The best Apple AirPods alternatives in 2023

Hero image for best Apple AirPods alternatives showing our reviewer testing the Donner DoBuds One's touch controls
(Image credit: Alex Bracetti/Future)
Buying advice you can trust

We literally test hundreds of earbuds a year. This gives us heaps of knowledge about the market, and huge experience in assessing sound quality and weighing up the most important features for buyers, so you can rest assured that the models covered in this list deliver on sound quality despite their affordable price tag.

For more information, check out our how we test page for Tom's Guide 

The best Apple AirPods alternatives all deliver high-quality sound and come with extensive features, yet often cost a good deal less. 

With Apple's AirPods family built around the company's iOS platform, some AirPods features can be locked out to Android users. Our best alternative AirPods are Android-friendly so you get a full set of feature options for your device without compromise.    

Read on to find out our pick of the best Apple AirPods alternatives available to buy right now.

The best Apple AirPods alternatives you can buy right now

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Cambridge Audio Melomania 1 Plus held in hand

(Image credit: Regan Coule/Future)
The best Apple AirPods alternative overall

Specifications

Size: 1.1 x 0.6 x 0.6 inches
Weight: 0.2 ounces (per bud)
Battery life (rated): Up to 9 hours; 45 hours (with charging case)
Bluetooth range: 30 feet
ANC: No

Reasons to buy

+
Excellent sound
+
Long battery life
+
Elegant, splash-proof design

Reasons to avoid

-
No ANC
-
Mediocre voice call quality

Discounted to $59 on Amazon (opens in new tab) (at the time of updating), Cambridge Audio's Melomania 1 Plus wireless earbuds handily beat the AirPods on both sound quality and battery life performance. When it comes to sound quality, it helps that Cambridge Audio has included a High Performance mode that engages a miniaturized version of the high-grade amplification used by the company in its CX series of stereo amplifiers. But even in Low Power mode to save battery life, the Melomania 1 Plus sound great. The earbuds are water resistant too rated at IPX5.

Read our full Cambridge Audio Melomania 1 Plus review.

The Sony WF-1000XM4 wireless earbuds and charging case

(Image credit: Regan Coule/Future)
A longer-lasting AirPods Pro alternative

Specifications

Size: 1 x 0.8 x 0.8 inches
Weight: 0.2 ounces (per bud)
Battery life (rated): Up to 12 hours; 35 hours (with charging case)
Bluetooth range: 30 feet
ANC: Yes

Reasons to buy

+
Balanced sound
+
Excellent ANC effectiveness
+
Improved battery life

Reasons to avoid

-
Fit may not be secure for all 
-
Expensive

At the time of writing, the Sony WF-1000XM4 can be found discounted to $248 on Amazon. It typically costs $280, (a fraction more than the AirPods Pro), which doesn't usually bode well for an AirPods alternative. But sometimes it's worth paying a bit extra to get more, and Sony certainly hasn't held back on its XM series formula when it comes to packing in the features.

As a result, sound quality and ANC effectiveness are among the best in their class — on par with or better than the AirPods Pro — while the IPX4 rating makes these Sony earbuds just as durable as Apple's premier model. Battery life is a clear win for the WF-1000XM4, with 7 to 8 hours of playback in noise cancellation mode available from every charge.

Read our full Sony WF-1000XM4 review.

The OnePlus Buds Pro displayed in a pool of pebbles

(Image credit: Regan Coule/Future)
A stylish and great sounding AirPods alternative

Specifications

Size: 1.25 x 0.9 inches (per bud)
Weight: 0.15 ounces (per bud)
Battery life (rated): Up to 7 hours; 38 hours (with charging case)
Bluetooth range: 40 feet
ANC: Yes

Reasons to buy

+
Rich, well-balanced sound
+
Powerful ANC
+
Handsome, luxe design
+
Powerful charging technology

Reasons to avoid

-
Poor ANC playtime
-
Some features are unreleased or exclusive to OnePlus devices

The OnePlus Buds Pro are a super-stylish pair of buds that looks great, are comfortable to wear, and that comes with a premium charging case that enables incredibly quick Warp Charging to give up to 10 hours of playback from a 10 minute charge.

