Great sound doesn’t need to cost a fortune, and the best cheap earbuds offer premium features like Active Noise Cancellation (ANC), virtual assistant compatibility, and easy app control. There’s no compromise on build quality either, and most affordable options include some level of water resistance to protect them against rain and sweat, making them perfect for long runs or rides.
At Pocket-lint, we review countless options to find the best wireless earbuds, then divide them into different use cases, like the best workout headphones, to make finding what you’re looking for easier. This time, we found the best features at the lowest price possible, for the best cheap earbuds to satisfy budget-conscious buyers.
The best cheap earbuds: Our top picks
Google / Pocket-lint
Google Pixel Buds A-Series
1. Best overall cheap earbuds for Android
Amazing for Android
$81 $99 Save $18
The Google Buds A-Series offer the best Android integration and great sound and voice quality. They also have an IPX4 rating to protect it from sweat and moisture.
- Adaptive sound
- Excellent Android integration
- IPX4 water resistance
- No ANC
- No wireless charging
The Google Buds A-Series feature a similar design to the company’s flagship Buds Pro line while coming in at around half the price. They give their sibling a run for its money in the audio quality department but does away with amenities like ANC and wireless charging to make them more economical. Instead of ANC, the Buds A-Series includes an adaptive sound feature, which automatically detects the outside noise levels and adjusts the volume to block it out.
You can expect the best software integration if you’re on an Android device because the Pixel Buds app installs automatically when you pair your earbuds and allows you to select EQ presets, find your device and access Google Assistant. Battery life is decent, with around five hours of music playback or 2.5 hours of talk time, which goes up to 24 hours when you factor in the case. They also feature IPX4 water resistance, making them ideal for working out or hiking.
Google Buds A-Series epitomise excellent value and are the best earbuds for the price. Yes, they lack certain comforts, like ANC and wireless charging, but they make up for it in the areas that count, like great speaker and microphone quality and the best Android integration.
Sony LinkBuds S Truly Wireless Noise Canceling Earbud Headphones
2. Best premium cheap earbuds
Premium without the price
Sony’s LinkBuds S are compact and lightweight and include fantastic sound quality for the price. They have ANC and offer up to nine hours of playback.
- Amazing sound
- Long battery life
- Could be louder
- Bland colour options
We tried to keep all the options on this list to under $100 but couldn’t help skirting the limit with Sony’s LinkBuds S because of their high performance and outstanding value. What’s a few more dollars when you get Sony’s legendary sound and build quality with features you’d expect at a much higher price point? The five-millimetre drivers provide an excellent listening experience with DSEE Extreme to enhance compressed tracks, 360 Reality Audio for better sound with certain apps, and ANC to filter unwanted sounds when chatting with your friends and family.
The Sony LinkBuds S feature a modern, open-back design and comes in Black, White, and Earth Blue. They are compact and lightweight enough to offer the perfect fit for most buyers and offer around nine hours of playback with the ANC off, but drops to six when it’s on. Like most earbuds in this price range, there’s IPX4 water resistance for peace of mind that they won’t get damaged when you’re working out.
Bringing high-end features to the more budget-friendly Sony LinkBuds S was a genius move by Sony because it makes the brand more accessible, and the buyer wins with better products at lower prices. Of course, they aren’t perfect, but it’s easy to overlook the bland colour options and that they could be louder when considering their overall performance in all other areas.
FiiO / Pocket-lint
3. Best value cheap earbuds
Performance for less
$80 $100 Save $20
The FIIO FW3 earbuds are budget friendly with a unique design. They also have a stable connection to most devices and decent battery life.
- Low Price
- Hi-Res sound
- Unique design
- No ANC
- Plastic construction
FIIO’s FW3 is the company’s first foray into budget earbuds after building a reputation for making music players and amplifiers. They’ve done a great job giving the earbuds a unique if somewhat polarising, ridged design in Interstellar Grey or Moonlight White that distinguishes itself from the countless vanilla rivals in the segment. Another feature setting them apart is the dual physical buttons on the edge, which will be welcomed by buyers who prefer a tactile feel to touch sensitivity.
It’s the internals where things get exciting, and FIIO uses top-notch components like the QCC5141 chipset that supports Hi-Res sound, most codecs, and ensures a stable Bluetooth connection. The 10-millimetre drivers won’t set the world alight with their performance, but the clarity is above average, and you get a balanced listening experience to enjoy most music genres. Battery life is decent at seven hours, and you get two more charges from the case for a 21-hour total.
