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#1 Earfun Air S
with multipoint Bluetooth pairing and the latest Qualcomm QCC3046 chip with the aptX audio codec for Android and other devices that support it. They have the same 10mm wool drivers as the AirPro SV and feature surprisingly impressive sound for their modest price. They also work well as a headset for making calls with decent background noise reduction. The buds have an IPX5 water-resistance rating, which means they’re splashproof and can withstand a sustained spray of water.
#2 Soundpeats Air3 Deluxe HS
What makes these Soundpeats Air3 Deluxe HS buds special is that they sound surprisingly good for open earbuds — they’re pretty close to what you get from Apple’s AirPods 3 for sound. On top of that, they support Sony’s LDAC audio codec for devices that offer it. Not too many cheap open earbuds have good sound but these Soundpeats have good bass response and clarity. They’re also good for making calls and have a low-latency gaming mode.
#3 Ugreen HiTune X6
Yes, Ugreen’s HiTune X6 buds are a bit weird looking, but they should fit most ears well and come with a few different sizes of ear tips (I went with large). Their charging case feels solid, and the buds themselves don’t look or feel cheap. IPX5 splash-resistant, they feature active noise canceling — it does manage to muffle a reasonable amount of ambient noise — but their best feature is arguably their sound. They offer good clarity along with a wide soundstage and very plump bass that avoids being boomy.
#4 Tranya T20
The Tranya T20 earbuds remind me a little of a cheaper version of Samsung’s Galaxy Buds 2 without the noise canceling. They’re no-frills and don’t have features such as ear-detection sensors that automatically pause your music when you take a bud out of your ears. But they sound surprisingly decent for their modest price. If you get a tight seal, they sit pretty flush with your ears (they don’t really stick out much) and they have decent battery life — up to 8 hours at moderate volume levels. They also work pretty well for making calls and are IPX7 waterproof.
The case feels a little cheap and the buds are lightweight. The Galaxy Buds 2 definitely feel more premium. However, the buds are well-tuned and have a relatively wide soundstage. Don’t expect the world from them and I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
#5 Earfun Air Pro 2
The Earfun Air Pro 2 earbuds have solid active noise cancellation, and their sound is also impressive for their relatively modest price, with overall well-balanced sound, decent clarity and solid bass performance. Some of Earfun’s buds have had a bit too much treble push — referred to as “presence boost” — but these mostly manage to avoid that. They do sound better than the original Air Pro earbuds.
They have some extra features, like an ear-detection sensor so your music pauses when you take the buds out of your ears, and a case that has USB-C and wireless charging, which you don’t often find at this price. Equipped with Bluetooth 5.2, they’re splash-proof with an IPX5 rating and offer up to 7 hours of battery life on a single charge at moderate volume levels, though you’ll probably get closer to 6 hours with noise cancellation on.
There’s also a transparency mode that lets ambient sound in. It sounds pretty natural and is closer than I thought it would be to the AirPods Pro earbuds’ excellent transparency mode. Alas, there’s no companion app that allows you to tweak the sound or upgrade the firmware.