AirPods may be the latest and greatest audio product from Apple, but shelling out over $150 is a painful experience. Read on for our top AirPods alternatives that won’t break the bank.
By now you may have read our Bluetooth record player with speakers roundup or explored our extensive list of tangle free headphones, earbuds, and Bluetooth headsets. And if you’re ready to totally cut the cord, our list of best Bluetooth earbuds may help. This time around, we’re going to share our tested, reviewed, and recommended list of the best AirPods alternatives that come in at under $50. Note: runners or athletes should read our latest feature on the best headphones for runners.
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PREMIUM FEATURES, GOOD OVERALL VALUE FROM SAMSUNG LEVEL U PRO
With over 500 positive reviews on Amazon, Samsung’s Level U Pro Bluetooth Wireless In-ear Headphones immediately caught our attention. After putting these sporty Bluetooth headphones through their paces, we fell in love with the elegant design and premium sound quality. At at under $50, you’ll be paying less than one third the price of Apple AirPods.
Samsung Level U Pro Bluetooth Headset Review
- Performance-oriented lightweight design with sweat and water-resistant coating reminds us of the more expensive Plantronics BackBeat FIT and Bose Soundsport Pulse. The Level U Pro is great to commute, work out, or otherwise carry with you throughout your day.
- Samsung delivers truly great sound despite the lightweight frame. There’s a lot of tech packed into the Level U Pro, and while Samsung states proprietary UHQ Audio is responsible, we believe they had to also include high quality hardware to deliver deep bass and high treble without sounding cheap.
- A stated 9 hour battery life that ended up running between 8-10 hours in our wear down testing means you should be able to get a full day of use out of the Level U Pro. We expect the high quality brand delivers a battery that will wear well with time and retain its charge.
- Limited style options under $50. It’s too bad Samsung decided to charge more for other color options. While the extra $10-20 you’ll shell out for anything other than the basic black, it adds quite a bit of expense and pushes the Level U Pro out of our $50 requirement for this list.
- You can get substantially more sound if you move up in price category to the Bose Soundsport Pulse. Granted, you’ll be spending a lot more to get there. That said, the quality difference is noticeable. Once you enjoy the superior sound from Bose it’s hard to go back.
NOVEL VALUE FROM SOUNDPEATS WITH MAGNETIC BLUETOOTH HEADPHONES
SoundPEATS Bluetooth Headphones tick all the boxes on our AirPods alternatives list: under $50. SoundPEATS feature excellent sound quality and a sporty, rugged design you can take anywhere. Throw in a novel magnetic clasp and you’ve got a winner in our books. At well under $40 in two color options, SoundPEATS are a pleasant, features-packed value.
SoundPEATS Bluetooth Headphones Review
- Unique, magnetic clasp design allows you to turn the Bluetooth headphones into a necklace by touching the earbuds back to back, cinching them with a satisfying click. The magnets are strong, but not strong enough that we would worry about our other electronics or credit cards sitting near the SoundPEATS in a bag.
- Two fun color options without added price help provide at least one creative choice. While we’re always wishing for more color options, we understand at the under $50 wireless earbud price point colors are limited.
- Basic materials don’t feel as well-constructed as other Bluetooth earbuds in our lit like the Samsung Level U Pro. Though we saw no signs of breakage or wear in our initial testing, the remote control felt especially plasticky and fragile.
- Short battery life means you’ll be charging at least once throughout the day with regular use. SoundPEATS quotes 6 hours of continuous use, however in our wear down testing we were only able to achieve slightly over 5 hours and during heavy use about 4 hours.
- Overall sound quality is mediocre, with a noticeable lack of fullness in the bass department when compared to other Bluetooth earbuds in the under $50 AirPods alternative category.
ACTIVE NOISE CANCELLING WITH AYL BLUETOOTH HEADPHONES
Our first encounter with the AYL brand is an overall positive. At a sub-$30 price point and with active noise cancelling technology, these Bluetooth earbuds are less than 1/5 the cost of Apple AirPods. AYL delivers an excellent listening experience, minus an annoying control system and an uninspired design. While we wish the battery lasted a bit longer during heavy use, the AYL Bluetooth Headphones are an overall excellent value.
AYL Bluetooth Headphones Review
- Active noise cancelling technology that actually works, cleaning up background noise and generally creating a better listening and talking experience. The saucer design of the AYL Bluetooth Headphones also acts as a physical barrier to some sounds, further helping you immerse yourself in sound. Our analysis is corroborated by over 5,000 positive reviews on Amazon.com, many of which echo our experience.
- Excellent bass quality with surprisingly rich tones for Bluetooth earbuds. This may also be helped by active noise cancelling technology, but we also feel the hardware is able to pack a better punch on its own.
- A terribly bland design aesthetic and no color choices means you won’t be turning heads while wearing the AYLs. We can’t complain too much as the AYLs are under $30, making them one of the least expensive options on our AirPods alternatives list.
- Controls are located on the actual earbuds meaning you’ll be fumbling to touch your ear in just the right place to change or pause music or answer a phone call. We don’t understand why AYL decided to be novel in this department when controls for headphones have become mostly standardized around a remote control on the strap or cord.
- Mediocre battery life that AYL quotes at 7 hours of talk and play time, but in reality ends up being about 6 hours. Your mileage will vary, but we feel 8 hours is the ideal real world use time that makes for the perfect balance between charging and price.
While the sub-$50 price range imposes restrictions on battery life and design, we found these Apple AirPods alternatives to be capable and, most importantly, affordable. Check out our original review of Apple AirPods to see what all the fuss is about, and then explore our list of tangle free headphones, earbuds, and headsets for more audio inspiration.