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The best cheap wireless earbuds in 2022

Best cheap wireless earbuds hero image showing the 1More PistonBuds Pro earbuds being held in hand over a ball pit
(Image credit: Alex Bracetti/Future)

In these financially challenging times, shopping for the best cheap wireless earbuds that balance great performance and price is the most important criteria. 

However, given the prices of some of these models is less than $50, it shouldn't be too hard to understand that compromises may have been made to keep the costs low and that some of these may have an influence on sound quality. Just because these models are cheap, though, it doesn't mean that they skimp on features. In some cases you may get models with active noise cancelling (ANC), but you don’t always need extra features to become one of the best cheap wireless earbuds around. 

We literally test hundreds of earbuds a year. We have 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. 

If you're undecided about what headphone style is right for you, then take a look at our guide to the best cheap headphones overall, which includes over-ear models. Or if you've decided that you definitely want active noise cancelling then you need to take a look at the best noise-cancelling headphones to get a complete picture of the all the top-rated ANC models we've tested.

Top 3 best cheap wireless earbuds

Best value with ANC: 1More PistonBuds Pro
At $69, these are the best value wireless earbuds with ANC. Even better news for buyers is that they're discounted to $59 on the 1More website (opens in new tab) as well as through online retailer Newegg (opens in new tab). ANC is effective at the price, and the 'buds are a win for consumers looking for great performance in a stylish and affordable package.

Best overall performance: Jabra Elite 65t
These may have been around for a while but the Jabra Elite 65t continue to be great value wireless earbuds. As one of our favorite models for performance and features at the price, know that your money will get you excellent call quality, superb audio performance, and respectable battery life a remarkably elegant design.

Best value basic earbuds: OnePlus Nord Buds
At $39, the Nord Buds are too good to pass up, especially for OnePlus conformists and commuters who desire quality true wireless performance for less. Sound is dynamic and bass heavy at times, but the EQ customization helps balance things out. The controls work without a hitch and Fast Charging is a bonus.

Back to school best cheap wireless earbuds for students

Summer will be over before you know it so it’s time to start thinking about back to school sales. The best cheap wireless earbuds for students are always in high demand in the run up to schools returning, so it pays to start shopping as early as possible. Whether you’re heading off to college or going back to school, you’ll want the best-sounding earbuds suitable for both online tutorials and podcasts as well as for listening to music. Right now many of our favorite picks are currently on sale making now the ideal time to buy one of the best cheap wireless earbuds. Be sure to follow our back to school guide for all of your shopping needs this season.

What are the best cheap wireless earbuds right now?

The 1More PistonBuds Pro wireless earbuds resting on a pillowbest value awards badge

(Image credit: Alex Bracetti/Future)
Entry-level ANC earbuds that surpass expectations at the price

Specifications

Size: 0.6 x 0.7 x 0.8 inches (per bud)
Weight: 0.15 ounces (per bud)
Battery life (rated): Up to 7.5 hours; 30 hours (charging case)
Bluetooth range: 60 feet
ANC: Yes

Reasons to buy

+
Great ANC for the price
+
Energetic sound
+
Sleek, compact design
+
Responsive touch controls

Reasons to avoid

-
Bass heavy on some tracks-
-
Sub-standard battery life
-
Weak call quality

The PistonBuds Pro are a win for budget-conscious consumers who desire outstanding ANC and sound in a stylish, affordable package. Are they going to replace your AirPods Pro? No, but they are easily one of the best AirPods alternatives that can be had for a third of the price. 

Okay, battery life isn’t anything to write home about, nor is call quality. But these shortcomings are forgivable when factoring in the audio and noise cancellation these buds deliver, and are enough to satisfy (especially at the $69 price) and give the Piston Buds Pro mass appeal. 

Read our full 1More PistonBuds Pro review.

