Technology

Best Budget Earbuds for 2023: Cheap Wireless Picks


$50 at Amazon

The Earfun Pro 3 include a wireless charging case

Earfun Air Pro 3

Top budget wireless earbuds with noise canceling

$100 at Amazon

The Soundcore by Anker Liberty 4 NC feature improved noise canceling

Soundcore by Anker Liberty 4 NC

Latest Anker noise-canceling earbuds

$36 at Amazon

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Tranya T20

Good-sounding cheap wireless earbuds under $40

$80 at Amazon

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Earfun Free Pro 2

Best budget wireless earbuds for sports

$48 at Amazon

soundpeats mini pro

Soundpeats Mini Pro

Cheap earbuds with good sound quality

$70 at Amazon

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Soundcore by Anker Sport X10

Best Anker wireless sports earbuds

What are the best cheap wireless earbuds?

With so many budget wireless earbuds out there — and many good options — there’s a lot of debate around this question, and it’s hard to name one single model as the best overall true-wireless earbuds. But a few models do stand out from the pack, which is why they’re at the top of this list. These include the Earfun AirPro 3, Anker Liberty 4 NC and Soundpeats Air3 Deluxe HS.

For these mini reviews, I’ve included details on the earbuds’ battery life, audio quality and key features, including whether they have active noise canceling or not, plus their IPX water-resistant rating in case you’re interested in using these for running or working out at the gym. Keep scrolling to see the best overall inexpensive earbuds available right now. I’ll update this list as other top affordable wireless earbuds are released.

Read more: Best Wireless Earbuds for 2023

Best budget wireless earbuds for 2023

The Earfun Pro 3 include a wireless charging case

Screenshot by David Carnoy/CNET

Earfun has put out a series of wireless earbuds over the last couple of years with one important commonality: They’re very good values, made more so by frequent discounts. The company’s new-for-2023 Earfun Air Pro 3 earbuds feature the latest Qualcomm QCC3071 system-on-a-chip with AptX Adaptive for Android and other devices that support the new LE Audio standard and LC3 audio codec, which is superior to the SBC codec (they also support AAC for Apple devices).

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The Soundcore by Anker Liberty 4 NC feature improved noise canceling

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New for 2023, the Anker Soundcore Liberty 4 NC earbuds carry a lower list price than last year’s Liberty 4 buds and are arguably better. They have improved noise canceling and better sound quality, along with support for the LDAC audio codec for devices that support it. (Many Android smartphones do, and in theory it offers slightly improved sound quality when paired with a music streaming service that offers high-res tracks.) They’re lightweight buds that should fit most ears comfortably with four sizes of ear tips to choose from.

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The Echo Buds 2023 are a good AirPods 3 alternative for less

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Amazon’s 2023 Echo Buds impressed me in a few ways that I wasn’t expecting. For starters, they sound good for inexpensive open earbuds, delivering decent clarity and ample bass. But they also have a robust feature set, including multipoint Bluetooth pairing, hands-free Alexa and ear-detection sensors that pause your audio when you take one or both buds out of your ears.

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Screenshot by David Carnoy/CNET

What makes these Soundpeats Air3 Deluxe HS buds special is that they sound surprisingly good for open earbuds — they’re pretty close to what you get from Apple’s AirPods 3 for sound. On top of that, they support Sony’s LDAC audio codec for devices that offer it. Not too many cheap open earbuds have good sound but these Soundpeats have good bass response and clarity. They’re also good for making calls and have a low-latency gaming mode. Battery life is rated at 5 hours at moderate volume levels, and these are IPX4 splash-proof.

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The Baseus Bowie MA10 earbuds are an impressive value

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Priced at just $21 after you click an instant $9 discount coupon on Amazon, the Baseus Bowie MA10 delivers surprisingly good sound along with active noise canceling for its low price (you just don’t see too many active noise canceling earbuds at this price). They’re IPX6 water resistant (can withstand a strong spray of water) and also have multipoint Bluetooth pairing and connect to a companion app. They stick out of your ears a bit but they did fit my ears comfortably.

