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I review tech for a living and these are the best AirPods Pro alternatives under $100

Before you drop $249 on Apple's earbuds, try one of these exceptional — and affordable — alternatives, each tested and reviewed.

Don't get me wrong, AirPods Pro are great — er, is great? Oh, Apple, your nomenclature is messing with my grammar. Anyway I love everything about AirPods — except the price. I'm not sure two small plastic earbuds are worth $249, regardless of how good they might be. Not when some of the best AirPods Pro alternatives cost a lot less and, in some cases, work just as well.

Quick Overview
  • 1More Aero Wireless Earbuds

    Best overall AirPods Pro alternative

  • Baseus Bowie MA10 Wireless Earbuds

    Best budget AirPods Pro alternative

  • Soundpeats GoFree2 Open-Ear Headphones

    Best open-ear AirPods Pro alternative

  • Anker Soundcore Life P3 Noise-Canceling Earbuds

    Best colorful AirPods Pro alternative

  • Anker Soundcore Space A40 Wireless Earbuds

    Best bullet-style AirPods Pro alternative

  • Edifier W320TN Adaptive Active Noise Cancelling Earbuds

    Best regular-AirPods alternative

See 1 more

How much less and how well? Smart questions! To find out, I tested a bunch of Bluetooth wireless earbuds priced $100 or below and came away with six I think are excellent buys. Some are straight-up AirPods copycats; others have slightly different designs that are better suited to activities like exercise.

Read more: The best wireless earbuds for 2024

Ear detection: Yes | Companion app: Yes | Multipoint connectivity: Yes | Case charging: USB-C or wireless | Rated battery life: 7 hours on a charge | Ear tips included: 4 sizes

Just about perfect. That's how I'd describe 1More's Aero earbuds, which started out at $110 but now sell for $85 — not including frequent coupons and other discounts. 

Housed in an admirably compact flip-top case (one that can charge via USB-C or Qi charging pad), the Aero earbuds come in white or black. Unfortunately, although the included instruction guide clearly explains how to pair them with your phone, it offers zero information about the 1More app. It's not specifically named, and there's no link or QR code to help you locate it. The guide merely makes a few mentions of "APP," without detailing any of its features or explaining how to use it.

Thankfully, it's not hard to find it in the Apple or Google Play stores, and it's not hard to use, either. You can use it to check battery status, choose between noise-canceling modes, toggle spatial audio (more on that below) and much more. Delve into the settings and you'll even find "soothing sounds," which are white-noise clips like breeze, waterfall and river. Unfortunately, each one lasts only about five seconds before repeating, and there's a brief pause when that happens. (Thus, get your white noise elsewhere.)

Within this group, the Aero comes closest to matching every AirPods Pro feature — most notably spatial audio, which makes it sound as if it's coming from all around you, but also tracks head movements. For example, if you're watching a movie on your phone and you turn your head, the sound will shift, so that it seems as if it's still coming from the screen. This is tricky to explain but a really cool addition to your listening experience. Same thing with music: It creates a sort of focal point for your listening. AirPods Pro do an amazing job with this; the effect is a little less pronounced on the Aero earbuds, but it's still great to have this feature at this price point.

I also like 1More's Smart Loudness option: It dynamically adjusts bass, mids and highs, the idea being to preserve the full range of sound at all volumes. I was amazed at the difference this made when, for example, I played some favorite tunes at low volumes. Without Smart Loudness, much of the "fullness" was lost. The 1More app also includes a dozen equalizer presets; one of them, "vocal booster," helps amplify dialogue when you're watching videos.

Sorry for burying the lede: The Aero earbuds have great sound too. Some equalizer fiddling is helpful to get music exactly the way you like it, but overall I found audio to be deep, well-balanced and very pleasant. The noise-canceling capabilities were solid and the stock medium-size ear tips were comfy, at least in my ears. Save for the aforementioned quibbles, both of which are extremely minor, the 1More Aero is one of my favorite AirPods Pro alternatives.

