Many often assume that the best cheap wireless headphones can’t compete with some of the industry’s pricier and more coveted models. It's an unfair assumption, especially since there is a wide variety of budget models capable of delivering across multiple verticals: including battery life, comfort and, most importantly, sound quality. We’re talking everything from noise-canceling headphones to sports headphones to even true wireless earbuds. And not just from unknown brands based out in China.
You’ve done enough online shopping to know that browsing through this price point can be a nightmare. Hence why you’ve come here to help narrow down your choices and seek out top expert recommendations. And we have some amazing, underrated selections that will encourage you to add a few of these to your virtual shopping cart. From Amazon best sellers to critical darlings, we snatched up some of the most popular offerings that fall under $100 and tested each one to find the best cheap wireless headphones for you.
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 for 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 recently reduced Samsung Galaxy Buds, which remains one of the finest pairs of true wireless earbuds and the best in class at its current price point. 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 place is the Jabra Elite 45, new on-ear headphones with customized sound and lots of battery. And for those who prefer to enjoy their music in silence, there is the Anker Life Q20 that has some of the most impressive active noise cancellation for under $100.
The best cheap wireless headphones you can buy today
A pair of Sennheiser headphones for under $100 sounds like one of those killer Black Friday deals you missed out during the holidays. It’s not. The HD 4.40 BT is available at a surprisingly low price, combining great functionality with Sennheiser sound to deliver an exceptional wireless listening experience. Frequencies are well balanced, feeding your ears dynamic bass that doesn’t distort at max volume, while allowing mids and highs to shine on most tracks. The cans also hold a charge for 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.
Thanks to a recent price drop, Samsung's last-gen Galaxy Buds are available 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.
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.
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
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.
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.
House of Marley has carved a niche for itself when it comes to great affordable, eco-friendly headphones. The Jamaica Wireless 2 is a surprise we didn’t see coming, producing crisp and energetic sound that lends itself well to multiple genres (e.g. Hip-Hop, Rock, Jazz), while producing adequate playtime on a single charge. Quick charging is a feature that shouldn’t be taken for granted, especially since it gets you 2 hours on a 15-minute charge. HoM also created the Jamaica Wireless 2 out of sustainable materials, from the 99% post-consumer recycled polyester cable to the 100% recyclable package.
Perfection isn’t realistic for $30, but at least the drawbacks on these buds are trivial compared to other models in its class. The large inline remote can be annoying to access because holding it to press the buttons often pulls the buds out of your ears. You’ll want to be mindful about listening at max volume as well since they leak sound at a high level, something my wife pointed out a few times when sharing our home office space.
Status One has made a name for itself in the budget audio space, even impressing us with the resolute-sounding Status Audio CB-1 Studio Monitor Headphones. The BT One is just as impressive, featuring dynamic audio and even better call quality in a much sleeker design. Instruments sound lively and lows are handled extremely well; drums have a thunderous presence on the soundstage. The mics produce great clarity to speak clearly on phone calls or when employing voice commands via Google Assistant.
Some people find on-ear headphones to be uncomfortable, but the BT One stands out as one of the comfiest in the category. The memory foam on each pad feels soothing on the ears and provides an excellent fit. Where some people might be bothered is the control scheme, as the multifunctional buttons can be both confusing and frustrating at times; the volume and track navigation functions are assigned to the same buttons.
Jaybird’s budget alternative to the flagship X4 wireless earphones shares similar performance hallmarks, at $30 less. The Tarah boasts a lively soundstage that can be personalized through different EQ settings and music profiles on the Jaybird MySound app (Android, iOS). Bass-heavy records knock on your eardrums to maximize adrenaline. Bluetooth range is also in the same ballpark as most other models, maintaining connectivity up to 30 feet.
Whatever flaws exist on the Tarah are trite when taking overall performance into account. Battery life hovers around 6 hours, which is 2 hours less than what’s offered on the X4. However, quick-charge technology has you covered by juicing up these suckers in a matter of minutes for an hour of playtime. The cinch system could also be more user-friendly, but it’s nothing to cry over. We also love that they come IPX7-certified, so they’re built to withstand excessive sweat and full splashdown.
The Z2 Wireless HD has enough going for it to convince gym rats to switch over from wireless in-ear to over-ear form, especially if they want something with bigger sound and battery life, and minor ANC. Treblab’s 40mm drivers don’t skimp on bass, pounding your ears with boom-filled sonics to fuel your intensity. Battery life is rated at 35 hours, though it’s really about 32 when factoring in volume and noise cancellation, which isn’t great, but still useful if you want to block out overly loud exercisers. The Z2 also breaks free from the notion of low price equaling cheap quality, as these cans are built from a nice mix of sturdy plastic materials and come waterproof and sweat resistant. Each of the buttons offers great tactility to manage calls and music playback seamlessly, plus the digital assistant feature operates well for hands-free commands.
The sound quality when ANC is turned off really needs to be fixed, as highs take a dip and sound unclear. Another issue is snugness, as the headband is too tight and exerts unwanted force on the top of the skull after about 30 minutes of use.
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.
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