The AirPods Pro are simply awesome. They’ve kept many of the best attributes of the first– and second-generation AirPods and also added a bunch of new features, like noise cancelation and water resistance. They’re an excellent choice when it comes to true wireless earbuds, especially for iPhone users. At $249, however, they’re not cheap, and some of their key features are exclusive to iOS. Luckily, there are a ton of great options in the true wireless earbuds space these days.
Amazon Echo Buds
If you find the AirPods Pro attractive for their features but are put off by their price, the $130 Amazon Echo Buds should be the very next true wireless earbuds on your list. The Echo Buds have a nearly identical battery life of five hours between charges, with a 20-hour total time with their charging case. They have an active noise reduction (ANR) system made by Bose, which isn’t as good as the AirPods Pro’s cancellation but does a very good job of eliminating background din.
They Echo Buds are also IPX4 rated, just like the AirPods Pro, and they’re compatible with all three major voice assistants: Siri, Google Assistant, and Alexa — with the option of hands-free access to Alexa. They’re not quite in the same league as the AirPods Pro for sound quality — though we think they sound quite good — and their charging case is considerably larger and heavier. But for the price, they’re an incredible value.
If you’re looking for a pair of true wireless earbuds that come closest to the AirPods Pro, it’s Sony’s WF-1000XM3. These buds were the first major offering with active noise cancellation (ANC), and they’re still among the best. The Sony buds also do much better than the AirPods Pro when it comes to battery life, offering six hours with ANC turned on, and an impressive eight hours with it off. Their charging case is equally mighty, with 24 hours of total time (ANC on) and 32 hours with ANC off.
The WF-1000XM3 also have fantastic sound, ranking among the top of their class. And unlike the AirPods Pro, there’s an option to control volume from the earbuds themselves (though you’ll have to give up another control to do so), and Sony’s superb Headphones Connect app delivers additional customization.
This is true whether you use the Sony buds on iPhone or Android, something the AirPods Pro cannot say. On the downside, the WF-1000XM3 are bulkier than the AirPods Pro — both the size of the earbuds and the charging case. They’re also not water-resistant, though so far we haven’t heard of any major issues with using them in the gym.
Master and Dynamic MW07 Plus
While the decidedly fancy-looking design of the Master and Dynamic MW07 Plus may not be everyone’s cup of tea, their thrilling sound quality and outstanding battery life should put them near the top of your AirPods Pro alternates list.
The MW07 Plus retain everything we liked with the original MW07, while improving on them in almost every way. Their new active noise cancellation feature (something we’ll be seeing a lot going forward) is a bit better than the Echo Buds, if not quite as good as the AirPods Pro. Battery life is nuts at 10 hours between charges, and that time gets extended to 40 hours when you include the charging case. But for these buds, it’s all about the sound.
Precision, vibrancy, balance, and detail — all of the descriptors an audiophile looks for in a set of headphones or earbuds — they all apply to the MW07 Plus. Unfortunately, the MW07 Plus do not come with a companion mobile app for fine-tuning the EQ (or any adjustments for that matter), but they sound so good, you probably won’t miss it.
Their IPX5 rating might not be as comprehensive as that of the Elite 75t (see below), but unless you’re going to be running through actual pressure jets of water or submerging the buds, that shouldn’t matter much. What’s more, it’s better than the AirPods Pro’s rating, making the MW07 Plus an even better set of gym companions, despite their sophisticated style.
JLab Epic Air Sport
Now that the AirPods Pro offer water-resistance, more and more people will be using them for their workouts. But do you really need a set of $249 earbuds to go to the gym? The JLab Epic Air Sport are a much better choice for those who put a premium on toughness and a really secure fit.
In the past, we’ve recommended the Powerbeats Pro as the gym-oriented alternative to the AirPods, but at just $150, we’ve become Epic Air Sport converts. Their battery life is possibly their biggest bragging point. At a whopping 10 hours per charge, you’ll certainly get a full day out of them, if not more. When you consider their charging case takes that to a humungous 70 hours, you might go weeks without plugging in.
Unfortunately, that big ol’ battery sits inside a big ol’ charging case, which makes the Epic Air Sport one of the hardest models to slip into your pocket. On the bright side, with 10 hours, you won’t need the case on every journey.
With an IP66 rating that goes well beyond what you’ll find on the Powerbeats Pro, we’re hard-pressed to think of a hardier set of buds. The best part: They sound good — even better than the Jabra Elite 65t, which were originally more expensive. If you don’t like the sound, the Epic Air Sport are some of the few true wireless earbuds that let you adjust the EQ from the buds themselves. You can pick from “Signature,” “Balanced,” and “Bass Boost,” plus the Be Aware mode, which lets outside sound in.
Jabra Elite 75t
The AirPods Pro are small and light and very comfortable. So are Jabra’s new $180 Elite 75t. In fact, they might just be the most comfortable buds we’ve ever tried. But what’s most surprising about the Elite 75t is their enormous bass. It’s hard to believe that a set of earbuds this small can produce bass this big. It’s not for everyone, but if you like your music with generous amounts of low-end oomph, these are the true wireless buds for you.
Of course, it’s more than “all about that bass.” With a claimed 7.5 hours per charge (more like seven hours in the real world), the Elite 75t easily last a whole day. Their tiny charging case takes that up to 28 hours. Like most top true wireless earbuds these days, pulling one of them out of an ear automatically pauses the music, and you can use just the right earbud on its own if you wish.
We’re especially big fans of the Elite 75t’s controls. The Elite’s buttons offer a precise click when pressed, and they’re arguably just as convenient as the AirPods Pro’s combo touch/squeeze control. You can control almost everything, including volume, but you’ll have to memorize the click patterns — with only two buttons, there are four combos per earbud.
You don’t get active noise cancellation or a wireless charging case, but you do get great passive noise isolation thanks to that great fit and IP56 protection from dust and water. We think these are reasonable trade-offs given the $70 you’ll save over buying the AirPods Pro. But those who don’t love that boom need not apply.
Samsung Galaxy Buds+
Apple isn’t the only smartphone manufacturer to offer true wireless earbuds. Out of the box, the Samsung Galaxy Buds+ include a portable charging case, a USB-C cable, and a set of silicone ear tips and sports fins. Using the included accessories, we found that the buds can achieve a reliable fit that’s comfortable and lightweight while producing solid sound. Overall, the Galaxy Buds+ provide a pleasing soundstage, with decent bass and a clear upper register. You can even customize the sonic profile using the accompanying smartphone app.
Moreover, Samsung’s Galaxy Buds+ will last up to 11 hours on a single charge. The included case doubles the battery life, coming close to Apple’s AirPods Pro 24-hour total. Touch controls on the Buds+ also help make controlling your music a breeze, allowing you to adjust volume and control playback directly on the earbuds — you can also switch between your Spotify playlists.
If you want to stay aware of the world around you, you can even engage the built-in ambient sound mode, which allows outside noise in. The feature is excellent for riding your bicycle around town or, for parents, keeping an active ear out for a crying baby. If you need to place a call, the Buds+ have you covered with onboard microphones.
So, there you have it. If you’re looking for AirPods Pro alternatives, we highly recommend any of these true wireless earbuds. None of them will give you features like hands-free Siri or Apple’s super-easy pairing procedure, but we think they deliver features and value that make them worthy of your consideration. You might even save some money.
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