The best Apple AirPods alternatives
There are several reasons to seek alternatives to Apple AirPods. Maybe the current six-week wait has got you down, or the US$159 price tag makes you wonder what else is out there. Or maybe you just don't trust the untethered buds to stay in your ears. Regardless of your hangup, here are New Atlas' top AirPod alternatives.
Bragi's The Headphone or Dash
The $149 The Headphone by Bragi has much in common with the AirPods. They're truly wireless, Siri- and voice-command compatible, and you can switch between tracks or make phone calls without taking off the headphones or looking at your phone. These offer up to six hours of listening between charges, but unlike the AirPods, their case is for storage and docking only. (It doesn't charge the pods.)
This set's big brother, Bragi Dash, is worth looking into if you're interested in a set of wireless buds that packs in fitness tracking capabilities as well.
Product page: Bragi
- Buy Bragi Dash on Amazon
Samsung Gear IconX
Apple's Android-manufacturing competitor Samsung released truly wireless headphones a few months before AirPods hit shelves. Samsung's IconX offerings hover at a similar price point, but since they're designed to fit into the Gear Fit line, they rock some sportier details and are optimized for the Samsung ecosystem.
Like the Bragi Dash, they include an accelerometer and heart-rate sensor for fitness tracking, but the Gear IconX headphones are $100 cheaper. However, you'll need the Gear Manager app, which is only available on Android, to access their full fitness tracking powers. (iOS users can only use them for listening.) Full retail price is $200.
Product page: Samsung
- Buy Samsung Gear IconX on Amazon
Beats Powerbeats 3 Wireless
If you eschew AirPods for their easy-to-lose size and precarious fit, consider a selection from the "connected to each other, but not the phone" category. Beats Powerbeats 3 communicate with your phone/tablet/computer via Bluetooth, but tether together via a thin cable around the back of your head. This makes it easier for you to keep track of them – and for other people to notice you have them on. (Sometimes headphones play the important role of keeping unwanted conversations at bay.)
Powerbeats 3 contain Apple's W1 chipset, so pairing with an iOS device is a cinch. They also work with Androids.
The fit on Powerbeats 3 has been updated since the previous version; two sizes of tips increase the likelihood you'll find a fit that works. They also offer up to 12 hours of battery life are are dust- and sweat-proof (but not swimproof). MSRP is $200, but significant discounts can be found on Amazon and elsewhere.
Product page: Beats by Dre
- Buy Beats Powerbeats 3 on Amazon
Earin M-1 earbuds are another pick similar to AirPods in many ways: They're small, truly wireless, come with a charging case and have a non-athletic vibe. But instead of AirPods' hard plastic builds that rest in your ear, the Earin M-1 set have foam tips that snuggle up to your ear canal. Earin also includes two stabilizers in the box, anchors that attach to the buds and help them stay put during more vigorous activities like running.
The Earin charging case is a sleek aluminum capsule that affords three full charges. On their own, Earin buds are good for up to three hours of stereo play time. Starting at $199.
Product page: Earin
- Buy Earin on Amazon
Bose QuietControl 30
These $300 Bose offerings have a steep price point, but that extra cash affords some of the highest-quality noise cancellation available on a set of wireless earbuds (along with good audio and long battery life). With these, you can choose the level of ambient noise you'd like to let into your listening experience, so you can be as connected or aloof as you'd like.
The horse-collar form factor may warrant a try-on period before investing in them: The connection to your device is wireless, but the two earbuds are connected by a contoured plastic band that rests on the back of your neck.
Product page: Bose
- Buy Bose QuietControl 30 on Amazon
AfterShokz Trekz Titanium
The AfterShokz Trekz Titanium set only has one piece, which loops around over the back of your head and on top of your ears. They deliver sound via bone conduction, meaning they sit atop the ears, leaving ear canals unobstructed.
In general, bone conduction means less immersive and lower quality audio, but with this qualification, wearers report few complaints about the AfterShokz listening experience. After all, bone conduction has a major safety benefit: You can remain in touch with environmental sounds like traffic and approaching people. If you're eying a pair of 'phones for outdoor workouts (as opposed to commutes or work sessions) these could be a strong contender.
In addition, they are dust- and sweat-resistant and offer up to six hours of listening per charge. Starting at $130.
Product page: AfterShokz
- Buy AfterShokx Trekz Titanium on Amazon
If price is your main point of contention with AirPods, try the budget-friendly SmartOmi Boots. These waterproof sport buds ship with different size tips and ear anchors. They're also Siri and Google Now compatible, with up to five hours of battery life.
What's missing? A charging case. These pods come with a case (and must be docked in it during charging) but the case itself does not hold a charge for on-the-go-juice. $76.99.
Product page: SmartOmi
- Buy SmartOmi Boots on Amazon
If you're still on the fence about getting Apple's wireless buds, you can read New Atlas' AirPods review.