Since most smartphones abandoned the headphone jack, wireless earbuds have become a must-have tech accessory and Apple AirPods have been among the most popular. If you’re not keen to spend that much on earbuds though, or if you’re not much of a fan of Apple, there are some fantastic alternatives to AirPods on the market today. Here’s our complete run-down of the best.
First off, it’s worth noting why Apple’s AirPods have been so popular. Partly, it’s because iPhones have been quite so popular here in the UK. For iPhone users, AirPods offer an almost unrivalled user experience. They’re simple to pair and come with a wealth of features that make them intuitive and easy to use. That experience comes at a price though — starting with the £119 AirPods (2nd Gen), to the latest £169 AirPods (3rd Gen), the £239 AirPods Pro and the over-ear £549 AirPods Max.
While the AirPods range genuinely offers very good sound, they’re market leaders in terms of ease of use and user experience, rather than being market leaders in terms of sheer sound quality. So, if you’re an audiophile with an Android phone, it may pay to look elsewhere.
So, if you’re on the hunt for some non-Apple earbuds, take a look at the suggestions below. The RadioTimes.com team have been reviewing and researching a wide range of alternatives to help you find your perfect earbuds.
Best AirPod alternatives at a glance
Best AirPod alternatives 2022
Best AirPod alternatives
We were hugely impressed with Sony’s 2021 WF-1000XM4 earbuds. They pack amazing sound and build quality into an appealing package that fits well in the ear.
These top-end earbuds bagged an amazing 4.9-star rating in our full Sony WF-1000XM4 review. We loved the sound quality, design and functionality. Sony is well-known for the quality of its audio equipment and the WF-1000XM4 are genuine contenders for being the best earbuds on the market.
Of course, they are expensive as a result. From an original RRP of £249, these are now available for around £210 — and sometimes less!
Best budget AirPod alternatives
Amazingly you can currently pick up these nifty little Skullcandy earbuds for just £19.95. Yes, they’re not as high-end or feature-packed as the other earbuds on this list, but they’re a fantastic, simple option for everyday use.
The sound quality is entirely listenable and better than other offerings at this stunningly low price. The earbuds themselves are also appealingly tactile, coming in a small pocketable case with a few spare tips and a (frustratingly short) charging cable.
Overall, nice-sounding earbuds from a recognised audio brand, for around £20 — it’s a fantastic value proposition.
EarFun Free Pro 2
Best affordable AirPod alternatives
These affordable earbuds from EarFun are ideal for the gym, commuting and everyday use. They offer ANC on a shoestring and plenty of bang for your buck.
In our full EarFun Free Pro 2 review, our experts loved the ease of use and the ability to switch between normal, ambient and ANC mode.
If you’re an audiophile these won’t be the earbuds for you, but if you have more modest requirements the EarFun Free Pro 2 are fantastically listenable. We enjoyed the sound quality and were more than satisfied with the battery life and easy set-up.
Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2
Best premium AirPod alternatives
Sennheiser is one of the most well-renowned audio brands out there. Known for high-quality sound and thoughtful design, the Momentum True Wireless 2 are another product that embodies the high standards Sennheiser always sets.
We were very impressed with these earbuds in testing, giving them a four and a half star rating in our full Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2 review. They impressed in every respect, with great sound, battery life and a sleek design. Of course, they’re a little pricey, but there’s little else wrong with these earbuds.
Cambridge Audio Melomania 1 Plus
Best for battery life
When listening to music, these earbuds from Cambridge Audio lasted just under nine hours on a single charge. That’s very, very good going. Though making calls will make that battery life slightly shorter. The charging case holds another 36 hours of charge.
The Melomania app allows users to adjust the settings of their earbuds, meaning you can customise your levels to suit your taste. The earbuds also offer fantastic sound quality for the price and good volume range. We gave them four and a half stars in our full Cambridge Audio Melomania 1 Plus review.
Best for sound quality
Built for audiophiles by audiophiles, in the Grado Labs factory in Brooklyn, New York — the Grado GT220 earbuds pack a fantastic sound.
However, while the sound is absolutely fantastic, these earbuds lack some of the features that competitors at this price bracket possess. There’s no active noise cancellation, for example, they’re a little on the chunky side and there’s no in-ear detection, to automatically pause playback when the earbuds aren’t in your ears.
If your complete focus is sound quality, these are the earbuds for you but bear in mind that similarly, wonderful-sounding earbuds like the Sony WF-1000XM4 buds do come with ANC and bags of features.
Beats Powerbeats Pro
Best for sport
Ultimately, if you’re looking for wireless earbuds that are perfect for sport, then ones with a wing-tip fit are the best solution. If you’re out on a run, these won’t go tumbling down the nearest sewer grate. Even if the tips pop out of your ears, the wings will stop them from dropping to the floor. While we’ve tested some great earbuds that fit well without wing-tips, even the best-fitted earbud can pop out when you’re sweating during intense exercise. Currently, we think the Beats Powerbeats Pro are the best solution to that. They offer good sound quality, appealing design and a reliable fit.
In our full Powerbeats Pro review the earbuds bagged a four-star rating. Our experts liked the comfortable fit, rich sound and smooth OS compatibility.