10 Best Apple Airpods Alternatives 2020 (From Budget Picks to High-End)

alternatives to Apple airpods

 

The Apple Airpods changed the whole Bluetooth earphone market. Before the Airpods, Bluetooth earphones usually had a cord that connects the two earpieces. Connecting the Bluetooth earphones themselves was not very convenient. It was just not a seamless experience.

The introduction of the Airpods changed this. It introduced the concept of taking out two independent earpieces from a charging case that instantly connects to your phone. Apple successfully created a product that would again revolutionize the market. 

However, due to its hefty price tag, lackluster design, and average sound quality, some consumers were not sold. These factors have naturally prompted Apple to release revisions. The Airpods Generation 2 is a minor revision that increased battery life and added wireless charging while the Airpods Pro is a complete redesign with added features. 

This new model changes the form factor from an earbuds style into an In-ear design. Active noise canceling has also been added. When paired with the passive noise canceling that the in-ear design naturally provides, the Airpods Pro is better at isolating noise compared to the original Airpods. 

Despite all this innovation, the price tag was still an issue for both regular consumers and audio enthusiasts. People who were serious about audio did not want to sacrifice sound quality for convenience. Luckily there are a lot of alternatives that have entered the market. These models come at every price point with the high-end models sounding even better than the AirPods and AirPods Pro. 

Out of all of the true wireless earbuds that are currently available, we highly recommend the Sony WF1000XM3 as the superior choice over the Apple Airpods Pro due to the sound quality and feature set that it offers.

For an alternative to the original AirPods, we highly recommend the Huawei Freebuds 3 as it offers a better feature set and an overall better value over the AirPods.

And for our best value pick, we have the KZ S1.

However, there are plenty of options that we think are worth a look, especially if these products are outside your budget. Keep on reading for a more in-depth look at these items.

Best Apple Airpods Alternatives

Budget Picks 

In this category, you’ll find the best bang for the back Apple AirPod/AirPod Pro alternatives. They may not offer the same amount of features as the AirPods and AirPods Pro, but they do provide the same basic idea of wireless earbuds that fit into a rechargeable case. If you have a tight budget, take a look at our picks. 

1. KZ S1 (Dynamic and Hybrid) – BEST PICK

Linsoul KZ S1 1DD+1BA Hybrid TWS Bluetooth 5.0 Wireless Earphones with Smart Touch, Noise Cancelling (Green)
KZ S1 (Image: Amazon)

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Knowledge Zenith (KZ) is a Chinese brand that first became popular when they released a budget pair of IEMs back in 2016. Back then, there weren’t any cheap IEM alternatives, so KZ quickly became a popular option. With the rise of True Wireless earbuds such as the AirPods Pro, KZ once again tried to create a TWS that can be an excellent sounding alternative. 

However, most of KZ’s attempts have not been successful. Like their IEMs, they were nailing the sound quality. However, it was the Bluetooth connection that always had a problem. Units were constantly getting dropouts and would sometimes fail to pair with smartphones. 

The KZ S1 is a different story. KZ has finally fixed the flaws of their previous attempts and has managed to create a fantastic value TWS that is a good alternative to the AirPods pro for users who are on a tight budget. 

Like most of the models in this category, the KZ S1 features Bluetooth 5.0,  4-hour battery life for the earbuds, and a charging case that can recharge the earbuds twice. The main selling factor for the KZ S1, however, is the sound quality. KZ has managed to bring the sound that’s found in their budget IEMs into the KZ S1.

The KZ S1 has two variations. One has a dynamic driver (S1D) while the other has a hybrid configuration (S1 – 1 dynamic driver and one balanced armature driver). What that means is that the dynamic driver version has one speaker that handles all of the frequencies (lows, mids, and highs) while the hybrid configuration has two speakers. The dynamic driver handles the lows while the balanced armature driver handles the mids and the highs. That alone is already unheard of in this price range. 

Both of these models have a V-shaped sound signature where the bass and thighs are more elevated compared to the mids. The main difference in their sound quality is that the S1D has a bassier sound, while the S1 has a slightly brighter and more detailed sound. The S1D is, however, more natural-sounding and less fatiguing compared to the S1. Both have excellent sound quality, especially for the price range. And it is good to be able to pick which type of sound you like better. 