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Battery Life Rated up to 8 hoursNoise Canceling NoMultipoint NoHeadphone Type Wireless earbudsWater-Resistant Yes (IPX7 — can be submerged for 30 minutes up to 1 meter)

The Tranya T20 remind me a little of a cheaper version of Samsung’s Galaxy Buds 2 without the noise canceling. They’re pretty no-frills and missing more premium features such as an ear-detection sensor that automatically pauses your music when you take a bud out of your ears. But they sound surprisingly decent for their modest price, if you get a tight seal, they sit pretty flush with your ears (they don’t really stick out much) and they have decent battery life — up to eight hours at moderate volume levels. They also work pretty well for making calls and are IPX7 waterproof..

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The Jabra Elite 4 are Jabra's new-for-2023 entry-level earbuds

Screenshot by David Carnoy/CNET

Jabra has replaced its entry-level Elite 3 buds with the new-for-2023 Elite 4, which offer active noise canceling and multipoint Bluetooth pairing. What’s a little confusing is that Jabra also sells the Elite 4 Active, a slightly more ruggedized version of the same buds that carries a list price of $120 but sometimes sells for less than the standard Elite 4. So get the Elite 4 Active if it costs less.

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Battery Life Rated up to 6 hoursNoise Canceling Yes (ANC)Multipoint NoHeadphone Type Wireless earbudsWater-Resistant Yes (IPX5 — protection against low-pressure water streams)

I was a fan of Earfun’s earlier Free Pro earbuds, which offer good sound and have little sport fins that help keep them in your ears securely. Now Earfun has released the Earfun Pro 2 buds with aluminum alloy caps, improved noise canceling and a couple of extra microphones that help boost voice-calling performance.

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soundpeats mini pro

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Battery Life Rated up to 7 hoursNoise Canceling Yes (ANC)Multipoint NoHeadphone Type Wireless earbudsWater-Resistant Yes (IPX5 — protection against low-pressure water streams)

The Soundpeats Mini Pro have a few things going for them. For starters, they’re relatively compact and fit my ears comfortably and securely (I got a tight seal with the largest included ear tips). They also sound surprisingly good, with clear, nice-detailed sound and punchy bass. Also, since they’re powered by a Qualcomm Bluetooth chip (it’s Bluetooth 5.2), they have support for Qualcomm’s aptX audio codec, which can offer slightly better sound on aptX-enabled devices such as some Android phones. Note: A newer version of the buds, the Soundpeats Mini Pro HS, offers support for the LDAC audio codec but not AptX.

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The Soundcore Sport X10 have an interesting design with rotating swiveling ear hooks that flip up when you’re using them and flip down when you want to set them in their charging case, which has a smaller footprint than a lot of buds with ear hooks.

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Best budget wireless earbuds FAQs

Do cheap earbuds sound as good as the AirPods 3rd Gen and AirPods Pro 2?

Apple improved the sound quality of the third-gen AirPods so it raised the bar. That said, many true wireless earbuds that cost less than $100 or even less than $50 offer surprisingly good sound for the money and measure up pretty well against the AirPods and AirPods Pro, though not the AirPods Pro 2, which offer significantly improved sound. 

What are the biggest differences between cheaper buds and more premium buds?

Often, the biggest difference is build quality. Premium buds tend to feel sturdier and tend to be built with more premium materials. They also have a more premium look and feel to both the buds themselves and their charging case. In theory, premium buds should hold up better over time. Additionally, they tend to have more features such as ear-detection sensors and they pair with a companion app so you can upgrade the firmware (as well as tweak the sound and possibly customize the controls). Finally, while some cheaper buds have active noise cancellation, the performance of the noise-canceling and transparency modes tends to be better with more premium buds.

Do cheap earbuds work well for making voice calls?

Some do. Many cheaper buds now feature multiple microphones and some do a surprisingly good job when it comes to voice calling. A few models on this list have surprisingly good noise reduction and measure up well against the AirPods, which are known for their strong voice-calling performance.