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 lowest to highest price. I’ve tried them all, and I’ll update this list periodically.
Screenshot by David Carnoy/CNET
Soundpeats Air3 Deluxe HS
Best cheap open earbuds
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.
You’re receiving price alerts for SoundPEATS True Wireless Earbuds Bluetooth 5.0 Earphones with Built in Mic in-Ear Stereo Headphones for Sport, Deep Bass, Binaural Calls, One-Step Pairing, 35 Hours of Playtime, Upgraded TrueFree Plus
Good sound for under $40
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.
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Open buds with an open case
Rated up to 6 hours
No IP rating, advertised as sweat-proof
I never tried the original Fiil CC earbuds, but the next-generation 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 not rounded stems, which seems a little weird at first, and they do fit in your ears slightly differently to AirPods as a result.
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Earfun Free 2S
Top budget wireless earbuds pick
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.
Edifier TWS 330NB
Cheap wireless earbuds with noise canceling
The Edifier TWS 330NB earbuds have been on the market since early 2021 and are frequently discounted, hitting their low price of $20 recently.
While the TWS 330NB earbuds are missing a sensor that automatically pauses your music when you take them out of your ears, they offer good sound quality for the money (though they use the SBC audio codec not AAC). They have three microphones in each bud, which give decent active noise canceling and solid noise reduction during calls.
They fit my ears well — they’re essentially AirPods Pro clones — and while the touch controls are a little limited, they are programmable using the Edifier Connect app for iOS and Android, which can also set the level of touch sensitivity. They have an IP54 rating, which means they’re splash- and dust-proof, and battery life is rated at 4 hours at moderate volume levels with noise canceling on and 5 hours with it off. That’s only OK, but you do get an additional two charges in the charging case.
These Are the Absolute Best Earbuds of 2022