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Best true wireless earbuds under $50 – CNET

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We have a list of the top AirPods alternatives under $100. But what if you’re looking for something even cheaper? Say, something half that price or even less? Then this is the list for you, the best of budget true wireless earbuds. There’s certainly a proliferation of earbuds that cost less than $50, but only a few stand out for being a cut above, and several are surprisingly good for the price. As I like to say, you shouldn’t expect the world at this low price point, but unlike expensive models like Apple’s AirPods, you won’t feel heartbroken if you happen to lose them.

Here are my current sub-$50 true-wireless favorites, listed from highest to lowest price. I’ve tried them all, and I update this list with new products periodically.

Read more: Best noise-canceling true wireless earbuds

Best noise canceling for less than $50

Mpow X3

David Carnoy/CNET

The Mpow X3 sound shockingly good for the price, with good clarity and powerful bass (they play loud), and they even have active noise canceling that’s fairly effective. They list for $60 on Amazon, but currently have a $10-off instant discount coupon that brings the price down to $50.

Mpow seems to be regularly tweaking its earphones, and the X3s were briefly taken off Amazon, before returning with the latest update: “The new version upgraded the volume control, optimized its active noise canceling function and call effect,” the company told me. “It also added the super-soft ear caps which [are] more comfortable to wear for a long time.”

They did fit me comfortably and securely, and I got a tight seal from one of the XL ear tips. They’re fully waterproof (IPX7) and get up to seven hours of battery life at moderate volume levels with USB-C charging. (The charging case looks like a fatter version of the standard AirPods case.) Call quality is good — they have a sidetone feature that lets you hear your voice in the buds — but I’ve used other models with better noise reduction during calls. I noticed a touch of audio lag when I streamed a YouTube video, but I had no issues when streaming iTunes movies.

The touch controls take some getting used to (they’re a little wonky), and it didn’t help that the instructions in the box seemed to be for the old X3 (I found the current instructions online, which helped me figure things out). Aside from a few minor downsides, the X3 is a great value, and that’s probably why Mpow is having a hard time keeping them in stock.

Solid value for under $45

Fiil TX1 TWS

David Carnoy/CNET

Back in 2017, I wrote about Fiil’s launch in the US and how company reps claimed that it was a top-selling premium headphone brand in China that’s as well known as Beats. I hadn’t heard much about Fiil since then (I reviewed a Fiil on-ear model that was decent but a little pricey). But it turns out its T1X TWS is very solid for its modest price of $45. (Fiil now appears to be connected to Acil Audio).

It delivers great sound for the money (there’s a touch of presence boost in the treble to add clarity, which is both good and bad), it fit my ears well, and I was impressed by how quickly the buds paired with my phone.

These have an IP65 sweat- and water-resistance rating so they can take a sustained spray of water. Battery life is around five hours (at higher volume levels) on a single charge, and there’s a quick-charge feature that gives you two hours of juice from a 10-minute charge (the simple, fairly compact charging case charges via USB-C). The buds have touch controls, and there’s a companion app that allows you to tweak the sound with EQ settings (I left it on the default setting).

Good value Anker

Anker Soundcore Life P2

David Carnoy/CNET

Half the price of Anker’s Soundcore Liberty Air 2 with similar features, the Soundcore Life P2 earbuds are a good value option. The buds charge horizontally in their case rather than vertically, and there’s a slightly cheaper feel to both the case and the buds compared with the Liberty Air 2. Their sound doesn’t have the presence boost in the treble that the Liberty Air 2 buds have, so they’re not as clear-sounding with well-recorded tracks, and the bass isn’t quite as well defined. But they’re warmer and more forgiving, which I appreciated, and they sound more like the original Liberty Air.

It’s also worth noting that instead of touch controls they feature physical buttons, which some people may prefer. Like the Liberty Air 2, they have four microphones, two of which are supposed to help with noise reduction when making calls in noisier environments. They do a decent job of reducing background noise when making calls, but my voice didn’t sound as clear to callers as it did with the Liberty Air 2.

While there’s no wireless charging, you do get USB-C charging. Battery life is rated at seven hours, and they have an IPX7 water-resistance rating, which means they can be fully submerged in water to a depth of 3 feet and still survive. They’re arguably the best value in the Anker true wireless line right now. An almost identical version to these earbuds is sold at Target under the name Soundcore Life Note.

Read our Anker Soundcore Life P2 review.