It sounds great, too, handling a variety of sources and styles with aplomb and offering a multitude of modes to tweak your listening profile. But the real standout feature is its active noise cancellation performance, which doesn't quite top the best noise-cancelling headphones, but beats the AirPods Pro in this regard. Extra treats for OnePlus users include a gaming mode and fast pairing, and if you have a OnePlus phone then this is a fine choice to consider.

Read our full OnePlus Buds Pro review.

The Beats Fit Pro propped atop its charging case

(Image credit: Regan Coule/Future)
The best sporty AirPods alternative

Specifications

Size: 0.75 x 1.18 x 0.94 inches
Weight: 0.2 ounces (per bud)
Battery life (rated): Up to 7 hours; 30 hours (with charging case)
Bluetooth range: 40 feet
ANC: Yes

Reasons to buy

+
Dynamic soundstage
+
Strong ANC and Transparency modes
+
AirPods Pro features for a lower price
+
Comfy, secure design

Reasons to avoid

-
Android app offers very few extras
-
Eartip Fit Test could be better

The Beats Fit Pro surpass the standard AirPods in numerous ways, and they're not too far off from the AirPods Pro when comparing performance. For instance, both Pro versions boast the H1 chip, which grants access to a plethora of iOS-related features like automatic switching, audio sharing, “Hey Siri” voice activation, and FindMy to locate misplaced buds. Active noise cancellation and Transparency mode perform exceptionally well on these two models. Spatial Audio with head tracking has also made its way onto Beats’ sporty buds, bringing immersive 3D sound to a Beats product for the first time.

We can also confirm that the Fit Pro’s wingtip design gives it better in-ear support than the AirPods Pro. On the flip side, Apple’s flagship buds have the more accurate Eartip Fit Test, plus they come with other proprietary technologies like Adaptive EQ that automatically adjust frequencies in real-time when listening to music.

Read our full Beats Fit Pro review.

Galaxy Buds 2 Pro in charging case, in purple with packing box and Samsung tablet in background

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)
Samsung's best ANC earbuds so far

Specifications

Size: 0.7 x 0.85 x 0.7 inches (per bud); 1.97 x 1.97 x 1.1 inches (charging case)
Weight: 0.19 (per bud); 1.53 ounces (charging case)
Battery life (rated): 5 hours (ANC on); 8 hours (ANC off); 18 hours (charging case with ANC on); 29 hours (charging case with ANC off)
Bluetooth range: 70 feet
ANC: Yes

Reasons to buy

+
Wide soundstage
+
Effective ANC
+
Compact and practical design
+
Easy to use features
+
Excellent connectivity

Reasons to avoid

-
Disappointing battery life
-
Bixby needs some work
-
Most coveted features are exclusive to Galaxy devices

Samsung’s ANC holds its own against the category best and blocks out close to 90% of ambient noise. The updated design also provides improved comfort and noise isolation. Each earbud houses three mics to block out external sounds at the highest level and soften wind presence, which the mic array does extremely well in combination with the wind shield. 

It’s disappointing to see Samsung’s noise-cancelling models provide short ANC playtime. Sound alone makes the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro worth the investment, though, giving you a high quality audio experience and compelling 3D sound with precise head tracking. The Galaxy Buds 2 Pro are a stellar option to consider and have excellent mic quality for calls too. 

Read our full Samsung Buds 2 Pro review.  

