2019-09-08
Electronics Jul 27, 2019

The Best Airpods Alternatives You Should Consider Buying

Apple’s AirPods have been very successful since their release in December 2016. While many dismissed them as a gimmick, not worth the removal of the headphone jack, it’s continued success is nothing to scoff at.

Apple’s reputation as trendsetters isn’t just for show either. Jump ahead 2 years, and everyone is clambering to produce their own AirPod-style wireless headphones.

Apple Aidpods on black background

The original Apple AirPods were a hit. The portable form factor, combined with the tight integration with iOS devices meant they were one of the best choices for people wanting headphones with a focus on convenience. The ease of use was the biggest deal here, and a massive factor to the AirPods’ continued popularity.

What to look for in alternatives

The AirPods spawned a legion of clones and these emulations attempted to solve the weak spots of the AirPods, and tried to deliver these improvements without breaking the bank.

In particular, the alternatives tried to innovate in these specific weaknesses of the AirPods:

Comfort

The AirPod’s biggest deal-breaker for most people is AirPod’s bad fit. The plastic mould does not work with every ear shape out there, and that means while the AirPods fit some people like a glove, it’s unusable for some. Just bear in mind that the AirPods are marketed for gym and exercise use and should theoretically be able to remain cushioned through turbulent activities.

Android integration

While the AirPods technically support Android devices, you’re losing so much functionality that it feels like a huge downgrade. You lose out on some of the tap controls, the Siri specific functions don’t work with Google’s Assistant, and you can’t even see the current remaining battery life on an Android phone.

Sound quality

The AirPods sound alright, and hey, these are tiny devices with not much room for huge speaker drivers. A lack of bass is to be expected, but there’s a lack of low-end heft and mid-range clarity that makes the AirPods fall just short of delivering a satisfying experience. The clones remedy this by using techniques like EQ curves and closed-ear technology to give an overall better sound.

Battery life

AirPods-style wireless headphones have a unique way of holding their charge. The headphones themselves have a few hours of battery life, but they cannot be charged without the use of the charging case. The case itself also holds a large-capacity battery, giving you a convenient way of topping off your charge halfway through the day.

Wireless earphones case in hand

Controls

While I’ll agree that the AirPods have excellent controls on iOS devices, there’s still a ton of room for improvement. While the classic AirPods use simple tap controls to great effect, there’s a few parts that could be improved upon. Some alternatives include buttons, multiple touch points, and even actions like spinning touch for volume control that make everything feel more tactile and responsive.

The Best AirPods Alternatives Out There

So, the clones have big shoes to fill to even be considered viable alternatives. With such a huge array of acceptable options out there, we’ve filtered out our favourite AirPods alternatives, and we’ll tell you why they’re worth your time.

Best Overall Wireless Headphones – Sony WF-1000XM3

Sony WF-1000XM3 worth it

Sony’s WF-1000XM3 were released less than a month ago, but they’ve already cemented themselves as one of the best AirPods alternatives out there, swerving onto the scene with a very impressive 91% Metascore.

The WF-1000XM3 takes the AirPods’ winning formula and improves on just about every aspect, making it an undisputed great buy for anyone wanting a pair of wireless headphones that do it all. Reviewers applaud the bullet-like appearance (much less clunky than the teardrop-shaped AirPods) and the switchable earbuds. The WF-1000XM3 feels great, and the great 6-hour battery life without the charging case is impressive enough to last you a full work day.

We could go on and on about the features, but the sound quality is the key defining factor of any pair of headphones. The WF-1000XM3 is one of the best pair of earphones I’ve tested, and it even includes noise cancellation done well, a rarity on portable wireless headphones.

The WF-1000XM3 is easily the best pair of wireless earphones you can find right now, and it’s a sure-fire buy if you’re in the market for an AirPod alternative.

Best AirPods Alternative for Exercise– Apple Powerbeats Pro

Apple Powerbeats Pro worth it

We’ve already covered the Powerbeats Pro in a previous article, and we’re still very impressed with what it does right. The Powerbeats-line of headphones were made by Beats, which have since been purchased by Apple, and the whole line was focused on being great for exercise, with comfort and convenience.

Reviewers particularly like the Earhook-design, which is a holdover from the original Powerbeats design that ensures the earbuds don’t fall off easily, making the Powerbeats Pro the best wireless earphones for just about any kind of exercise.

The biggest downside to the Powerbeats Pro is the price to performance ratio. While you’re getting good sound quality, a huge 9+15 hours of battery life, and better Android integration.. The price tag is still a bit high.

However, if you want a cable-less pair of earphones for use at the gym, the Powerbeats Pro is hard to beat, and is definitely worth considering.

Best Budget AirPods Alternative– Anker Soundcore Liberty Air

Anker Soundcore Liberty Air review score

The AirPods are expensive, and while most of the competition attempt to match that price while improving on every possible aspect. On the other end of the spectrum, Anker, a company you might be familiar with from out article on Best Mini Projectors, tries to hit the sub-$100 price point while keeping all the essential features.

So, what are you getting for an MSRP of $80? Well, as the 77% Metascore shows, quite a lot.

As an AirPods alternative, the Liberty Air sounds just as good as the AirPods, if not better. The main point of contention here is the better clarity at the midrange and high-end, but the reduced bass. I personally like a more neutral tone, so I prefer the Liberty Air. However, people who prefer booming kick drums might prefer Apple’s original.

There’s also the loss of integration. Reviewers have been quite vocal about a few inconveniences with the Liberty Air. The Anker has a tendency to sleep when removed from your ears, meaning you’ll need to restart them quite often.

Pairing is also a bit less fluid than the other entries on this list, mainly due to the weaker Bluetooth chip used in here, resulting in potential audio latency when making calls or playing games. While this is less than ideal, it’s still an excellent pair of headphones for listening to music, and definitely worth considering if you’re looking for bang for your buck.

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