  • Superb sound
  • Supports spatial audio
  • Frequently on sale
  • Incomplete instruction manual
  • Poor implementation of white-noise sounds
$55 at Amazon

Ear detection: No | Companion app: Yes | Multipoint connectivity: Yes | Case charging: USB-C | Rated battery life: 8 hours on a charge | Ear tips included: 3 sizes

Baseus has crafted amazingly good earbuds with a price tag that's even more amazing: just $50, and often on sale for even less. They may not rival AirPods in terms of noise-canceling power or phone-call quality, but they sound great and promise even better battery life.

Available only in black, the MA10s are bullet-style earbuds, which I find a little harder to grip than AirPods and other "pipe" earbuds. The orientation is also less obvious — it took me a minute to figure out "which end is up" when first trying these out.

The good news is that they fit snugly and comfortably — in my ears, at least — with the medium-size ear tips and hooks that came already installed. (Other sizes are included for those with larger or smaller ears.) 

The charging case is on the large side, and not especially pocket-friendly. It doesn't support wireless charging, either — only USB-C — but it can recharge the earbuds more than 16 times before needing to be recharged itself. And the earbuds last up to eight hours, meaning you're looking at nearly 140 total hours of playtime.

I'm no audiophile, but I've tested a lot of earbuds. Color me impressed: The Bowie MA10s produce rich and well-balanced sound, maybe not quite as full-bodied as AirPods, but extremely good overall. And if you're one who likes to fiddle with sound settings, the Baseus companion app provides 12 equalizer presets and lets you create multiple custom ones.

Apple's AirPods Pro are virtually unrivaled when it comes to noise canceling, so how do the MA10s compare? They're solid in some areas and they struggle in others. But remember: $30 versus $249. These are without question some of the best budget earbuds I've ever tried.

  • Exceptional battery life
  • Very good sound and noise-canceling
  • Smart touch controls
  • Useful companion app
  • No in-ear detection
  • Hard to hear yourself on phone calls
  • Charging case too large for most pockets
$32 at Amazon

Ear detection: No | Companion app: Yes | Multipoint connectivity: Yes | Case charging: USB-C | Rated battery life: 9 hours on a charge | Ear tips included: N/A

I've had it happen while exercising or even just walking that an inadvertent brush of the ear sends an earbud flying. That's extremely unlikely with the Soundpeats GoFree2, which are about as far removed from AirPods Pro — design-wise, at least — as you can get. Instead of screwing into your ear canals or resting just outside them, the GoFree2's hook onto your ears.

That affords two additional benefits. First, because there's no noise-isolation or -canceling of any kind, you're better able to stay aware of your surroundings — especially important if you're walking or exercising outdoors. Second, comfort: I found I could wear these for hours and barely notice they were there. In comparison, even the best earbuds get a little uncomfortable after a while — and don't get me started on over-the-ear headphones. 

The earphones are a breeze to pair with your phone, but the Soundpeats app has a few issues. First, there's the annoying registration requirement, which includes entering an emailed code within 60 seconds or you have to repeat the process. I also couldn't uncheck the box to opt out of receiving Soundpeats promotional emails; it simply wouldn't respond to taps.

There's a feature called Adaptive EQ that creates a custom equalizer setting based on your responses to a hearing test. But that test is confusing; you're supposed to tap a button when you hear a tone, only the button is labeled "I hear voices." Huh? And each segment of the test is so fast, you need quick reflexes to properly register your response. Eventually I figured it out and got through it, but can't say I noticed any difference with Adaptive EQ enabled.

Like a lot of AirPods Pro alternatives, the GoFree2's employ touch controls for things like volume and track skipping. However, it's a challenge to remember them all; different functions require a single, double or triple tap, or a long press — and it varies between left earbud and right. The Soundpeats app lets you disable all touch controls but not modify them.

App gripes aside, I really like the GoFree2. Bolstered by Hi-Res Audio with LDAC support, the sound quality is much better than I expected given the open-ear design. There's not a ton of bass, but music seemed detailed and well-balanced overall.

