True wireless earbuds are fantastic gadgets to have on hand—in the world of audio, their portability and convenience can’t be beaten. But while the big-name brands have some big price tags attached, there are plenty of companies out there making more budget-friendly options. So, let’s see what you can get in 2021 for under $50.
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What to Look for in True Wireless Earbuds
While you may not be spending much, that doesn’t mean you should throw your standards out the window. You can still expect a certain level of quality, even at this price point.
- Audio Quality: While you may not expect great audio quality from earbuds so affordable, the ones on this list all deliver pretty solid audio. They won’t be as good as the best of the best, but they’re definitely serviceable, and some really impress for the price.
- Design: Whether you’re chilling at home or out running errands, you want your earbuds to be comfortable and fit securely. Every ear is different of course, so what’s perfect for one person might be awful for another, but manufacturers can take extra steps to make the designs better for everyone (like ergonomic shaping and quality ear tips).
- Waterproofing: Portability is one of the best parts of true wireless earbuds, so there’s a good chance they’re going to get a little wet in your travels. All of the earbuds on this list offer some protection against liquids, but you can always rely on the IP rating for more specifics (which we’ll mention in each section). Working out is a concern for a lot of people, as unprotected gadgets can be damaged from your sweat. We can safely say all the earbuds on this list are outfitted to deal with sweat, so that won’t be a concern.
- Battery Life: It’s never fun when a gadget dies on you, so longer battery life is always preferred. However, true wireless earbuds are unique as most use their travel case for charging as well. This means you can rely on the case for an extra boost if you’re using them for an extended period. We’ll mention both for every pair on this list, along with whether or not they feature wireless or quick charging.
- Extra Features: While listening to music might be your main priority, that doesn’t mean manufacturers can’t include a few extra features to sweeten the deal. Active Noise Cancellation (ANC), is a big one for blocking out the world around you, as is transparency mode which does the opposite (it blends your surroundings and music so you can hear both clearly). These extra features become more common as you climb up the price ladder, but most of the pairs on this list still manage to sneak them in.
Best Overall: EarFun Air
EarFun managed to jam a lot into the Air earbuds, from their sleek, modern design to solid audio quality. They’re rated IPX7 and have a long-lasting battery (5-7 hours in each earbud with around 30 in the case). The Air even features wireless and fast charging to sweeten the deal further—you can get 2 hours of playtime from just 10 minutes of wired charging (wireless is slower).
While it’s missing any form of noise-canceling or transparency mode, the audio still holds up on its own. You also get four pairs of ear tips included with your purchase—extra-small, small, medium, and large. On the whole, these earbuds deliver great value, and it’s hard to find something to complain about for the money.
These featured-packed buds are also available in black and white.
A feature-packed pair of earbuds for a reasonable price.
Best for the Gym: ENACFIRE A9
When it comes to the gym, having earbuds that are waterproof and sound blocking are extremely important. The ENACFIRE A9s does both of these with a rating of IPX7 and ANC, but it also includes a transparency mode so when you need to hear your surroundings, it’s only a tap away. While it lacks any wireless or fast charging, the battery life is still admirable with the earbuds rated for 5 hours, and the case supplying 32 hours of total playtime. They also come with three pairs of ear tips: small, medium, and large. All of this comes together to create an amazing pair of earbuds for your next workout.
Bang for the Buck: Skullcandy Dime
If you’re on a tight budget and are fine sacrificing extra features for stellar audio quality, then the Skullcandy Dime is for you. These inexpensive earbuds are rated IPX4, last for 12 hours in total (3.5 hours for the buds, 8.5 in the case), and feature a compact design with the lowest price on this list. These are light on features lacking fast charging, wireless charging, noise cancellation, and transparency mode, but they do the basics so well it makes up for it. They’re quite the bargain and are even available in four different colors: Chill Grey, Dark Blue and Green, Light Grey and Blue, and True Black.
The Skullcandy Dime also come with three pairs of interchangeable ear tips: small, medium, and large.
A great-sounding pair of extremely inexpensive earbuds.
Long-Lasting: Tribit Flybuds 3
Do you want to never worry about your earbuds randomly dying on you again? Because if so, the Tribit Flybuds 3 does a great job at dissuading that fear. Not only do these sound great, have an IPX8 rating, and feature a unique, highly customizable design with six pairs of ear tips in the box (with different sizes and shapes), but the battery life is quite impressive. While the buds have 5 hours of charge, the case packs in a whopping 100 hours worth. You can safely take these on a weeklong trip without ever worrying about touching a charging cord. Of course, without fast or wireless charging, actually juicing up the case may take a while.
The only major downside to these is the lack of any noise-canceling or transparency mode. But, for the price, the Flybuds 3 already offer some impressive features so the lack of those is understandable.
Tribit Flybuds 3
100 hours of battery life for a great pair of earbuds.
One final note: While they’re not yet available, the upcoming Wyze Buds Pro are also worth considering. They’ll offer transparency mode, active noise cancellation, and wireless charging for just $60. That’s a bit over the budget we’re discussing here, but they also offer all the top-end features anyone could want for so little money. They’re available for pre-order now on Wyze’s site, and they’re expected to release in July. You can expect a full review on RG sometime before the official release.