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Black Friday deals on the best cheap wireless earbuds from £30

Ben Johnston
22 Nov 2021
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If you’re looking for versatile and affordable headphones, a pair of the best cheap wireless earbuds could be just the ticket

The best cheap wireless earbuds have come a long way over the past few years. Technological advances have seen products that were once plagued by abject audio quality flourish into one of the most popular headphones subcategories.

Sound quality may still lag behind premium options, while advanced features such as active noise cancellation and in-ear detection are often omitted, but those are sacrifices worth making if you’re looking to save yourself some cash.

A pair of the best cheap wireless earbuds will typically cost you less than £50, and there are hundreds of attractive options out there to consider. That can make picking the right pair tricky, but we’ve listened to hundreds of hours of audio through a wide range of earbuds to help make your life easier.

Below, you’ll find a buying guide that will arm you with all the information you need to make an informed purchase, followed by short reviews of what we deem the best cheap wireless earbuds of the countless products we’ve tested.

If you’re ready to embark on a new audio journey without breaking the bank, read on.

READ NEXT: Check out our favourite running headphones


Our favourite cheap wireless earbuds are more affordable than ever

The 1More PistonBuds top our list of earbuds under £50 thanks to a supremely comfortable fit, solid sound quality and a decent range of features. This Black Friday they're available for just £25, which is the cheapest we've ever seen them being sold for.
Amazon
Was £40
Now £25

Get ANC earbuds for less this Black Friday

Noise cancellation is a rare inclusion in cheap earbuds but the EarFun Free Pro squeeze it in along with voice assistant support, a case capable of wireless charging and comprehensive touch controls. They're currently available for the lowest price we've seen them selling for all year.
Amazon
Was £60
Now £45

Creative knock £20 off the Outlier Air V3 for Black Friday

The Creative Outlier Air V3 are the most complete earbuds on this list and our pick of buds under £70. They've been discounted by £20 for Black Friday and at a new lowest-ever price of £45, you simply won't find better all-round true wireless earbuds.
Creative
Was £65
Now £45

Best cheap wireless earbuds: At a glance


How to choose the best cheap wireless earbuds for you

What kind of fit should I choose?

There are two popular styles of wireless earbuds, and each has its own benefits. First is the one-size-fits-all model, as used by the Apple AirPods. Such earbuds rest just inside your ears and leave your ear canals open. They provide no flexibility when it comes to fit – either they’ll match the contours of your ears nicely and sit snugly in your lugholes, or they’ll feel loose and be in danger of falling out.

Their design means a reasonable amount of sound from the outside world makes its way into your ears, which is great for situations where you need to be aware of your surroundings, but it can negatively affect audio quality. Many people find these types of earbuds more comfortable to wear for long periods as they don’t exert pressure on your ear canals.

The other style of earbuds use eartips (often made of silicone) to secure themselves in your ears. These tips seal off your ear canal, simultaneously offering a more secure fit and providing passive noise cancellation. You’ll find that most manufacturers include a range of different-sized tips to help ensure you get the best fit possible.

Can I use them for phone/video calls?

The best cheap wireless earbuds feature built-in microphones that allow you to make and receive phone/video calls via your Bluetooth connection. The number of microphones and their quality will vary depending on the earbuds’ cost, as will their ability to isolate your voice from ambient sounds.

Can I just wear one earbud on its own?

This depends on the earbuds in question, but most of the time, yes. Many wireless earbuds operate in a master-slave relationship, whereby the driver in one bud (the master) receives audio before relaying it to the slave. In cases such as this, you can only use the master earbud while the slave is in the charging case. Other earbuds are less fussy and allow both buds to be used independently at any time.

READ NEXT: The best wired and wireless headphones

Is the Bluetooth version important?

As with anything that is periodically updated, newer tends to mean better. The latest version of Bluetooth will offer the strongest, most stable connection possible, and have the furthest wireless range and widest bandwidth – the rate at which data is transferred over the connection. The latest iteration, Bluetooth 5.2, is therefore preferable, but earbuds that support it are still relatively scarce. For casual listening, anything from Bluetooth 4.2 and up should serve you just fine.

Does it matter which Bluetooth codecs are supported?

Codecs determine how Bluetooth transmits information to your device and play a crucial role when streaming audio via your wireless earbuds. The most commonly used codecs are SBC – which is pretty much universal – and AAC, which is Apple’s codec of choice. Both offer solid sound quality and a stable connection and will be the ones you typically find yourself using with a pair of cheap wireless earbuds.