The Google Pixel Buds Pro charging case being held in hand

(Image credit: Alex Bracetti/Future)
Google's first ANC buds come with best-ever Google Assistant control

Specifications

Size: 0.88 x 0.87 x 0.93 inches
Weight: 0.22 ounces
Battery life (rated): 7 hours (ANC on), 11 hours (ANC off), 20 hours (charging case with ANC on), 31 hours (charging case with ANC off)
Bluetooth range: 70 feet
Codec support: SBC, AAC

Reasons to buy

+
Powerful noise cancellation
+
Full, dynamic sound
+
Reliable controls
+
Greater ANC playtime than AirPods Pro
+
Superb Google Assistant integration

Reasons to avoid

-
Fit feels loose
-
No USB-C charging cable supplied
-
Price seems high compared to more feature-laden rivals
-
No third-party digital assistant support

The Google Pixel Buds Pro are a great AirPods alternative for Android users with multiple devices looking for the very best Google Assistant experience. They have powerful sound with a usefully wide frequency range, and good ANC performance that doesn’t affect quality or the level of enjoyment. Google has increased battery life on the Pixel Buds Pro, offering up to 7 hours with ANC on and 11 hours with ANC off. Realistically, these playtimes drop by 1 to 1.5 hours when factoring in listening at high volumes, and using Google features.

Our only grumbles concern the potential of a loose and unsecure fit for some ears, and there's no third-party digital assistant support. Despite this, their versatile functionality makes them a very exciting earbud option with a full Google experience like no other.

Read our full Google Pixel Buds Pro review.   

Google Pixel Buds A-Series on their case

(Image credit: Future/Ian Morris)
A great AirPods Pro alternative for Android enthusiasts

Specifications

Size: 0.8 x 1.2 x 0.7 inches
Weight: 1.87 ounces (case and bud)
Battery life (rated): 5 hours; 24 hours (charging case)
Bluetooth range: 40 feet
ANC: No

Reasons to buy

+
Nice materials and build
+
Simple to use touch controls
+
Capable Google assistant

Reasons to avoid

-
Sound quality is a mixed bag
-
The app has some bugs, currently

Some of us prefer Google Assistant as our native digital assistant versus Siri. If you happen to fall into this category and want wireless earbuds that are tied to Google’s expansive ecosystem, it doesn’t get any better than the Pixel Buds A-Series. This sub-$100 option is one of the more attractive models in the category and matches the AirPods’ intelligibility with excellent Google Assistant integration. Speaking the “hey Google” wake-word phrase instantly activates the feature to fire off verbal inquiries, which the AI bot interprets accurately and responds to quickly. Cool features like Google Translate to translate foreign languages come in handy when traveling, and Fast Pair will automatically connect the buds to your Android devices. 

Sound quality isn't top even at the price, and be mindful that the app can be buggy at times too.

Read our full Google Pixel Buds A-Series.

The Beats Studio Buds charging in their case

(Image credit: Future)
The best Apple AirPods alternative that Apple makes

Specifications

Size: 0.9 x 0.8 x 0.6 inches
Weight: 0.2 ounces (per bud)
Battery life (rated): Up to 8 hours; 24 hours (with charging case)
Bluetooth range: 30 feet
ANC: Yes

Reasons to buy

+
Makes ANC affordable
+
Compact design
+
Water/sweat resistant

Reasons to avoid

-
Call quality could be better
-
No wireless charging

There's plenty about these Beats Studio Buds that could make you think that Apple, which owns Beats, had nothing to do with the design of these buds. For example, they play nicely with Android as well as iOS, and despite having full ANC, they're pretty cheap — in fact they undercuts the standard AirPods on MSRP terms, let alone the noise-cancelling AirPods Pro.

Still, who's complaining? With good features and high-quality sound, the Studio Buds are a pleasant surprise all round. And while they're a fitting AirPods alternative, they could still be a low-cost option for iOS fans: like the AirPods, they pair quickly with Apple devices, and automatically enable spatial audio playback in Apple Music.

Read our full Beats Studio Buds review.

The Beats Powerbeats Pro outside of their charging case

(Image credit: Regan Coule/Tom's Guide)
The best AirPods alternative for fitness and workouts

Specifications

Size: 4.7 x 1.6 x 5.5 inches
Weight: 0.8 ounces (per bud)
Battery life (rated): 9 hours, 24 hours (with charging case)
Bluetooth range: 50 feet
ANC: No

Reasons to buy

+
Lengthy battery life
+
Versatile sound
+
Water-resistant design

Reasons to avoid

-
Bulky charging case
-
No companion app

Compared to the Beats Studio Buds, the Powerbeats Pro have more in common with the AirPods than the rest of this list. In particular, they share the same fast pairing feature that lets you instantly connect to and switch between iOS and Mac devices.

