The best cheap true wireless earbuds have become great over the past several years. The ones you typically hear about are super expensive. Still, there are some great budget options out there, such as the Creative Outlier Air V2, which offer fantastic battery life, exceptional comfort, and superb sound quality.
Best overall: Creative Outlier Air V2
It’s hard to beat the Outlier Air V2 on battery life. Even compared to the best wireless earbuds, they outperform most of them with up to 12 hours of audio playback per charge at default volume. Add another (almost) two charges in the charging case, and you’ve got over 30 hours of total listening time. The only real downside is that the case doesn’t feature wireless charging.
Creative based the design on the Outlier Gold, which used different ear tips than the original Outlier Air did, and that move pays dividends in both fit and comfort. It also gives you a better seal to trap in more of the bass and preserve as much of the soundstage as possible. The codec support includes aptX and AAC for great compatibility on top of that — another plus for a pair of earbuds that sound so much better than their price implies. However, it’s a shame neither active noise cancelation (ANC) nor Transparency modes are available here.
While Creative did throw in its excellent Super X-Fi technology, it doesn’t work with most content that would benefit from it. For example, you can only apply it to its music and video files stored on your device rather than something you would stream. It also replaced physical buttons on the earbuds with touch controls that are just OK.
It’s also too bad the Outlier Air V2 don’t have a companion app with an equalizer to really put them on a different level. But, as is, they are one of the best budget pairs we’ve heard right out of the box, so that definitely counts for something.
Great audio quality
Awesome bud battery life
Improved onboard control
Touch controls aren’t all great
No ANC or transparency modes
No wireless charging
Creative Outlier Air V2
Creative makes key improvements to the Outlier Air V2, and that’s why they are fantastic for those who want to save money.
Best alternative: Boltune Elite Hybrid Wireless Earbuds
There’s no doubt that the Creative Outlier Air are some of the very best true wireless earbuds you can buy. Still, if you’re looking for something different, the Boltune Elite Hybrid Wireless Earbuds stand out as effective alternatives. They have ANC and more ruggedized protection (IPX7) from sweat and water, and the stem design certainly makes for an aesthetic difference.
It helps that Boltune’s earbuds kick out excellent audio quality with the kind of clarity and deep bass you would hope for in a package at this price. Creative holds an edge in overall sound quality, but these are more than capable of serenading your ears. With a sturdy Bluetooth connection, plus a comfortable fit with four sets of ear tips, Boltune checks off the important boxes.
Rounding out the experience is excellent battery life at up to 9.5 hours of playback, and 33 hours in the case, keeping the audio going for a good amount of time. Those numbers do drop if you continuously keep ANC on, but the resulting numbers are still good.
Long battery life
Decent ANC performance
No wireless charging case
Boltune Elite Hybrid Wireless Earbuds
Best for less
With great sound, long battery life, the Boltune Elite Hybrid Wireless Earbuds give you the full experience at a low price.
Best upgrade: Anker Soundcore Liberty Air 2
The purpose of this article is to highlight true wireless earbuds that sound great, work as intended, and come in at a low price. Our next pick is the Anker Soundcore Liberty Air 2, and if you’re in the market for a higher-end earbud experience that doesn’t have an outrageous price tag, it could be an excellent fit.
Right off the bat, the Liberty Air 2 sound wonderful. The earbuds feature “diamond-inspired drivers” and a “premium TPU diaphragm,” which basically translates to a wide soundstage and deep bass. So no matter what kind of music you’re listening to on the Liberty Air 2, it’ll sound great. We’re especially fond of Anker’s HearID feature, which customizes your listening experience based on your hearing sensitivity.
There are plenty of other features outside of the audio side of things, such as 28-hour battery life, Qi wireless charging, touch controls, and the ability to use either earbud on its own for mono playback. We understand the price tag keeps some buyers at bay. Still, when it comes to getting a premium listening experience, the Soundcore Liberty Air 2 deliver that for a lot less money than other companies out there.
High-quality sound with deep bass
Audio is personalized for your ears
Total battery life of 28 hours
Robust touch controls
Qi wireless charging
Anker Soundcore Liberty Air 2
These push the limits of “cheap,” but the Liberty Air 2 deliver a super high-end experience for less than the competition.
