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The best cheap wireless headphones in 2021

Best cheap wireless headphones
(Image credit: Anker Soundcore)

The best cheap wireless headphones perform the admirable role of combining all the convenience of the overall best wireless headphones with affordable pricing that keeps them accessible to anyone. Some may perform beyond their means straight away, others might be older models that have recently dropped in price.

However they come, these will give you the sound quality you want (and maybe even a few bonus features) with minimal investment. And we’d know, because we’ve tested them all ourselves. Read on to find out which impressed the most, making it onto our best cheap wireless headphones rankings in the process.

What are the best cheap wireless headphones?

Number 1 on our list of the best cheap wireless headphones is the Sennheiser HD 4.40 BT, thanks to its great overall performance. The model grants listeners Sennheiser sound in a clean, comfortable design at a super-cheap price, something the company is not usually known for. We’re very high on its superior bass response and user-friendly controls. 

A close second is the Samsung Galaxy Buds, which remains one of the finest pairs of true wireless earbuds and has dropped from its original launch price repeatedly. The buds feature a roomy soundstage that fills your ears with warm bass and clear-sounding vocals; the AirPods' airy quality doesn’t compare. They also hold a charge longer than any AirPods model. Something else that stood out to us was how well the Galaxy Buds worked on iOS and Android devices.

The best cheap wireless headphones you can buy today

Best cheap wireless headphones: Sennheiser HD 4.40 BT Headphones

(Image credit: Sennheiser)

1. Sennheiser HD 4.40 BT Headphones

Best wireless headphones overall under $100

Size: 7.1 x 3.9 x 10.2 inches | Weight: 7.8 ounces | Battery Life (Rated): 25 hours | Bluetooth range: 33 feet (10 meters) | Digital Assistant Support: Yes

Clear, natural sound
Sophisticated design
Long battery life
Simple controls
Very comfortable
Limited Bluetooth range
Aux cable has no controls

The Sennheiser HD 4.40 BT is an oldie, but great-ie (calling them goodie would be selling them short) pair of headphones that refuses to give up the top spot on our best cheap wireless headphones list. For under $100, you’re getting Sennheiser sound and great functionality, resulting in an exceptional wireless listening experience. These cans send dynamic bass, along with clear-sounding mids and highs, straight to your ears. Battery life is high at 25 hours, which is sufficient for more than a week’s worth of moderate listening (3 to 4 hours daily).

The lack of inline controls on the aux cable does make the accessory seem somewhat impractical, but thankfully, it’s unnecessary since the HD 4.40 BT maintains the same sound quality in wired mode. You certainly get more than your money’s worth with these cheap wireless headphones.

Best cheap wireless headphones: Samsung Galaxy Buds (2019)

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

2. Samsung Galaxy Buds (2019)

Best cheap truly wireless earbuds

Size: 0.9. x 0.8 x 0.7 inches | Weight: 0.2 ounces | Battery Life (Rated): 5 hours, 15 hours (with charging case) | Bluetooth range: 33 feet (10 meters) | Digital Assistant Support: Yes

Sleek, comfortable design
Great battery life
Strong audio
Intuitive companion app
Muffled call quality
Ambient Sound feature doesn’t work well in drafty environments

The Galaxy Buds are cheap for a reason: they've been replaced several times over, most recently by the Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro. Still, these old-timers are still a viable bargain, especially for under $100. Whether you’re an Android or iPhone user, these buds work equally well across both mobile platforms and have a host of features that make them more advanced than the AirPods. In addition to providing near-instant pairing, they also have wireless charging capability – all you need is one of Samsung's S10 phones (or any other recently launched Galaxy smartphone) and you can share power between devices.

The Galaxy Buds deliver great sound in a lightweight, sweatproof casing with up to 6 hours of battery life. An update brings some other great features, such as hands-free access to the Bixby assistant and the ability to tweak equalizer settings with your voice. And a new gesture enables ambient sound mode by holding down the touchpad on the earbud.

