The best cheap wireless earbuds in 2021

By hqt / Mar 09, 2021

Get more for less with the best cheap wireless earbuds you can buy

The best cheap wireless earbuds aren’t just good headphones — they’re a relief. As great as the overall best wireless earbuds are, some ask you for $200 or more. And that’s a lot of money, especially if you mainly case about just getting good sound quality over fancy features.

So, while more tech-headed listeners might prefer the AirPods Pro or Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro, it's good to know that keeping it simple could save you hundreds. The headphones on this list prove it: we’ve tested them all, and despite costing a fraction of standard high-end pricing they deliver where it counts. Whether you want the best-sounding audio or long battery life, then, it’s time to get acquainted with the best cheap wireless earbuds on the market.

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What are the best cheap wireless earbuds?

We recommend the JLab JBuds Air as the best cheap wireless earbuds. These buds boast the kind of features you'd typically expect to see in much more expensive buds. We're impressed by the bass-forward sound and portable-friendly charging case with charging cable built into it.

A great alternative to JLab's wireless earbuds is the Tribit FlyBuds 3, should you want great-sounding wireless earbuds with up to 100 hours of playtime with the charging case. Fitness buffs looking for the best cheap wireless running headphones under $60 need look no further than the Enacfire E60, which offers great sound and stability in a waterproof design.

The best cheap wireless earbuds you can buy today

1. JLab JBuds Air

The best cheap wireless earbuds overall

Size: 1.8 x 3 x 1.6 inches | Weight: 0.13 ounces | Battery life (rated): 4 hours, 14 hours (with charging case) | Bluetooth range: 30 feet (10 meters) | Special features: Built-in USB cable in charging case, programmed EQ settings, water resistance

The best cheap wireless earbuds right now are the JLab JBuds Air. JLab’s fitness earbuds have bass-forward sound and modern features that should warrant a higher price tag. 

The JBuds Air comes programmed with three EQ settings (Balanced, Bass Boost, and Signature) so that you can customize the audio output. Bass Boost is most ideal for workouts and packs punchy lows, while Signature makes minor adjustments to frequency response for better midrange.

Battery life is rated at 4 hours, which is slightly below standard, but the accompanying charging case gets you an extra 10 hours of use. An IPX55 certification means these earbuds are built to withstand sweat and splashing as well.

The design is a bit bulky and can create some discomfort when worn for long stretches, but it’s sufficient for workouts. You’re only able to take calls on one earpiece as well.

If you’re someone who values color variety, then you have plenty to choose from, including Black, White, Green, and awesome-looking Navy Blue.

(Image credit: Tribit)

2. Tribit FlyBuds 3

Workout-friendly buds with a ridiculously powerful charging case

Size: 3.40 x 2.00 x 1.20 inches | Weight: TBD | Battery life (rated): 5 hours; 100 hours (with charging case) | Bluetooth range: 30 feet (10 meters) | Special features: 100-hour charging case, Bluetooth 5.0, waterproof

Those who want great-sounding buds and extended playtime for at least a month’s worth of use before recharging will want to put the FlyBuds 3 on their radar. Audio is clean and impactful, keeping bass levels energetic and balanced for vocals to shine. They also serve as workout headphones with IPX7 waterproof coating and multiple fins and tips to accommodate different ear shapes. The charging case can even be used as a portable charger, allowing you to juice up any USB-C devices on the go, something Android fans will appreciate.

Our only complaint is that the touch controls are not the most reliable; you’ll have to perform tap gestures multiple times for commands to register. The charging case is a hefty sucker too, but that’s a small compromise you can live with, especially since it holds up to 100 hours of playtime. And no, that's not a typo.

Best cheap wireless earbuds

(Image credit: Enacfire)

3. Enacfire E60

Sports earbuds with plenty of boom and portable power

Size: 3.23 x 1.54 x 1.1 inches | Weight: 0.18 ounces | Battery life (rated): 8 hours; 48 hours (with charging case) | Bluetooth range: 33 feet (10 meters) | Special features: apt-X codec, Qualcomm processor, waterproof

Unless you’re shopping regularly in the Amazon budget headphones section, Enacfire isn’t a name you’ll recognize, but the E60 is a surprise hit that deserves your full, undivided attention. Lots of high-powered specs were stuffed into these sporty wireless earbuds, from Bluetooth 5.0 to a Qualcomm chip for advanced sound. Expect some steady bass thump when playing your workout playlists, along with functional smart controls that let you manage playback, volume, and virtual assistant support. Battery life is lengthy with a single charge generating 8 hours of playtime, while the compact charging case houses an extra 40 hours. It’s also cool that the company gives owners a 2-year warranty with the purchase.

