The best fake AirPods aren't hard to find. The real thing — Apple's AirPods — are considered some of the best wireless earbuds and a cult-certified fashion statement. But AirPods are not the most affordable audio product ($159), and the more premium AirPods Pro will set you back $250 should you opt for a pair of the noise-cancelling buds.
- Here are the best wireless earbuds per category, style, and budget
- These are the best noise cancelling headphones you can buy
- Check out the best AirPods deals this month
It’s no surprise that less expensive knockoffs have surfaced all over the internet as a result of people wanting to fit in for a fraction of the cost. There are dozens of low-cost models sold on Amazon alone, but you can find a decent selection on other popular retail sites, including Best Buy, Newegg, and Walmart. To see if any of them could pass for the real thing, we called in several of the top-selling (and top-rated) fake AirPods and put them to the test. Taking both design and audio into consideration, here’s how the phonies fared.
Black Friday 2020 deals
Looking for a cheap AirPods alternative? Black Friday deals are expected to kick off earlier than ever this year. We expect sales to start as soon as November 1 — if not earlier. In the meantime, check out the best AirPods deals we've spotted so far.
What are the best fake AirPods?
The best fake AirPods are difficult to track because they're often sold through third-party retailers with no association to Apple. As such, Amazon pulls the knock offs from time to time to avoid copyright complaints. We try to keep an eye on the availability of the buds, and update this round up as sale information changes.
Currently, we feel the Mobvoi TicPods Free are the best fake AirPods. These buds have solid sound and noise isolation, and share the same form as Apple’s wireless danglers, but with a ridged texture on the exterior of each stem. Our runner-up, the TaoTronics SoundLiberty 53, is another surprisingly good alternative with better battery life than the AirPods, and IPX8 waterproof protection.
The Knpaimly BS5 stands out for its durable aesthetics and powerful sound, while the Aukey EP-T21is a suitable option that has quality audio and more playtime than the AirPods. If you want platform-friendly buds with reliable connectivity, then the Conico T12 is a suitable option for under $30.
The best fake AirPods you can buy today
The TicPods Free are arguably the best fake AirPods on the market. These buds pack plenty of functionality into an AirPods-esque design and offer up to 18 hours via bundled charging case. We found the touch controls to be intuitive and responsive for seamless playback and call management. You’ll also get loud, clean audio, along with great digital assistant support (e.g. Google Assistant, Siri, Alexa), which makes them more useful on both iOS and Android devices. The unique shape and multiple ear tips allow for a more customized fit as well.
Thanks to a recent markdown, the TicPods Free can be had for a fraction of the price of Apple’s signature buds, with minimal trade-offs. While available in the same monotone white color scheme as the AirPods, the AirPods come in three shades, including our favorite, Lava. Our only complaint is the short playtime on a single charge, which is 1 hour less than the AirPods.
Read our full Mobvoi TicPods Free review.
The model that put TaoTronics on the true wireless map, the TWS TT-BH053 (now renamed the SoundLiberty 53) packs surprisingly good audio and respectable battery life into an AirPods-style design. Its biggest feature is the charging case, which has been scaled down to accommodate portability and holds up to 50 hours of playtime. That’s pretty amazing for wireless earbuds priced under $50. TaoTronics also sells the buds in black, if you’re trying to get away with that whole AirPods-custom-paint-job look from a distance.
Just be aware that a low price doesn’t guarantee perfection. During testing, we noticed the tap gestures were highly sensitive and often misinterpreted commands to raise volume or enable the digital assistant. There was also some lag present when calling up Siri and Google Assistant; we often had to wait a few seconds before speaking or else the digital assistant wouldn’t recognize commands. The branding on the buds’ exterior is a dead giveaway as well.
With 13mm drivers, 40 hours of total playtime, and Bluetooth 5.0, the Knpaimly BS5 looks more versatile than the AirPods, at least on paper. An IPX7-certified shell gives these buds waterproof protection, making them ideal for exercising or listening to tunes near the pool. The charging case is solidly built, featuring a powerful magnet that shuts the lid closed to secure the buds. Knpaimly’s sound profile is more on the bright side, so you can expect to hear mids and highs clearer on songs. You also have more portable power at your disposal with the charging case holding 40 hours of additional playtime.
The BS5 could do without the long stems and fingerprint logos on the top of the buds; they’re pretty gaudy. As for what the buds could do with, that would be better Bluetooth performance because audio tends to drop out around the 30-foot mark.
Aukey has become a staple for high-performance portable gadgets at a super-duper cheap price, and the EP-T21 is no exception. These all-black danglers offer slightly better sound than the original AirPods, highlighted by clear treble, deep bass, and loud volume to enjoy music and videos on the go. The clean matte design might lead you to believe these are fragile buds, but they’re quite durable, covered in IPX4 coating for water-resistant protection. Wireless performance is another positive, maintaining strong connectivity between mobile devices and pairing instantly when removed from the charging case, which holds 20 hours of playtime.
This is vital considering the buds only come with 5 hours on a single charge, a number that’s considered below average these days. We also wish the capacitive touch controls weren’t so finicky; double-tapping to play/pause music often lagged or required me to perform the same gesture again to execute the command.
We have always considered the Liberty Air True to be the first legitimate AirPods clone when it released back in 2019, and for a few good reasons. One, sound quality surpasses the performance on most of the models in its price class, as well as the AirPods I and II, producing clear, bass-forward audio to enjoy contemporary music genres. Two, the inclusion of ear tips is a huge bonus for those who have lost many AirPods down a sewer drain, offering a pleasant and stabilized fit. Three, the 5 hours of playtime you get is pretty close to what Apple’s buds offer and is longer than the AirPods Pro, though the latter requires extra juice to operate noise cancellation, which these buds don’t have.