This means they also share the limitation of only fulfilling their potential when paired with specific sources, though as a pair of dedicated sports headphones the Powerbeats Pro still have something to offer anyone wanting an AirPods alternative. The added water resistance and secure ear loops also make these an excellent choice for running and strenuous gym routines, so check them out if you regularly exercise.

Read our full Beats Powerbeats Pro review.

The Donner DoBuds One wireless earbuds in reviewer's hand.

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)
Effective ANC and great sound in an AirPods-like design

Specifications

Size: 0.9 x 1.247 x 0.88 inches (per bud)
Weight: 0.16 ounces (per bud)
Battery life (rated): 6.5 hours (ANC on); 8 hours (ANC off); 26 hours (charging case with ANC on); 32 hours (charging case with ANC off)
Bluetooth range: 40 feet
ANC: Yes

Reasons to buy

+
Balanced sound
+
Effective ANC
+
Better than AirPods battery life
+
Sweat and water resistant

Reasons to avoid

-
Poor comfort levels
-
EQ presets are poorly engineered
-
Unreliable connectivity with Control app

The Donner DoBuds One are one of the most affordable ANC models we've seen and a fantastic fake AirPods-style design and one of the most competitive cheap noise-cancelling earbuds market.

Any noise-cancelling earbuds that come with more playtime than the AirPods Pro (4.5 to 5 hours) are a win in our book, and the DoBuds One give up to 6.5 hours of play with ANC on, and 8 hours with ANC off. They undercut several mid-range models by delivering superb sound and surprisingly good ANC in an affordable package. Not everything hits its mark, such as app connectivity, comfort, and the EQ, but you’re still getting an incredible deal for the price.

Read our full Donner DoBuds One review. 

Anker Soundcore Liberty Air 2 Pro being worn by reviewer

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)
A cheaper ANC alternative to the AirPods

Specifications

Size: 1.5 x 0.9 x 0.9 inches
Weight: 0.4 ounces (per bud)
Battery life (rated): Up to 7 hours; 26 hours (with charging case)
Bluetooth range: 30 feet
ANC: Yes

Reasons to buy

+
Effective ANC
+
Aggressively priced
+
Personalized sound

Reasons to avoid

-
Unattractive design
-
Can become uncomfortable after a while

If someone tried remodeling the AirPods Pro for a business audience, the result would probably resemble the Soundcore Liberty Air 2 Pro. But even with the slightly conservative aesthetic, these are a great-value pair of buds.

They deliver ANC for less than the cheapest AirPods, and decently effective ANC at that. Pair them with the Soundcore app and you can also make use of the clever HearID feature, which analyses how you hear different sound frequencies to create a personalized sound profile. In our testing, this improved sound quality considerably.

Read our full Anker Soundcore Liberty Air 2 Pro review.

The OnePlus Buds Z2 in its charging case in front of a green wood background

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)
Better sound and playtimes than the AirPods 2

Specifications

Size: 1.2 x 0.8 x 0.8 inches
Weight: 0.15 ounces (per bud)
Battery life (rated): Up to 7 hours; 38 hours (with charging case)
Bluetooth range: 32 feet
ANC: Yes

Reasons to buy

+
Punchy sound
+
Steady battery life
+
Fast connectivity

Reasons to avoid

-
Slow controls
-
Some features unavailable on most phones

The Buds Z2 are a worthy AirPods 2 alternative that boast stronger battery life and sound quality. You’re getting 5 hours of playtime with ANC on, which extends to 7 hours when turning off the feature, plus Warp Charge technology expedites the charging process by generating 5 hours of listening time in 10 minutes. OnePlus’ 11mm dynamic drivers produce loud and well-rounded sound that can be customized in the HeyMelody app via presets. Those with a newer OnePlus device also gain access to Dolby Atmos support and Pro Gaming mode for lower latency. Compatibility with Google Fast Pair means instantaneous connectivity with all Android devices as well.

