Hunting for the best budget wireless earbuds is quite a mammoth challenge because there are just so many different brands, with so many different products, sorting through which are worth spending your money on and which aren't could take you a very long time.
If you don't have any budget in mind then you should check out T3’s guide to the best wireless earbuds but if you're not so keen on spending loads of money 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, in 2023, that’s no longer the case. The competition is getting fierce and plenty of the best cheap headphones are now completely wire-free with killer sound and a decent selection of features. You'll get loads of use out of them whether that's to soundtrack your gym sessions, entertain you on the commute or keep you busy over long-haul flights.
More often than not, they come housed in a small 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, and they're likely to fit easily into a pocket.
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 while also small enough to fit in your pocket. 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
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Granted, the Sony WF-C500 sit towards the pricier end of this list but they're still pretty cheap considering just how much you get for your money. We thought the sound quality was excellent and you'll even be able to adjust it to exactly how you like it thanks to the manual equaliser in the app. Or, for those who are less in the know, the preset sound modes will do the trick.
When it comes to the fit these are just as good. They feel super comfortable in your ears, we could quite easily wear these for hours on end with no trouble, and they'll be secure enough to use for workouts too. So where's the catch? Well there's no noise-cancelling and the charging case could have a bit more battery, but those are both things we can look past considering how good they are in every other way.
Interested? Read more in the Sony WF-C500 review.
If you're after something as stylish as a pair of Apple AirPods, but don't want to splash the cash, the Nothing Ear (Stick) are for you.
Similarly, most of the best headphones nowadays are in-ear designs, great for sound, but not to everyone's comfort. Some people struggle to even get in-ear buds to even sit in their ears. If that's you, then again the Nothing Ear (Stick) have come to your rescue.
Nothing obviously always makes slick-looking products with a great form factor but the cylindrical case of the Ear (Stick) not only looks smart, it might be among the most satisfying fidget toys in tech.
With strong sound (and an easy-to-control EQ via the Nothing X app) and up to 29 hours of charge held between buds and case, the only real issue we have is with noise cancelling. There is no form of ANC on these buds, but for the price, that's pretty par for the course.
Check out our Nothing Ear (Stick) review.
Another excellent pair of budget wireless earbuds with surprisingly good sound are the OnePlus Nord Buds - the audio quality is clean, clear and punchy which makes it suited to just about anyone and any type of music.
There is a Gen 2 version of these buds, the OnePlus Nord Buds 2 and they perform impressively, but that also means the original model's price will drop even lower. Which makes them an even better deal currently.
Admittedly the lack of ANC is a major downside, and you don't get other extras like wireless charging but I wouldn't let that put you off because the performance makes up for it. The call quality is top notch too, both parties can hear everything crystal clearly which isn't something you can say about every option on this list.
Sound good to you? Read more about them in the OnePlus Nord Buds review.
Best budget wireless earbuds: best of the rest
Most cheap headphones don't come with noise cancelling, and if they do, it's not usually very good. The Realme Buds 3 go against that trend with two ANC modes, and on the strongest, you can barely hear anything happening around you at all. There's also a Transparency mode, although we were less impressed by that when we tried it out.
To add to that, the sound quality is decent, the battery life is plenty and you get a few other extra features you won't get elsewhere on this list like an earbud fit test in the adjoining smartphone app and a few preset sound modes to choose from.
Looking for a good deal? Read more about these earbuds in the Realme Buds Air 3 review.
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 some of 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.
If you’re on a very, very tight budget then the JLab Go Air Pop buds will be your best bet. They might cost about the same as a takeaway pizza but they actually have a lot going for them including decent sound, preset equaliser settings and plenty of battery life. The design is simple and feels cheap but it's also discreet and comfortable.
Thanks to the secure fit and IPX4 water resistance, the JLab Go Air Pop will also be good for exercise because they'll survive if you were to get a bit sweaty. The only area where these headphones properly fall down is call quality but that's not a dealbreaker, especially at this low of a price.
Want to know more? Read the JLab Go Air Pop review.
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 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.
Take a look at the House of Marley Champion review for more information.
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. 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.
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.
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.