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The best cheap wireless headphones in 2021

Best cheap wireless headphones
(Image credit: Anker Soundcore)

The best cheap wireless headphones are the best of both worlds: ultra-convenient Bluetooth connectivity with the affordable pricing of wired models. As such, they’re ideal if you just want a pair that will go easy on your wallet, without many of the bells and whistles that the absolute best wireless headphones provide at a premium.

That being said, just because you’re paying less doesn’t mean you need to skimp on quality. The headphones you’ll find below have all passed our testing regimen, so you can be sure they sound great and may even include handy features like active noise cancellation or extended battery life. Simply read on to find out more about the best cheap wireless headphones.

Best cheap wireless headphones: Back to school

Our ultimate Back to school guide is here, and is packed with buying guides to help you get geared up for the coming school year.

In addition to study aids like laptops and Chromebooks, we also think a good pair of headphones can help; whether it's for watching video material on a distance learning course, or just to let you block out noise when trying to cram. That's why we've included this very guide to the best cheap wireless headphones, as well as for others like the best fake AirPods.

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. While the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 is likely launching in 2021, the original 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.

In third, we have the Cleer Enduro ANC. This is by far the best pair of cheap ANC headphones we've tested, especially when it comes to battery life, so check it out if you want noise cancellation for less.

Keep reading for our full list of the best cheap wireless headphones.

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

The best cheap wireless headphones overall

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
Reasons to buy
+Clear, natural sound+Sophisticated design+Long battery life+Simple controls+Very comfortable
Reasons to avoid
-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

The best cheap true 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
Reasons to buy
+Sleek, comfortable design+Great battery life+Strong audio+Intuitive companion app
Reasons to avoid
-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.

Read our full Samsung Galxaxy Buds (2019) review.

Best cheap wireless headphones: Cleer Enduro ANC

(Image credit: Future)

3. Cleer Enduro ANC

The best cheap ANC headphones for battery life

Size: 7 x 6.6 x 3 inches
Weight: 10.6 ounces
Battery life: 60 hours with ANC
Bluetooth range: 33 feet (10 meters)
Digital Assistant Support: Yes
Reasons to buy
+Incredible battery life+ANC and transparency modes+High sound quality
Reasons to avoid
-Wind noise in ANC mode-Comfort isn't long-lasting

The Cleer Enduro ANC is more "cheap for a pair of ANC over-ear headphones" than cheap in general, though there's no arguing against this being a fantastic bargain. ANC and especially the transparent ambient mode work well, and there are some handy bonus features like the built-in NFC tag for fast pairing.

The fit is decent, though you might want relief after a couple hours, and while the Bluetooth connection support aptX Adaptive you could alternatively use the included 3.5mm cable for full Hi-Res Audio support. Best of all is the battery life: we got over 50 hours of ANC-enabled playback, something no other pair of the best noise-cancelling headphones can currently match.

Read our full Cleer Enduro ANC 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
Reasons to buy
+Best-in-class battery life+Personalized sound via Jabra Sound+ app+Small and sophisticated on-ear design+Excellent connectivity
Reasons to avoid
-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
Reasons to buy
+Amazing call quality+Stylish and durable+Standard battery life+Companion app with sound customization
Reasons to avoid
-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.

Read our full Jabra Elite 65t review.

Best cheap wireless headphones: Amazon Echo Buds 2

(Image credit: Amazon)

6. Amazon Echo Buds 2

Cheap wireless headphones with excellent voice controls

Size: 0.8 x 0.8 x 0.8 inches
Weight: 0.2 ounces (per bud)
Battery life (rated): 5 hours (ANC on), 6.5 hours (ANC off), 15 hours (with charging case), 19.5 hours (with charging case and ANC off)
Bluetooth range: 35 feet (10 meters)
Digital Assistant Support: Yes
Reasons to buy
+Alexa works brilliantly+Good ANC and ambient modes+Sleek case with wireless charging
Reasons to avoid
-Middling battery life-Vocals could be crisper

The Amazon Echo Buds 2 is already affordable by ANC earbuds standards, and is even cheaper if you don't opt for the wireless charging case model. And while there are cheap wireless headphones on this list that don't even come close to breaking 3 figures, Amazon's earbuds sport an enviable feature list that includes ANC and IPX4 water resistance.