There may be tough competition established at this price point, but the FIIO FW3s do enough to stand with a superior audio experience and quirky design. Its plastic construction and lack of ANC are minor drawbacks, considering its impressive price-to-performance ratio.
Sony / Pocket-lint
4. Best comfort cheap earbuds
$98 $120 Save $22
The Sony WF-C700Ns include premium features like multipoint connectivity and ANC and are extremely comfortable thanks to their lightweight design.
- Comfortable lightweight design
- IPX4 rating
- Flimsy case
- Feel plasticky
Sony’s WF-C700N are one of the best options if you’re looking for comfort and premium features like multipoint connectivity and ANC in a budget-friendly package. They also include a transparency mode, controlled along with the other settings in the Sony Headphones Connect app. The main feature buyers look at when picking earbuds is the sound quality, and the WF-C700Ns punch above their weight with distortion-free sound at high volume and great microphone quality.
Understandably, Sony needed to cut some corners to keep the price down, and the plasticky feel of the earbuds and case is acceptable, considering it doesn’t affect functionality. In fact, the plastic construction contributes to the earbuds’ comfortable and lightweight design, making them inconspicuous after hours of use. They’re also great for outdoor use with an IPX4 rating, and deliver up to 7.5 hours of battery life, which isn’t bad for the price.
The Sony WF-C700N have almost everything you can ask for in a set of low-cost earbuds, like excellent sound and voice quality with ANC and multi-point connectivity in a lightweight and comfortable design. Their plastic construction and flimsy case are acceptable tradeoffs, considering their functionality and are in line with their price point. They surprised us with their quality in testing and even surpassed our old favourites, the Sony WF-C500, as the new budget king in Sony’s lineup.
Anker / Pocket-lint
Soundcore by Anker Space A40 Earbuds
5. Best ANC cheap earbuds
$79 $100 Save $21
Soundcore’s Space A40s have the best ANC for the price and include wireless charging and multipoint connectivity. They have one of the best price-to-performance ratios in their class.
- Multipoint connectivity
- Wireless charging
- Great noise cancellation
- Generic logo
- No auto-pause sensor
Soundcore’s Space A40s have made a name for themselves in a competitive market by featuring top-tier performance for a price that’s hard to beat. There aren’t many rivals that can match its excellent ANC, and its quality is obvious when you factor in other premium features like multipoint pairing and wireless charging. The amenities don’t end there, and you can customise the touch controls via the Soundcore app, which is also used to activate the game and transparency modes or adjust the ANC.
Another area where the Space A40s beat out the competition is with their lengthy 10 hours of playback and an additional four charges from the case for an incredible 50 hours with ANC off or around 40 with it activated. Soundcore tried to give them upmarket styling with a two-tone matte and gloss design, but the generic logo has the opposite effect and cheapens the look.
At the end of the day, looks don’t matter as much as functionality, and the Space A40s are a class leader with fantastic ANC and all-around superb performance. Its minor drawbacks, like the lack of auto pause sensors and a generic logo, are insignificant issues when you see the big picture of how much value they offer.
1MORE / Pocket-lint
1More ComfortBuds Mini
6. Best cheap earbuds for kids
Small but powerful
The 1MORE ComfoBuds Mini are excellent for kids and teenagers because of their compact size and still include features like wireless charging and ANC.
- Compact size
- Wireless charging
- Requires two apps to work
- Bland design
Kids and teenagers need smaller earbuds that provide a snug fit to prevent sound leakage. The 1MORE ComfoBuds Mini come in black, white or red and are compact and lightweight to ensure they don’t fall out during workouts and other physical activity. Each earbud only weighs 3.7 grams, and 1MORE includes three sets of eartips for youth and young adult buyers to find the perfect fit.
Despite their compact size and affordable price tag, the ComfoBuds Minis still manage to include features like ANC and wireless charging. They also have an above-average IPX5 rating, surpassing most of its rivals on this list and making them a better option for wet climates. Battery life is average at around five hours, and you get another 15 more from the case, which should be enough for most activities.
There must be some drawbacks for the price, and the ComfoBuds Mini’s drab, all-black matte design does nothing to stand out. Their software could also use some refinement because you need to download two apps to access all the features instead of one. They’re still worth checking out because of their compact size, excellent comfort, and IPX5 rating.