See our full Samsung Galxaxy Buds (2019) review.

Best cheap wireless headphones: Urbanista Miami

(Image credit: Future)

3. Urbanista Miami

The best cheap ANC headphones for battery life

Size: 8.1 x 6.6 x 3.5 inches | Weight: 10.9 ounces | Battery life: 40 hours (ANC on); 50 hours (ANC off) | Bluetooth range: 33 feet (10 meters) | Digital Assistant Support: Yes

Outstanding battery life
ANC and transparency modes
High audio quality
Tight fit
Weak wind resistance

The Urbanista Miami is one of the more expensive pairs of headphones in this list, but it’s still both affordable and great value for what you get. The aluminum build excudes quality, and the padded earcups deliver an exciting, upbeat sound signature. There’s plenty of bass, but not to the extent it overpowers the mids and treble.

There’s also some pretty effective active noise-cancelling, which is rare to see on cheap over-headphones, and Urbanista has paired that with a handy transparency mode so that you can hear ambient noise when you need to. The best part of all is battery life: we got over 40 hours of ANC-enabled music playback, just as advertised.

See our full Urbanista Miami review.

best cheap wireless headphones: Jabra Elite 45h

(Image credit: Jabra)

4. Jabra Elite 45h

Superior battery life and wireless performance for the low-low

Size: 8.82 x 7.2 x 1.97 inches | Weight: 6 ounces | Battery Life (Rated): 50 hours | Bluetooth range: 40 feet (12 meters) | Digital Assistant Support: Yes

Best-in-class battery life
Personalized sound via Jabra Sound+ app
Small and sophisticated on-ear design
Excellent connectivity
Lots of leakage

Look at the Jabra Elite 45h as a cheaper and more scale-backed version (e.g. features, size) of the popular Elite 85h headphones, and that’s no knock whatsoever. These sleek-looking cans have the best battery life in the category, generating 50 hours of continuous playtime to enjoy optimized audio performance that can be tweaked in the Jabra Sound+ app. Jabra also programmed the Elite 45h with the most advanced fast-charging technology we’ve seen yet; a 15-minute charge gets you 10 hours of use. That’s crazy!

Jabra’s always done wireless right, so it’s no surprise that Bluetooth 5.0 operates perfectly on the Elite 45h, offering great connectivity between devices and long listening range. The tinier, on-ear design resembles other luxury-inspired models like the Harmon Kardon Soho Wireless, but pack better specs underneath its matte plastic frame. However, with this design, comes a vast amount of sound leakage, something that’s very common with on-ear headphones.

best cheap wireless headphones: Jabra Elite Active 65t

(Image credit: Future)

5. Jabra Elite 65t

Excellent wireless buds for the price

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) | Digital Assistant Support: Yes

Amazing call quality
Stylish and durable
Standard battery life
Companion app with sound customization
Controls aren't convenient

Jabra did a magnificent job packing a hell of a lot of value and functionality into the Elite 65t, which we considered a “true AirPod killer” when launched back in 2018. Now that the model has dropped down to $100, it stands out as one of the best cheap wireless headphones deals available, and for plenty of reasons. You get a pair of wireless buds with a sleek, durable, and comfortable design and up to 5 hours of battery life on a charge, which is right up there with the AirPods II.

Delivering consistently clean detail and warm, lively instrumentals and vocals, the Elite 65t remains one of the best-sounding truly wireless buds on the market, especially when you throw in the free companion app with its customizable equalizer. The controls could have been done better, though this is a flaw you will overlook when taking overall performance into consideration.

See our full Jabra Elite 65t review.