It's also got one of the best digital assistant implementations we've seen on any pair of wireless headphones. All you need to do to summon Alexa is say its name; the microphones will pick you up and ready Alexa for further voice commands, so you don't even need to press a button or activate a touch sensor.

Read our full Amazon Echo Buds 2 review.

Best cheap wireless headphones: JLab Go Air Pop

(Image credit: Regan Coule/Future)

7. JLab Go Air Pop

The best cheap wireless earbuds 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
Reasons to buy
+Versatile audio+Good battery life+Sweat and water-resistant
Reasons to avoid
-Unimpressive call quality-No companion app or extra features

To see a pair of $20 wireless earbuds show up on any “best of” list is an accomplishment. The JLab Go Air Pop isn’t just one of the best cheap wireless headphones available – these are some of best wireless earbuds in general. We’re impressed by the level of sound these tiny, water-resistant buds reproduce, programmed with three EQs that enhance audio in different ways. You can enable Balance for a neutral listening experience, increase the low end with Bass Boost or get a bit of both with JLab Signature, which is our recommendation. Being able to use the buds for up to 8 hours on a single charge might be the Go Air Pop’s greatest strength, alongside its 32-hour charging case that’s super compact and comes with a built-in USB cable for charging on the go.

Had the buds worked well for phone calls or been compatible with the JLab app, this product would easily rank higher, but a 4-star rating suits it well.

Read our full JLab Go Air Pop review.

best cheap wireless headphones: Beats Flex

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

9. Beats Flex

The best cheap wireless headphones for iOS

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
Reasons to buy
+Excellent connectivity and Siri performance+Stable battery life+Ideal for movies and podcasts
Reasons to avoid
-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 iOS handset owners 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.

Read our full Beats Flex review.

best cheap wireless headphones: Plantronics BackBeat Go 810

(Image credit: Plantronics)

8. Plantronics BackBeat Go 810

Cheap wireless headphones with dependable ANC and battery life

Size: 8.10 x 2.20 x 1.60 inches
Weight: 7.0 ounces
Battery Life (Rated): 22 hours (ANC on), 28 hours (ANC off)
Bluetooth Range: 30 feet (10 meters)
Digital Assistant Support: Yes
Reasons to buy
+Loud, warm sound+Dependable noise cancellation+Long playtimes
Reasons to avoid
-Buggy performance-No motion or touch controls

Plantronics is no stranger to making high-quality wireless headphones, and while the drastic price drop on the BackBeat Go 810 might seem alarming, rest assured that these are premium cans worth adding to your Amazon cart. You’re getting signature Plantronics sound, which falls on the warm end of the audio spectrum and has a heavy bass presence. That just means contemporary songs and anything with upbeat tempos will sound lively. The Plantronics app is definitely worth downloading to extend functionality, granting access to special features such as an EQ, HD voice support for calls, a Find MyHeadset setting, and ANC adjustment. Speaking of which, noise cancellation is decent enough to block out nearby rumblings

On occasion, you might stumble upon some bugs in the app or notice the controls acting finicky, though we’re told updating the app with the latest software update should fix these issues. 

Read our full Plantronics BackBeat Go 810 review.

best cheap wireless headphones: Skullcandy Dime

(Image credit: Regan Coule/Future)

10. Skullcandy Dime

The best cheap wireless earbuds below $30

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)
Special features: IPX4 water resistance
Reasons to buy
+Good sound+Water-resistant+Ultra-compact charging case
Reasons to avoid
-Controls are tricky to use-Short battery life

The Skullcandy Dime is absolutely dirt-cheap by wireless headphone standards, and what's more, it's hardly the kind of knock-off Amazon fodder you usually see at this level. Sound quality is high, and the charging case design — which saves space by cutting out holes in the lid for the earbuds themselves to fill — is both distinctive and clever.

Battery life is short, at just 3.5 hours per charge, and with only 12 hours available from the case you will need to fill both up relatively often. But for short bursts, like listening on a commute or while doing chores, the Dime is comfortably one of the biggest cheap headphone bargains on the market right now.

Read our full Skullcandy Dime review.

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.