Another unique aspect of the KZ S1 is the design of the earbuds. They look similar to the standard KZ IEMs, which means that their nozzle is long enough to fit aftermarket ear tips such as Spinfits. The same can’t be said with both the Haylou GT1 and Redmi Airdots since adding aftermarket ear tips causes problems with fitting them into their respective charging cases. 

The KZ S1 has one major feature that it lacks that its competitors in this price range have implemented. It lacks an official IPX certification. This means that the KZ S1 can occasionally be exposed to sweat, but it would have been nice to receive an official waterproof/water resistant certification. 

Another minor issue that may bother some people who are expecting a complete AirPod Pro alternative is the microphone. The microphone is audible and is passable for calls, but it’s not as clear or as detailed as the AirPod Pro. With its cheap price and focus on sound quality, this is still acceptable but it is something that you should keep in mind. 

Overall, KZ has successfully created a good sounding TWS in the budget category. For users who value sound quality over convenience, then the KZ S1 is an excellent budget alternative to the AirPods Pro. 

Pros:

  • USB Type-C
  • Bluetooth 5.0
  • 4-hour battery life
  • The best sound quality in this category
  • 2 variations (dynamic driver and hybrid configuration)

Cons:

  • Average battery life
  • Average build 
  • Average microphone quality

2. Haylou GT1

True Wireless Earbuds,SIKAI Haylou GT1 TWS Bluetooth 5.0 Sports HD Stereo Touch Control Ear Buds with Voice Assistant 7. 2mm Dynamic Driver IPX5 Total 12H Playtime (Black)
Haylou GT1 (Image: Amazon)

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The Haylou GT1 offers around the same average battery life as the other two products in this category. The earbuds themselves can last 3 to 4 hours and with the battery case, it has an overall battery life of 11 hours. It also has an official IPX5 water resistance certification, which means you can confidently use these for workout sessions. Unlike the other two, the Haylou GT1 offers touch-based controls similar to the AirPods and AirPods Pro. They do work as intended, which is very good to see for a budget product.

In terms of sound quality, the Haylou GT1 has a fun sound signature that has an emphasis on the bass. It doesn’t drown out the mids and the highs and has a relatively clean sound. It’s not as detailed as the KZ S1, which is why it is ranked lower. For users who want a sound signature that is similar to the AirPods Pro, this is a good fit. 

In terms of microphone quality, like the others, it works, but it won’t be able to compete against the clean and accurate sound of the AirPods and AirPods Pro. The microphone is too far from the mouth, which significantly reduces the clarity of your voice. It is, however, more usable than the Redmi Airdots, which have an unusable microphone for outdoors. 

In terms of the build quality, like most of the products in this category, the GT1 is predominantly made of plastic. The plastic doesn’t feel particularly cheap. However,  inferior build quality compared to the AirPods and AirPods Pro. 

Pros:

  • Bluetooth 5.0
  • IPX5 water resistance
  • 4-hour battery life 
  • Touch-based controls

Cons:

  • Sound isn’t as detailed as the KZ S1
  • Microphone quality is decent but still not a true AirPod alternative

3. Redmi Airdots

OutTop(TM) Xiaomi Redmi AirDots TWS Bluetooth Headphones V5.0 Noise Canceling Built-in Mic in-Ear Earphones Sport HiFi Stereo Earbuds with Charging Case Headset for iPhone Huawei Samsung (Black)
Redmi Airdots (Image: Amazon)

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The Redmi Airdots shares a lot of characteristics with the Haylou GT1. It features Bluetooth 5.0 and almost the same battery life as the Haylou GT1. It has a lower IPX rating as compared to the GT1, but it’s not a big deal. 

What makes the Airdots unique in this price range is its sound quality. Unlike the Haylou GT1 and KZ S1, the Redmi Airdots doesn’t have a bass-heavy signature. It has a more clean and detailed sound throughout the bass, mids, and highs. The downside of this sound signature is that they are not as exciting as the Haylou Gt1 or KZ S1. They are also, of course, not going to compete with the Apple AirPods Pro in terms of sound quality. 

The main issue of the Redmi Airdots is the microphone quality. The microphone isn’t very clear or detailed. Understanding what you are saying through the Airdots becomes quite a challenge for the person listening to you. The Airdots also struggle with outdoor use. Ambient noise such as wind noise and vehicle noise will be heard and interfere with your voice. If you are planning to get this as an alternative to the AirPods pro for phone calls, this isn’t a good alternative. 