Best for tight budgets: Aukey EP-T21
Aukey, mostly known for its battery packs and charging accessories, is steadily breaking into the world of wireless audio gear. With the EP-T21, Aukey has crafted some of the most affordable true wireless earbuds money can buy.
Design-wise, the Aukey EP-T21 gets the job done. It’s nothing to write home about, but the simple charging case, stem-style earbuds, and matte black paint job are all solid. Pairing is made as easy as can be, and on the side of the earbuds, you’ll find multi-function touch controls for managing all of your audio playback.
What else do you get? Aukey throws in an IPX4 water-resistance rating, the powerful Bluetooth 5.0 wireless standard, and 25 hours of total battery life between the earbuds and charging case. Sure, having to charge the case with a Micro-USB cable is a drag here in 2020, but for the price, there’s not much we can complain about.
Decent, crisp sound
25 hours of total battery life
Charges with Micro-USB
Best for tight budgets
Aukey EP-T21 True Wireless Earbuds
As cheap as it gets
There’s cheap, and then there’s the Aukey EP-T21. These earbuds are insanely affordable and offer a fantastic user experience.
Best underdog: SoundPEATS T2 Hybrid ANC Wireless Earbuds
If you’re reading this and have no idea what SoundPEATS is, don’t fret. It’s a relatively small and obscure company that’s been creating top-notch audio gear since 2010. When it comes to cheap true wireless earbuds, one of the best options comes from SoundPEATS.
Taking a look at the T2 Hybrid ANC Wireless Earbuds, there’s a lot to like off the bat. For starters, these earbuds sound better than their price would indicate, thanks to 12mm drivers that really do turn out good audio playback. Turn on ANC, and performance continues to get better, helping round out a solid package. Comfort is pretty good, though their size isn’t as sleek as others are, so you may find them sticking out a bit more.
Battery life is impressive at up to 10 hours per charge and up to eight hours if you leave on ANC. The case includes an extra two charges, and its size is small enough to take with you just about anywhere. USB-C charging ensures you won’t need a Micro-USB cable anymore. When you run out of juice, plug in for an hour, and you should be good to go.
Good sound quality
Smaller charging case
Solid battery life
Decent ANC and Transparency modes
Not very rugged
SoundPEATS T2 Hybrid ANC Wireless Earbuds
Not your first choice, but worth a good look
You may not know SoundPEATS, but the company makes some of the best cheap true wireless earbuds.
Best battery life: Tribit Flybuds C1
For someone that’s always on the move and needs earbuds that aren’t always running out of juice, the Tribit Flybuds C1 are an easy pair to like. Where most wireless earbuds reach a limit, either for the earbuds themselves or what the case can manage, the Flybuds C1 are adept at both. They can play for up to 12 hours per charge, while the case gives you 50 hours total.
It’s not that Tribit has set or broken a record, but it is a combination that keeps audio playing for longer than most, regardless of what they cost. The beauty of this is that the case itself isn’t huge, so you get longevity without the extra bulk to go with all that juice. Part of what enables the Flybuds C1 to hit these numbers is that they don’t have ANC or ambient modes. Unfortunately, they don’t have a dedicated app to customize the sound, either.
Despite that, they do sound good on their own, and other elements, like call quality, comfort, and durability, hold up well to round out a good overall performance for a pair of budget buds.
Good audio quality
Outstanding battery life
Comfy fit with extra tips
Decent call quality
No ANC or ambient modes
Can get a little loose
No wireless charging
No dedicated app
Best battery life
Tribit Flybuds C1
Keep going, and going, and going
For earbuds that can last an insanely long time in between charges, the Duet 50 Pro’s 130 hours of usage time is the tops.
Best comfort: EarFun Air Pro
If the images don’t do them justice, you can wear the EarFun Air Pro and feel that they’re as comfortable a pair as you’ll find out in the market. That’s not always the case with earbuds that only offer three ear tip sizes, but even so, odds are good you’ll find one of those three suits your ears just fine.