Beats / Pocket-lint
7. Best cheap wired earbuds
Plug and play
The Beats Flex Wireless are wired earbuds that keep things simple with a plug-and-play design and no apps or case to worry about.
- Long battery life
- No case to worry about
- Basic functionality
- Polarising design
While many people prefer true wireless earbuds these days, models like the Beats Flex Wireless still have a following because of their advantages. First and foremost is the incredibly low price tag, which might be the cheapest way to experience Beats sound without compromising the listening experience. The 32-inch cable connecting the two buds makes them hard to lose and allows space for a bigger battery with an amazing 12-hour lifespan. There’s also no case to worry about, and you can charge them up to 1.5 hours of playtime in just 10 minutes with a USB-C cable.
Considering its price, it’s unsurprising that the Flex Wireless uses Apple’s older W1 chip for a stable and long-range connection to iPhones. Sound quality is great despite the lack of ANC, and it’s easy to adjust the volume and access other functions with the inline controls on the durable flat cable. Finding the right fit is easy with four different-sized ear tips in the box, and you can express your style with colours like Flame Blue, Smoke Grey, and Yuzu Yellow.
The Beats Flex Wireless might not be the obvious choice if you’re looking for cheap earbuds because of their wired design and basic functions. They still offer a simple and uncomplicated user experience that’s perfect for people who don’t need advanced features and prefer a more low-tech option to enjoy their music.
JLab / Pocket-lint
JLab GO Air Pop
8. Best ultra-cheap earbuds
$20 $25 Save $5
The JLab GO Air Pops come at an unbeatable price and include IPX4 water resistance, touch controls and more for outstanding value.
- Amazing price
- Many colours to choose from
- Long battery life
- No app
- Short integrated charging cable
JLab’s GO Air Pops pull off the impossible by offering excellent features at an unbelievable price, making them the best option for budget-conscious buyers. These affordable earbuds have an all-plastic construction with touch controls and stand out with various colour options. You can choose between options like Clear, Slate, Pink, Red, and Teal, and there’s even one with a My Little Pony theme for the younger buyers out there. You also get three sets of ear tips in small, medium, and large, and a decent IPX4 water-resistance rating.
Performance-wise, the GO Air Pops keep things simple with good sound quality for the price and a reliable and stable Bluetooth 5.1 connection that connects instantly without any issues. Their eight hours of battery life and an additional 24 from the case, easily beat many pricier rivals and add to their incredible value.
The lack of an app is acceptable at this price point, but the integrated charging cable is too short, making it a chore to connect. You can’t expect the JLab GO Air Pops to compete with premium offerings when it comes to sound quality, but they give them a run for their money in practicality and battery life to make them a viable choice.
The bottom line: Which are the best earbuds?
The Google Buds A-Series are the best cheap earbuds because they have great sound and built quality and integrate well with most Android phones. If you’re looking for something more upmarket, it’s worth checking out Sony’s LinkBuds, which have a modern design, ANC, and a long nine-hour battery life. The FIIO FW3s offer the most value because they come in at a low price and offer features like Hi-Res sound and a stable Bluetooth connection in an interesting design.
Google / Pocket-lint
Google Pixel Buds A-Series
$81 $99 Save $18
How did we pick these earbuds?
Our team tests earbuds from most major brands when they’re released and has hands-on experience with most of the models listed here. For this list, the main three things we looked at were price, functionality and overall value.
Price was the most important factor because this list is about the cheapest options. Keeping that in mind, we tried to keep the options below $100 to qualify, except for the Sony LinkBuds S, which cost slightly more.
Functionality was the second factor we looked at to see what each brings to the table. We looked at features like sound quality, ANC, app functionality and more to determine how they stack up against each other.
Lastly, we matched the price and functionality to see which models offer the best value and are worth considering based on their overall performance.
Do cheap earbuds work?
Yes, there are many budget-friendly earbuds with great sound and voice quality.
What are good earbuds for the price?
There are many good earbuds for the price, but the FIIOs FW3s and Lab GO Air Pops offer some of the best value.
Is it okay to use earbuds every day?
Yes, it’s okay to use earbuds every day as long as it’s at a reasonable volume that won’t cause noise-induced hearing loss.