We have a list of the. But what if you want to pay as little as possible? Say, under $40 or even less? Yes, there are an increasing number of cheap true wireless earbuds out there, but only a few that stand out for being a cut above and surprisingly decent for the price. As I like to say, you shouldn’t expect the world at this low price, but you can throw any of these wireless earbuds in a gym bag (when gyms open again) and not feel heartbroken if you happen to lose them.
Here are my current dirt-cheap true-wireless favorites, listed from highest to lowest price (but heck, they’re all pretty darn cheap). I’ve tested them all, and I’ll update this list periodically.
Best budget true-wireless earbuds
Screenshot by David Carnoy/CNET
What makes these Soundpeats Air3 Deluxe HS buds special is that they sound surprisingly good for open earbuds — they’re pretty close to what you get from Apple’s AirPods 3 for sound. On top of that, they support Sony’s LDAC audio codec for devices that offer it. Not too many cheap open earbuds have good sound but these Soundpeats have good bass response and clarity. They’re also good for making calls and have a low-latency gaming mode. The price is currently a little more than $35 after applying the code NI6VXZF8 at checkout.
You’re receiving price alerts for Tranya T20
Rated up to 8 hours
Yes (IPX7 — can be submerged for 30 minutes up to 1 meter)
The Tranya T20s remind me a little of a cheaper version of Samsung’s Galaxy Buds 2 without the noise canceling. They’re pretty no-frills and are missing more premium features such as an ear-detection sensor that automatically pauses your music when you take a bud out of your ears. But they sound surprisingly decent for their modest price. If you get a tight seal, they sit flush with your ears (they don’t stick out much) and they have decent battery life — up to 8 hours at moderate volume levels. They also work pretty well for making calls and are IPX7 waterproof.
The case feels a little cheap and the buds are lightweight. The Galaxy Buds 2 definitely feel more premium. However, the buds are well tuned and have a relatively wide soundstage. Don’t expect the world from them and I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
You’re receiving price alerts for Fiil CC2
Rated up to 6 hours
No IP rating, advertised as sweat-proof
I never tried the original Fiil CC earbuds, but the next-gen CC2 improves on the performance of the originals, with better battery life (they’re rated at 5 hours on a single charge) and no audio latency issues when watching videos.
These did stay in my ears better than the standard AirPods. They pair quickly — they’re equipped with Bluetooth 5.2 — there’s a Fiil companion app for tweaking settings and they sound quite decent for open-style buds, with just enough bass to keep you from feeling they’re bass shy. They’re also decent for making calls and have touch controls.
One of their distinguishing features is their open case, which makes it easy to access the buds and put them back in their case. Thanks to some integrated magnets, they stay in the case securely — you can turn it upside down and the buds won’t come out. Unlike the AirPods, these have square stems, not rounded ones. That seems a little weird at first, and they do fit in your ears slightly differently to AirPods as a result.
Screenshot by David Carnoy/CNET
You’re receiving price alerts for Soundcore by Anker Life P2 Mini
The Soundcore by Anker Life P2 Mini have been out for some time but remain a good budget earbuds option. Available in several color options (navy is show here), they’re compact and lightweight and offer decent sound with 3 EQ modes to choose from. While these don’t have active noise canceling, battery life is good, running up to 8 hours at moderate volume levels. The P2 Mini are IPX5 splash-proof and perform well but not exceptionally well as a headset for making calls.
I also like Anker’s Soundcore Life P3i buds, which retail for around $45 and do have active noise canceling. They’re superior to these buds, but cost about $10 to $15 more.
You’re receiving price alerts for Earfun Free 2S
I was a fan of the original Earfun Free buds, and now there’s an upgraded version called the Earfun Free 2 (which has been subsequently upgraded to the 2S). They’re not a huge upgrade, but like the originals, they fit my ears well and deliver decent bang for the buck with strong sound. It has just a touch of treble and bass boost (there’s plenty of bass), and extra features such as wireless charging.
Battery life is rated at up to 7 hours at moderate volume levels, and these buds are fully waterproof with an IPX7 rating. These are equipped with Bluetooth 5.2 and use Qualcomm’s QCC3040 chip that includes support for the aptX audio codec if you’re using a compatible device (certain Android smartphones support that protocol).
Apply the code BFFREE2S4 at checkout to get an additional $13 discount.