Granted, EarFun is hardly the only brand with comfy earbuds, but the Air Pro are a nice combination of form, function, and feature set. Not only are they great for longer listening sessions, but they also produce quality sound for the price. With ANC and ambient modes available, they’re ready to either block outside noises or let them in to help you hear surroundings. These modes aren’t going to be on par with more expensive earbuds, but the results are easy to appreciate for what you pay.
That also matters for phone calls. The greater comfort means you can keep these on to take any calls. And when you do, you’ll find the 6-mic array does a good job keeping voices clear and audible throughout. Battery life is up to seven hours with ANC turned on. Keep it off, and that goes up to nine hours. The case gives you at least another two charges (and a little extra), but no wireless charging, sadly.
Good audio for the price
Good ANC and ambient modes
Decent battery life
Excellent call quality
No wireless charging
No sore ears here
Planning to use your earbuds for hours on end? Make sure your ears stay nice and comfy with the EarFun Free!
Best workout buds: Mpow M30
When looking for workout earbuds, one of the most important things to look for is how water-resistant they are. Fortunately, the Mpow M30 are IPX8 rated, which means you’ll be able to do intense workouts without worrying about them getting damaged. Just don’t swim with them, as they’re not rated for full submersion.
In terms of comfort, the Mpow M30 are just as excellent. They use a tip and wing mechanism to help with stability, comfort, and fit. You’ll get multiple tip and wing sizes in the box, which helps tremendously with finding the right combination that works for you.
Add that together with bass-heavy audio, USB-C charging, and an excellent price, and the Mpow M30 stand out as an easy recommendation. Battery life isn’t the absolute best we’ve ever seen — five hours with the buds and an extra 20 hours with the case — but it should still be plenty for getting through a long run or workout session.
Secure and comfortable fit
Punchy audio with deep bass
Charges with USB-C
Super low price
OK battery life
Not rated for swimming
Best workout buds
Mpow M30 M30 True Wireless Earbuds
Flex those buds
Comfort and water-resistance are super important for workout earbuds, and the Mpow M30 perfectly fit the bill.
Best hook design: JLab Audio Epic Air Sport ANC
JLab Audio made the Epic Air Sport ANC rugged enough to handle regular workouts and runs, thanks to the IP66 rating. They’re just not meant for exposure to water, so keep them as dry as possible. The ear hooks are flexible enough to feel comfortable on just about any pair of ears, and with six pairs of ear tips in the box, you’re bound to find something that works.
Getting that passive noise isolation only benefits the onboard ANC to block out the background when you want to hear little else than your music, podcast, or audiobook. The Be Aware mode is JLab’s ambient setting when you want to pipe in some of the background to stay aware of your surroundings, especially when out for a run or talking to someone.
The sound comes off as balanced, with an extra boost for the bass, though you can change that in JLab’s Air ANC app, where you can adjust ANC controls and sound through the included equalizer. JLab claims up to 15 hours of battery life per charge, albeit with ANC off. Keep it on, and the number is still an excellent 10 hours per charge. And when you need to charge, you can use the cable built into the case or set it down on a Qi charger for wireless charging.
Solid audio quality
IP66 sweat resistance
Various ear tips and sizes
Excellent app support
Long battery life for workouts
ANC and ambient modes
Don’t swim with them
Bulkier design may not be for everyone
Best hook design
JLab Audio Epic Air Sport ANC Headphones
Gonna make you sweat
JLab prioritizes sweat resistance, comfort, customizable sound, and battery life with the Epic Air Sport ANC.
Best sound quality: 1More Stylish True Wireless
The 1More Stylish True Wireless are perfect for the person looking for superb sound quality without breaking the bank. It’s not neutral, and there’s a noticeable bump in the entire bass region, but it’s not enough to drown out the mids and treble. Bass lovers will love these, but those who are a fan of a fun, slightly off-balanced sound will love them as well. However, the most impressive part about the sound signature is the soundstage. While it won’t beat some of the more expensive true wireless earbuds, the Stylish True Wireless holds its ground. The soundstage is wide and spacious, making it very easy to pick out individual instruments and vocals.
In terms of battery life, the Stylish True Wireless perform exceptionally well with up to 6.5 hours on a single charge. The included charging case nets you an additional 17.5 hours of battery life, totaling up to 24 hours of audio playback with the bud and case. The case itself is relatively small and compact. You likely won’t have any issues with it fitting in your pocket or purse. Unfortunately, it still uses Micro-USB for charging and doesn’t feature wireless charging at all.