Had Anker managed to make the touch controls more reliable and the design less of a scratch-n-scuff magnet, then the Liberty Air True could have been a bigger threat to the real thing.
Read our full Anker Soundcore Liberty Air True review.
The Conico T12 shares more resemblance to other fake AirPods than the real thing, mainly because of similar naming conventions and the buttons on the top of each stem. Not to mention it has the same exact charging case as the Knpaimly BS5, only this one houses fewer charging cycles. In any case (no pun intended), this one is still a durable sucker that will keep the buds sealed in and protected from dust and hard spills to the ground. Where the T12 really stands out is in sound quality, reproducing instruments and vocals with great clarity.
Our main issue with the buds is the lack of touch controls. If you think tap gestures are annoying, then you’ll find having to press buttons is not only impractical, but also painful since it means applying unwanted pressure to your ears. Siri struggles to recognize voice commands too, especially on macOS.
The T12’s charging case looks like an AirPods case that was inflated with a large pump of air. Its magnetic cap functions quite like the real case, and the plastic material even feels close to the genuine thing. From the outside, these don't seem cheap, and may be able to pass for real AirPods. A quick glance at the general earbud shape suggests the presence of AirPods in your ears, but the stem is obviously flat, not rounded. The button on the top part of the stem is another glaring giveaway.
These imposters impressed me with their solid audio quality. "Hotel California" sounded deep, doing justice to the Eagles' stereophonic recording. The intro riff soared through my left ear, while the bass hummed in my right one. Unfortunately, they don’t have sensors, so you'll have to use the buttons to pause and play, but otherwise these earbuds function reasonably well for the price.
The Letsfit T13 is billed for casual and fitness use, though the former is the better descriptor based on overall performance. Bluetooth 5.0 offers stable connectivity to give users lengthy wireless range when walking from room to room without their smartphone nearby. Being able use the buds in mono mode is an underappreciated feature that comes in handy when wanting to take calls on one earbud, while recharging the other in the case. The oval sound port allows the buds to easily slip into the ear canal for a pleasant, secure fit. It’s also cool that the company throws in an extended warranty (1 year free) when registering the device online.
The flat long-stem design and shiny touch controls hinder the T13’s overall look; expect to be teased by AirPods and even fake AirPods owners. Battery life won’t win you over either, especially since it’s 2 hours less than what Letsfit advertises and shorter than the AirPods.
This pair of earbuds may share the same silhouette as the AirPods, but the Stockholm is a more fashion-forward option, thanks to a matte finish that comes in multiple colors. Bluetooth 5.0 holds up strong, so you’ll be able stream music and take calls several feet away from your audio source without experiencing any dropout. The buds also connect instantly to devices when removed from the charging case. Sound is crisp, but don’t expect much bass or highs when listening to music; you’ll want to stick to vocal-driven recordings to enjoy audio performance. We recommend the buds more for podcasts and videos.
Where the Stockholm loses points is in battery life, which is below standard at 3.5 hours on a single charge, and in noise isolation. The latter affects listening by allowing a high amount of ambient noise to enter the soundstage.
For $30, the AirPlus is serviceable, if you can live with its frustrating flaws. Audio is somewhere in the middle, not great, not terrible, but good enough to enjoy music on the go. I noticed the sound quality was much better on my Google Pixel 3XL than my iPhone or MacBook Pro; bass was muddier on Apple devices. It doesn’t hurt that they offer the same battery life as the AirPods Pro as well.
We like the look of the oval charging case, which resembles the Google Pixel Buds 2 case more than the basic AirPods case. Unfortunately, the hinge on it is flimsy as hell. You might fear after a month or two of wear that the lid will fly off. The connection issues with iOS devices is the AirPlus’s biggest problem, as the buds only worked on mono mode when paired to my iPhone and iPad. I was only able to hear music and take calls from the left bud. It’s also odd that the AirPods pop-up screen appeared on both Apple devices when pairing them to the AirPlus.
How to choose the best fake AirPods for you
If you’re here, you’ve probably decided you want to get a pair of the best fake AirPods instead of the real thing. Both AirPods and AirPods Pro regularly go on sale, so be sure to check out our updated AirPods sales pages to see if the Apple-made earbuds fall in your budget before spending money on lower-quality knock offs from different manufacturers.
While all of the pairs above adopt the AirPods’s iconic, white plastic aesthetic, several sacrifice audio quality in the process. If you want a pair of the best fake AirPods to make it seem like you’re sporting real ones, prioritize a replicated design more than how the buds sound. But if you still want your new headphones to get you in the groove for commutes, workouts or phone calls, consider choosing a pair above that offer decent audio technology. Even if they don’t look exactly like genuine AirPods.
How we test the best fake AirPods
We call in and test the best-selling fake AirPods from Amazon, taking note of when pairs are pulled from the website or re-listed under different product names. When new styles appear, we call them in and consider them for this list.
For reviews of the best headphones, design and appearance take a backseat to performance and battery life. But for this list of the best fake AirPods, we prioritize how much each pair looks like real AirPods, pointing out the aesthetic differences of the cases and buds. Our top pick, the i11 Bluetooth Headset, could fool members of the Tom’s Guide team when we conducted a blind test in our labs.
After we gauge design, we listen to music, catch up on podcasts and make calls using the best fake AirPods contenders. We tune our ears to catch static or other faults with the sub-$40 buds, and decide whether they sound good enough to recommend.