In terms of the build, the Airdots are very lightweight. This aspect is due to them being built predominantly by plastic. This can be a good or a bad thing, but one thing’s for sure. The build quality of the charging case isn’t that good. The cover seems like it would break if you are not careful. 

As for the track controls, the Redmi Airdots feature a button-based control. The buttons are very easy to press, and there is only one button, so it’s hard to make a mistake with pausing and skipping tracks. 

Overall, the Redmi Airdots isn’t a bad product. It has a good sound signature that would appeal to users who aren’t a fan of the bassy sound that most true wireless earphones have. If you just want a good sounding device that’s small and easy to carry, and you do not mind the subpar microphone, then we have no trouble recommending the Airdots as a budget alternative for the AirPods pro. Just be aware that there are better-sounding alternatives in this category.

Pros:

  • Bluetooth 5.0
  • IPX4 sweat resistance
  • 4-hour battery life 
  • Clean and balanced sound 

Cons:

  • Build quality isn’t as good as the others (especially the charging case)

 

Mid-Tier Picks

The Mid-Tier picks present a middle ground between the budget and high-end picks. They do not have the same amount of features and build quality as the high-end picks. However, they are a significant improvement over the budget picks. If you think the high-end picks are too expensive for you but you want a product that is a step up from the budget pick, these are the ones for you. 

1. Lypertek Tevi – BEST PICK

LYPERTEK TEVI - True Wireless Earbuds, Bluetooth 5.0 Stereo Hi-Fi Sound Wireless Earphones, IPX7 Waterproof, Upto 70 Hours Playtime, in-Ear Bluetooth Earphones with Charging Case
Lypertek Tevi (Image: Amazon)

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The Lypertek Tevi is the best bang for the buck alternative to the Airpods Pro. Don’t let the branding fool you. Despite not having a big brand name such as Sony or Sennheiser, the Lypertek Tevi can go toe to toe even with the best sounding earbuds in this list.

What makes this product stand out is the sound quality. The Lypertek Tevi uses a graphene-based dynamic driver. Its tuning appeals to audio enthusiasts and more serious listeners. Unlike most of the products in this list (including the AirPods Pro), the Lypertek Tevi does not have a bassy sound. The bass is still present and detailed, but it is dialed back in order to let the mids and the highs shine through. This might be a problem for bass lovers but it will surely be a treat for audio enthusiasts.

The other notable feature of the Lypertek Tevi is the battery life. Lypertek claims that each earpiece has a battery life of 10 hours. When paired with its charging case, it gives a total of 70 hours of playback. That is an insane amount of battery life that is unmatched by any product in this list. 

As for the rest of its features, the Lypertek Tevi supports the APTX HD codec with its Bluetooth 5,0 connectivity. This means that the Tevi provides a stable Bluetooth connection with minimal dropouts. It also minimizes latency when utilizing the APTX HD codec. The connection on each earbud is also independent, which means you can use each earbud independently. 

The Tevi also features IPX7 water-proofing, which is good for protecting the device against accidental submersion up to 1 meter, rain, and sweat. In terms of its physical design, the Tevi has long nozzles, which make it compatible with aftermarket tips such as Spinfits.

It also implements a one-button design that can control the volume, play/pause, and track selection. The charging case (which has a striking similarity to the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless charging case) supports charging via USB Type-C. This whole package is built very well and punches above its price point.

As a bonus, Lypertek has rolled out a firmware update for the Tevi that makes it compatible with an application. The application enables tweaks such as the functions of the buttons and also provides an equalizer. The application doesn’t do much, but it shows that Lypertek supports its products and is going in the right direction. 

The only downside is that it doesn’t have an active noise canceling feature like the AirPods Pro. This is understandable since none of the earbuds in this price range have that feature. Plus, the passive noise canceling from the in-ear design of the Tevi is enough to block most ambient noises. 

Overall, the Lypertek Tevi is a bargain due to its sound quality and feature set. It can easily compete or even beat the Apple Airpods Pro, the Sony WF1000XM3, and the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless, all of which have more than twice the price of the Lypertek Tevi. Due to these factors, the Lypertek Tevi is our most bang for the buck recommendation for this list. 

