If you have your heart set on a pair of wireless earbuds but can’t spend over $100 on the AirPods or Galaxy Buds Plus, you’re not alone. I myself wanted to see if I could find some cheap wireless buds that wouldn’t break the bank. While it’s true that there are plenty of dirt-cheap options, you have to prepare yourself to scour sites like Amazon or Wish.
But after some online sleuthing, I did end up finding some reliable gems. I chose the following four earbuds based on price (under $40), overall user rating (positive, obviously) and that they are from bigger name brands (no knockoffs here).
Don’t expect cheap wireless earbuds to give you as many features or have the same sound quality as more expensive pairs. But as I found, a couple of these really do offer good value for money. Watch the video above for my full impressions.
These were the first options from all the buds I tested. On their own, they don’t sound bad at all, but when you compare the sound quality to the other earbuds in this bunch, they do sound imbalanced. The bass can get distorted and I experienced several dropouts and stuttered playback, especially when connected to a laptop.
But, I love the case’s built-in USB cable that plugs into a wall adapter or laptop. I wish the case itself had a cover, since I’d be concerned about throwing these into a bag where dust or dirt might get into the earbuds. Overall though, call quality was fine for phone chats and Zoom meetings.
The only pair in the bunch that I tested that has elongated stems like the original AirPods and AirPods Pro. These were also among the lightest in my ear for extended wear. Unfortunately, the touch panels were incredibly sensitive and a motion like brushing my hair away from my ear caused the track to pause.
Despite these annoyances, the T13 actually turned out to be the most rounded option for listening to music and making calls. It’s also the only case that comes with USB-C charging and you get a respectable six hours of listening time per charge. They’re also rated IPX5 so they have some water resistance.
I have a real love-hate relationship with these buds. Of all the ones I tried, these would be the ones I’d pick for listening to music. The bass is punchy and bright, making tracks sound exciting. They were also the most comfortable to wear over long stretches of time.
But the call quality, for some reason, was the worst of all of the buds — the microphone made me sound distant and distorted. They also have the shortest battery life of the bunch at around four hours, and the buttons are tough to press.
The most expensive pair I tried sell for $49 (but you can easily find them for under $40) and they certainly look the part thanks to a slick, shiny finish and compact case. They are light in the ear, however, I couldn’t get a small enough ear tip from the selection provided to adequately block out external noise.
While audio is the least dynamic or exciting from the pairs that I tried, they do sound great when listening on Android thanks to aptX (a technology that helps deliver better Bluetooth audio) and have rock-solid connectivity across all the devices I tested.
Like the T13, they are also rated IPX5 for water resistance. The battery lasts up to eight hours from one charge.
Does your budget stretch a little further beyond $40? I highly recommend checking out my colleague David Carnoy’s selection of best wireless earbuds under $100.
I’ll also be updating this with more options as I find them. If you have a favorite pair that you recommend for under $40, let me know!