Best cheap wireless headphones: Anker Soundcore Life Q30

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

6. Anker Soundcore Life Q30

Best noise cancelation under $100

Size: 7.8 x 7.09 x 3.07 inches | Weight: 9 ounces | Battery Life (Rated): 40 hours (ANC off), 60 hours (ANC off) | Bluetooth range: 50 feet (15 meters) | Digital Assistant Support: Yes

Impactful bass response
Comfy, secure fit
Personalized sound via companion app
Huge and heavy

The all-new Anker Soundcore Life Q30 is a noteworthy upgrade to the popular Life Q20 that offers great performance at a relatively affordable price point. Nothing tops its battery life, generating up to 40 hours of playtime with ANC on (60 hours with ANC off); this crushes top-selling models like the Bose 700 and Sony WH-1000xM4. Noise cancellation has been improved too, with Anker engineering three different ANC modes specifically to cancel out noises found in different environments. Loud, warm sound comes out of the 40mm drivers and can also be personalized through the Soundcore app by selecting from 22 different presets or manually tweaking the EQ. 

Some of the design changes that Anker implemented are appreciated and give the headphones a luxe appearance. However, the company’s use of more premium materials also adds extra heft to what are already big-sized cans.

Best cheap wireless headphones: JLab JBuds Air

(Image credit: JLAB)

7. JLab JBuds Air

The best cheap wireless earbuds for value

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 (9 meters) | Digital Assistant Support: Yes

Strong bass performance
Affordable price
Water-resistant coating
Charging cable built into charging case
Preset EQs distort audio

No one said you had to pay a premium to own great wireless earbuds. In fact, JLab has built its reputation manufacturing trustworthy cordless buds for cheap. At under $50, you can’t go wrong with the JBuds Air, which features powerful bass response and sturdy aesthetics. The buds are a superlative choice for exercisers who want energetic sound and IP55 durability, as well as budget shoppers who want an AirPods alternative for $100 less.

Battery life falls in the same area as the AirPods, though the portable carrying case does guarantee the buds won’t die on the road, storing up to 14 hours when fully charged. It’s also cool that the charging cable is built into the design, eliminating the need to carry around extra wires. We also love that the case is lightweight and doesn’t weigh down your pockets.

See our reviews of the best cheap wireless earbuds

best cheap wireless headphones: Beats Flex

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

8. Beats Flex

Best cheap wireless headphones under $50

Size: 4 x 0.6 x 34 inches | Weight: 0.66 ounces | Battery Life (Rated): 12 hours | Bluetooth Range: 300 feet (91 meters) | Digital Assistant Support: Yes

Excellent connectivity and Siri performance
Stable battery life
Ideal for movies and podcasts
Sound could be better for music
No IP rating

We didn’t think Beats would ever release $50 wireless headphones, but they did, and the final product is surprisingly good. Think of the Beats Flex as a revamped version of the popular BeatsX, but with longer battery life, slightly better mics, and a flashier design. Apple’s W1 chip runs the show and gives you a handful of cool features to work with, including audio sharing, easy pairing with iDevices, and Fast Fuel technology to get 1.5 hours of use on a 10-minute charge. The several color options available are enticing as well: Black, Flame Blue, Smoke Gray, and Yuzu Yellow.

While the Flex is great for listening to movies and podcasts, we felt the audio for music was 50/50, as the flat sound signature lacked the hard-hitting bass that we’ve become accustomed to hearing from Beats. The fact that there is no IP rating shouldn’t bother you much, and if it does, just look at the MSRP one more time.

See our Beats Flex review.

Best cheap wireless headphones: Sony WF-XB700

(Image credit: Sony)

9. Sony WF-XB700

Great sports buds with big bass and lengthy playtime

Size: TBD | Weight: 0.29 ounces | Battery Life (Rated): 9 hours (single charge), 18 hours (with charging case) | Bluetooth range: 35 feet (10 meters) | Digital Assistant Support: Yes

Sweat- and water-resistant
Lengthy battery life (on a single charge)
Bold sound
Lots of performance for under $100
No Sony Headphones app support

The Sony WF-XB700 gained a ton of buzz when it was announced, billed as an AirPods rival with double the battery life and higher sound quality. No arguments there, as these budget buds harness plenty of performance in a water-resistant shell. Sony’s Extra Bass technology revs up the soundstage to deliver impactful lows that will boost your adrenaline. Despite having a bass-forward profile, the WF-XB700 strums up crisp mids and highs, which you’ll hear best on instrumental-heavy recordings. We also like that the buds are very loud and keep bass response stabilized to enjoy music with little-to-no distortion. Getting 9 hours of playtime on a full charge is another major selling point. 