Pros:

  • Audiophile sound signature
  • APTX HD codec support
  • Bluetooth 5.0
  • IPX7 Waterproof
  • Excellent Battery Life
  • Left and Right earbuds can be used individually
  • Excellent build

Cons:

  • Some users may want a stronger bass
  • Android/IOS Application isn’t very good (beta software at the time of writing this article)
  • No active noise canceling

2. Sabbat E12 Ultra

Sabbat E12 3D Clear Sound True Wireless Earbuds Blutooth 5.0 TWS Stereo Earphones A week's Endurance with Built-in Mic and Charging Case for iPhone, Samsung, iPad, Android(Gunmetal)
Sabbat E12 Ultra (Image: Amazon)

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If the Lypertek Tevi is a bit too expensive as an alternative to the AirPods Pro, we highly recommend the Sabbat E12 Ultra instead. It features the same APTX HD codec support for low latency, Bluetooth 5.0, individual earbud pairing, and the noise-canceling microphones that are key features of the Lypertek Tevi. 

In terms of the Bluetooth chipset used, it is a significant improvement over the standard Sabbat E12 model, which was known for having dropouts and connectivity issues. The E12 Ultra also offers an excellent battery life that lasts up to 8 hours. With the charging case, it can last up to 30 hours. It is not as good as the 70 hours total battery life of the Lypertek Tevi, but that is still significantly better than some of its competitors. (In fact, it is even better than some older generation products such as the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless). 

Just like the Lypertek Tevi, the E12 Ultra doesn’t support active noise canceling, which the AirPods Pro does. This isn’t very surprising since none of the products in this price range supports that feature. Build quality is also not as good as the AirPods Pro. 

Unfortunately, that is where the similarities end for the E12 Ultra and Lypertek Tevi. They have different sound signatures, and more users prefer the overall sound quality of the Lypertek Tevi. The E12 Ultra has a bassy sound signature that appeals to the general audience. It isn’t as detailed as the Lypertek Tevi.

The E12 Ultra doesn’t sound bad. For consumers who aren’t really critical in the sound quality, the E12 Ultra is a really good performer. However, the Lypertek Tevi did such a good job that we can’t help but set it as the standard that other brands in this price range should follow. 

In terms of build quality, the plastic build on both the earbuds and the case is less reassuring when compared to the more premium build of the Lypertek Tevi and other more expensive products.  The plastic, however, seems to be of decent quality and should survive daily commutes and accidental falls.

One feature that the E12 Ultra has that the Lypertek Tevi doesn’t is Qi wireless charging support. Most manufacturers don’t seem to be placing too much emphasis on this feature as it is absent on more products (even on the high-end price range). It isn’t particularly fast but it is still a good feature to have.

Overall, the Sabbat E12 Ultra is a good alternative to the Lypertek Tevi and the AirPods Pro. It isn’t as good as either of the models in any department, but it still holds its own and is significantly better than the other models in this price range. If you can’t afford the superior Lyypertek Tevi or if you aren’t particularly critical about the sound quality, this will do a good job. 

Pros:

  • APTX codec support
  • Qi wireless charging
  • IPX5 Sweatproof 
  • USB Type-C
  • Left and Right earbuds can be used individually

Cons:

  • Sound quality isn’t as good as the Lypertek Tevi
  • Inferior build quality to the Lypertek Tevi

3. Sabbat X12 Ultra

Linsoul Sabbat X12 Pro TWS Bluetooth 5.0 True Wireless HiFi Earbuds, Sweatproof Noise Canceling Earphones with Built-in Mic for Sports Running (Blue)
Sabbat X12 Ultra (Image: Amazon)

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The Sabbat X12 Ultra is almost the same as the Sabbat E12  Ultra. The key difference is that it has an earbud design instead of the E12 Ultra’s In-ear design. This makes it a competitor of the original Apple AirPods. 

Like the E12 Ultra, The X12 Ultra also features Bluetooth 5.0 with APTX codec support for low latency listening, USB Type-C, and wireless charging. It seems to be lacking the IPX5 certification for sweat-resistant, but it isn’t likely to cause any issues. 

Compared to the original AirPods, the specs alone make it a superior device. Sound quality, while not being as bassy as the X12 Ultra, is still a significant step up over the AirPods. The X12 Ultra sounds more balanced, detailed and has a punchier bass as compared to the AirPods basic sound presentation. 

