Tested: wireless earbuds with an airpods-like design
You're eyeing a pair of Apple AirPods, but can't afford one? Or are you searching for a cheaper alternative for the AirPods? After testing many, many truly wireless earbuds, these are the best affordable Apple AirPods alternatives.
In the past months, I've tested almost fifty different truly wireless earphones in every price category, from 10 to 300 dollars. Reviews on most of them you can read on this very site - you can read the reviews for all models on my true wireless earphones leaderboard.
One category I've had many requests for was to make a comparison on cheap Apple AirPods alternatives. After spending hours and hours of selecting the right pairs to test - based on user reviews and brand reputations, I've tested and reviewed quite a few of them.
I didn't want to test blatant Apple AirPods knock-offs though, as they're rip-offs and mostly buggered with pairing, connectivity and battery issues. If you're still looking for those, go for the i10 TWS or the i12 TWS.
So, for this list, I selected truly wireless earbuds with a stem-design that aren't knock-offs. Earbuds with more originality to them, and even own design choices. These are great alternatives with an AirPods-like design, and at a great price.
What to expect from the best cheap AirPods alternatives?
About 3 to 5 hours of play time on a single charge
Charging cases that charge the earpieces fully 3 to 7 times
Great connectivity: take them out of the box, and they pair and connect instantly
A comfortable and steady fit for most ears
Good audio quality for the price
To take away the hassle of reading and comparing all reviews, I've put my top three recommendations in this list.
This list will be updated - last update August 12, 2019
These are the three best cheap AirPods look-a-likes:
1. SoundPeats TrueCapsule
Best overall cheap AirPods alternative - $30
The SoundPEATS TrueCapsule captures the spirit of the Apple AirPods perfectly. They're easy to use, are comfortable to wear and offer excellent call quality.
Instead of the half in-ears that Apple offers, the SoundPEATS TrueCapsule (full review here) come with a rubber ear-tip to put completely in your ear. As a result, it blocks out noise from your environment and makes for a much more isolated, engaging listening experience. The ear tip-part is attached to a round earpiece which feels comfortable in most ears.
Touch controls are excellent when you find out you can only press the upper side of the stem to control them. Press twice for pause and play, hold the earpieces shortly to skip or return a song. Volume control isn't possible on them, unfortunately.
This pair of earphones offers excellent call quality, especially indoor, where your voice sounds clear and stable for the other end of the line. The sound quality is very likable as well, with a warm, almost laidback sound. The bass pumps nicely - but never too heavy. Male and female vocals and instruments come through clear, and the sound has a nice sense of air around it.
The SoundPEATS TrueCapsule is a great, comfortable deal for the price. It's the current best cheap Apple AirPods-alternative.
2. QCY T3
Best sounding cheap AirPods-alternative - $35
The QCY T3 is, without a doubt, the best sounding truly wireless earbuds with a design inspired by the Palo Alto company. It does take a bit of hassle to get the most out of it, though.
The T3 has ear tips with a unique design. They have a rubber tip on them, but not one you'd expect. The rubber is placed from the stem to the nozzle, ensuring a comfortable fit. The T3 only comes with one size of tips, however. If they don't fill your ear, it will be a bit loose, and you'll miss out on the excellent sound quality these earpieces can achieve.
If your ears appear to be too big or too small for the standard tip, try out a regular pair of ear tips and put these on. Then, with the perfect seal, the true sonic capabilities of the T3 are unleashed. It obliterates the original Apple AirPods - by a landslide! It offers a balanced sound with boosted bass, great clarity, and a sweet deal of detail. The QCY T3 has excellent dynamic range, extending the highs, lower mids, and upper mids without overpowering them. The left-right stereo imaging is spot-on. The call quality is excellent as well: your voice sounds very clear.
The controls are touch-sensitive. Two presses play and pause the music, holding the left piece will return a song, holding the right one forwards a track. You can even change the volume, by sliding down the stems up or down. This does require getting used to. And not only that: you will likely control the earpieces unwanted when you take one of them out.
All in all, the SoundPEATS TrueCapsule is the more convenient pair of truly wireless earbuds with a stem. If sound quality is most important to you, consider the QCY T3. It even beats the Apple AirPods - big time.
3. Tiso iX
AirPods with buttons for a lovely price - $20
The Tiso iX says 'designed by Tiso iX in China', but everyone will see they aren't really. The only difference between the iX and the AirPods, are the tiny buttons on the earpieces.
With them, you play or pause the music (single press), skip a song (hold the right one), or go back a track (hold the left one). Activating the voice assistant can be done by double pressing. Because the buttons are psychical, you press the earpieces deeper in your ear. It isn't the most comfortable feeling.
Comfort and fit mostly are just like Apple's AirPods however, with the half in-ear design of the earpieces and the same round tip. The design ensures you still hear environmental noises while listening to music, a podcast, or an audiobook. It makes them the safest option in traffic.
The ear tip design also makes for an airy sound, because the speaker isn't located directly against your ear, but only halfway there. The sound of the Tiso iX is warm, with an emphasized bass and lower mids - such as bass guitars and darker tones. They drag the vocals down a bit, resulting in a congested, somewhat muffled sound. It may not be ideal for critical listening, but it's still nice and warm for background listening.
Battery life is excellent on the Tiso iX (full review here), with 5 hours of playtime on a single charge and up to 7 full recharges with the charging case.
I hope this comparison on cheap Apple AirPods look-a-likes helps you select the right one for you. If you plan to buy one of the items in this list, please consider doing it with the links in this article.
These are affiliate links, from which I'll gain a little percentage of the price. Buying a product from the link won't cost you extra, yet it will support me a bit in my ongoing , independent and honest research on affordable audio.
There are way more true wireless earphones you can buy for under 25 dollar, than described in this selection. See my reviews and comparison here:
Also check out my other articles:
Bought a true wireless earbud thanks to this list? I'd love to hear what you've chosen. Do comment! :-)