The Editor's Choice Jabra Elite 65t

(Image credit: Future)
The best cheap wireless earbuds overall

Specifications

Size: 0.3 x 1.2 x 0.9 inches
Weight: 0.2 ounces
Battery life (rated): 5 hours; 15 hours (with charging case)
Bluetooth range: 33 feet (10 meters)
ANC: No

Reasons to buy

+
Great call quality
+
Stylish and durable
+
Companion app with sound customization

Reasons to avoid

-
Controls are a bit fiddly

The Jabra Elite 65t continues to claim the title of the best cheap wireless earbuds, and remains one of the best earbuds ever created. 

Superior call quality, dynamic sound that can be customized via the companion app, and a discrete, sleek design are hallmarks that speak for themselves. Battery life won’t wow you, but the fact that it offers as much as the regular AirPods should be sufficient for most users. Having a compact charging case that holds two extra charges is also a boon for travel. The three color options — titanium black, copper black, and gold beige — are all enticing as well. 

Read our full Jabra Elite 65t review.

The OnePlus Nord Buds resting on plaid fabricTop Pick

(Image credit: Alex Bracetti/Future)
Value buds that deliver big on sound

Specifications

Size: 1.9 x 0.8 x 0.92 inches (per bud)
Weight: 0.17 ounces (earbuds)
Battery life (rated): 7 hours; 30 hours (charging case)
Bluetooth range: Not specified
ANC: No

Reasons to buy

+
Rich, customizable sound
+
Useful battery life with powerful quick charging
+
Dependable call quality and connectivity
+
Reliable touch controls

Reasons to avoid

-
Poor wind noise reduction on calls
-
Bass heavy on some music tracks

At $39, the Nord Buds are too good to pass up, especially for OnePlus conformists and commuters who desire quality true wireless performance for less. These buds have a 4-mic array with AI noise reduction, 12.4mm titanium drivers, mobile app compatibility with personalization tools, and proprietary Flash Charge technology. OnePlus mobile users may receive special software perks, but the solid controls, strong audio performance, and sufficient battery life remain consistent across all platforms. 

Sound is dynamic and bass heavy at times, but the ability to customize frequencies helps balance things out. The controls work without a hitch, comfort is pleasant, and Fast Charging is clutch for recharging in short time spans. The noise reduction on calls could be better, but the Nord Buds pros outweigh any cons to make it a must-own for budget-conscious earbud users everywhere.

Read our full OnePlus Nord Buds review. 

The JLab Go Air Pop held in hand

(Image credit: Regan Coule/Future)
The best wireless earbuds under $20

Specifications

Size: 0.9 x 1 x 0.9 inches
Weight: 0.1 ounces (per bud)
Battery life (rated): 8 hours; 32 hours (with charging case)
Bluetooth range: 30 feet (9 meters)
ANC: No

Reasons to buy

+
Satisfactory sound at price 
+
IPX4-rated water resistance
+
Respectable battery life
+
Custom EQ settings

Reasons to avoid

-
Poor call quality
-
Unreliable controls

The Go Air Pop are a pretty similar set of cheap wireless earbuds to the JBuds Air, with water resistance, a choice of EQ settings and even a case with a built-in charging cable. Except the Go Air Pop are even cheaper, launching with a nigh-unbelievable MSRP of $20. When we tested the cheapest headphones on Amazon, even the no-name brands didn't produce true wireless models that were this affordable.

Even so, this is much better than bargain bin fare. While you can tweak the EQ, the default sound has plenty of bass, and the lightweight design actually avoids some of the comfort issues we had with the JBuds Air. Battery life is good too: expect about 7 hours of normal use per charge.

Read our full JLab Go Air Pop review. 

The EarFun Air connected to a smartphone

(Image credit: EarFun)
A winning balance of form, function and fashion

Specifications

Size: 2.1 inches x 2 inches x 1.3 inches (charging case)
Weight: 1.8 ounces (charging case)
Battery life (rated): 7 hours, 35 hours (with charging case)
Bluetooth range: 50 feet (15 meters)
ANC: No

Reasons to buy

+
Good sound quality
+
Wireless charging
+
Noise-cancelling mics

Reasons to avoid

-
Fit may not be right for all
-
Fiddly touch controls

Another pair of wireless earbuds that have received a notable price drop, the EarFun Air might look like some of the better fake AirPods out there, but they offer much more performance. Music sounds top-notch with the sound signature having powerful bass that lays a strong foundation for clear vocals and instruments to shine. Bluetooth 5.0 ensures that your connection with devices remains stable within a 50-foot radius. IPX7 certification and Sweatshield technology also protect the buds from sweat and can handle submersion in three feet of water for up to 30 minutes. Wireless charging comes part of the package as well.