In terms of build quality, however, the AirPods have a better build. It’s not a huge difference, but the plastic on the X12 Ultra feels slightly cheaper compared to the AirPods. In terms of fit, both of these models are similar since they both share the same AirPod design. The X12 Ultra comes with extra accessories such as ear hooks that help them stay on your ear. 

In terms of call quality, the AirPods still sound better than the X12 Ultra. The X12 Ultra does, however, do a decent job and will be perfectly audible and clear during phone calls. Overall, if you are looking for an AirPods alternative that has better features and has a better sound, then the X12 ultra is highly recommended as long as you don’t mind the inferior build and microphone quality.

Pros:

  • APTX codec support
  • Balanced sound signature
  • Qi wireless charging
  • IPX5 Sweatproof 
  • USB Type-C
  • Left and Right earbuds can be used individually

Cons:

  • Inferior microphone quality compared to the AirPods
  • Inferior build quality compared to the AirPods

 

High-End Picks

The high-end picks represent the products that are as good or even better than the Apple AirPods and AirPods Pro. These are the best of the best and if budget isn’t a concern,  these are the ones you should go for. 

1. Sony WF1000XM3 – BEST PICK

Sony WF-1000XM3 True Wireless Bluetooth Noise Canceling in-Ear Headphones Black (Renewed)
Sony WF1000XM3 (Image: Amazon)

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The Sony WF1000XM3 is our top pick for the high-end category. We believe that this is a superior product to the AirPods Pro. 

In terms of the available features, it has most of the features of the AirPod Pro. It features an active noise cancelation, ear sensors for play/pause functionality, the ability to hear your surroundings, and touch-based controls. However, the WF1000XM3 has a better implementation of these features.

Starting with the noise cancellation. The WF1000XM3 does a better job of canceling more frequencies when compared to the AirPods Pro. In loud environments such as a construction site with big vehicles, the WF1000XM3 can completely block the sound of those vehicles. Those noises are still audible on the AirPods Pro.

In terms of sound quality, the WF1000XM3 is regarded to be a TWS version of the highly acclaimed Sony WH1000XM3. They share a lot of similarities in the sound quality, specifically the fun bassy sound without sacrificing the mids and the highs. In contrast, the WF1000XM3 offers a stronger bass compared to the AirPods Pro. The mids and highs are also both cleaner and clearer. In terms of sound quality alone, the WF1000XM3 already beats the Airpods Pro. 

Microphone quality is also excellent. It produces an accurate representation of the speaking voice, which is useful for phone calls and for issuing tasks to the Google Assistant. The microphone also features noise-canceling, which ensures that ambient noise such as wind and vehicles are not heard. 

The WF1000XM3 also offers an application that is compatible with both Android and iOS. It can work without the application, but the application has a good amount of features that can make installing it worthwhile. It can control EQ, the active noise canceling, toggle DSEE HX (which will be explained later), and apply adaptive sound. Adaptive sound detects the ambient noise present in your surroundings and automatically adjusts the amount of active noise cancellation applied. If you are in a quiet room, the ANC would be turned off. If you are in a loud environment such as an airport, the ANC automatically turns on.

Despite not supporting popular codecs such as APTX HD and Sony’s own LDAC, common Bluetooth problems such as video delay aren’t noticeable. This is due to Sony’s good implementation of the Bluetooth chip. There are barely any connection dropouts except for areas with strong interference. On top of that, Sony has a unique feature called DSEE HX. This is something that is commonly seen with Sony’s DAPs, such as the new Sony NW A105. What this basically does is it upscales low-quality music files such as 128 kbps MP3. This is useful if you have low bitrate tracks in your library.

What the WF1000XM3 lacks is the AirPods Pro’s very good support for Apple products. Using the AirPods Pro with most modern Apple devices will feel more seamless and natural compared to the WF1000XM3. That can’t be helped since the WF1000XM3 wasn’t designed for a specific product ecosystem. 

Lastly, the battery life of the WF1000XM3 is average. The earbuds themselves can only last up to 6 hours with the ANC on and 8 hours with the ANC turned off. With the charging case, the WF1000XM3 can last up to 24 hours. This is pretty average for most TWS, but recent models such as the Lypertek Tevi can offer up to 10 hours of use and up to 70 hours with the charging case. Nevertheless, this is still a reasonable amount of battery life.