Codecs such as Qualcomm’s aptX HD or aptX Adaptive and Sony’s LDAC support higher-resolution audio streaming and offer improved sound quality. However, support for hi-res Bluetooth codecs is rare at under £50.

It’s worth noting that both your earbuds and the device you intend to use them with need to support a specific codec to be able to make use of it.

How much should I spend on cheap wireless earbuds?

This of course depends on your budget, but like most tech products, you’ll generally find you get what you pay for. We recommend spending at least £20 if you want to avoid your buds sounding horrible and don’t want them giving up the ghost after a few months of use.

The closer you get to £50, the more features your earbuds are likely to offer and the better they’re likely to sound. This isn’t always the case, though, which is why it’s important to check specs and read product reviews before making a purchase. If you’re unsure as to what specs and features to look out for, the section below will point you in the right direction.

READ NEXT: The best noise-cancelling headphones you can buy

What other features should I look out for?

IP certification: This denotes the earbuds’ ability to resist the ingress of dust and sweat/water, with the two digits after “IP” referring to each, respectively. IPX4, for example, means that the buds aren’t dust resistant, as shown by the “X”, but are resistant to splashing water, as shown by the “4”. These buds would therefore not be ideal for taking to the beach, where wayward sand is prone to get everywhere, but are fine for jogging or a trip to the gym, and they can withstand the UK’s wet weather.

Battery life: With most cheap wireless earbuds coming equipped with a charging case, this is measured on two fronts – how much play you get out of the buds themselves, and how much additional juice the case provides. The overall listening time typically clocks in somewhere in the region of 20 hours, but this is dependent on the volume at which you play your audio, how much time you spend on calls and whether you have power-hungry features like ANC activated.

Voice assistant support: This feature is pretty commonplace nowadays, even among the cheapest wireless earbuds. Still, if utilising Alexa, Google Assistant or Siri is particularly important to you, it’s best to double-check when making your purchase.

Touch controls: These allow you to perform a variety of actions, including skipping tracks, adjusting volume and hailing your voice assistant without having to dig your phone out of your pocket. Mileage may vary on the breadth of control that you get, with some of the cheaper options just offering play/pause, and others allowing for some of the above-mentioned commands but not others.

Companion app: Many wireless earbuds manufacturers have companion apps that you can download, giving you a range of customisation options to get the most out of your buds. Common offerings include remapping touch controls – perfect if you have a particular setup that you’re used to – and switching between different EQ presets.


The best cheap wireless earbuds to buy in 2021

1. 1More PistonBuds: The best cheap wireless earbuds overall

Price: £40 | Buy now from Amazon

While their Apple AirPods Pro-inspired design won’t win any awards for originality, the 1More PistonBuds are the most comfortable and best-sounding wireless earbuds under £50 we’ve tested.

Their low-end response is particularly weighty but doesn’t overwhelm the rest of the audio profile, with the buds delivering a respectable balance across a wide range of musical genres. With battery life of up to 20 hours (including the charging case), you’ll have plenty of time to enjoy all of your favourite tunes, and the IPX4 rating makes these perfectly suitable for a run or gym session.

Touch controls are limited to playing/pausing audio, hailing your voice assistant, and answering/ending phone calls, but what functionality you do get works quickly and consistently. Offering impressive quality at a very affordable price, the 1More PistonBuds are our favourite cheap earbuds on the market.

Key specs – Built-in microphone and music control buttons: Yes; Battery life: 20 hours; Connections: Bluetooth 5.0; Weight: 4.2g per earbud, 36g charging case; IP rating: IPX4


2. Jlab Go Air: The best cheap wireless earbuds with EQ options

Price: £30 | Buy now from Amazon

Despite some advanced features finding their way into the budget earbuds market, cheap buds offering multiple EQ presets are still quite a rarity. One of the few pairs of earbuds that do include them is the Jlab Go Air, with Signature, Balanced and Bass Boost modes available to be cycled through with a simple triple-tap on either bud.

On the Signature setting, you get enhanced vocals and bass, while Bass Boost amplifies low-end frequencies and will be the go-to for bass lovers. For something in the middle, you can opt for Balanced mode, which presents the audio neutrally, without any enhancements.