The controls can act up at times and the fit can be a bit fussy with some ear shapes, but don’t let these shortcomings put you off as the EarFun Air earbuds really are worth a closer look. 

Read our full EarFun Air review.

The Anker Soundcore Liberty Air 2 outside of their charging case

(Image credit: Future)
An AirPods clone with more functionality

Specifications

Size: 2 x 2.2 x 1 inches
Weight: Not specified
Battery life (rated): 7 hours; 28 hours (with charging case)
Bluetooth range: 35 feet (12 meters)
ANC: No

Reasons to buy

+
Big bass sound
+
Adaptive listening features
+
Wireless charging
+
Good call quality

Reasons to avoid

-
Fiddly touch controls

The Anker Liberty Air 2 earbuds share a similar eye-catching design to the AirPods, and are an enticing and affordable alternative. Anker's four-mic system does a solid job with noise reduction and voice recognition and makes them a great buy for use on calls. Bass has more boom than the AirPods, which is something hip-hop and rock fans will appreciate, while the companion app also lets you tweak the sound profile to suit your preference. It’s pretty cool to see Anker include wireless charging as well.

Design-wise, the Liberty Air 2 definitely feels more premium than Apple’s buds, and the bundled tips provide a satisfyingly secure fit; the more expensive AirPods Pro comes with tips (regular AirPods don’t). Our only complaints here are that the charging case feels flimsy and the touch controls could be more responsive.

The Skullcandy Dime displayed on a brick floor

(Image credit: Regan Coule/Future)
Another top set of cheap wireless earbuds below $30

Specifications

Size: 1 x 1 x 0.4 inches
Weight: Not stated
Battery life (rated): 3.5 hours; 12 hours (with charging case)
Bluetooth range: 30 feet (9 meters)
ANC: No

Reasons to buy

+
Superb sound for the price
+
Water resistance
+
Compact charging case
+
Secure fit

Reasons to avoid

-
No app
-
Impractical controls
-
Battery life was shorter than stated in our tests

Cheap even by the standards of this list, the Skullcandy Dime wields far better sound quality than even the most optimistic bargain-hunter might expect. Combine that with IPX4-rated water resistance, the same as what you get on the premium AirPods Pro, and the Dime is an instant low-cost champion.

Granted, there are still some imperfections, like the fiddly touch controls and the short battery life: expect only about 3 hours of playtime per charge. But if you want the biggest sonic bang from the smallest pile of bucks, look no further.

Read our full Skullcandy Dime review.

The Plantronics BackBeat Fit 3100 in their charging case

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)
Best for runners

Specifications

Size: 4.4 x 6.4 x 1.8 inches
Weight: 0.8 ounces
Battery life (rated): 5 hours; 15 hours (with charging case)
Bluetooth range: 33 feet (10 meters)
ANC: No

Reasons to buy

+
Secure fit
+
Big sound
+
Waterproof and sweat-resistant

Reasons to avoid

-
Styling may not be for everyone

If you want something similar to the Beats Powerbeats Pro in terms of fit and sound, then the BackBeat Fit 3100 is the model to go for. Considered by many to be the best cheap wireless earbuds for runners, they have good 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 everyday items such as cash, credit cards, and gym membership key fobs.

Read our full Plantronics BackBeat Fit 3100 review.