In conclusion, Sony keeps its reputation for creating excellent products with the WF1000XM3. It is a product that deserves its place as the best competitor to the AirPods Pro. If you are looking for a TWS that has a good active noise cancelation, an excellent sound, and an excellent build, then look no further. The Sony WF1000XM3 is your best bet. 

Pros:

  • Excellent sound quality
  • Active noise canceling
  • Adaptive sound
  • Dedicated application

Cons:

  • No water resistance
  • Charging case is significantly larger than other TWS in this price range
  • No wireless charging
  • No APTX HD or LDAC support (might be supported in a future update)

2. Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless

Sennheiser MOMENTUM True Wireless Bluetooth Earbuds with Fingertip Touch Control
Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless (Image: Amazon)

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The Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless was the first product that was released in this category. It was released before the Apple AirPods 2. It introduced a lot of the features that are commonly seen today such as IPX4 waterproof certification, touch-based controls, and ambient noise control. It was initially the most expensive model but has since gone down in price to match the likes of the Sony WF1000XM3.

Some of the features of the Momentum True Wireless did not age well. It even lacks an active noise canceling feature, something that most of its competitors such as the AirPods Pro and Sony WF1000XM3 already have. Its battery life is also not stellar. It can only be used for up to 4 hours and can be recharged twice with the charging case. 

Most of its competitors in the same price range have better battery life. The Lypertek Tevi, which is significantly cheaper, easily beats it with its 10-hour battery life. Despite its shortcomings, the Momentum still sounds better than most of the competition. 

The Momentum True Wireless has a sound signature that is balanced. The bass packs a punch but does not overpower the mids and highs. The sound quality is hands-down better than the AirPods Pro. It is comparable with the WF1000XM3 and comes down to which sound signature you prefer more, a more balanced (Momentum) or bassy and fun (WF1000XM3). 

It also has IPX waterproof certification and APTX codec support for minimal latency. Its competitors, the AirPods Pro and WF1000XM3, do not have these features. It also comes with its own dedicated app that enables EQ, ambient noise control, device settings, updates, and many others. On top of that, the Momentum True Wireless offers a build quality that easily reflects its original premium price point. 

Overall, if you are looking for an alternative that mainly focuses on the sound quality, the Momentum True Wireless is our pick. It will still, however, be sitting behind the Sony WF1000XM3. The WF1000XM3 offers better value with its more advanced features. 

Pros:

  • Excellent sound quality 
  • Excellent build quality
  • APTX codec support
  • IPX4 Waterproof 
  • Dedicated application for EQ, ambient noise control, etc.
  • Bluetooth 5.0

Cons:

  • No active noise canceling
  • Battery life isn’t as competitive with newer models

3. Huawei FreeBuds 3 – BEST AIRPODS ALTERNATIVE

HUAWEI FreeBuds 3 - Wireless Bluetooth Earphone with Intelligent Noise Cancellation (Kirin A1 Chipset, Ultra-Low Latency, Fast Bluetooth Connection, 14mm Speaker, Quick Wireless Charging) (White)
Huawei FreeBuds 3 (Image: Amazon)

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The Huawei FreeBuds 3 is the best alternative for the original Apple Airpods. While sharing many similarities, the FreeBuds 3 feels like the more refined product both in the implementation of the features and its sound quality.

At first glance, the FreeBuds 3 looks like another copy of the Airpods. They indeed share many similarities in their design, especially in the white color variant. The earbuds form factor is also almost the same as the AirPods. Even the pairing animation that is currently exclusive to the Huawei Mate 30 Pro is very similar to the pop-up animation of the AirPods. 

However, that is where the similarities end. Huawei FreeBuds 3 is a much better product due to the following reasons. First up is the sound quality. The AirPods are known for their ordinary sound. They don’t sound too different from the regular AirPods, which again, isn’t that great. 

The FreeBuds 3, on the other hand, has a fun and warm sound signature with a strong emphasis on the bass. The bass has a good slam that fits well with pop and electronic music. It is quite surprising how they achieve this amount of bass on an earbud-style TWS (earbuds generally have less sub-bass compared to in-ear type earphones).

The FreeBuds 3 also features active noise canceling. It’s not as good as the active noise canceling on the AirPods Pro or the Sony WF1000XM3, but it is still a good gimmick, especially since other earbud-style TWS don’t have this feature. Some frequencies found in your surroundings can get through, but it does an excellent job of removing some background noise such as voices. The active noise cancelation is a good fit for consumers who want some form of isolation but do not like the feeling of in-ear style earbuds. 

