Even though the best true wireless earbuds usually cost between $150 and $300, the market has grown to the point where you can get something good enough without spending $100, $200, or $300. Yes, there is still a lot of junk in the cheap bin, but every year we see more and more earbuds with good sound quality, long battery life, and lots of features that don’t hurt your wallet. We looked into and tried a variety of true wireless earbuds that cost less than $100 to help people on a budget. These ones gave us the most for our money.

Best for most: Anker Soundcore Space A40

The Anker Soundcore Space A40 are often sold for $80, but they have the same features and performance as earplugs that cost twice as much. Their small, round earpieces are light and well-balanced, so most people should be able to wear them for long periods of time without too much trouble. The default sound setting is good enough. It’s warm, with a bump in the upper bass and a dip in the treble that can dull some finer details but sounds nice overall. Unlike many cheap headphones, the low-end doesn’t get totally blown out. As with many modern sets, you can change the sound with the Soundcore app’s custom EQ tools. Using these won’t make the Space A40 sound as good as the best wireless earbuds on the market, but it can give them a little more deep bass or high-frequency focus. The app is easy to use in general, and any changes you make are saved right to the earphones.

The best thing about the Space A40 is that it has active noise cancellation (ANC), which is great for the price. It won’t completely block out higher-pitched sounds, but it does a good job of muting the rumble of a train or jet engine. By default, Anker uses an adaptive ANC system that changes the amount of noise cancellation based on your surroundings. You can also set it yourself to strong, moderate, or weak. That’s great for people who have trouble hearing. There is also a stealth mode, which isn’t as good as what you’d find on a high-end pair like the AirPods Pro, but it works in a pinch.

Most of the small features you’d want in a current pair of headphones are also here. You can connect the Space A40 to two devices at once, and you can use one earbud by itself. The battery life is good at about eight hours per charge, and the case that comes with it can add another 40 or so hours and can be charged wirelessly. The IPX4 grade isn’t anything special, but it still means that the earphones can stand up to light rain and sweat. The touch control scheme can feel a little busy because you can give up to six different shortcuts to different taps and long presses. This means you have to leave out one or two functions, but it works well. We haven’t really had any connection problems either.

The only big problems are with the mic and the fact that it doesn’t automatically pause when you take out an earbud. The first one doesn’t do well with sibilant sounds and can lose your voice in noisy places, so it’s not the best choice for phone calls, but it works.

v5.2 is Bluetooth.
Yes, there is active noise cancellation.
Yes, I’m in transparency mode
Customized EQ:
USB-C is the charging port.
Charging by wireless means:
IPX4 means it won’t get wet.
Yes, two gadgets can connect to each other.
No, auto-pause
Rated battery life: 10 hours, 50 hours with case
Rated fast charging: 10 minutes = 4 hours
SBC, AAC, and LDAC codecs
18 months of service.

Runner up: EarFun Air Pro 3

The $80 EarFun Air Pro 3 are a commendable alternative to the Space A40 if you see them on sale or if you prefer an AirPods-style “stem” design. Like the Space A40, they come with ANC, a transparency mode, a relatively stable fit, a pocketable case that supports Qi wireless charging and the ability to connect to two devices at once. Battery life is slightly worse, closer to six or seven hours than eight, but it’s not bad. Their IPX5 water resistance rating is a touch better, as is their built-in mic.

The Air Pro 3 sounds decent, too. By default, they have an excited, V-shaped EQ curve, with intense bass and a noticeable spike in the treble. Some might enjoy this, as it gives EDM and pop a good sense of thump, but others might find it fatiguing, and it can make higher frequencies sound a hair too sharp. The Space A40’s sound isn’t exactly balanced, but it should be a little more agreeable for most. You can still rein in and personalize the sound with a (less flexible) custom EQ tool in the EarFun app, though.

Likewise, the Air Pro 3’s active noise cancellation is serviceable in most cases, but it’s a half-step behind the Space A40 and isn’t customizable. Plus, while the design is generally comfortable for extended listening, it’s bulkier than our top pick. On the plus side, the touch controls are slightly more extensive, as you can triple-tap each earbud to access additional shortcuts.

Bluetooth: v5.3
Active noise cancellation: Yes
Transparency mode: Yes
Custom EQ: Yes
Charging port: USB-C
Wireless charging: Yes
Water resistance: IPX5
Multipoint connectivity: Yes (2 devices)
Auto-pause: No
Battery life (rated): 9 hrs w/ ANC on, 7 hrs w/ ANC off, 45 hrs w/ case
Fast charging (rated): 10 mins = 2 hrs
Codecs: SBC, AAC, LC3, aptX adaptive
Warranty: 18 months

Best under $50: EarFun Free 2S

If you don’t want to spend more than $50 on a set of true wireless earbuds, consider the Earfun Free 2S. Like the Air Pro 3, it has a big bass response and a smaller bump in the treble. It misses details in the mids and can get fatiguing over extended periods, but it’s a richer example of this kind of “fun” sound signature than most pairs in this price range. You can adjust the sound through EarFun’s app as well, though there’s still fewer EQ presets to choose from than with the Soundcore Space A40.

The earpieces themselves are well-shaped and not oversized; combined with their soft silicone ear tips, they should be comfortable for most to wear over long periods of time. An IPX7 rating means they’re fully waterproof, too. There’s a suite of reliable touch controls and battery life sits at around seven hours. The included case adds another 30 or so hours and supports wireless charging, too. It’s not the smallest case we’ve used, but it’s not so large that it can’t fit in a pocket, either.

That said, you start to run into more “you get what you pay for” situations once you drop into this price range. In addition to not sounding quite as sharp as our pricier picks, the Free 2S lack active noise cancellation, multi-device connectivity, auto-pausing and a transparency mode. And though their mic quality is decent in most cases, it’s pretty susceptible to wind noise.

Bluetooth: v5.2
Active noise cancellation: No
Transparency mode: No
Custom EQ: Yes
Charging port: USB-C
Wireless charging: Yes
Water resistance: IPX7
Multipoint connectivity: No
Auto-pause: No
Battery life (rated): 7 hrs, 30 hrs w/ case
Fast charging (rated): 10 mins = 2 hrs
Codecs: SBC, AAC, aptX
Warranty: 18 months

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