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Best fake AirPods tested: best and worst alternatives under $50

Best Fake AirPods
(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The best fake AirPods aren't hard to find. The real thing — Apple's AirPods — are among the best wireless earbuds and cult-certified fashion statement. But AirPods are not the most affordable audio product, thanks to their starting price of $159. And the more premium AirPods Pro will set you back $250 should you opt for a pair of the noise-cancelling buds. 

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 AirPods look-alikes sold on Amazon alone. To see if any of them could pass for the real thing, we called in several of the top-selling search results fielded by "airpods" and "airpods knockoffs."

When we put several pairs of fake AirPods to the test, none came close to passing for the real thing in terms of sound quality, but the appearance of some will fool the average passerby. Taking both design and audio into consideration, here's how the phonies fared. (Make sure to check out our all our best AirPods deals coverage for discounts on Apple's earbuds). 

See all of the best fake AirPods below.

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.

Right now the best fake AirPods are the i11 Bluetooth Headset. This set of truly wireless headphones cost just $30 and look so much like real AirPods that members of our team couldn’t tell the two apart. The case is slightly larger, and the buds blink blue and red while connecting via Bluetooth, but you probably couldn’t tell this pair is phony if you saw the iconic white stems peeking out of someone’s ears. The audio is sub-par, so if you’re getting this pair it’s based on looks alone.

If you want better sound and are willing to compromise on looks at the same price point, the HSPRO Bluetooth Headphones are the best fake AirPods that you’ll actually enjoy listening to music through. The stems are flat, rather than curved, so you’ll probably be able to distinguish this pair from real AirPods, but at a quick glance it’s a decent knock off. 

Best Fake AirPods

i11 Bluetooth Headset (Image credit: LXW)

1. i11 Bluetooth Headset

Best fake AirPods in terms of design

Near-identical design
Easy pairing process
Poor audio quality

Design
This pair of AirPod wannabes are convincing, especially from the outside. The case, though a half-inch larger, looks identical to the real thing. But it feels like cheap plastic, and the cap is snappy. It opens and shuts with a sharp shake, which real ones certainly don't do.

Like the case, the i11 pods appear quite similar to real ones and feel the same in-ear. They're missing the dark sensors and microphone in the silver tip, though. Rather, the bottom exposes the charging mechanism. They also rapidly flash red and blue when in pairing mode. That's the only giveaway that would expose these as frauds in public.

Audio quality
Bumping David Guetta'’s "Titanium" through these pods provided the most disappointing bass drop I've ever experienced. The sound is clear enough, but flat and bleak. What's awesome about this pair, though, is its extensive collection of touch controls. You can adjust the volume with quick taps and use a long press on either earpiece to power off that single bud. Are you listening, Apple?

Do they pass?
"These look like they're a good knockoff of AirPods." — Hilda Scott
"Based on looks alone, these win." — Phillip Tracy

Best Fake AirPods

(Image credit: DeHua)

2. HSPRO Bluetooth Headphones

Best fake AirPods with passable audio quality

Sound good for the price
Quality build and materials
Case looks like real AirPods
Flat stem is a giveaway

Design
This case resembles looks like a real AirPods case that was inflated with a large pump of air. The magnetic cap functions quite like the real case, and its plastic even feels close to the genuine thing. From the outside, these don't seem cheap. These phony buds 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 also a glaring giveaway.   

Audio
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. These 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.

Do they pass?
"The sound on these is a lot richer. There's a lot more bass, it's louder and volume is more consistent." — Marshall Honorof
*Nods head* — Adam Ismail

Best Fake AirPods

(Image credit: BJP)

3. Usams Wireless Headphones

Best fake AirPods with a hint of ANC

Blocks outside noise
Very good music performance
Flat case shape

Design
This fake AirPods case looks like a real AirPods case after an encounter with a hydraulic press. It also looks as if it wants to be skipped across a pond. It has a matte finish rather than a plastic glisten, making me hard-pressed to think that these could pass as the real thing from the outside. But inside, the bud stems are similar to real AirPods. The actual buds are larger and more oblong. They come with rubber caps on them, too, which real AirPods have tried to deem a faux pas. I like how these fit in my ears, though. Those rubber bits keep these buds secure in place. 

Audio
The best part about these fake AirPods is that they're very nearly noise-cancelling. The all-encompassing joy created by the opening notes of John Mellencamp's "Jack & Diane" wasn't interrupted by the pesky hums of the office. The song's drums thumped in my ears, while Mellencamp's voice sounded as husky as ever. I liked these so much that I kept them in an entire morning, despite having a few pricier brand-name models at my disposal. 

Do they pass?
"AirPods aren't like this. This is like a pill." Adam Ismail
"Well, these just look like knockoffs of Samsung's earbuds. So these aren't very convincing."
Phillip Tracy

Best Fake AirPods

(Image credit: Fantime)

4. Fantime Wireless Bluetooth Earbuds

Best Fake AirPods with a stemless form

In-ear design
No stems
Fall out easily

Design
Honey, I shrunk the AirPods! Imagine cutting AirPods in half, and you'll get this pair. This miniature case has a USB-C charging port on the back rather than on the bottom. The magnetic cap feels like it's on the verge of breaking off, too. The pods are halved as well, absent a stem. If anything, they could pass as Samsung Galaxy Buds, but definitely not as AirPods. I couldn't quite figure out how to wear them in my ears, causing them to fall out with any head movement. Fortunately they come with ear hooks, one of our recommended AirPods accessories

Audio
Maybe it's because these didn't fit me properly, but the music didn't sound as if it played directly into my ears. Rather, it sounded as if I was listening to something in the general vicinity of my eardrums. I could still hear every conversation and keyboard click in my office space, which I try to drown out with headphones normally. What I did hear of Lizzo's "Juice" was static and pitchy vocals. Lizzo is not pitchy, so I must blame it on the buds.

Do they pass?
"The volume is off between the two. The right ear is much louder than the left." Marshall Honorof
*Rolls buds like a set of die.*
Hilda Scott

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 deals 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.