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Best AirPods alternatives in 2024

The ubiquitous Apple Airpods absolutely changed the game upon their release in 2016. With the release of these little wireless earbuds, Apple not only created a new product, but actually gave birth to an entirely new multi-billion dollar market segment. You can always leave it to Apple to sell you a product that you didn’t know you needed, and now can’t live without. Within a short time, Apple had us all wondering how on earth we got by for years with cables on our headphones, snagging on every door and drawer handle in sight. Who else remembers kids cutting the cords off their old Apple earbuds to pretend they had Airpods?


3 AirPods Max alternatives that are just as trendy

AirPods Max have gone viral, but they’re not the only over-ears that deliver a sleek aesthetic and great sound. Here are are top tested alternatives.

Since their release in 2016 Apple has sold over 200 million units of AirPods and launched an entire industry for Airpod accessories for the different release generations. That said, while the AirPods changed the landscape, they aren’t the only wireless earbud player on the market anymore, and may not even meet everyone’s audio needs or preferences. So, whether it’s a stylistic choice, a budget constraint, or specific function like gaming, there are a plethora of earbuds on the market that address niches where the Apple AirPods might come up short.

Best Apple alternative earbuds: Our top picks

Sony WF-1000XM5 Earbuds

Sony WF-1000XM5

1. Best AirPods alternatives overall

Great audio quality with a premium build

Sony’s flagship true wireless buds remain some of the most musical in-ears you can buy at this price, but the competitors have started to push them on noise cancelling and call quality. They’re still a great buy, but its closest competitors are worthy of consideration too.


  • Wonderful sound quality
  • Premium build quality
  • Comfortable fit

  • The noise cancelation could be better

If you’re searching for an alternative to Apple’s AirPods and are looking for an all-around quality set, then the Sony WF-1000XM5 earbuds may be the perfect choice for you. While the name leaves something to be desired, Sony has poured a tremendous amount of engineering and design into what is almost certainly its intended competitor to Apple’s AirPod Pros.

Sony WF-1000XM5

The Sony WF-1000XM5 earbuds are dubbed by the company as “The Best Truly Wireless Noise Cancelling Earbuds.” Sony has thrown the kitchen sink at these earbuds to deliver a fantastic user experience. In our hands on review we dove into the WF-1000XM5 AI based noise cancelation technology powered by two proprietary processors embedded in the earbuds. The Sony earbuds also support the Hi-Res audio codec from LDAC, encouraging higher-fidelity listening.

Sony knows that earbuds users will be taking calls as well as listening to music, so they’ve loaded this model with technology that detects speech vibration through bone conduction to help isolate your speech for phone calls.

Bose QuietComfort Ultra Earbuds

Bose QuietComfort Ultra Earbuds

2. Best noise-cancelling AirPods alternatives

A focus on audio isolation from one of the best in the space

$249 $299 Save $50

Breakthrough spatialized audio for more immersive listening that makes your music feel more real than ever before — no matter the content or source. Their noise-cancellation is where these buds really shine.


  • Top-tier noise-cancelling
  • Immersive soundstage with Bose Immersive Audio

Bose has long been the leading purveyors of noise-cancelling headphones. They are the go-to for millions of flyers all around the world and anyone else that seeks silence in a noisy environment. Bose is the undisputed leader in noise-cancelling, and they have brought that expertise to their newest iteration of earbuds.

The Bose QuietComfort Ultra Earbuds is the latest offering from Bose in the true wireless earbuds space. Replacing the QuietComfort Earbuds II, the QuietComfort Ultra promises the next-level noise cancelation that Bose is famous for, paired with Bose Immersive Audio technology to achieve enhanced spatial audio, giving the user a truly immersive listening experience. The QuietComfort Ultra Earbuds also feature customizable modes and touch controls, which have become somewhat standard among earbuds. These premium earbuds are no doubt Bose’s response to Apple’s AirPods Pro, and by all accounts, they rise to the challenge.

Beats Fit Pro

Beats Fit Pro

3. Best AirPods alternatives for working out

Earbuds made with working out in mind

A superb blend of comfort and sound quality, whether you want to exercise or use them for everyday listening. A great solution for active users to still experience great sound quality. Water resistance rated and come in so many colour options for any style preference.


  • Secure-fit wingtips for a confident fit
  • Water resistance rated
  • Many colour options

Since the AirPods hit the market, one of the chief complaints among consumers has been that they don’t stay in your ears. What can be a nuisance in day-to-day sedentary activities can make ill-fitting earbuds virtually unusable during active ones. Beats Fit Pro hope to address this with earbuds meant to last through a workout regimen.


These 6 features would make the Beats Fit Pro 2 the best workout headphones

The next generation Beats Fit Pro would be my biggest recommendation if they included adaptive transparency mode and five other improvements.

For those with an active lifestyle the Beats Fit Pro offers superb sound and noise-cancelling while staying in your ears during those long runs and bike rides. The Beats Fit Pro earbuds are compatible with both iPhone and Android devices. These earbuds feature touch controls to easily manage your music, activate voice assistant, and take calls all while on the move. The Fit Pro earbuds are rated IPX4 water-resistant, which should make sweat or jogging in a light rain shower a worry-free affair.

