9 options for splurging on earbuds or finding a cheap but decent option


You can spend a lot or a little on wireless earbuds and find a pair with the features that mean the most to you.

If you are looking for a nice pair of wireless earbuds for yourself or for a gift this holiday season, there are plenty of options beyond AirPods. 

There are lots of factors to consider when selecting a pair. Do you care more about battery life or sound quality? Will you be using the headphones mostly at the gym or when you’re traveling? Will the standard design work for your ears or do you need a different shape to ensure the earbuds will stay in place? Do you need touch controls or is an app good enough?

Check out these nine alternatives to Apple products and find the perfect pair that fits your particular needs and your budget.

Prices are accurate as of the publish date of this article.


Image: Target

These earbuds offer noise cancellation and a built-in microphone. Apple owns this brand, which includes an Apple H1 chip that allows automatic switching between devices, audio sharing and access to Siri. The earbuds are sweat and water resistant and provide up to six hours of listening time on a single charge. The wingtip design flexes to fit into the ear and stay in place for extended wear. 

$199 at Target


Image: Bose

These earbuds have noise cancellation as well as a quiet mode and an aware mode. The battery lasts up to six hours and the quick-charge time is 15 minutes for two hours of listening. There is an automatic on/off feature to preserve the battery. The set comes with small and large eartips and has an IPX4 water-resistance score. Touch controls include touch, swipe and double tap.

$199 at Bose


Image: Cambridge Audio

These earbuds work with Siri and Google Assistant and offer passive noise isolation. The battery lasts up to nine hours in low-power mode. A full battery requires two hours of charging time. This set comes with both soft silicon and a memory foam tip covers. The earbuds are water and sweat resistant. Users can personalize settings via the app.

$100 at Cambridge Audio


Image: MyEarFun

These earbuds have active noise cancellation, wind-noise reduction and transparent mode for ambient sound. One charge provides seven hours of listening and a 10-minute charge provides two hours. These earbuds are sweat and water resistant and have in-ear detection technology. The music pauses in both airpods when a user takes one out and resumes when put back in.

$79 at MyEarFun


Image: Amazon

This affordable set of earbuds generates a reverse sound wave to cancel out noise. The earphones use an adaptive algorithm to separate the voice of a caller from surrounding noise. The settings can be personalized via the related app and the noise-cancelling feature can be turned off by double-tapping the left earbud. The charging case uses a Type-C charge port and 10 minutes of charging provides 60 minutes of listening. A full charge lasts about five hours.

$80 at Amazon


Image: BestBuy

These earbuds are made for workouts with a high waterproof score, a special grip coating and a fast charge of up to an hour of listening in 15 minutes. A full charge lasts up to 24 hours. The earbuds have four built-in microphones and HearThrough mode to hear ambient sounds. Users can turn on the noise-cancelling mode via the app and turn it off via an earbud button. Other headset controls include volume, answer/end, play/pause, next/previous track and pair mode.

$100 at BestBuy


Image: Samsung

These earpods have active noise cancellation, two-way speakers and auto switch for moving between taking a phone call and watching a movie. They are water resistant in up to three feet deep of water for 30 minutes. The battery lasts for about five hours with noise cancelling on and closer to eight hours with that feature turned off. These also are made with 20% recycled plastic, according to the company.

$109 at Samsung


Image: BHPhoto

This pricey set of earpods offers eight hours of playback, beamforming microphones and bone conduction. A speak-to-chat feature lowers the volume of the noise cancellation and ambient sound mode lets in the noise around the user. The Auto Play/Pause feature is activated when the airpods are inserted or removed. The set supports Google Assistant and Alexa. A five-minute recharge in the case provides one hour of listening and the associated app allows customization of settings.

$248 at BHPhoto


Image: Amazon

These earbuds offer wireless charging via the case and eight hours of play with active noise-cancelling mode off or six with that feature turned on. They work with Android and iOS but voice control works with Google Assistant only. Features include transparency mode for ambient sound and auto pause/play The advanced voice processing includes two beamforming microphones and one bone conducting sensing mic. A 10-minute charge provides one hour of listening time.

$100 at Amazon

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