The buds themselves provide a comfortable and stable fit, and each can be worn independently. The Go Air are rated IP44 for particle and moisture resistance, so they’ll hold up well against rain and sweat, and the 20-hour battery life including the charging case is plenty for most users.

Key specs – Built-in microphone and music control buttons: Yes; Battery life: 20 hours; Connections: Bluetooth 5.0; Weight: 5g per earbud, 35g charging case; IP rating: IP44


3. Tronsmart Onyx Ace: The best cheap AirPods alternative

Price: £28 | Buy now from Amazon

If you like the design of Apple’s AirPods but aren’t so keen on the price tag, Tronsmart’s Onyx Ace are a solid budget alternative with a similar aesthetic. Forgoing silicone ear tips in favour of a fixed-fit design, these buds won’t provide the same passive noise cancellation as some others on this list, nor will they remain wedged in your ears quite as well, but we still found the fit and stability to be satisfactory.

The sound profile is a little bass-heavy, with vocals and instrument separation suffering in pieces with prominent low-ends, but this isn’t as much of an issue when you consider all of the things the Onyx Ace have going for them. Battery life is solid for the price, the touch controls are comprehensive and responsive, and we found the microphone to be impressively clear. The IPX5 waterproof rating won’t protect against dust, but for a jog or a sweaty gym session, they’ll serve you just fine.

Key specs – Built-in microphone and music control buttons: Yes; Battery life: 20 hours; Connections: Bluetooth 5.0; Weight: 3.5g per earbud, 37g charging case; IP rating: IPX5


4. Skullcandy Dime: The best-sounding wireless earbuds around £30

Price: £30 | Buy now from Amazon

Ultra-compact and supremely comfortable to wear, Skullcandy’s Dime earbuds produce a warm and well-balanced sound signature, with clearly communicated vocals, mids and trebles. As well as excellent sonic performance, the Dime are rated IPX4 for sweat and water resistance, and allow you to freely use either bud by itself. Another nice inclusion is a short lanyard attached to the case that allows you to clip it onto your keyring, reducing the risk of misplacing the inconspicuous case.

The touch controls leave a bit to be desired – the range of functions offered is great, but having to remember the specific commands for each is less fun – and having to find purchase on the small stems to push the Skullcandy logo that executes commands is rather fiddly. Battery life is nothing special, either, clocking in at around 12 hours in total. Still, for great-quality sound at an extremely reasonable price, the Skullcandy Dime are a solid choice.

Key specs – Built-in microphone and music control buttons: Yes; Battery life: 12 hours; Connections: Bluetooth 5.0; Weight: 4g per earbud, 25g charging case; IP rating: IPX4


5. Creative Outlier Air V3: The best cheap wireless earbuds under £70

Price: £65 | Buy now from Amazon

Despite delivering several improvements on the Outlier Air V2, the V3 retail at a lower price, making them Creative’s best wireless earbuds yet when it comes to features and value for money.

As well as their attractive price point, these sleek, lightweight buds feature customisable touch controls, total battery life of roughly 40 hours, and surprisingly effective active noise reduction technology. Upgrading the audio drivers for the first time since the original Outlier Air, the V3 sound better than ever, with dynamic and impactful bass and crisp, clear trebles.

Like the V2 before them, the Outlier Air V3 are compatible with Creative’s Super X-Fi technology, which maps your head to create a personalised holographic audio profile. Currently, this only works with locally stored audio – so you can’t stream directly from Spotify – but for anyone who keeps a music library on their phone, this technology delivers a unique listening experience.

Read our Creative Outlier Air V3 review for more details

Key specs – Built-in microphone and music control buttons: Yes; Battery life: 40 hours; Connections: Bluetooth 5.2; Weight: 5.2g per earbud, 69.8g charging case; IP rating: IPX5

6. Groov-e Sport Buds: The best cheap wireless earbuds for exercise

Price: £35 | Buy now from Amazon

While several entries on this list offer enough sweat resistance to be suitable for workouts, the gym bunnies among you will want to pick up a pair that are optimised for your training regime. As well as comfortable tips fitting snugly in your ears, each bud has a flexible rubber hook that loops over your ear, keeping them firmly in place when running, cycling or pumping iron.