Some people may complain about certain features remaining exclusive to the OnePlus platform, but remember, Apple pulls the same stunt with its AirPods models. 

Read our full OnePlus Buds Z2 review.

How to choose the best Apple AirPods alternatives for you

If you’re looking for a pair of AirPods alternatives, it’s probably because you like something about Apple’s buds but are being put off by other factors. Think about what those desirable qualities are — is it sound quality? The design? Features like Spatial Audio?

Design: Once you’ve focused on what exactly it is you want from an AirPods alternative, you can start looking at the options above with more clarity. The Samsung Galaxy Buds, for instance, essentially copy Apple’s spatial audio feature but for Galaxy phones. If it’s simply styling you want, the white model of the Anker Soundcore Liberty Air 2 Pro are a pretty close match.

Battery life: Some qualities are universal across all wireless earbuds, like battery life. Consider how long and how often you’ll want to wear your headphones for; if you’re a regular traveler it can definitely be worth picking a pair with longer battery life, either per charge or in terms of how much the bundled charging case provides.
Wireless earbuds can last about 5 to 10 hours and offer extended playtime with their bundled charging cases — always make sure one is included.

Comfort: All wireless earbuds need to be comfortable as well; all of the pairs on this list are fine to wear for a couple of hours at least, though some cope better with extended use than others. You may also want waterproofing or sweat resistance, which comes in very handy if you’re looking for earbuds to wear while exercising.

Pricing considerations: Obviously, price is a big consideration when looking for the best headphones. Although there are always exceptions, big-name brands will typically command a bit extra, but generally speaking, the less you spend on a pair of headphones the greater the chance that sound and features will be compromised. Going for a budget option isn't always the best choice, as any money you save on your purchase won't do you much good if you're constantly needing to recharge your audio gear, or the sound quality is poor. 

As the saying goes: timing is everything; and right now it's worth waiting for the holiday season sales when many of our favorite models will be discounted at online retailers, meaning you can bag a bargain for even less. Bookmark our Black Friday deals pages to keep track of the best deals. 

How we test Apple AirPods alternatives

As with any set of headphones, we put the best AirPods alternatives through their paces with a variety of tests. To judge sound quality, for example, our reviewers listen to a mix of musical genres. These aren’t brief, isolated tests either, with each reviewer wearing every pair for a few hours to see how comfortable they are over long periods.

Find out what we listen for during our testing process and how to get the best headphone sound for you.

Our extended usage approach also lets us see how close each pair of earbuds stands up to the manufacturer’s battery life claims. Often they fall short, so we’ll also let you know our experiences in each full review.

Similarly, we’ll test voice call quality and any waterproofing claims using real-life conditions and report our experiences.

Once testing is complete, we rate headphones based on our five-point system (1 = worst, 5 = best). If a product is truly exemplary, it's awarded an Editor's Choice.

Contributions from: Alex Bracetti, James Archer, Richard Priday

Find out how we test for more information on our reviewing procedures.

More: We’ve also pulled together the best fake AirPods, but the earbuds here aren’t simply trying to borrow the AirPods’ styling. If you're still undecided about which model is right for you then we've got you covered with our best headphones in any category, and best noise-cancelling earbuds buying guides. 

Additionally, if you're looking for a low-cost option from the Apple stable, then you should consider reading our Beats Studio Buds vs. Apple AirPods face-off to see how they compare.

Next: Forget AirPods — EarPods may still be the right earbuds for you.

Lee Dunkley
Audio Editor

As a former editor of the U.K.'s Hi-Fi Choice magazine, Lee is passionate about all kinds of audio tech and has been providing sound advice to enable consumers to make informed buying decisions since he joined Which? magazine as a product tester in the 1990s. Lee covers all things audio for Tom's Guide, including headphones, wireless speakers and soundbars and loves to connect and share the mindfulness benefits that listening to music in the very best quality can bring.