So if you're looking for a real AirPods Pro alternative, meaning something that doesn't go anywhere near the inside of your ears, the Soundpeats GoFree 2 is a very good choice.

  • Ear-hook design ideal for comfort, safety and exercise
  • Excellent battery life
  • Supports Hi-Res Audio with LDAC
  • Confusing adaptive-EQ test
  • No ANC
  • Touch control settings can't be changed
$56 at Amazon

Ear detection: No | Companion app: Yes | Multipoint connectivity: No | Case charging: USB-C or wireless | Rated battery life: 7 hours on a charge | Ear tips included: 5 sizes

In a field crowded with products that are either black or white (literally), the Soundcore Life P3 stands out with a much-needed splash of color. Yes, the two monochromatic standards are available, but you can also choose Navy Blue, Sky Blue or Coral Red. Whatever you pick, the buds themselves offer a nice bit of extra flair in the form of chrome trim.

There's another notable feature here: Soundcore's excellent companion app, which allows you to modify the earbuds' touch-control settings, toggle between multiple (!) noise-canceling modes and choose various equalizer presets (or customize your own). There's also a test for ear-tip seal quality (something I've never seen before) and even about a dozen white-noise sounds you can play to help fall asleep.

All this would be superfluous if the Life P3 wasn't comfortable or sounded poor, but I'm happy to report a comfortable fit and great audio performance. The ANC is a bit less pronounced than AirPods', but it works well overall and includes a transparency mode. Plus, you can get really granular within the app and tweak the ANC to block indoor, outdoor or travel noises, depending on where you are. That's an increasingly common option, but the P3 was among the first to have it.

All that's missing is ear detection, a feature I really like. You can get it in many other earbuds, so I'm sad Anker neglected to include it here. What's more, while the "Find my earbuds" feature is great in theory, in practice it works poorly. When activated via the app, an earbud emits a high-pitched whine — one that dogs might be able to hear, but I couldn't, not even when the earbud was just a few feet away. (This could be attributed to older ears, as we lose range in our hearing as we age.)

Even without ear detection, the Soundcore Life P3 is a top contender among under-$100 earbuds.

  • Stylish design, multiple color options
  • Great companion app
  • Well-balanced sound
  • Very good battery life
  • No ear-detection
  • So-so ANC
  • Iffy find-my-earbuds feature
$56 at Amazon

Ear detection: No | Companion app: Yes | Multipoint connectivity: Yes | Case charging: USB-C or wireless | Rated battery life: 10 hours on a charge | Ear tips included: 5 sizes

A relative newcomer to the under-$100 arena, the Soundcore Space A40 earbuds lack the distinctive "stem" design found elsewhere in this roundup — including the aforementioned Soundcore Life P3. Does that matter? It's partially a style choice, but I do think stem buds are a little easier to grip and insert. That said, the Space A40 improves on the P3 in several key ways and costs only $20 more when not on sale. 

If you're looking for earbuds that can last an entire day, the Space A40 is your best choice: Anker promises an impressive 10 hours on a single charge, a good 2-3 hours more than most. (For additional reference, Apple's current-gen AirPods Pro can manage only 6 hours.) The charging case can supply as many as four full recharges, for a whopping 50 total hours of playtime before you need to revisit a powered USB port (or Qi charging pad, as the case supports wireless charging as well).

These earbuds also feature ramped-up noise-canceling and transparency-mode capabilities. Activate adaptive ANC, for example, and the earbuds will detect what kind of background noise is present and adjust accordingly. (You can also set this manually, but honestly, why would you?) Transparency mode adds a "vocal" option that boosts voices, the better to allow conversation without removing the earbuds. In my tests, ANC proved rock-solid.

It's especially nice to see multipoint connectivity make its way into $100 earbuds; it's great if you routinely want to switch between, say, smartphone and tablet, phone and computer, etc., without having to unpair and re-pair.