Comfort is excellent too. They are super light and easy to get in and out of your ear. The earbud stays in your ear without issue. You’re unlikely to feel any discomfort or fatigue, even after long periods. You get multiple ear tip sizes in the box, which will help with fit.
Long battery life
Superb sound with wide soundstage
Micro-USB for charging
No wireless charging case
Pricier than other options on this list
Best sound quality
1More Stylish True Wireless Earbuds
The 1More Stylish feature great sound, long battery life, and excellent comfort for a great price.
Best noise-canceling: Mpow X3
Noise cancellation is a great feature offered by some headphones, but it’s something we don’t often see with true wireless earbuds — let alone ones that are considered cheap. That’s why the Mpow X3 are so interesting.
The Mpow X3 come with fully-fledged active noise cancellation, allowing you to block out 28dB worth of background noise. Of course, it’s not as effective as expensive over-ear headphones, but for minimizing the noise of a dishwasher, vacuum, or air conditioner, the X3 work great. You’re also treated to excellent sound quality, with the 10mm drivers giving you a nice and balanced listening profile with crisp clarity.
Rounding out the experience are a few other goodies — namely, 27 hours of total battery life, USB-C charging, and Bluetooth 5.0 for a stable wireless connection. Mpow’s plastic charging case isn’t the best we’ve ever encountered, but it gets the job done.
Comfortable in-ear fit
Active noise cancellation
27 hours of total playback time
USB-C for charging
Plastic case feels cheap
Mpow X3 ANC Bluetooth Earphones
Focus on what matters — your music
Noise cancelation isn’t something we usually see in cheap wireless earbuds, making the Mpow X3 very cool.
Best bass: TOZO T6
Bass lovers rejoice! The TOZO T6 is the earbud you want if you’re looking for a ton of bass. The bass is obviously boosted quite a bit, giving the overall sound a warmer tone with a ton of thump and rumble, but not enough for the bass to be considered muddy or distorted. The midrange and treble are neutral and flat. They’ll take a backseat to the bass, but the presence is still there. The dynamic range is excellent; however, the soundstage is a bit weak, thanks to the overpowering bass.
Battery life is also quite strong, with the T6 lasting up to six hours for continuous use and the charging case providing another 24 hours of battery life — a total package of 30 hours! The Micro-USB charging port isn’t ideal, but you can ignore it and use Qi wireless charging instead.
In terms of comfort, the T6 perform exceptionally well. The buds are super lightweight and don’t shove too far down your ears. They come with multiple ear tip sizes in the box, which should help with fit, and the ear tips are super soft and sit comfortably in your ear. As a result, it’s unlikely you’ll experience any discomfort or fatiguing with the earbud, even over several hours of listening.
Excellent, bass-heavy sound
IPX8 water resistance
Wireless charging capable!
Micro-USB for charging
AirPods ripoff design
TOZO T6 True Wireless Earbuds
Tons of bass
The TOZO T6 feature a wireless charging case, excellent bass-heavy sound, and superb comfort.
As we mentioned at the top, the best wireless earbuds have gotten much better over the past few years, with a resulting drop in prices to go with that. The Creative Outlier Air V2 are a great example of that, proving themselves to be awesome true wireless earbuds at an incredibly low price.
The Outlier Air V2 offer up to 12 hours of battery life on the earbuds alone, which is impressive on its own. Most true wireless earbuds end up with around 5 to 7 hours of battery life per charge — even high-end ones. To take it a step further, the Outlier Air V2 case can charge up the earbud another two times, netting you over 30 hours of audio playback. Pretty good times when you get great sound and superb comfort for those long listening sessions.
Credits — The team that worked on this guide
Peter Cao spends more time than he’s willing to admit listening and analyzing music, headphones, or earbuds. When not on the clock, he’s probably still doing the same, playing basketball, or playing video games.
Ted Kritsonis loves taking photos when the opportunity arises, be it on a camera or smartphone. Beyond sports and world history, you can find him tinkering with gadgets or enjoying a cigar.