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You’ve already cut the cord when it comes to your cable, but the latest data shows that millions of people around the world have cut the cord when it comes to audio devices as well. According to a new report from Counterpoint Research, the global market for true wireless hearables will reach 129 million units by 2020, with the segment reaching an estimated worth of $27 billion in value by 2021.
Apple’s AirPods remain a best-seller and own a large share of the market. Counterpoint says AirPod sales accounted for almost three-fourths of the segment in 2018, with an estimated 35 million units sold. Users cited ease of use, comfort and name recognition as key reasons for choosing AirPods over other wireless headsets, though Bose topped their list when it came to audio quality.
These days though, a number of other manufacturers are making solid AirPod alternatives, including a new entry from Samsung launched just this month. While a pair of AirPods will run you $160+ (and these well-reviewed Bose SoundSport headphones are $200), we found four great options that deliver similar sound quality, battery life and comfort without the hefty price tag.
1. TOZO T10 TWS Bluetooth 5.0 Earbuds
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It sounds almost too good to be true: a pair of wireless earbuds with almost all 5-star reviews for under $50? But that’s what this basic set from TOZO delivers, with 3.5 hours of playback time on a single charge, a large 8mm speaker driver, and ergonomically-designed ear-tips made with a gel silicone that’s more comfortable for prolonged wear. What we like: these buds are waterproof-rated IPX8, meaning they can be submerged in up to one meter of water for 30 minutes and still come out in-tact. The sweat-proof coating on the caps makes these a great option for workouts too, allowing moisture to wick-off easily so your sound — and workout — goes uninterrupted. Purchase: $49.99 on Amazon.com.
2. Fonico True Wireless Bluetooth Earbuds
These Fonico earbuds are a sporty black alternative to AirPods, with IPX5-rated sweatproof and rainproof protection, and 3.5 hours of playback time (which goes up to 14 hours when you toss them in the portable carrying case that doubles as a charger). The set comes with three pairs of in-ear adapters and two sets of hooks, so you can customize the buds for the most comfortable, stay-put fit.
Reviewers say sound is crisp and well-pitched, and they like the built-in mic, which they say picks up voice commands easily and sends through clear and distinct audio, making these earbuds great for taking calls or syncing to Siri or Google Assistant. Purchase: $129.99 on Amazon.com.
3. Samsung Galaxy Buds
Released just a few weeks ago, these Galaxy Buds are Samsung’s answer to the AirPods, offering the same cord-free listening experience in a button-sized package.
Samsung says their earbuds boast an enhanced listening experience, thanks to work with the audio and acoustics experts at AKG. Your music comes through crystal clear, with more accurate sound and pick-up of all the finely-tuned details in each track. Samsung’s “Enhanced Ambient Sound” technology lets in just enough surrounding noise so you’re aware of your environment, without detracting from your listening experience. For runners and cyclists, it keeps you aware of oncoming traffic during your ride, while still keeping you on-beat and on pace.
The Galaxy Buds get you up to six hours of Bluetooth streaming, and up to five hours of calls. The included charging case holds a charge for up to seven hours, and gives you 1.7 hours of usage time on just a 15-minute charge. Galaxy S10 users can also get a quick charging boost on the go when you pair your earbuds with your new smartphone.
What we like: the Galaxy Buds come with Samsung’s Bixby assistant. Use your voice to make calls, send text messages, skip tracks or check the battery life of your earbuds. Purchase: $129.99 on Samsung.com.
4. YEVO Air Wireless Earbuds
A durable pair of earbuds made to withstand sweat, rain and accidental drops, the YEVO Air delivers up to 3.5 hours of playtime in one go. When not in use, place them in their case to recharge. A quick 15-minute charge gets you 45 minutes of use.
Reviewers say the YEVO delivers some of the best sound quality in its class, with deep, immersive bass and rich, warm tones you typically only find in larger headphones. Customize your buds using the three included ear tip pieces, that let you to seal in a tight, secure fit for optimal noise reduction. A simple tap of the multi-function buttons lets you play and pause your music, and take a call on the go. Purchase: $136.00 on Farfetch.com.
5. Optoma NuForce BE Free6 Truly Wireless Earbuds
Optoma is known for their audio and video products, and their NuForce BE Free6 truly wireless earbuds combine the latest in audio technology with an ultra-high-performance audio experience for well below market competitors.
These earbuds incorporate noise cancelling microphone technology with wind noise reduction for crisp and clear voice conversations. With Optoma’s new “Mono Mode,” the earbuds can be used independently from each other, or simultaneously with different users and content.
What we like: Optoma says it analyzed more than 1000 human ears to optimally design the most secure and comfortable fitting earbuds. Their sleek enclosures are ergonomically designed with weight balance closer to a user’s ear, resulting in a more secure fit.
The earbuds get up to six hours battery life, with three full charges, or an additional 18 hours, through the charging base. Fast charge capabilities get you 1.5 hours of battery life with just 15 minutes of charge.
Working out or on the go? The earbuds have an IPX5 rating, meaning they are sweat-proof, water and weather-resistant, ensuring coverage in all environments. Purchase: $99.00 on Amazon.com.