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You’ve already cut the cord when it comes to your cable, but the latest data shows that millions of people around the world have cut the cord when it comes to audio devices as well. According to a new reportfrom Counterpoint Research, the global market for true wireless wearables will reach 238 million units by the end of 2021.
Apple’s AirPods remain a best-seller and own a large share of the market. Counterpoint says Apple’s products accounted for almost 30% of the segment in 2020. AirPods users preferred AirPods to other wireless headsets because of their ease-of-use, comfort, and name recognition. Bose came in second for audio quality.
There are many other manufacturers that make great AirPod alternatives. A new entry by Samsung was just launched this month. We found six excellent AirPod alternatives, all of which are comparable in sound quality, battery performance, comfort, and price to the AirPods.
1. AirBuds Pro
The similarly-named AirBuds Pro are one of the latest contenders to the AirPods throne, and at $50, they’re an easy pick-up, either in favor of AirPods, or as a second pair you won’t be afraid to carry around with you.
These buds are lightweight and come in the same white colorway as AirPods. They fit well in our ears for all-day comfort. They’re sweat and water-resistant, and battery life is similar to the AirPods – four hours on a single charge and up to 24 hours with the included charging case.
While the AirPods Pro boast ANC (Active Noise Cancellation) technology, the AirBuds Pro use Environmental Noise Cancellation (or ENC) to block out unwanted outside noise. While ANC is more effective at blocking out noise, the AirBuds Pro still managed to provide a pleasant experience by helping you tune in to the music and removing external distractions.
Touch controls at the side let you monitor and change your settings, and connectivity was easy — we had the AirBuds paired to our phone in less than 10 seconds. AirBuds PRO are compatible with Android or Apple voice assistants. Siri can also change your music if you prefer using the side touch buttons. All of the components are packed in a compact, lightweight charging case. It keeps your earbuds charged up while you’re on-the-go.
2. Anker Soundcore Liberty Air 2 Pro TWS Earbuds
These Anker earbuds are a sporty black alternative to AirPods, with IPX5-rated sweatproof and rainproof protection, and seven hours of playback time (which goes up to 21 hours when you toss them in the portable carrying case that doubles as a charger). For a perfectly tailored listening experience, the earbuds have “HearID Personalized EQ” which analyzes your listening patterns and creates an individualized sound setup for your ears (although you can easily adjust your own EQ settings as well.)
Sound quality is clear across the whole range. Reviewers also love the high-quality background noise reduction. This allows for clear and distinct sound, making these earbuds perfect for music and calls.
3. Samsung Galaxy Buds Live
While Samsung’s latest earbuds, the Galaxy Buds2 were just recently released, we feel that the Galaxy Buds Live offers a higher quality listening experience for the price tag. In fact, Samsung’s Galaxy wireless earbuds are one of the few brands out there that rival AirPods for sound quality, reliability and features.
Samsung claims their earbuds offer a better listening experience due to the collaboration with AKG’s audio and acoustics specialists. You hear music clearly, with clear sound and better capturing of the fine-tuned details. Samsung’s “Active Noise Cancellation” technology lets you tap your buds once to allow in just enough surrounding noise so you’re aware of your environment, without detracting from your listening experience. It is ideal for cyclists and runners, as it helps keep you alert to traffic and keeps you moving at a steady pace.
You can stream up to 8 hours via Bluetooth and make calls for up to 5 hours with the Galaxy Buds Live. You get 1.7 hours of use time with the included charging case, which can hold a charge up to 7 hours on a 15 minute charge.
What we like: the Galaxy Buds Live come with Samsung’s Bixby assistant. You can use your voice to make calls and send text messages, skip tracks, or check the battery status of your earbuds.
Want to check out the Galaxy Buds2? They are also equipped with ANC technology, and can provide up to five hours of playing time on a single battery. You can find the Samsung Galaxy Buds2 right now for $109.99 on Samsung.com.
4. SoundPEATS TrueFree+ Wireless Earbuds
A durable, yet elegant, pair of earbuds meant to provide a comfortable fit for its extended playtime, the SoundPEATS TrueFree+ Earbuds delivers up to 3.5 hours in one go. When not in use, place them in their case to recharge— you’ll get a whopping 9-10 full charges from the charging case, giving you 35 hours of use.
SoundPEATS is widely praised for its superior sound quality. The SoundPEATS has rich, deep bass and warm tones, something you won’t find in larger headphones. You can customize the eartips to make your headphones more comfortable. You can play, pause and make a call from anywhere by simply tapping the multi-functional buttons.
5. JVC Gumy True Wireless Earbuds
We haven’t heard much from Japanese electronics brand JVC in recent years, but that doesn’t mean you should sleep on these Gumy Wireless Earbuds, which get you Bluetooth 5.0 connectivity (the leading industry standard), 15 hours of battery life, and an IPX4-rating for water-resistance — enough to withstand accidental splashes or getting caught in a downpour.
The true wireless earbuds fit comfortably into your ears and mold to your ear shape, ensuring that they won’t fall out, even on a workout or run. Sound quality here is good — you won’t get the dynamic range of highs and lows like you would with AirPods or the Samsung Buds up top, but for everyday listening (say, while you’re working or on a commute), these will do the trick.
To make it easy to switch between songs or settings, the JVC earbuds can be used with voice assistants. You can get a pair of JVC Gumy True Wireless Earbuds in white to make an Apple AirPods duplicate; there are four other colors available.
6. TOZO T12 TWS Bluetooth 5.0 Earbuds
It sounds almost too good to be true: a pair of wireless earbuds with almost all 5-star reviews for under $50? But that’s what the latest set from TOZO delivers, with over five hours of playback time on a single charge, a large 10mm speaker driver, and ergonomically-designed ear-tips made with a gel silicone that’s more comfortable for prolonged wear. We love that these buds have a waterproof rating IPX8, which means they can be submerged up to 1 meter in water for 30 mins and still come out intact. The sweat-proof coating on the caps makes these a great option for workouts too, allowing moisture to wick-off easily so your sound — and workout — goes uninterrupted.