We won’t lie though; these are very unattractive buds. Not only does the plastic build feel cheap, but other elements of the design just scream generic, such as the left/right indicators poorly labeled on the front of each bud.

Best cheap wireless earbuds

(Image credit: Regan Coule/Tom's Guide)

4. Earfun Free

Highly functional waterproof buds

Size: 1.5 x 1.1. 0.7 inches | Weight: 0.2 ounces | Battery life (rated): 6 hours; 30 hours (with charging case) | Bluetooth range: 49 feet (15 meters) | Special features: Waterproof, wireless charging, work in mono or stereo mode

Earfun is one of the few brands that has managed to program tons of functionality into its promising lineup of cheap wireless earbuds. The Free is arguably its greatest creation. Songs are given plump bass and detail, and the gel tips create a tight seal to take in fuller sound, while minimizing leakage. The buds also come IPX7-rated for waterproof protection. A full charge gets you 6 hours, which is above average, plus you can get 2 hours of playtime on a 10-minute charge via quick charging. Oh yes, the case supports wireless charging too.

The minimalist design may be hit or miss for some, but the flush buttons on the front are the biggest issue. They are pretty stiff, don’t produce the best tactility, and pressing them creates discomfort since it requires pushing the buds further into your ears. Besides that, the Earfun Free hits mostly every other mark, giving you a lot of bang for your buck.

5. Aukey EP-T27

Sleek-looking buds with excellent controls

Size: 2.17 x 0.79 x 1.57 inches | Weight: 0.15 ounces | Battery life (rated): 6 hours; 25 hours (with charging case) | Bluetooth range: 33 feet (10 meters) | Special features: Bluetooth 5.0, CVC 8.0 Noise Reduction, water resistant

Some of the most responsive controls we’ve tested
Sharping-looking design
Decent battery life
Sound is too bright
Finicky connectivity

Aukey is another name that continues to pump out new true wireless models on a monthly basis, and the company just sent us over the EP-T27, which is a modest upgrade to the EP-T21. This version keeps the same matte-finished, thin profile of its predecessor, but adds some nice gold accents to the bottom of each stem that makes the buds look more distinctive. Six hours of playtime may not seem like a whole lot, but it’s adequate for commutes or when casually listening to music around the house. What impressed us most about these buds was their responsiveness to tap gestures. Both single and multi-taps are recognized and register quickly to perform intended commands.

Audio isn’t bad, though the high end is overemphasized and sounds unflattering at high volume. Bluetooth also has a tendency to act up at times. When connecting or repairing to a device, we experienced stutter that lasted about 10 seconds.

Best cheap wireless earbuds: Plantronics BackBeat Fit 3100

6. Plantronics BackBeat Fit 3100

The best cheap wireless earbuds for fitness

Size: 4.41 x 6.38 x 1.81 inches | Weight: 0.8 ounces | Battery life (rated): 5 hours; 15 hours (with charging case) | Bluetooth range: 33 feet (10 meters) | Special features: Companion app, charging case doubles as portable charger, waterproof

Extremely secure fit
Loud, boomy sound
Waterproof and sweat-resistant
Stylish charging case
Battery life is shorter than competition

If you want something similar to the Beats Powerbeats Pro in terms of fit and sound, then this is the model that you’ll want to gift yourself in the New Year. The BackBeat Fit 3100 is considered by many to be the best cheap wireless earbuds for runners under $60, thanks to its waterproof and sweat-resistant protection, booming bass levels, and extended functionality via BackBeat app. You can personalize the controls for convenience, simplifying tasks like enabling different programs (e.g. Spotify, Google Assistant) or starting a timer with a simple tap.

Battery life is nothing special, at 5 hours. However, the accompanying charging case increases it to 15 hours total and has enough interior space to stash several small EDC items such as cash, credit cards, and gym membership key fobs.

