EarFun Free 2S vs. EarFun Air 2: Which sub-$50 earbuds are best?

Content is created by CNN Underscored’s team of editors who work independently from the CNN newsroom. When you buy through links on our site, CNN and its syndication partners may earn a commission. Learn more

Alex Bracetti
Alex Bracetti

EarFun makes some of the best budget buds available — and the Free 2S (2023) and Air 2 are no exceptions.

These extremely affordable models offer better audio and battery life than the AirPods 2, and for a third of the price. The Free 2S have been redesigned slightly for optimal comfort and updated with newer specs, while the Air 2 pack versatile connectivity and sound features into a familiar yet sleek package. Both models are also given access to the EarFun Audio app for extended functionality.

But only one can be considered the better investment. This comparison breaks down the Free 2S and Air 2 to determine EarFun’s top bargain.

EarFun Free 2S vs. EarFun Air 2 at a glance

EarFun Free 2S


The Free 2S give you energetic sound and respectable battery life for a fraction of the cost. Receive an extra 14% off these buds by checking the coupon on Amazon and using the code EAFRE2SF.

$60 at EarFun
$23 at Amazon

EarFun Air 2


Hi-res sound and an expansive feature set place the Air 2 among the best true wireless earbuds at their price point. Score a total of 30% off these buds by checking the coupon on Amazon and using our exclusive code EAIR2CNN.

$35 at Amazon
$35 at EarFun

Quick comparison

The EarFun Air 2 win on sound quality and battery life

Alex Bracetti/CNN Underscored
Alex Bracetti/CNN Underscored

If sound is your priority, then the Air 2 won’t disappoint. The combination of 10mm drivers and Sony’s LDAC codec creates a hi-res listening experience with emphatic bass and minimal latency. Clarity and definition are superb. LDAC pulls more details from recordings to hear tracks the way musicians intended. Frequency range is also solid to enjoy a nice mix of lows, mids and highs. The Air 2 boast smaller drivers and employ Qualcomm’s standard aptX technology, which jointly produce wide, bass-filled sound over a steady bitrate when streaming content on Android devices. However, their overly aggressive low end diminishes sound quality on iOS/macOS.

Not only do the Air 2 sound better, but they hold a longer charge as well. You’ll get 9 hours of use at full power, though LDAC drops playtime to a meager 5.5 hours. Luckily, the wireless charging case holds up to 40 hours, translating to 7 additional charges when in LDAC mode. The Air 2 achieves 7 hours per charge and has a wireless charging case that holds 30 hours total. Quick charging is the same on both models: 10 minutes for 2 hours of listening time.

TL;DR: The Free 2S dish out energetic sound, but can’t match the Air 2’s more depth-filled and dynamic audio.

Special features go to the Air 2

Alex Bracetti/CNN Underscored
Alex Bracetti/CNN Underscored

In addition to LDAC and wireless charging, the Air 2 have a customizable EQ with multiple presets, Find Headphones mode, low-latency Gaming Mode, and Bluetooth 5.3 with multipoint technology to pair to two devices simultaneously. All features operate well. Overlooked hallmarks such as the 4-mic noise-canceling array deserve recognition for delivering adequate digital assistance (e.g. Google Assistance, Siri) and voice calling, along with decent wind resistance.

The Free 2S lack their sibling’s feature set. We’re grateful for the EQ to personalize sound. Bluetooth 5.2 with aptX boosts streaming playback, plus digital assistance and voice calling are satisfactory. It’s just that there are many similarly priced competitors, including the Air 2, that supply more perks.

TL;DR: Expect more performance from the slightly pricier offering.

Chic and comfy designs with mediocre charging cases

Earfun’s earbud designs do a great job of balancing fashion and form. The Free 2S are more flattering due to their small oval shape. They don’t stick out awkwardly like some inexpensive rivals (e.g., Jabra Elite 3, Samsung Galaxy Buds FE) and rest pleasantly inside the ear for several hours. IPX7 certification means sweat and waterproof protection up to 1 meter for 30 minutes.

The Air 2 are more stylish. Little details like the dark silver-gray colorway and shiny laser-etched branding draw positive attention. EarFun’s silicone tips form a tight seal for proper stability and the elongated sound ports don’t apply unwanted pressure to your ears. They have the same IP rating too.

Alex Bracetti/CNN Underscored
Alex Bracetti/CNN Underscored

Neither charging case is worth writing home about. Construction is mediocre, detailing is dull and the flimsy lid with weak magnets put both sets of buds at high risk of damage.

TL;DR: These are two attractive and comfy earbud designs that unfortunately come with poorly built charging cases. 

Poor touch controls across the board

The Free 2S and Air 2 suffer from the same problem that all other EarFun models do: awful touch control accuracy. Multi-tap gestures are often misinterpreted, with triple taps registering as double taps and double taps being mistaken for single taps. If you want to avoid some aggravation, go into the companion app and assign your favorite functions to the single-tap or long-hold gesture, which are the only reliable inputs.

TL;DR: Frustration will rise when attempting to enable multi-tap functions on either set of buds.

Bottom line

Alex Bracetti/CNN Underscored
Alex Bracetti/CNN Underscored

Higher battery life and sound quality give the EarFun Air 2 a significant edge over their re-released brethren. The additional hours of playtime via charging case are clutch for travel. LDAC gives these buds excellent streaming playback with clearer sonic presentation. A handsome, waterproof design adds to their appeal.

The Free 2S are a fine upgrade that get you a lot of performance on an extremely limited budget. EarFun’s proprietary drivers serve up impactful bass and striking mids, granted the former comes on too strong when playing tracks on Apple devices. Companion app support is useful for tweaking sound, but the absence of several noteworthy features makes the Air 2 more enticing.

Note: The prices above reflect the retailers' listed price at the time of publication.

For more CNN news and newsletters create an account at CNN.com