Ah, Apple. Always putting out new stuff that people have to scurry to find alternatives for.
No, the AirPods are no different. Unless you are the owner of an iPhone 7, you’ll be dropping $159.99 on a pair of Apple’s latest headphones.
However, just because of the Apple branding, don’t these are the only wireless headphones on the market, or even that they’re the best.
We tracked down five alternatives to Apple AirPods, some more expensive and some more inexpensive, so you can find the perfect pair for you.
|Jabra Elite Sport
|20Hz – 20kHz
|Up to 3 Hours
|Doppler Labs Here One Earbuds
|Up to 2 hours
|Sol Republic Amps Air Wireless
|20Hz – 20kHz
|Up to 3 Hours
|20Hz – 20kHz
|Up to 4 Hours
|6Hz – 22kHz
|Up to 3 Hours
Jabra Elite Sport
Starting off the list, it’s hard to go with a name like Jabra. This company has cranked out some of the best pairs of earbuds on the market and the Elite Sports are no different.
These earbuds, while one of the more expensive options on the list is excellent for the money. They sound absolutely incredible, are comfortable in the ears, and provide enough extra features to justify the cost.
The gelled design can be customized to fit comfortably and securely in your ear without much fuss. The set comes with three sets (S, M, L) of form tips, ear wings, and ear gels meaning you can tune them perfectly for you.
The buds also include a hear-through feature. This can be switched on so you can hear ambient noise around you whenever you need to. I can’t describe how useful of a feature this is, especially for those who live in the city or need to temporarily hear what is going on around them.
Additionally, the earbuds integrate with the free Jabra Sports Life app. The headphones can actually track your heart rate inside your ear and report back to the app, giving you fitness insights.
If you do use the earbuds for fitness, you won’t have to worry about getting a sweat on them. The pair comes with a three-year warranty against failure from sweat and is completely waterproof.
The only real issue that comes up with Elite Sports is the lackluster battery life. While the three hours of listening time falls in life with other headphones on this list, the charging case will only provide up to two extra charges for the headphones which fall far below the competition.
Doppler Labs Here One Earbuds
The Here One Earbuds come in as one of the most expensive options on this list. However, the price is most certainly worth it.
Starting, the earbuds use Bluetooth in conjunction with NFMI technology to ensure that audio and video sync up perfectly. This is a problem we’ll see some pairs have later on.
Like the Jabra Elite Sports, the Here Ones can let in sound from the outside world without ever removing the headphones. However, instead of a simple flick of the switch, the Here Ones allow you to blend ambient noise with your music.
While it isn’t as convenient, it is nice to have a constant awareness of the sound around you while the earbuds are in.
However, to block noise, Doppler Labs have included numerous noise filters to block out sound if you want to. Weather tuned for airplane noise, a crowded room, or a restaurant, the Here Ones have a filter so you can hear only what you want to.
This customization gets really unique when you start to tune each of the earbuds individually. The app allows you to tune the right and left earbuds to fit your listening preferences perfectly, showing why these earbuds cost so much.
Like the Elite Sports, the Here Ones lose out in the battery department. They only provide two hours of continuous listening, and the case can only charge them three times before it needs to be charged.
For those on long trips, this can not only be annoying, but it could be a dealbreaker.
Sol Republic Amps Air Wireless
The Sol Republic Amps Air Wireless is the most inexpensive option on this list. While they have their own share of problems, they are an excellent choice for those on a budget.
If you’ve ever used a pair of Sol Republic headphones, then the extended bass and top-end should come as no surprise. The Amps Airs feature the same scooped sound which, for some, is essential.
However, for others, this curve is obnoxious. While it is certainly a preference thing, the Amps Airs carry the sound of other Sol Republic products.
Where the Amps really win out is in the battery life. The earbuds can last three hours on a single charge, and the included case can charge them up to 15 times before dying. If you need earbuds that can move without much fuss, these might be the ones for you.
However, the lack of NFMI means that these earbuds have some serious syncing issues. Video and audio are totally out of line when using the Amps which a big problem for those who watch a lot of videos.
Regardless of the drawbacks, these earbuds are a solid option for anyone on a budget.
The Skybuds strike an interesting balance on this list. In terms of price, they sit somewhere in the middle, offering some fantastic, high-end features at a relatively inexpensive price.
The free app that integrates with the Skybuds really allows these earbuds to stretch their feet. Much like the Here Ones and the Elite Sports, the Skybuds allow you to tune ambient noise in with your listening experience.
However, the Skybuds deviate here and also allow an adaptive awareness feature. This tunes out all ambient noise when audio is being played through the earbuds, and then turns on the ambient noise integration when audio is paused.
This automatic process was probably the most useful and convenient of any of the ambient noise integrations on this list.
Another cool feature of the app is to be able to locate your Skybuds if you lost them. They can show you exactly where they are at if they are in proximity of Bluetooth, or show you the last known location if Bluetooth connectivity has been lost.
The Skybuds are the longest-lasting pair on this list, coming with four hours of playtime before a charge is needed. Additionally, the included dock/charger can recharge the earbuds five times on its own, giving you a full 24 hours of listening without an outlet.
The Onkyo W800BTs fall in line with one of the most expensive options on this list. Still, the superior sound quality, durability, and feature set put these headphones perfectly within the price bracket.
The first thing that sets the W800BTs apart from every other pair on this list is the extended low-end. Subs punch through better than they do on any of the other pairs of earbuds, showing you the quality with each blast.
The closed architecture of the set of earbuds is excellent at blocking out noise, immersing you in the listening experience.
However, where the W800BTs win in the audio experience, they lose in usability. The earbuds don’t have any app integration, meaning they have no ambient noise functionality. While it’s not the end of the world, it’s a bit of a slap in the face at this price point.
Still, the battery life helps justify the cost. These earbuds can be used for three hours uninterrupted, with the charging dock allowing up to five recharges, giving you a total of 15 additional hours before you need to find an outlet.
The W800BTs really shine through with their audio quality, however. If you don’t need the extra features of other sets on this list and are just concerned with the sound, then the W800BTs are the clear winner. However, if convenience is on your radar, then you may find a better option with one of the other sets on this list.
Overall, any of these pairs of earbuds would be a solid alternative to the Apple Airpods. While most are more expensive, they offer a ton of extra features and superior sound quality to justify the cost.
For me, the winner out of the entire list is the Skybuds. They sound fantastic, they have a great feature set, and they come in as one of the most inexpensive options on this list.
Still, this comes down to personal preference, so you check over each of these sets of earbuds carefully and you’ll find the set that is right for you.