Best budget wireless earbuds 2021: wire-free listening with Beats, Sony, Skullcandy and more

These are the best budget wireless earbuds for anyone who doesn't want to spend over the odds

Best budget wireless earbuds 2021
(Image credit: Urbanears)

The best budget wireless earbuds aren’t easy to find, there are so many options out there, it can be hard to sort through them all to figure out which are actually worth buying and which aren't.

If money is no object then you should check out T3’s guide to the best wireless earbuds but if you're not so keen on spending upwards of $60 / £60 then you’re in the right place. 

Once upon a time, to get a decent pair of wireless earbuds you’d need to spend a similar amount to what you’d splash out on your smartphone or your home appliances. Luckily, that’s no longer the case. The competition is getting fierce and plenty of the best cheap headphones are now completely wire-free. 

Wireless earbuds are tiny and versatile, they can soundtrack your gym sessions, your commutes or your long-haul flights. More often than not, they come housed in a case that not only keeps them together and protects them from scrapes but will also charge them back up again when you’re not using them. 

Naturally, whichever earbuds you go for, you’ll want the best sound quality possible. When you’re on a tight budget, you’re unlikely to find audio that compares to the more expensive Beats Powerbeats Pro, Apple AirPods or Sony WF-1000XM4 but you can still get good enough sound to be able to enjoy your music.

What’s really great about wireless earbuds at any price is that they tend to isolate noise well, keeping your music in and outside noise out. Plus they are so small you can keep them in your bag or pocket, ready for when you need them. That’s why so many people prefer them over the best noise-cancelling headphones which are bulky and a pain to carry around.

Because they usually sit inside your ear canal, wireless earbuds tend to be quite secure, especially if you opt for a pair of the best true wireless earbuds with ear hooks or wings. They're great for your workouts and they make up some of the best running headphones as well. Not all stay put though so if you do want to use them for workouts you’ll need to make sure they won’t budge. 

The best budget wireless earbuds you can buy today 

The Nokia Lite Earbuds BH-205 wireless earbuds on a white backgroundT3 Approved badge

(Image credit: Future)

1. Nokia BH-205 Lite Earbuds

Best budget wireless earbuds

Specifications
Listening time per charge: 6 hours
Listening time with case: 36 hours
Included ear fittings: 3 sizes
Reasons to buy
+IPX7 waterproof+Easy to use touch controls+Good sound quality
Reasons to avoid
-Don't always connect immediately-No noise cancelling

The Nokia BH-205 Lite Earbuds might be basic, but they manage to deliver on what’s actually important about any pair of headphones: sound quality. You won’t get flawless audio, but unfortunately you can’t expect that, even from the best budget wireless earbuds. Considering how low the price is, these sound pretty balanced across all genres. They’re also very comfortable and will stay put even when you’re running.

What’s really impressive is that these have an IPX7 rating which means they are completely waterproof, they're the only ones on this list that will be able to survive being dropped in a big puddle. They also have fantastic battery life, with 36 hours provided by the case you’ll rarely have to charge them. 

Granted, there aren’t any shiny extra features like noise cancellation or equaliser settings but all in all these budget wireless earbuds are very well-rounded. Read more about them in the Nokia BH-205 Lite Earbuds review

You can attach the Skullcandy Dimes to your keysT3 Approved badge

(Image credit: Skullcandy)

2. Skullcandy Dime

Best wireless earbuds on a super tight budget

Specifications
Listening time per charge: 3.5 hours
Listening time with case: 12 hours
Included ear fittings: 3 sizes
Reasons to buy
+Light and compact+Comfortable to wear+Decent sound considering the price
Reasons to avoid
-Short battery life-Cheap plastic design

If you’re on a very, very tight budget then the Skullcandy Dime buds will be your best bet. They are super affordable and would make a great gift. Because of that, you can’t expect knock-out performance and they have an equally cheap build but what you do get is a comfy pair of buds that come in a few different colours. 

Most types of audio content come across fine, they do sound like budget buds but you can’t expect much more from well, budget buds. Both the buds and the case are tiny and lightweight which means you can have them in your pocket all day without any problems, and you can even attach them to your keys. You’ll never be without music again! 

