With technology moving expeditiously and brands adhering with the trends as they are embraced by consumers, we are beginning to see more brands coming up with their latest and the best offerings. Not to mention, the emerging brands that are also betting on the current trends and the consumers to adopt those trends. Be it smartphones, smartwatches, or even earphones, the approach taken by these brands aligns along the same path to a large extent.
From the — wired earphones — that required a 3.5mm audio jack to offer the output — to the semi-wired (neckband) ones — that gave up on the direct (physical) connection and instead relied on Bluetooth for connectivity — to the most recent truly wireless counterparts — that do not have any piece of wire running between the buds, it has been a journey for the brands and the consumers over the past few years. So much so that, with the kind of options out there, it is more confusing now than ever before to pick a pair of earphones (truly wireless) that meets your requirements and also fits in your budget.
While, if you happen to be an iOS user, Apple’s AirPods and AirPods Pro are your best bet to get the most of the ecosystem, the price tag for both these pairs of earbuds can put off some consumers. In the same vein, certain aspects or features about these earbuds might also be a deciding factor for some to go with a pair from some other brand. So, in this article, we have a quick roundup of some of the best alternatives to Apple’s truly wireless earbuds, the AirPods and the AirPods Pro, for you to find the one that meets your needs.
Best Alternatives to Apple AirPods and AirPods Pro
1. Sony WF-1000XM3 – the best AirPods Pro alternative
The Sony WF-1000XM3 is a pair of premium, top-end noise-canceling earphones that are right up at the top amongst some of the best truly wireless earphones in the market and hence possibly the best AirPods Pro alternative. First off, the earbuds are made of plastic and take a sleek and elegant approach with an all-black chassis with copper accents. Although they do not have an IP certification, unlike the AirPods Pro, which they compete against head-to-head, there are a few other aspects that give them a slight edge over Apple’s premium contender.
At its core, the earbuds are powered by Sony’s Sony QN1e HD noise-canceling processor that offers unparalleled noise-cancellation with an immersive audio experience. And, they also feature the “transparency mode”, similar to the AirPods, which allows you to hear the outside world momentarily. Among other things, the WF-1000XM3 offers faster charging (with USB Type-C) than the AirPods Pro — offering an hour of playback time with just 5 minutes of charge; supports automatic ear detection across different platforms, unlike AirPods that are restricted to Apple devices only; compensates for the lack of aptX support with 24-bit audio signal processing using the QN1e chip and DSEE HX processing; and last, but certainly not the least, the earbuds offer a punchier bass (with the ability to adjust it further via the Headphones Connect app), giving it a more enthralling experience than the AirPods Pro.
Unfortunately, the Sony WF-1000XM3 is yet to officially launch in India.
Price: ~ USD 228 / INR 19,900
2. Jabra Elite 75t – AirPods Pro alternative for athletes
The Elite 75t from Jabra is another pair of truly wireless earbuds that competes with the AirPods Pro alongside the Sony’s WF-1000XM3. It is a slight update from the beloved 65t and offers a more dynamic sound with noise cancellation and improved battery life. When compared to the Apple’s premium, the Elite 75t offers a rather low-profile look and offer an IP55 rating (over IPX4 of AirPods Pro), making them spray resistant and a good contender for workout earbuds.
Besides the aesthetics and the design, the Elite 75t holds a few other advantages over the AirPods. To begin with, the 75t offers a better battery life, around 7.5 hours on a single charge, along with a slightly better output (with an hour extra) out of the charging case. Not to mention, it charges over USB Type-C, which further adds to its tally of pros. When it comes to sound quality, although the AirPods Pro offers an overall balanced sound experience with balanced lows-and-mids, the Elite 75t provides that extra oomph factor, thanks to its bass-heavy profile. In addition, if you want to customize the sound experience to your liking, you can do so with the help of different EQ presets offered via the companion app. Another interesting feature that the earbuds provide is the dual-device pairing, which, just as it sounds, allows you to pair your earbuds with two devices simultaneously, something that the AirPods Pro does not offer.
3. RHA TrueConnect – Budget AirPods alternative
Unlike the Sony WF-1000XM3 and the Jabra Elite 75t, which challenge the top-of-the-line premium Apple AirPods Pro, the RHA TrueConnect, on the other hand, compete right against the year-old AirPods (2nd-Gen). From the looks of it, the truly-wireless earbuds from RHA come with a premium-looking plastic body with a matte-black coating, a slightly shorter stem than the AirPods, and soft silicone tips to offer better noise isolation. The slick design paired with the good overall fit in-ear and noise isolation makes the TrueConnect a really decent alternative to the AirPods and also an ideal choice of regular listeners and those into fitness, thanks to the IPX5 rating.