Whatever you choose to listen to while working out, the audio quality on offer is fairly solid, with the Sport Buds delivering a particularly beefy bass response. Trebles can get a little pronounced at higher volumes, but for the most part, everything presented is balanced and clear. Designed for workouts, the buds are IPX4-rated for sweat resistance, and though the buds only offer roughly four hours of playback, the chunky charging case offers an impressive six further charges.

Something we really love about the Groov-e Sport Buds is that the case houses a USB-A port that can be used as a power bank to charge your other devices. This is a great feature that you don’t often see with wireless earbuds – even among the more premium options – and is even more appreciated here considering the affordable price of the Sport Buds.

Key specs – Built-in microphone and music control buttons: Yes; Battery life: 24 hours; Connections: Bluetooth 5.0; Weight: 7g per earbud, 96g charging case; IP rating: IPX4

7. Tribit FlyBuds 1: The best cheap wireless earbuds for water resistance

Price: £30 | Buy now from Amazon

As well as an impressive IPX8 water resistance rating, meaning that they can be fully submerged in water, Tribit’s Flybuds 1 are the best choice for ensuring you get the closest fit possible. Included in the box are six pairs of differently shaped silicone ear tips, with enough range that all ears should be able to find their match.

Despite feeling almost non-existent once in your ears, the Flybuds 1 make their presence known with surprisingly strong audio quality. There’s a pleasing weight to the bass, and vocals are articulated with impressive clarity. The Flybuds 1 do struggle when reproducing more complex arrangements, but for the most part, instrument separation is handled well.

The buds’ battery life is a respectable six hours, with another four full charges in the charging case. The case has a USB-C port, but can also be charged wirelessly using a compatible Qi charger, which is another great feature not often seen in this price range. Our only complaint with the FlyBuds 1 is their controls: the placement of the buttons means that when you skip a song or hail your voice assistant, you have to push firmly on the bottom of the earbud’s outside panel, which can create unwanted pressure on the inside of your ear.

Key specs – Built-in microphone and music control buttons: Yes; Battery life: 30 hours; Connections: Bluetooth 5.0; Weight: 4g per earbud, 70g charging case; IP rating: IPX8

8. Tronsmart Spunky Beat: Impressive cheap wireless earbuds

Price: £31 | Buy now from Amazon

There’s plenty to like about the Tronsmart Spunky Beat: the touch controls are intuitive and easy to use, they support Siri and Google Assistant, and they do a fairly decent job of suppressing background noise during calls. With three pairs of silicone ear tips to choose from, getting a decent fit is simple enough, and we found them very comfortable to wear for extended periods. For the money you’re paying here, the sound quality was surprisingly reasonable, too.

Battery life was fairly strong at 50% volume, tapping out around the seven-hour mark – though this does plummet to four hours at full volume. The case provides a further two-and-a-half charges, bringing the overall battery life in line with most of the competition. For the case itself, you can either charge it via the USB-C port or with the attached USB-A cable, which folds discretely into the base when not in use.

Key specs – Built-in microphone and music control buttons: Yes; Battery life: 24 hours; Connections: Bluetooth 5.0; Weight: 3.7g per earbud, 47g charging case; IP rating: IPX5

9. EarFun Free Pro: The best cheap wireless earbuds with active noise cancellation

Price: £60 | Buy now from Amazon

EarFun describes the Free Pro as "the world's smallest" ANC earbuds and while we can't verify that claim, they're certainly very compact and weigh just over 4g apiece. We found them very comfortable to wear, too, and a selection of wingtips and silicone eartips should ensure they sit cosily and securely in your ears no matter the size and shape of your lugholes.

Despite their diminutive form, EarFun has managed to squeeze a lot of functionality into the Free Pro, with noise cancelling and ambient sound modes, a comprehensive suite of touch controls, a wireless charging-enabled case and voice assistant support. The noise cancellation attenuates low-end frequencies reasonably well given the low cost of entry, while the ambient mode comes in handy if you're out and about and need to be aware of what's going on. Sonically, the Free Pro offer a robust bass response and decent levels of clarity, though treble can get a bit piercing at high volumes.

While not particularly cheap at their RRP of £70, the EarFun Free Pro are often found available closer to £60. At that price, the package becomes more appealing and you'll struggle to find earbuds offering quite so many useful features.

Key specs – Built-in microphone and music control buttons: Yes; Battery life: 27 hours (ANC on), 32 hours (ANC off); Connections: Bluetooth 5.2; Weight: 4.1g per earbud, 33g charging case; IP rating: IPX5