What’s more, they’re backed by Skullcandy’s Fearless Use Promise, so if you lose or break any part of them, you can buy replacement buds and cases separately. Read more about them in the full Skullcandy Dime review

The JAM Audio TWS Athlete have an ear hook to keep them secureT3 Approved badge

(Image credit: Jam Audio)

3. JAM Audio TWS Athlete

Best budget wireless earbuds for running

Specifications
Listening time per charge: 6 hours
Listening time with case: 30 hours
Included ear fittings: 3 sizes
Reasons to buy
+Great for workouts and running+Good battery life+Isolate noise well
Reasons to avoid
-Bulky charging case-Not the most attractive design 

The big problem with a lot of true wireless earbuds is that they are very easy to lose, especially during workouts. That’s not the case with the JAM Audio TWS Athlete buds though, they have flexible plastic ear hooks which do a great job at keeping them secure. As well as that, they are IPX4 splash resistant which means they’ll be able to cope with a bit of sweat and light rain. 

In terms of features, these are very simple. There’s no app or noise cancellation, and there’s a physical button to manage your music as opposed to touch controls. You get 6 hours of music from the buds and an extra 4 full charges from the case which is definitely good enough. If these sound like they could be a good fit for you, read the full JAM Audio TWS Athlete review here.  

The House of Marley Champion buds are made form sustainable materialsT3 Award


(Image credit: House of Marley)

4. House of Marley Champion

Best budget wireless earbuds for the eco-conscious

Specifications
Listening time per charge: 8 hours
Listening time with case: 28 hours
Included ear fittings: 3 sizes
Reasons to buy
+Great sound and mic quality+Made from sustainable materials +Long battery life
Reasons to avoid
-The multifunctional button is awkwardly placed-Might be too big for some ears

The House of Marley Champion true wireless earbuds are created using eco-friendly materials - even the charging cable is made up of 99% recyclable polyester. But that doesn't mean compromising on sound quality. Considering their price, these are an almost perfectly tuned pair of buds for most genres of music. 

For most, they'll feel secure enough to use for your workouts, although if you have small ears you may find them uncomfortable to wear for long periods. Other useful features include water and sweat resistance, a clear-as-day microphone and long-lasting battery life. 

It's fantastic to see a pair of true wireless buds that offer something for eco-conscious music lovers on a budget.   

Beats Flex are connected by a cableT3 Approved badge

(Image credit: Beats)

5. Beats Flex

Best budget wireless earbuds for iPhone

Specifications
Listening time per charge: 12 hours
Listening time with case: N/A
Included ear fittings: 4 sizes
Reasons to buy
+Flexible rubber neckband keeps them safe+Comfortable and isolate noise well 
Reasons to avoid
-Battery life and sound quality is just okay -You can’t use all the features with Android

While not everyone will be a fan of connected buds, you can't deny the Beats Flex are great value for money... if you're an iPhone user. They have tonnes of extra features you wouldn’t usually get in a pair of budget wireless earbuds. 

You won’t ever lose them, and that’s not just down to the cable connecting the two. They can be hooked up to Apple’s Find My network which will let you locate them on a map or play a loud noise to help you find them. You’ll also be able to connect to them using any device you have synced to iCloud without any extra setup. These features don’t work for Android users. 

So what are the downsides? Well firstly you don’t get a charging case here, so you will have to recharge them a fair amount. And secondly, the sound is just alright as opposed to good. Here’s the full Beats Flex review.  

Creative Outlier Air V2 come in a slide out caseT3 Approved badge

(Image credit: Creative)

6. Creative Outlier Air V2

Best budget wireless earbuds for battery life

Specifications
Listening time per charge: 12 hours
Listening time with case: 34 hours
Included ear fittings: 3 sizes
Reasons to buy
+A snug fit means they're secure+They isolate noise very well +Impressive battery life
Reasons to avoid
-Touch controls are finicky-Those with small ears may find them uncomfortable

If you need a combination of affordability, good sound quality and a really long battery life then the Creative Outlier Air V2 true wireless earbuds are the best choice for you. 

The battery lasts a whopping 12 hours from a single charge, that’s longer than the rest on this list by a long way. When you put them in the charging case, it’ll top that up by an extra 22 hours so it holds 34 hours of music in total.

Some people may not find them particularly comfortable because they do provide an extremely snug fit. But there is a benefit to that, the Creative Outlier Air V2 isolate noise very well despite not having any noise cancellation. That means you can fully immerse yourself in music without any distractions. Tempted? Read the Creative Outlier Air V2 review

Urbanears Luma in front of their caseT3 Approved badge

(Image credit: Urbanears)

7. Urbanears Luma

Best budget wireless earbuds like AirPods

Specifications
Listening time per charge: 5 hours
Listening time with case: 28 hours
Included ear fittings: One size fits all
Reasons to buy
+The music stops when one falls out+Great choice of colours
Reasons to avoid
-Inconsistent touch controls -Not great for exercising 

If you’re the type of person who doesn’t really like the feeling of having an earbud inside your ear canal, then the Urbanears Luma are a similar style to the original Apple AirPods. You will lose out on sound isolation because of it though.

