The Powerbeats Pro are a couple of years old, but don’t have the sound issues that plagued a lot of the other headphones the company released around the time. The sound is clear and balanced, with a slight emphasis on the lower end that makes them great for workouts. It’s a sound profile that’s most ideal for someone who listens to a lot of pop music, but it works plenty fine for other genres, podcasts, and audiobooks. Since Beats is owned by Apple, the pair is also embedded with Apple’s H1 chip. That means, like the Apple AirPods Pro, it pairs pretty much instantly to any Apple devices. Non-iPhone users can still connect to the headphones with Bluetooth, but that’s clunkier.
The earbuds have volume controls on the side, which is super useful mid-run, and you can also summon Siri with a simple “Hey Siri,” which is super helpful when your phone is across the room, and you want to quietly request Siri play “Remember the Name” by Fort Minor to close out the set. The microphones are pretty good, which you can test by asking Siri to play Fort Minor in your quietest, most abashed whisper.
The buds have a promised 9-hour battery life, with 24 hours of battery life packed into the case as well. You couldn’t exactly pocket the case, which can be frustrating since you need it to pair with the phone, but that’s less of an issue for earbuds mostly designed for working out. And you know, you can always throw them in your backpack.
The Best Wireless Headphones That Are Kind of Like AirPods, But Better
The original AirPods were decent in 2016, but they’re extremely outclassed by almost every similarly priced headphone that’s been released in the last few years. The best of these are the Anker Soundcore Liberty Air 2 Pro. Unfortunately, the Liberty Air 2s look like bootleg AirPods. If you’re seen wearing them, someone might mistake you for a weirdo who painted their AirPods. But if you’re willing to get past Anker’s eye-rolling design choices the headphones have a ton to offer. For starters, they have much better sound than the headphones from Apple. AirPods offer basically no bass response, in no small part due to the lack of seal you get from headphones without silicone eartips. The Liberty Air 2 Pros have bass response in spades—maybe even a little bit too much bass response. It’s a great sound profile that’s kinda ideal for scrolling TikTok, since it’ll make all those weird pop jams really kick. Considering that basically no one goes to TikTok for hi-fi experiences, it’s worth noting that the headphones sound decent regardless of what you’re listening to. Any of your playlists or podcasts will sound great.
Unlike a lot of other headphones in this price range too, the Air Pro 2s have a decent case. It’s square shaped, but flat, which means it should fit in your pocket, and holds about three charges worth of battery. With the headphones’ 7 hours of battery life, that means you should only have to charge the headphones every couple of days. Surprisingly, the Air Pro 2s have active noise cancelling capabilities, but it’s not nearly as effective as the noise cancelling on the Jabras, Apple, or KEF headphones. Still, considering that the regular AirPods don’t have it at all, we’ll take the tiny upgrade.
The Best Cheap True Wireless Earbuds
We’re only just starting to reach a point where the true wireless earbuds available under $100 aren’t frustratingly bad. The Skullcandy Sesh Evo isn’t nearly as good as other in-ear headphones, like the Jabra Elite Active 75ts, but it offers decent enough sound without any other major flaws. If you’re just listening to podcasts, or simply need a backing track to get through the day, the Sesh Evos are likely good enough. This is especially true because they don’t require any significant compromises anywhere else. They offer a decent fit, good sweat, water, and dust resistance, and 24 total hours of battery life with the charging case (each single charge gets you five hours). The connectivity and pairing process isn’t as good as that from other budget corded headphones, but if you want the completely cordless experience, this is the only one in the price range worth considering.
6 Other True Wireless Headphones We Like
When you picture a pair of true wireless headphones, you likely think of AirPods. People laughed at them when they came out, but they quickly became a sensation. Even though they sounded a little worse than everything else available, they were so much easier to actually use. Since they were released, basically every other audio company has caught up. There are now plenty of true wireless headphones that are just as easy to use as AirPods, even though they connect through Bluetooth. But some folks gotta have their AirPods. You know what you’re getting yourself into. Enjoy!
Jabra usually releases two versions of each of its new true wireless headphones. The first is a “Jabra Elite” model. A couple of months later, the company releases a “Elite Active” model, that basically has the same sound profile, but a slightly more streamlined design and additional water and sweat resistance. Usually if you want the absolute best audio quality, you go with the non-Active models. And if you want something more comfortable, you go with the Active model. In our testing, the difference in sound quality between the Elite 85t and the older Elite Active 75t wasn’t that big, especially after Jabra pushed a software update that gave the older headphone active noise-canceling. What both headphones have in common is support for the Jabra app, which allows you to dial your EQ and create a more effective transparency mode than the one you’d get on Apple AirPods Pro.
The JLab Jbuds are an alternative cheap option to the Skullcandy Sesh Evo. They have a very different sound profile—the Skullcandy headphones have a much better bass response—but otherwise offer a similar experience for most people. You can do better, but it’s helpful to remember that five years ago, this pair of earbuds would have been $300, and they would have been a steal, too.
Master & Dynamic makes some of the best looking headphones out there, and so it’s no surprise that they also make the best-looking earbud, too. If aesthetics are the most important feature of your headphones, and the Master and Dynamic headphones are a match for your taste, they’re totally worth considering, especially now that they’re basically the same price as AirPods. But expect a kind of similarly weak sound-profile and an overall uncomfortable fit. The latter problem comes from the fact that these headphones go outwards about as much as they go down. Instead of resting in the crook of your ear canal, they stick out super far and weigh your ears down. You’ll smile anytime you catch yourself in the bathroom mirror, but you probably won’t want to wear these while doing anything more than just sitting at your desk.
Jaybird was late to the true wireless game—by the time it announced the Jaybird Vista in 2019, Jabra was set to release the third version of its own true wireless headphone—but the headphones are decent enough. The Jaybird Vista has a great sound profile, not as good as the Elite Active 75ts, but much better than the AirPods you’re likely comparing them to. They connect to your phone easily and have a battery life of six hours. The real advantage is in their more rectangular design that supports the use of a bunch of different kinds of ear tips. All the provided options mean that there’s a zero percent chance these workout earbuds won’t fit and stay in your ears. And if any ultra-marathons are in your future, that’s all you need to hear.
Earin was the first company to ever release true wireless earphones to the public. The A-3 is its latest iteration on the original design. As a piece of design, the headphones are sleek and minimal. They have an incredibly low profile, sort of like if someone lopped off the majority of an AirPod and then pinched the top together. They’re the lightest and sleekest headphones we’ve tested. If you’re the kind of person that despises silicone eartips and never has a problem with fit, you might find the Earin headphones to be exactly what you’re looking for. But if you don’t mind silicone and have had trouble with getting a good fit on Apple headphones in the past, there are plenty of other headphones available that sound better and are more comfortable to wear.