Excellent for under $40

Tranya T10

David Carnoy/CNET

I previously included the Tranya Rimor ($30) on this list, but now that the T10 is available, I’m recommending it. It looks very similar to that Rimor, but has some improvements that make it an excellent deal at less than $40. It not only has better battery life (it’s rated for eight hours) but better water resistance (IPX7 instead of IPX5), upgraded 12mm graphene drivers and the earbuds support AAC and AptX codecs. The case charges wirelessly and via USB-C.

Like most true-wireless earbuds from Chinese brands that sell through Amazon, these have a pretty generic look and feel, especially the case, and they may not fit all ears equally well — they do stick out a little. But if you get a tight seal they sound quite good, with potent, well-defined bass and good detail (for true wireless). They also work well as a headset for making calls, thanks to decent noise reduction that helps tamp down background noise so people can hear your voice better.

Best for making calls under $40

TaoTronics SoundLiberty 79

David Carnoy/CNET

TaoTronics’ SoundLiberty 79 list for $50 but are now selling for $40 in the black-with-silver-accent design. I don’t love their looks — the little chrome accent isn’t my thing — but they fit my ears well and sound decent for the money, with just enough definition and ample bass (an all-black version is available, but it’s currently $52). All that said, where they really stand out is how they perform as a headset for making calls. They are five stars in that department, with excellent noise reduction (people had no trouble hearing me on the noisy streets of New York). The company’s “Smart AI noise-reduction technology” does work.

They are fully waterproof (IPX8 certified) and you can get up to eight hours of battery life at moderate volume levels. The charging case, which provides an extra 32 hours of juice on the go, feels a little cheap, but it’s compact and has USB-C charging.

Solid for under $40

Earfun Free

Sarah Tew/CNET

Note: Enter the code EARFUNFR at check out on Amazon to get an extra 10% off through Aug. 31. These already have a 20% off instant coupon, so the price with the code is $34.

What’s most impressive about the EarFun Free is its features: Bluetooth 5.0, both USB-C and wireless charging, and it’s fully waterproof (IPX7), according to the specs. Is the audio pristine? No, but these Bluetooth earbuds sound pretty good — it’s not just noise coming out of the Bluetooth earbud speaker. They don’t have the audio clarity of higher-end true wireless earbuds that cost $150 a pair or more, but they do have plump bass and enough audio detail to make you think you got your money’s worth with the sound quality, and then some. The earbuds are also pretty solid for making calls. The battery lasts six hours at moderate volume levels, and the case provides four charges on the go.

Impressive for under $35

Enacfire E60

David Carnoy/CNET

The Enacfire E60 is a pretty low-frills affair from a design standpoint and the Enacfire logo on the case is a bit jarring. But like the similarly designed Earfun Free, it has both USB-C and wireless charging and is fully waterproof (IPX8 certification, which means it can be fully submerged in shallow water).

It delivers good sound for its modest price, with punchy bass and decent clarity. It even has aptX streaming for devices that support it, such as Samsung’s Galaxy phones. Don’t expect incredible sound — it’s a bit uneven from track to track, sometimes sounding great and other times less good — but again, for the price, it exceeded my expectations. I also thought it performed well as a headset for making calls. It offers good noise reduction, and callers said I sounded clear.

There’s currently a 20% instant savings coupon that brings the price down to $32. Important note: You have to make sure to clip the coupon before checking out. If it doesn’t apply at checkout, go back to your cart and look for the “clip the coupon” link to the right of the product.

New Tribit

Tribit Flybuds 3

David Carnoy/CNET

While the Tribit Flybuds 3 don’t sound stellar (there’s a bit of treble push, which is sometimes referred to as presence boost), they do sound decent and feature an ample amount of bass so long as you get a tight seal (I had no problem). They’re pretty discreet — about the same size as Samsung’s Galaxy Buds Plus — and are equipped with little wings similar to the Buds Plus that help you get a secure fit.

They’re also waterproof (IPX7 rating) and deliver five hours of battery life on a single charge, which isn’t great compared to some competing models. However, the case is equipped with a 2,600-mAh battery that can charge the buds 20 times, according to Tribit. Additionally, the case can also charge your phone (it has a USB-C input for recharging and a USB-A-out port for charging other devices). That bigger battery makes the case a little bulky and somewhat heavy, but the buds themselves are lightweight. They have touch controls and work reasonably well for making voice calls.

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