The Space A40 also adds Anker's HearID to the mix: It conducts an in-app test to tailor equalizer settings to your hearing. I found this really fascinating; turns out my left ear doesn't pick up treble quite as well as my right. The end result was an equalizer preset tuned specifically for me. I'm not sure I noticed a huge before/after difference, but for anyone with hearing loss or other issues, this could be a real boon.

Available in black, white or blue, the mid-range A40 has only one real flaw, and it's the same one that dings the Life P3: no ear detection. Once you get accustomed to that feature, it's hard to live without it. In nearly all other respects, though, these are superb earbuds.

  • Exceptional battery life
  • Transparency mode boosts voices
  • HearID creates custom equalizer for your ears
  • Bullet design
  • No ear-detection
$59 at Amazon

Ear detection: Yes | Companion app: Yes | Multipoint connectivity: Yes | Case charging: USB-C | Rated battery life: 5.5 hours on a charge | Ear tips included: N/A

When is an AirPods Pro alternative not an AirPods Pro alternative? When it's the Edifier W320TN: These earbuds are more like standard AirPods in that they have hard-plastic tips rather than silicone ones. That's great for anyone who doesn't love the screwed-into-the-ear-canal feel of the latter, or perhaps just can't get a stable fit. But here's the amazing part: You still get ANC, something Apple's 2nd- and 3rd-generation AirPods don't offer. (It's limited to AirPods Pro.)

Does it work well? Surprisingly, yes: When I parked myself next to a noisy air-conditioning unit and enabled adaptive noise cancellation, the hum was reduced dramatically. This despite the lack of added noise isolation that comes from silicone ear tips. I did notice a slight hiss, an effect that's not uncommon with ANC technology. But it didn't really bother me, and I could no longer detect it once I started playing music.

Take note, however, that the very nature of the all-plastic design means the W320TNs won't fit perfectly in all ears. I found them extremely comfortable, but if your ears are on the smaller side, they may feel tight. Alternately, they could fall out of larger ears.

That aside, these earbuds deliver extremely good sound, which is no mean feat when you don't have that silicone ear-tip seal. I'd say they're easily on par with Apple's 2nd-generation AirPods. And like the 3rd-generation AirPods, they have stems you can "pinch" (rather than tap) to perform actions like skip to the next track or enable Game Mode. That programming happens in Edifier's companion app, which also lets you tweak things like pressure sensitivity (how hard you need to pinch), prompt volume and in-ear detection: You can opt to resume audio when the earbuds are inserted or do nothing, a level of control I haven't seen from many other earbuds. There's also a library of "soothing sounds" you can play and a "find my headphones" function that actually works pretty well.

Battery life here is just OK at 5.5 hours, and the case must be recharged using USB-C; it doesn't support wireless charging. Those nitpicks aside, it's easy to recommend the Edifier W320TN, a superb pair of AirPods alternatives for those who don't want to go Pro.

  • Doesn't invade your ear canals
  • Still offers ANC (and it works!)
  • Useful "pinch" controls
  • Good companion app
  • Built-in find-my-earbuds feature
  • So-so battery life
  • May not fit well in all ears
  • Case doesn't support wireless charging
$70 at Amazon

First, I have ears. Second, I love music, everything from Bach to Billy Joel to Hamilton. Finally, I've been testing and reviewing consumer electronics for over 30 years. In fact, you should also check out my roundup of the best wireless headphones, just in case you prefer an over-the-ear option.

Wear. Press Play. Listen. Evaluate. Pretty straightforward, right? Actually, in testing these AirPods Pro alternatives, I did a lot more than just sit with my favorite Spotify playlist on repeat. I checked the fit and comfort of the earbuds (keeping in mind that everyone has different ears), the ease of setting them up, the capabilities afforded by their companion apps, the rated battery life, the play controls and more.

