Skip to main content

Amazon’s new $50 Echo Buds take aim at Apple’s AirPods

Amazon's new Echo Buds for 2023.

Amazon is back with a new set of Echo Buds. Though they bear the same name as the first- and second-gen Echo Buds, these new Echo Buds offer an entirely different, semi-in-ear, stem-based design that has more in common with Apple’s second-gen AirPods than it does with Amazon’s previous designs. The latest Echo Buds are also surprisingly affordable at just $50.

While the decision to keep the name the same may be confusing, the decision to create a set of wireless earbuds with a semi-in-ear shape makes a lot of sense. Fully in-ear buds like the second-gen Echo Buds, the AirPods Pro, and Sony’s WF-1000XM4, provide distinct advantages for sound quality and they also set the stage for active noise canceling (ANC). However, lots of people find these earbuds uncomfortable to wear. The silicone tips increase the sensation of having an object wedged in your ear, and some folks complain of a sucking feeling, especially when ANC is turned on.

Amazon's new Echo Buds for 2023.

These concerns in part explain why Apple’s original AirPods design — also a semi-in-ear shape — has continued to sell despite the fact that they’re now several generations behind in terms of tech features. It also explains why Amazon has chosen to release these new Echo Buds — they let Amazon try to capture that segment of the population that doesn’t like fully in-ear designs.

The AirPods comparison extends beyond design. Like the AirPods, the new Echo Buds give you hands-free access to a voice assistant, though in this case, it’s Amazon’s Alex instead of Apple’s Siri. Also like the AirPods, you won’t get ANC on the new Echo Buds and there’s not much in the way of passive noise isolation, so you can expect to hear more of your surroundings when music isn’t playing.

Person seen wearing Amazon's new Echo Buds for 2023.

For now, the new Echo Buds are only available in black, and they come with a clamshell-style charging case. The second-gen Echo Buds give you the option to order them with a wirelessly-charging case for more money, but so far Amazon hasn’t indicated if the new version will offer a similar option.

An X-ray view of Amazon's new Echo Buds for 2023.

The new buds have a claimed five-hour battery life (again, very similar to the AirPods) and the case contains three full recharges for a total of 20 hours of operation. Inside the earbuds are 12mm dynamic drivers, which Amazon says will deliver “rich sound and balanced bass.” They’re compatible with Bluetooth Multipoint for simultaneous connections to wireless devices, and the controls can be customized using the Amazon Alexa app.

Amazon hasn’t indicated whether the new Echo Buds offer any kind of official water resistance rating, though if the pattern of mimicking the AirPods holds, there won’t be any IPX rating.

Editors' Recommendations

Simon Cohen
Contributing Editor, A/V
Simon Cohen covers a variety of consumer technologies, but has a special interest in audio and video products, like…
Can you use AirPods Pro without eartips? The answer may surprise you
Apple AirPods Pro 2 seen with ear tip removed.

Apple sells three versions of its super-popular wireless earbuds: The original AirPods, now in their second generation (thus AirPods 2), the third-gen version of the AirPods (which we’ve opted to call the AirPods 3), and the second-gen AirPods Pro (or AirPods Pro 2 for greater clarity). While there are a lot of differences between these models, people invariably notice the physical differences most of all, specifically the presence of silicone eartips on the AirPods Pro 2, and their absence on the AirPods 2 and 3. And that eventually leads to the question, can you use the AirPods Pro without those eartips, and if you did, what would happen?

Before I answer that, let’s quickly review why the AirPods Pro have eartips in the first place. The main purpose of eartips on any set of wireless earbuds is to create a seal around the entrance to your ear canal. This has several benefits:

Read more
Which AirPods should you buy?
apple airpods 3 new 2021 6

Apple’s latest AirPods Pro are here, and you can buy them for $249. But should you? That's a lot of money to drop on a pair of earbuds, and there are more AirPods options for you to choose from these days.

And that's before you take into consideration that we're about to go into the Black Friday sales season. All that said, tough decisions are a whole lot easier when you break them down, so that’s exactly what we’re going to do. Here’s how to decide which AirPods you should buy in 2022.
New but familiar
Let’s start by going over the full AirPods lineup:

Read more
Are Apple AirPods waterproof? Everything you need to know
AirPods 3 on an athlete.

Whether you’re thinking about AirPods as a gift or a wireless earbud upgrade for yourself, it’s important to think about how they’ll be used so you can determine if they can stand what you're going to throw at them. For example, wearing a pair of AirPods in the rain or while sweating during a workout might not be a good idea, as early AirPods, AirPods Max, and AirPods Pro 2 models all have different levels of water resistance. So if you want to avoid damage, you should know what to watch for.

Let’s break down how waterproof each AirPods model is and what their water-resistance ratings mean for your daily activities.

Read more