They also make a great fit for users looking for specific styles. Over the past couple years they have dropped fun new color styles with their skin tone matching collaboration with Kim Kardashian and fresh and funky bright colors like Coral Pink, Volt Yellow and Tidal Blue.

MOMENTUM True Wireless 3

Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 3

4. Best AirPods alternatives for audiophiles

Premium audio quality from a trusted brand

Cheaper than the last version, have improved in-ear comfort and offer the same excellent sound with ANC that does a little bit more than before. There are some very minor foibles, but Sennheiser’s Momentum 3 are an excellent pick for a reliable set of earbuds.


  • Great noise canceling
  • Good value for quality

  • Can be uncomfortable for long-term wear

Ask any audio geek to list off some of the most respected names in the Hi-Fi headphone space, and almost certainly Sennheiser will be among the first mentioned. The German brand started making voltmeters and microphones in 1946, and the audiophile DNA runs deep.

The Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 3 earbuds are absolutely audiophile earbuds. If you’re using a streaming service that supports high-fidelity playback, and you’re a stickler for audio quality, then these earbuds from one of the kings of speakers and audio will fit the bill and your ears.

Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 3 earbuds review: A welcome improvement photo 8

Featuring ANC (Adaptive Noise Cancellation) and up to 28 hours of playtime these are the closest you can get to taking your Hi-Fi stereo system with you on the go.

Soundcore Liberty 4 NC

Anker Soundcore Liberty 4 NC

5. Best budget earbuds

Fantastic noise cancellation on a budget

The Soundcore Liberty 4 NC earbuds from Anker stand out most for offering stellar active noise cancellation for under $100.


  • Noise-cancellation at a great price point
  • IPX4 Water Resistant

  • Microphone quality is better on higher-end models

For those wanting earbuds with active noise cancelation, the Soundcore Liberty 4 NC earbuds from Anker offer that most valuable of features at an amazing price. Anker has tried its best to bring the most crucial features to this set of earbuds without any sticker shock. The Liberty 4 NC model features IPX4 water resistance, making it ideal for use during a heavy workout. The noise-cancellation is absolutely fantastic for this price point, so rest assured it isn’t just subpar technology with the noise-cancellation claim slapped on the box.

These lightweight earbuds with 10 hours of playtime come at a great price without cutting the corners that matter the most.

The bottom line: What are the best AirPod alternatives?

If you’re willing to invest in your earbuds, and you’re looking for the best across multiple factors, then the Sony WF1000XM5 earbuds will fill that premium role seamlessly.

Sony WF-1000XM5 Earbuds

Sony WF-1000XM5

Editor’s Choice

Sony’s flagship true wireless buds remain some of the most musical in-ears you can buy at this price, but the competitors have started to push them on noise cancelling and call quality. They’re still a great buy, but its closest competitors are worthy of consideration too.

If you’re a workout fanatic and your biggest complaint is earbuds falling out of your ears, then you’ll be partial to the Beats Fit Pro with their secure-fit wingtips to secure the earbuds to your ears. For those whose week is mostly their office or work from home 9-5, then the new Bose QuietComfort Ultra earbuds with their supreme noise-cancelling will be the perfect fit. If you’re focusing primarily on listening to music with them then you might like more sound quality focused earbuds like the Sennheiser Momentum earbuds. For those not wanting to drop $200 or $300 on a set of earbuds, the Soundcore Liberty 4 NC are a great budget option.

How do I know which earbuds are the best for me?

Choosing a set of earbuds is as much about the function as it is about the style. Oftentimes earbuds are chosen less for features and more for their look, though we are strong believers that all factors should be considered. Consider the environment in which you’ll be using your earbuds and the primary application in which they will be used.

Should I set some expectations when it comes to earbuds?

True wireless earbuds have freed us from the evils of getting our headphone cable stuck on a door knob or a drawer handle and having our earbuds violently ripped out of our ears, but that hasn’t been without some trade-offs. Regardless of which earbuds are right for you, Apple branded or otherwise, there are some realities around compression and Bluetooth that must be addressed. As it currently stands, you are still able to more easily transmit massively more amounts of information by cable than by air. There is certainly such thing as a best-in-class set of earbuds, but almost invariably, things like microphone quality and overall sound quality will be superior on headphones with cables. We accept this in exchange for the massive convenience of not having a cable, but it’s important to understand the purpose of these products.

Another main thing to consider is that because of the nature of these speaker drivers having to be small enough to fit inside our ears, no set of earbuds will have bass levels that can compete with larger open back or closed back headphones. The point of earbuds is the convenient small size, the mobility of them, and the effectiveness of using them for calls, music, and any other listening you do on your smartphone.

How did we select these earbuds?

We know that the sheer number of earbuds available on the market can be daunting, and selecting a pair from the huge number of options can be a tough decision. We endeavored to find the best earbuds that fit a specific niche that AirPods might not. The best consumer tech addresses a need and performs that task well.

Aside from ensuring each model serves a specific purpose, we considered the availability of our selections as many times manufacturers might be between model releases, making in-stock items hard to come by. In trying to help with this choice we wanted to highlight not only the best alternatives to Apple’s AirPods but some of the best earbuds on the market in general.

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