Oh, and sound quality, natch. This is a pretty subjective topic, but I'm of the opinion that every earbud here sounds amazing — or at least very good. That said, I'm not a hardcore audiophile; I don't notice things like "low-frequency response" or "high-mid presence." Maybe that's because I'm in my 50s and my ears are losing some range; mostly I think it's because music, for me, lives in the background, not the foreground. I'm not listening for every little detail, but rather for overall enjoyment.

If you feel the opposite, you may want to reconsider your budget and splurge on something like the Apple AirPods Pro, Sony WF-1000XM5 or Bose QuietComfort Ultra Earbuds — all top-rated products tuned for audiophile ears.

There's more to picking an AirPods substitute than just looking for the closest shiny white match. For one thing, other products are available in colors other than white (gasp!). But there are lots of other considerations as well. These are the specs and features to think about when choosing your next pair of earbuds.

App capabilities: These days it's the rare wireless earbuds that don't come with a companion app. At a minimum, these tools let you check battery life and install firmware updates. Some also provide a selection of equalizer presets and, ideally, a custom EQ so you can tweak the sound exactly the way you like it. I also like apps that let you customize the controls and find missing earbuds. Bottom line: Hit the app store to investigate the app — features, user reviews, etc. — before buying.

Battery life: This is a difficult thing to test because there are so many variables: volume level, ANC settings and so on. Keep in mind there's the battery life afforded by the earbuds themselves and the battery life of the charging case, which dictates how many earbud-recharges you'll get before needing to recharge the case. The good news is that nearly all the products on our list match or exceed AirPods Pro battery life.

Case size: One thing I'll say about AirPods: They can slip easily into a pocket thanks to their compact case. That's true of most of the alternatives as well, but some cases are definitely on the larger side — something to consider if pocketability is important to you.

Charging options: Every wireless earbud here charges inside its case, but what about the case itself? All of them have USB-C ports, but some can also take advantage of Qi charging pads, much like modern phones. Just lay the case on a pad and presto: cord-free power-up. This isn't essential, of course, but it's certainly a nice option to have.

Ear tips: With the exception of the Edifier and Soundpeats products, the earbuds here rely on AirPods Pro-style silicone ear tips. The more sizes that are included in the box, the more likely you are to find a good fit.

Spatial audio: Not many sub-$100 earbuds offer this feature yet, which is entirely optional but also very nice to have. As noted in the 1More Aero review, above, it gives you a sense of place, a fixed focal point for whatever audio is playing. And that focal point stays put even when you turn your head. It's hard to adequately describe, but trust me that it's pretty cool.

Most of these products compete directly with the $249 AirPods Pro, as they employ similar silicone tips that, for the best audio quality and noise isolation, should nestle into your ear canals to form a snug seal. They also match the Pro's active noise canceling (ANC) capabilities, and a few offer advanced features like in-ear detection (which pauses/resumes playback when you remove/reinsert an earbud), multipoint connectivity (you can pair the earbuds with more than just one device) and wireless case charging. The 1More Aero even copies Apple's spatial-audio and head-tracking features, which yield pretty remarkable results when you're listening to podcasts and watching videos on your iPhone or other device.

In addition to being both Android- and iPhone-compatible, every product here offers some degree of water-resistance, meaning these are also some of the best wireless earbuds for working out: They can easily withstand any sweat that happens to drip in, and many will hold up to accidental dunks in a pool or puddle. (Look for an IPX rating of 7 or better if you're concerned about such pitfalls.)

So what are you really giving up by choosing "budget" earbuds? For starters, not all ANC is created equal: AirPods Pro excel at blocking noise, but the alternatives don't block quite as much. There's also call quality, something to consider if you talk on the phone a lot or use earbuds for your Zoom meetings. (Because there are so many variables at play in call quality, it's one thing I wasn't able to test.)

On the other hand, sometimes you actually come out ahead. Some of the earbuds here offer better battery life than AirPods Pro (note: all numbers listed above are with ANC disabled), and some have companion apps that let you toggle different listening modes or use an equalizer to adjust audio levels to your liking. In other words, many an earbud manufacturer is beating Apple at its own game — and giving you a price break at the same time.