You don’t have to splurge on the AirPods or more expensive earphones to cut the cord. We bought and tested eight pairs of cheaper buds to crown a winner.
As the headphone jack begins its descent into technological obscurity, now would be a good time to help you pick out some truly wireless earphones. However, before you go spending your hard-earned cash on Apple’s AirPods or more expensive options like the Here One, you should consider some of the cheaper alternatives available.
We purchased eight of the best-selling wireless buds on Amazon and tested them, focusing on sound quality, comfort and battery life. Here are the truly wireless earphones worth buying -- and the ones you should avoid.
How We Tested: In order to test the battery life of each wireless earbud, we used each pair for 3 hours playing various music playlists at medium volume. From there, we checked how much battery life remained using a battery widget to measure true usage for each earbud we were using. We also made multiple calls to test how these truly wireless earbuds stood up to background noise while noting call volume and overall sound quality.
The SoundPeats are designed for anyone who enjoys an active lifestyle and can’t be bothered with wires messing with their workout routine. The earbuds are very lightweight, comfortable and fit snugly inside your ear, thanks to the included ear hooks. Music quality was very impressive, with firm bass that didn’t overpower while the midrange and highs come across clean and tight.
Our Q16 kept us going for about 4 hours, which made our commute to work and time at the gym more enjoyable. Audio quality during phone calls was less than impressive due to low volume and some distortion, but that didn’t keep us from calling our friends during our testing. Two features we could done without were the multifunction buttons positioned on the top of the right earbud and the need to pair one earphone to the second unit.
The Hobest Wireless Earbuds delivered clear and balanced sound with smooth highs and lows that doesn’t overpower your ears even during heavy bass tracks. We can forgive the subpar 2.5 -hour battery life due to the included charging bank, which allows the earbuds to fully juice up within 15 minutes. (The bank has enough capacity to do this three times.) Features worth mentioning include the ability to skip tracks, pause and take calls without having your smartphone in hand. Phone conversations came through clear, and like most earbuds, it used one earbud that made hearing your surroundings much easier. That allowed us to not be the person shouting while taking a personal call on the train.
The E-Passion X1T provided punchy bass, clean highs and a smooth midrange, which allowed us to enjoy music in multiple genres. Battery life for the earbuds hit the mark of 3 hours, which was enough to last an average commuting time to and from work. Pairing the E-Passion X1T was simple and pain-free, but I would have liked a feature to control the volume on the unit itself instead of on my smartphone. Phone conversations were clear and distortion-free, and the X1T kept out most background noise. The X1T performed well during stationary actions, such as commuting, driving and casual listening, but it often came loose when used for working out.
The Q800 earphones provide solid overall performance at an affordable price. Pairing the earphones to our smartphone was easy, and they kept a solid connection throughout our testing. The earphones came packed inside a magnetic charging cradle, where it took about an hour to get a full charge. Listening time ran about 3.5 hours before we had to reseat them.
The Q800 produced impressively deep bass sound alongside a respectable midrange and noticeable highs. Talk time came in around 4 hours with clear voices and limited background noise. The buds are larger than competing models, but we managed to keep them securely in our ear with the included sport wing adapters.
The D900s earphones came to play straight off their rechargeable charging case. The earbuds are lightweight, very comfortable and delivered enough noise isolation to enjoy listening to Chance the Rapper on the NYC subway. Sound quality was above average, as the D900s provided punchy bass and clean highs. The units feature one button for on/off and another to skip/change channel, but you can’t adjust the volume from the earphones. Battery life was only average at slightly less than 2.5 hours, but the ability to recharge from the included storage case helps.
The EGRD S-E6s delivered clean and accurate sound with no loss of connectivity, which is a key feature for truly wireless earbuds. The lows were deep enough to keep us engaged during our workout, but fell the buds short with thin highs and less-than-stellar midrange reproduction. The overall fit is comfortable due to extra ear cups and inner ear adapters, but the size might be too large for anyone who wants a discreet pair of earphones. The earbuds took less than an hour to charge and lasted for a solid 3.5 hours of music time. The one feature we didn’t like was the alternating blue LED flashing from our ear, as it drew undue attention.
Similar to the E-passion X1T wireless earphones, the Lesoom earphones came ready to push wireless sound into our daily routine. The earphones were easy to pair with both iOS and Android devices, and provided ample battery life (3 hours) to get us through an average commute. The sound quality was pretty solid, with clear highs, deep lows and midrange sounds that pleasantly at this price. The Lesoom X1T earphones are lightweight, fit snugly in the ear and are comfortable when used on extended commutes or out on the town. Unfortunately, the X1T would fade in and out often and dropped the connection at times when our smartphone was more than 15 feet away.