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You’ve already cut the cord when it comes to your cable, but the latest data shows that millions of people around the world have cut the cord when it comes to audio devices as well. According to a new report from Counterpoint Research, the global market for true wireless wearables will reach 238 million units by the end of 2021.
Apple’s AirPods remain a best-seller and own a large share of the market. Counterpoint says Apple’s products accounted for almost 30% of the segment in 2020. Users cited ease of use, comfort and name recognition as key reasons for choosing AirPods over other wireless headsets, though Bose topped their list when it came to audio quality.
These days though, a number of other manufacturers are making solid AirPod alternatives, including a new entry from Samsung launched just this month. While a pair of AirPods will run you $160+, we found four great options that deliver similar sound quality, battery life and comfort without the hefty price tag.
1. TOZO T12 TWS Bluetooth 5.0 Earbuds
It sounds almost too good to be true: a pair of wireless earbuds with almost all 5-star reviews for under $50? But that’s what the latest set from TOZO delivers, with over five hours of playback time on a single charge, a large 10mm speaker driver, and ergonomically-designed ear-tips made with a gel silicone that’s more comfortable for prolonged wear. What we like: these buds are waterproof-rated IPX8, meaning they can be submerged in up to one meter of water for 30 minutes and still come out in-tact. The sweat-proof coating on the caps makes these a great option for workouts too, allowing moisture to wick-off easily so your sound — and workout — goes uninterrupted.
2. Anker Soundcore Liberty Air 2 Pro TWS Earbuds
These Anker earbuds are a sporty black alternative to AirPods, with IPX5-rated sweatproof and rainproof protection, and seven hours of playback time (which goes up to 21 hours when you toss them in the portable carrying case that doubles as a charger). For a perfectly tailored listening experience, the earbuds have “HearID Personalized EQ” which analyzes your listening patterns and creates an individualized sound setup for your ears (although you can easily adjust your own EQ settings as well.)
Reviewers say sound is well defined across the entire range, and they like the quality background noise reduction, which they say allows for clear and distinct audio, making these earbuds great for taking calls or listening to music on the go.
3. Samsung Galaxy Buds Live
While Samsung’s answer to the AirPods Pro, the Galaxy Buds Pro were just recently released, we feel that the Galaxy Buds Live offers the same quality cord-free listening experience for a slightly lower price tag.
Samsung says their earbuds boast an enhanced listening experience, thanks to work with the audio and acoustics experts at AKG. Your music comes through crystal clear, with more accurate sound and pick-up of all the finely-tuned details in each track. Samsung’s “Active Noise Cancellation” technology lets you tap your buds once to allow in just enough surrounding noise so you’re aware of your environment, without detracting from your listening experience. For runners and cyclists, it keeps you aware of oncoming traffic during your ride, while still keeping you on-beat and on pace.
The Galaxy Buds Live get you up to 8 hours of Bluetooth streaming, and up to 5 hours of calls. The included charging case holds a charge for up to seven hours, and gives you 1.7 hours of usage time on just a 15-minute charge.
What we like: the Galaxy Buds Live come with Samsung’s Bixby assistant. Use your voice to make calls, send text messages, skip tracks or check the battery life of your earbuds.
4. SoundPEATS TrueFree+ Wireless Earbuds
A durable, yet elegant, pair of earbuds meant to provide a comfortable fit for its extended playtime, the SoundPEATS TrueFree+ Earbuds delivers up to 3.5 hours in one go. When not in use, place them in their case to recharge— you’ll get a whopping 9-10 full charges from the charging case, giving you 35 hours of use.
Reviewers say the SoundPEATS delivers some of the best sound quality in its class, with deep, immersive bass and rich, warm tones you typically only find in larger headphones. Customize your buds using the included ear tip pieces, that let you to seal in a tight, secure fit for optimal noise reduction. A simple tap of the multi-function buttons lets you play and pause your music, and take a call on the go.
5. TaoTronics SoundLiberty 92 Bluetooth Earbuds
TaoTronics is known for their high quality, yet reasonably priced, audio products, and their SoundLiberty 92 truly wireless earbuds combine the latest in audio technology with an ultra-high-performance audio experience for well below market competitors.
These earbuds incorporate “Hi-Fi Audio Sound” technology, with 13mm drivers that deliver crisp and superior sound accuracy across the frequency range. With TaoTronics’ “Role Switch” feature, the earbuds can be used independently from each other, and can be switched between Mono and Twin mode in a snap.
What we like: TaoTronics has designed the most secure and comfortable fitting earbuds that rival AirPods in their ability to be barely noticeable after hours of wear. Their sleek enclosures are ergonomically designed with weight balance closer to a user’s ear, resulting in a more secure fit.
The earbuds get up to five hours battery life, or up to 30 hours through the charging case. Fast charge capabilities get you one hour of battery life with just five minutes of charge.
Working out or on the go? The earbuds have an IPX8 rating, meaning they are sweat-proof, waterproof, and weather-resistant, ensuring coverage in all environments.