AirPods but at a very reasonable price.
The Galaxy Buds Plus blows the competition out of the park with their dual-driver configuration when it comes to pure sound quality while the Sony WF-1000XM3 and the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2 offer a plethora of premium features and customization options.