The earbuds charge over USB Type-C and include various silicon ear tips based on different materials and sizes. So you can find the one that offers a snug fit in your ear canal and take advantage of the noise isolation. Although, when it comes to sound, the RHA TrueConnect don’t support the aptX or AAC codec, the default codec that they come with (SBC), seems to have improved along the way. Especially, the bass and the high-frequency response on the earbuds turn out to be impressive, and the in-ear style buds seem to be the reason behind this experience, with a fit that offers the right amount of bass (without losing on the detail) and isolation to give a good listening experience. A very good AirPods alternative indeed.
4. Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless
Following the in-ear style bud design, the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless offers a unique design when compared to the AirPods Pro. For starters, the earbuds offer a snug fit in the ear, and this, in turn, offers better noise isolation and blocks out the outside noise. Besides, it comes with silicone tips in different sizes for different ear sizes and also offers the “transparent hearing” mode that allows you to listen to ambient noise if and when required.
When stacked against Apple’s premium AirPods Pro, the Sennheiser Momentum delivers more functionality besides the standard controls. In addition, they also come with advanced audio controls like different equalizer profiles, which can be adjusted accordingly via the companion app. Talking about the overall sound profile, as already mentioned in this article, Apple’s take on audio is usually on the balanced side of the spectrum, and the same applies to its AirPods Pro. On the contrary, the Sennheiser earbuds offer a more dynamic representation of the original music with detailed lows and mids. Not to mention, the bass, which makes the experience all the way more engrossing. An alternative to consider if you are not a fan of AirPods’ sound texture.
5. 1More Stylish True Wireless
Pitting right up against the Apple AirPods (2nd-Gen), the 1More Stylish True Wireless are pebble-shaped earbuds, which include a silicone hook to hold them in place. They are in stark contrast to Apple’s design language for the AirPods, and the same carries forward to the audio. That is not to say that the AirPods sound inferior, but the in-ear style, paired with the hook, offers a comfortable and snug fit in the ear to ensure a better listening experience. Furthermore, the 1More earbuds support both aptX and AAC audio codec, adding more points to its tally when it comes to audio.
As already mentioned, the isolation offered on the 1More Stylish earbuds is comparatively superior to the AirPods, ensuring a more pronounced bass and optimal low-end response. While the earbuds might not be ideal for listening to music all day long, the isolation and the bass certainly makes them one of the preferred choices for travel and workout earbuds.
Price: ~ USD 100 / INR 5,999
6. Samsung Galaxy Buds
The Samsung Galaxy Buds take a contrasting approach towards the true wireless design that is miles apart from Apple’s take with the AirPods (2nd-Gen). While Apple introduced wireless charging with the AirPods (2nd-Gen), it does charge extra for the feature. On the contrary, the Galaxy Buds come in only one model (with wireless charging), which further adds to the convenience if you have a phone that supports reverse wireless charging, as you can then charge your earbuds on the go with your device. Besides, the Galaxy Buds offer a slightly longer battery life, ~6 hours compared to ~4.5 hours on the Apple AirPods.
Talking about audio, Samsung’s offering provides an overall balanced sound, which aligns with Apple’s sound profile for the AirPods. What acts as an advantage for the Galaxy Buds, however, is the in-ear style approach. Essentially, besides offering a snug fit, the in-ear style also adds to the experience by offering a dynamic audio profile with enough bass and clarity that gives the AirPods a tough competition. Although the buds do not support aptX or AAC codec, they do come with Samsung’s proprietary codec that ensures the bitrate is always under check with its optimization.
7. Beats Powerbeats Pro
Among all the different alternatives mentioned in this article, the Beats Powerbeats Pro, in our opinion, is the best fitting pair of earbuds of the lot. Largely because, in addition to the in-ear style fit, the earbuds also come with an over-ear hook that offers a snug fit and further ensures the earbuds don’t fall off easily while performing different activities. The Powerbeats Pro also comes with full playback controls for easier access without having to reach out for phone every time, something that the AirPods miss out on.
On paper, the Powerbeats Pro promises to offer around 9 hours of battery life on a single charge compared to the 4.5 hours on the AirPods Pro, which is quite impressive. As has been mentioned numerous times throughout this article, the AirPods Pro does offer an improved audio experience (over its previous-gen model), given the ANC that works in tandem, the Powerbeats Pro still takes a slight edge over them with more pronounced lows and balanced bass. Further, besides this, both pairs come with Apple’s H1 chip at their core — which offers better connectivity and a lag-free experience and support the AAC codec by default — that, although works perfectly on iOS, can cause some drop in audio quality on the Android side of things.
That’s it for this article!
Those were some of our recommendations for the best alternatives you can get for the Apple AirPods and the AirPods Pro. Which of these earbuds do you like the most, or use yourself? Let us know in the comments below.