Would we have liked to other signature features on the WF-XB700 such as NFC, Sony Headphones app support, and the QN1e processor? Of course, but the great performance these buds provide you for under $100 can’t be denied.

Best cheap wireless headphones: Anker Life Q20 Wireless ANC Headphones

(Image credit: Anker/Soundcore)

10. Anker Life Q20 Wireless ANC Headphones

Long-lasting ANC headphones

Size: 7.7 x 7.1 x 3.1 inches | Weight: 9.3 ounces | Battery Life (Rated): 40 hours (ANC on); 60 hours (Standard Mode) | Bluetooth range: 50 feet (15 meters) | Digital Assistant Support: Yes

More battery life than most luxury ANC headphones
Strong sonics
Clean, minimalist design
Reliable noise cancelation
Aux cable muddles sound
Lets in high-frequency noises

Expensive doesn't always mean good. For instance, Anker sells plenty of cheap wireless headphones and earbuds with solid audio quality and a fair number of features. At $60, you would be remiss to overlook Anker’s latest noise-cancelling headphones, and that’s just based on sound quality alone. The Life Q20 distributes some hard-hitting lows that don’t drown out the midrange, depending on your music of choice; you’ll hear distinct instruments in the background of orchestral-centric recordings.

You’ll want to leave the aux cable at home since it hinders audio performance. Active noise cancellation isn’t Anker’s specialty, but at least these over-ears do a decent job of filtering out external noises. Up to 40 hours of playtime on a full charge (60 hours with ANC off) and strong connectivity via Bluetooth 5.0 are two other premiums that justify the purchase.

How to choose the best cheap wireless headphones for you

The market for cheap wireless headphones is massive, so to help narrow down the search, you’ll want to take several things into consideration. Let’s start with fit. Since there are several different types, including in-ear, on-ear, and over-ear, base your decision on what will feel comfortable to wear for long periods of time. 

Going wireless means restricted playtimes, as Bluetooth products consume a lot of power and require recharging every few days. Get a pair of wireless headphones with at least 12 hours of battery life. If you're going with truly wireless earbuds, 5 hours should be the minimum.

Build quality is also huge, especially when investing in sports headphones. Those who are big on fitness will want a pair that offers sweat- or water-resistant protection. Otherwise, look for models with durable aesthetics (e.g. strong plastic, stainless steel).

Keep in mind that modern wireless headphones and earbuds are taking on more advanced features. Look around and you’ll find some that have active noise cancellation, wireless charging, and even sound customization via mobile apps.

How we test the best wireless cheap headphones

Tom’s Guide tests all headphones on the following criteria: design, comfort, features, performance, and value. Our staff employs a rigorous review process that compares products with similar fit, features, and price to determine the best option for you.

Every pair of cheap wireless headphones we test is worn over the course of a week for 2 hours at a time. Comfort, ease of use, and sound quality are three main categories we assess. In terms of audio performance, we test each model across a number of genres, including hip-hop, rock, jazz, classical and R&B, while also evaluating volume, clarity, and fullness.

When it comes to features, we test the effectiveness of active noise cancelling, Bluetooth range and battery life. For sports headphones, we put them through intense workouts to determine how securely they fit during exercises and how well they handle ambient noise. We test every feature for app-enabled headphones too.

Once testing is completed, Tom’s Guide rates headphones on a five-star system (1 = worst, 5 = best). If a product is truly exemplary, it is awarded an Editors' Choice.

Now that streaming music services are offering hi-res resolution audio, we advise reading our audio codec FAQ  for everything you need to know about FLAC files, MP3s and all other major coding formats.