If you’re numb to the OnePlus-style hype train that precedes every major product launch — as we are — you may not have been following the incessant attention-seeking from Nothing ahead of its hardware debut. Rather than buy into all that, we’ve been waiting to see what they actually come up with, and well, I have to say I’m pleasantly surprised.
As the true wireless earbud market has matured, we've reached a point where we now have a lot of good quality options even at lower price points — they're no longer just an expensive toy for early adopters. Anyone can pick up an affordable pair of TWEs these days and expect half-decent sound quality as well as a few useful extra features. We've reviewed quite a few of these over the years and are therefore able to help you decide which pair is right for you. These are our favorite options in the 'less than $50' and 'less than $100' price brackets.
Headphone jacks have become a relic of a bygone era, at least in flagship phones. That means that cheap earbud options are fewer and farther between than ever before, too. But as the true wireless market continue to mature, we've seen a lot more budget-friendly options — among them, the EarFun Free. These earbuds pack some traditionally high-end features including IPX7 water resistance and USB-C charging, but their best quality has to be their price: you can pick up a pair for just 35 bucks during this week's sale.
With their first attempt at the end of 2018, ever-reliable German audio brand Sennheiser produced the best pair of true wireless earbuds I had used up to that point. So I was understandably excited to try the second generation when they were announced earlier this year. The hefty price point of $300 remains the same, but battery life has been doubled and active noise cancellation has been added. There’s also a white model this time around if that’s more your style. Comparisons to Sony’s excellent WH-1000XM3 and Master & Dynamic’s MW07 Plus — not to mention Apple’s AirPods Pro — are inevitable given the price and feature set, but Sennheiser’s latest buds do more than hold their own in this company.
When the TicPods Free came out in 2018, they were one of my favorite true wireless sets, especially given the relatively low price of $130. Cheaper models were few and far between at that point, and you’d have to pay significantly more to get anything that sounded truly excellent. The market has been flooded with half-decent affordable options in the time since then, however, and the original TicPods didn’t stand up to the test of time all that well.
Mpow isn't exactly a household name when it comes to audio, but its commitment to competitive pricing has earned it some fans. The M20 wireless earbuds manage to maintain that affordability while packing in a decent array of features. Of course, some compromises must be made to keep costs low, and the M20s are no exception. If you can see past a few issues, these Bluetooth earbuds may be worth your consideration.
Until Sony's excellent WF-1000XM3 launched earlier this year, there was no viable true wireless earbud option with active noise cancellation. This is partly because in-ear audio products already isolate far better than on or over-ear headphones, negating the need for ANC, and partly because it's difficult to squeeze the necessary tech into such a small form factor.
This space has come on leaps and bounds in a few short years, however, and we can now expect even more noise-canceling earbuds to hit the market. Danish brand Libratone recently entered the fray with its Track Air+ model, and they boast an impressive feature set while managing to undercut the competing Sony model by some margin — £179 vs £229 in the UK.
Only two months have passed since we reviewed the Soundcore Liberty Air true wireless earbuds and now we’re taking a look at — or listen to — the Liberty Neo. Neither set is to be confused with the Liberty earbud range from another Anker sub-brand called Zolo. Why Soundcore needs two distinct but similarly priced models is the first question I pondered. The Liberty Neo (MSRP $60/£58) and Liberty Air (MSRP $80/£80) both feature graphene-coated drivers, Bluetooth 5, and IPX5 sweat resistance, but there are also a few key differences to justify the separate SKUs and price variance.
Fast-forward to 2019 and Samsung is back with its latest iteration. Galaxy Buds is already a far more appealing and marketable name. They also cost much less than their predecessors at $130, even undercutting the AirPods by a full $30.
German company Sennheiser has a sterling reputation for creating high-quality audio products, so I was understandably enthused when I learned they were making a pair of true wireless earbuds. These products have improved a great deal since they first burst onto the scene, but they still tend to lag behind wired equivalents in terms of sound and can’t compete with bulkier Bluetooth sets in battery life.
Since Sennheiser is pretty late to the true wireless game, you would hope its engineers have taken their time to craft something superior to the many rival products already on the market. As it turns out, that’s not far from the truth.