They come in five trendy colours including black, white, violet, maroon and teal green. The buds themselves have a matte plastic design and a dangling stem, with a tiny LED light and the Urbanears logo. On the inside, the buds have dual microphones which do a great job to deliver clean, clear calls that filter your voice well. 

Because there aren’t fitted ear tips, the buds do sound different depending on how you put them in your ears but when inserted properly, the sound is fine. It’s well-balanced with very crisp, detailed highs - these true wireless earbuds are great value for money. Read the Urbanears Luma review

Enacfire A9 noise-cancelling earbudsT3 Approved badge

(Image credit: Future)

8. Enacfire A9

Best budget wireless earbuds with noise-cancelling

Specifications
Listening time per charge: Not stated
Listening time with case: 32 hours
Included ear fittings: 3 sizes
Reasons to buy
+Simple, stylish design+Active Noise Cancellation+Plenty of battery life from the case
Reasons to avoid
-Touch controls are too sensitive-Don't fit very securely 

It’s pretty rare to find budget wireless earbuds that feature decent Active Noise Cancellation but the Enacfire A9 manage it. You can fully immerse yourself in sound without any distractions from the outside world, whether that’s your favourite podcasts or your summer playlists. Granted, the Transparency Mode, which is meant to let some noise in but not all, is less impressive. You win some, you lose some right? 

What’s really important with any headphones is the sound quality and these don’t disappoint. They won’t knock you off your feet but you can rely on them for good sound with plenty of power. 

There are some downsides to these though, the Enacfire A9 have touch controls that are very sensitive. You might find yourself accidentally switching between ANC modes or pausing the music every now and then. It’s a small price to pay for such good value, though. Find out more in this Enacfire A9 review

Blue JLab Go Air earbuds and their charging caseT3 Approved badge

(Image credit: JLab)

9. JLab Go Air

Another super cheap pair of earbuds

Specifications
Listening time per charge: 5 hours
Listening time with case: 20 hours
Included ear fittings: 3 sizes
Reasons to buy
+Decent battery life+Secure fit +3 different sound modes
Reasons to avoid
-Audio quality is just okay-No lid on the case

When you're spending so little on a pair of true wireless earbuds, you can't expect anything amazing, and the JLab Go Air aren't going to blow you away. They will be a good choice if you're on a very tight budget though, or if you're upgrading from ancient wired headphones. 

The sound isn't incredible - it is basic and heavily focused on the low-end, but it does do the job. Similarly, the design of the case has a few flaws like the fact that it doesn't have a lid so the buds aren't completely secure. 

Elsewhere though, they have a decent amount of battery life as well as three different sound modes to choose from. Considering these are so cheap, you do actually get a fair amount for your money. 

How to choose the best budget wireless earbuds for you 

Choosing the best budget wireless earbuds starts with deciding what you need them for - are you looking for something stylish or do you plan to use them for exercise? Is Active Noise Cancelling a deal-breaker, or is it the battery life that’s likely to convince you one way or the other?

You should also consider how the buds are going to fit into your ears. The last thing you want is for one to fall out on a run without you noticing. They usually come with a few different fittings, typically they offer three sizes but if you’ve struggled with this before you could look for some which come with more than just a standard small, medium and large. 

Ear hooks and wings will almost guarantee the headphones are kept in place, but if you want to be completely sure, you could choose to buy connected wireless buds instead. They have a cable connecting the two earphones and although you’re unlikely to get the luxury of a charging case, it’s almost certain you won’t lose them.

Battery life should be a consideration in your search as well. Earbuds usually pack between 5 and 10 hours of playback on a single charge which will be enough for most journeys or workdays. By slotting the TWS earphones into their charging case you can get up to 36 hours of additional charge time, this will vary massively depending on the buds so it’s good to have some idea of what you’re going to need. 

Yasmine Crossland
Yasmine Crossland

Reviews Writer for T3, Yasmine, started writing reviews in 2019 and is always knee-deep in the latest tech products. She keeps a finger on the pulse when it comes to the most exciting and innovative tech and is happy to tell you exactly what she thinks about it too. In her free time, you'll catch her tending to her plants and planning her next big trip.