The Skullcandy Grind Fuel in its charging case

(Image credit: Regan Coule/Future)
Best with homegrown AI

Specifications

Size: 0.98 x 0.94 x 0.94 inches
Weight: 0.35 ounces
Battery life (rated): 9 hours; 40 hours (with charging case)
Bluetooth range: 35 feet (10 meters)
ANC: No

Reasons to buy

+
Wide, customizable sound
+
Companion app with awesome features
+
Impressive voice controls
+
Long battery life

Reasons to avoid

-
Weak connectivity
-
Google Assistant is buggy

The Skullcandy Grind Fuel is the brand’s introduction to truly smart wireless earbuds. It broadens intelligibility through the Skull-IQ platform, a technology that lets users go completely hands-free via voice commands triggered by the "Hey Skullcandy” wake words. While we give credit to any brand bold enough to compete with the market's more intuitive AI bots like Alexa, Google Assistant and Siri, Skullcandy is deserving of their respect. Voice commands are recognized and executed accurately, while other unique features tied to Skull-IQ, such as built-in Tile support and voice-activated Spotify Tap, are cool bonuses. Sound quality and battery life are also strong at the price.

Connectivity and Google Assistant support require some polishing, but the Grind Fuel is a promising start for where Skullcandy is headed next.

Read our full Skullcandy Grind Fuel review.

The Anker Soundcore Life P3 rested on a log

(Image credit: Regan Coule/Future)
The best cheap earbuds with active noise cancellation

Specifications

Size: 1.5 x 0.9 x 0.9 inches
Weight: 0.2 ounces
Battery life (rated): 7 hours (ANC off); 35 hours (with charging case and ANC off)
Bluetooth range: 33 feet (10 meters)
ANC: Yes

Reasons to buy

+
Affordable ANC
+
Lots of features
+
Good battery life
+
Water resistance rated at IPX5

Reasons to avoid

-
Unreliable touch controls

The Soundcore Life P3 is one of the more costly pairs of earbuds on this list, but offers full active noise cancellation. Crucially, the ANC actually works reasonably well; there's no sense that it was thrown in with a bunch of cut corners.

In fact, the Soundcore Life P3 is a commendably feature-rich set of buds in general, offering a customizable EQ, Gaming Mode, and even a "Superior Sleep" mode to listen to as you drift off. Battery life is pretty good too, especially if you switch off ANC to maximize efficiency.

Read our full Anker Soundcore Life P3 review.

The Plantronics BackBeat Pro 5100 pictured in front of a waterfall

(Image credit: Future)
Best for versatility

Specifications

Size: 3.5 x 2 x 1 inches
Weight: 0.2 ounces
Battery life (rated): 6.5 hours; 13 hours (with charging case)
Bluetooth range: 33 feet (10 meters)
ANC: No

Reasons to buy

+
Stellar for wireless calls
+
Sleek and sporty design
+
Lots of features via companion app
+
Earbuds can be used independently

Reasons to avoid

-
Finicky controls
-
Slightly muddy bass

Great all-around performance, along with a recent (and generous) markdown, place the BackBeat Pro 5100 among the totally wireless elite. Four noise-cancelling mics help minimize background noise and wind interference to achieve crisp-sounding calls. Despite bass distorting the sound at high volume on certain tracks, Plantronics’ 5.8mm drivers handle audio well, producing clear mids and highs.

Being able to use either earbud individually is a cool feature that frees up the opposite ear to hear your surroundings. On-ear detection to mute/transfer calls and Tile integration also make these an ideal pair for business travelers. Their durability and snug fit would be great for working out, and the companion app includes a lot of useful features. Somewhat finicky pairing and controls are the only downsides that keep the BackBeat Pro 5100 from rising up our list of best cheap wireless earbuds.

How to choose the best cheap wireless earbuds for you

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 easily bag a bargain for even less.

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 the best cheap 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, R&B, and electronic, while assessing volume levels and how easy the earbuds are to drive. Movies, podcasts and video games are also used where necessary. We also make phone calls to assess both call quality and microphone performance. 

Try out our Spotify (opens in new tab) and Tidal playlist (opens in new tab)s for yourself and evaluate the sound quality of your own headphones.

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. 

As with the best wireless headphones, we evaluate earbuds based on our five-point system (1 = worst, 5 = best). If a product hits nearly every mark, it’s awarded an Editor's Choice badge. 

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.

With contributions from