Best cheap wireless earbuds: TaoTronics SoundLiberty 95

(Image credit: TaoTronics)

7. TaoTronics SoundLiberty 95

An AirPods lookalike with better sound and battery life

Size: 1.71 x 0.65 x 0.73 inches | Weight: 0.13 ounces | Battery life (rated): 7 hours; 28 hours (with charging case) | Bluetooth range: 50 feet (15 meters) | Special features: aptX codec, auto-pairing, dual cVc 8.0 noise cancelling mic

Taotronics' excellent SoundLiberty 79 has been out of stock for a while, but the SoundLiberty 95 are worthy of inclusion on this list. This set of buds combines solid battery life, great wireless performance and a warmth-filled soundstage; aptX support also gives audio a nice boost when streaming on Android devices. If you ever wondered what the AirPods charging case looked like in black, just take a look at this one because the end result is nearly identical, though Taotronics’ case does feel a little more durable, and holds more battery life (28 hours fully charged). And we can’t stress the 18-month warranty enough, especially knowing the shelf life of most cheap wireless earbuds.

Unfortunately, the thick, bulky stems take away from the appealing all-black design. In addition, a lack of ear tips means the buds will slip out occasionally.

Best cheap wireless earbuds: Soul ST-XX

(Image credit: Soul)

8. Soul ST-XX

A winning balance of form, function and fashion

Size: 0.94 x 0.55 x 0.79 inches | Weight: 0.14 ounces | Battery life (rated): 5 hours; 20 hours (with charging case) | Bluetooth range: 33 feet (10 meters) | Special features: Ambient listening mode, Bluetooth 5.0, weatherproof

An effective blend of form, function, and fashion means the Soul ST-XX snags a spot in our ranking of the best cheap wireless earbuds. Bass is tight to give lows and mids more transparency. IPX5 certification means the buds have weatherproof protection, making them ideal for outdoor activities and excessive sweating. The ST-XX is also available in several bold colors to accessorize with your outfits.

A Transparency Mode was programmed into the buds to let listeners hear their surroundings better, but you’ll want to keep it disabled since it compromises the sound quality. While battery life is rated at 5 hours on a full charge, it’s realistically about 3.5 hours when factoring in calls and high volume. Thankfully, the charging case carries up to 4 charges for around 15 hours of additional playback.

best cheap wireless earbuds: AUKEY EP-T21

(Image credit: Aukey)

9. AUKEY EP-T21

Surprisingly great performance for $30

Size: 4.2 x 3.2 x 1.6 inches | Weight: 0.32 ounces | Battery life (rated): 5 hours, 25 hours (with charging case) | Bluetooth range: 35 feet (10 meters) | Special features: Bluetooth 5.0, one-step reconnection, waterproof

Aukey has become a staple for high-performance portable gadgets at cheap prices, and the EP-T21 is no exception. These all-black danglers offer slightly better sound than the original AirPods, highlighted by clear treble, deep bass, and loud volume to enjoy music and videos on the go. The clean matte design might lead you to believe these are fragile buds, but they’re quite durable, cover in IPX4 coating for water-resistant protection. Wireless performance is another positive, maintaining strong connectivity between mobile devices and pairing instantly when remove from the charging case, which holds 20 hours of playtime.

Consider the buds only come with 5 hours on a single charge, a number that considers below average these days.

We also wish the capacitive touch controls weren’t so finicky; double-tapping to play/pause music often lagged or required me to perform the same gesture again to execute the command.

How to choose the best cheap wireless earbuds for you

PICKING THE BEST HEADPHONES AND EARBUDS STYLES

Want something more premium? Look over Tom’s Guide’s comprehensive guides for the best headphones and earbuds you can buy, per every category, style, and price point.

Obviously, price is a big consideration when looking for the best cheap wireless earbuds. Many cheap models have listed prices of less than $100, but with sales and discounts at online retailers, you can find even lower prices. You should be able to find a decent pair of wireless earbuds for around $50 to $65, some even as low as $29.

Any money you save on your earbuds purchase won't do you much good if you're constantly needing to recharge your audio gear. So pay attention to rated battery life and whether any carrying case comes with the earbuds to provide additional power. You'll also want to see what reviews from both professional testers and people who bought the earbuds have to say about sound quality. That goes for both listening to music via the earbuds as well as fielding phone calls.

How well wireless earbuds fit your ears can vary from person to person. But some models come with additional tips and fins to offer something approaching a customized fit.

How we test wireless earbuds

When rating the best cheap wireless earbuds, we look not only at price but also design, sound quality and battery life. We also consider how easy it is to pair earbuds with a smartphone and what kind of controls are accessible through the device.

In terms of audio, we listen to many sample tracks that span a number of genres, including hip-hop, rock, jazz, classical and R&B, while evaluating volume, clarity and fullness. We also make phone calls to assess both call quality and microphone performance.

During the testing phase, our reviewers wear each pair of headphones for hours at a time throughout the course of a week. Reviewers will make note of battery life and how well it matches the rated battery life provided by earbud makers.

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