Lastly, FreeBuds 3 has the same pause functionality of the Airpods. The music automatically pauses when one earbud is removed. It also automatically resumes once you place it back in your ear. Also, since the design of the earbuds themselves are similar, the FreeBuds 3 also has a good microphone placement which is useful for clear calls and for voice commands and the built-in assistant. It also has touch-based controls that work great. 

All of these functionalities can be controlled with the Huawei Health app, which is preinstalled in all Huawei smartphones. This is a product that is heavily optimized for Huawei smartphones but is still usable in other Android or IOS smartphones. In contrast, the AirPods lose a lot of their features when paired with non-Apple devices.

Lastly, FreeBuds 3 has excellent integration with the Huawei ecosystem. As mentioned earlier, there is a pop-up animation when paired with the Huawei Mate 30 Pro. Like the AirPods, pairing is seamless as you don’t have to navigate through the menu Bluetooth settings. Simply opening the case prompts an automatic pairing with the smartphone. 

It also has native support with the rest of its devices, specifically the Huawei Watch GT2. The GT2 can store some songs and can automatically pair with the FreeBuds 3 when you switch your source from your smartphone to your watch. Overall if you want an alternative that sounds better and has more features than the original AirPods, the FreeBuds 3 is your best bet. 

Pros:

  • Good optimization for Android-based devices
  • Active noise-canceling for an earbud design TWS
  • Similar feature set with Apple AirPods
  • Good integration with the Huawei ecosystem

Cons:

  • Active Noise canceling isn’t as good as the in-ear style buds
  • Some features such as the pop-up animation are exclusive to the Mate 30 Pro (could be addressed with an update)

4. Samsung Galaxy Buds+

Samsung Galaxy Buds+ Plus, True Wireless Earbuds w/Improved Battery and Call Quality (Wireless Charging Case Included), (International Version) (Cloud Blue)
Samsung Galaxy Buds+ (Image: Amazon)

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For the last entry in this pick, we have the new Galaxy Buds+. This is an update over the original Galaxy Buds and offers a few tweaks and upgrades, such as the battery life. In terms of features, it is competent with the rest of the picks. 

Like most of the products in this category, it supports touch-based controls, ambient noise control, and wireless charging. And speaking of that battery upgrade, the Galaxy Buds+ now has a battery life of 11 hours and can last up to 22 hours with the charging case. 

One notable feature that is lacking for the Galaxy Buds+ is Active Noise Cancelling. A lot of the newer models are coming out with this feature, so it’s pretty odd that Samsung’s latest earbuds are not implementing this. It is also missing an IPX certification. Having the Galaxy Buds+ exposed to sweat during workouts should be fine, but it would have been better if the user had a peace of mind with a proper IPX certification. Lastly, the Galaxy Buds+ do not feature Qualcomm’s APTX HD codec, which means that the Galaxy Buds+ will have some latency. 

The Galaxy Buds+ also has very good integration with the rest of the Samsung ecosystem. Pairing with a Samsung smartphone tablet or smartwatch is seamless. This is a very good feature if you own multiple Samsung devices. Switching between the various devices is done automatically without needing to disconnect first to each device.

Like most of Samsung’s recent audio products, the drivers in the Buds+ are once again tuned by AKG. The tuning itself, however, is aimed at the general consumer. Bass is punchy and prominent but doesn’t overpower the mids and the highs. This is a typical fun sound that works with pop, electronic music, or any genre that has lots of bass. It won’t compete, however, with the likes of the WF1000XM3, the Momentum True Wireless, or even the Lypertek Tevi, which is why we are placing the Galaxy Buds+ below those models. Like the AirPods Pro, it is a product that is made for convenience and not for critical listening. 

The Galaxy Buds+ is going to be recommended for users who want an AirPod Pro alternative and isn’t too critical about the sound quality. It isn’t as feature-packed as the WF1000XM3, and it doesn’t sound as good as the Momentum True Wireless. However, it has good integration with the Samsung ecosystem. And the convenience it provides is enough for some people to choose this over the better sounding alternatives. 

Pros:

  • Good battery life
  • Good integration with the Samsung ecosystem

Cons:

  • No Active Noise Canceling
  • No APTX HD
  • No IPX certification
  • Sound quality won’t be as good as the others in this category

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