Apple’s AirPods Pro is one of the hottest gadgets of 2020. But, most speaker freaks know that Apple’s true wireless earbuds don’t offer the best in sound or features (even if they do look sleek).
A number of other big and small brands are taking true wireless tech in directions that rival Apple and many are even offering their buds at lower prices than AirPods Pro.
We did some frequency testing and took a bunch of earbuds out for a test drive, and the 4 on this list are the best of the bunch.
Not all of these earbuds can stand up to Apple in every way. But our #1 pick managed to beat AirPods Pro in just about every category. Let’s take a look.
#1 Best Overall AirPods Alternative: ReduxBuds
- First AI-powered ANC
- IPX5 Waterproofing
- 100-hour battery (10 hours continuous playback)
- Bluetooth 5.0
- Very comfortable
- Only available in one color
ReduxBuds are the best true wireless headphones of 2020. They feature an insane 100-hour battery life, Bluetooth 5.0, 7mm graphene drivers, and artificial intelligence-powered ANC.
As we mentioned, ReduxBuds either beat or matched AirPods Pro in nearly every category. The only thing it doesn’t have is the option for wireless charging, but most AirPods users don’t opt for this tech anyway.
Development for ReduxBuds started about a year after AirPods Pro, so it’s no wonder that the tech is more advanced. But we were surprised at just how much better they were.
ReduxBuds sound incredible thanks to their oversized graphene drivers. Built with nanotechnology, these speakers are able to deliver bigger sound and louder volumes with increased clarity—they’re the first true wireless earbuds that come close to delivering the audio quality of wired headphones.
AirPods and ReduxBuds both sound very good, but ReduxBuds were our preferred earbuds because the inner-ear fit made for a more immersive audio experience.
ReduxBuds most impressive innovation is their artificial intelligence ANC mode (called Transparency Mode). The earbuds contain an AI algorithm that has learned over 6000 sounds. It uses the dual-beamforming mic to filter noises like sirens, alarms, and certain voices. It then passes them through to the listener without interrupting their music.
In this way, users can enter noise cancellation mode while remaining aware of their surroundings. Not only that, but Reduxbuds has industry-topping ANC at 30 dB—a full 50% more than AirPods Pro.
ReduxBuds also trounce Apple on battery life, comfort, wireless connectivity, and waterproofing. Their mic and touch controls function about as good as AirPods Pro.
ReduxBuds are the true wireless earbuds to beat in 2021. In terms of overall sound quality, comfort, and versatility, we haven’t found a better pair.
They normally cost the same as AirPods Pro, but you can get a pair now for 50% off during Redux Labs’ special launch sale. Most won’t see a pair of ReduxBuds until 2021, so don’t wait to claim your pair now.
#2 The Best Looking AirPods Alternative: Google Pixel Buds
- Digital assistant integration
- Live translation
- Wireless charging
- Bluetooth 5.0
- IPX4 waterproofing
- Poor sound isolation
- Not very comfortable
If you’re looking to listen in style and make everyone at the gym jealous, then Google’s Pixel Buds have the name and the look to do it. These earbuds are very cool, and they have some interesting software that you won’t find anywhere else.
Digital assistant access is now a must-have in true wireless headphones, and Google delivers one of the most streamlined experiences by integrating Google Assistant into the buds. With a simple tap, you’re hard-wired into your phone and other Google devices, and you can control everything with your voice.
Of course, this won’t be a big help if you use Siri or another DA. But if you use Google, it could make life a lot easier.
Google has also integrated a translator for live translation via its headphones. While this technology isn’t entirely practical in 2020, it’s exciting to see it implemented. In the near future, you may be able to understand foreign languages in real-time just by putting on these headphones.
Are the Google Pixel Buds better than AirPods Pro?
In some ways, yes. Google Pixel Buds outperformed AirPods Pro in durability and wireless connectivity. They are much stronger and more gym-friendly than AirPods, as they feature an IPX4 waterproof rating. Their wireless range is also unparalleled, reaching nearly 100 yards unobstructed.
In terms of sound quality, Google’s buds don’t disappoint. They have a decent bass groove and clear highs and lows for casual listening. We wouldn’t say they are better than AirPods, but they are just as good.
Unfortunately, the Pixel Buds falter when it comes to comfort and noise isolation. They weren’t very immersive and got itchy after an hour.
#3 The Best AirPods Alternative for Workouts: Beats Powerbeats Pro
- An alternative for Apple fans
- 9-hour battery life
- IPX4 Waterproofing
- Great mic
- Poor noise isolation
If you’re a fan of Apple but don’t find the AirPods Pro versatile enough, you can get a more feature-rich product for the same price in Beats Powerbeats Pro. The only thing you don’t get is the iconic AirPods look.
The Powerbeats Pro are our pick for the best workout earbuds because we like the adjustable over-ear fit. While inner-ear buds like ReduxBuds are more comfortable, the Powerbeats made us feel more secure when doing frenetic activity. They are also sweat and water-resistant, which is a must during workouts.
If you love the sound of AirPods, you can be confident that you’ll get the same quality from the Powerbeats Pro, and you’ll also get a decent wireless range and connection from Apple’s H1 chip. The pairing and connection seem to be better with Apple devices, but they’re pretty good on Android too.
The Powerbeats Pro have the best mic of all the headphones on this list, so if you do a lot of calling, these might be your pick. The mic uses a built-in accelerometer to detect when you’re speaking. When it senses that your jaw has stopped moving, it shuts off to prevent background noise from interfering with your call.
On the downside, the noise isolation is poor. Keep this in mind if you want workout headphones but you frequent a gym that plays loud music. In loud environments, ReduxBuds are the best pick for their superior ANC.
#4 The Best AirPods Pro Alternative for Spotify Users: Samsung Galaxy Buds Live
- Spotify integration
- Bluetooth 5.0
- Discreet fit
- Dual Audio
- ANC not as good as AirPods Pro
- Not recommended for iPhone
The Samsung Galaxy Buds Live take your library to new levels by integrating with Spotify. This makes them a great alternative for listeners who want the seamless AirPods/Apple Music connection but who don’t use Apple products.
With just a touch, you can access Spotify live and stream directly to your earbuds. It’s pretty cool, and it sounds great. The bass is clean and the high frequencies are sharper than on AirPods.
Its dual audio feature makes listening even more fun. With another pair of Galaxy Buds, you and a friend can both listen using just one device. This is ideal for road trips, gym duos, and study buddies.
Samsung’s scalable codec makes the wireless connection especially seamless too. They might even be better than AirPods Pro in this respect. But you’ll only enjoy this enhanced quality if you use a Samsung phone.
And that’s where these earbuds hit a wall. Samsung really takes care of their own here and leaves everyone else out in the cold. Most of the innovative features of these headphones will only work on Android devices and some will only work on Samsung phones specifically.
If you’re a Galaxy user, that’s good news. But what if you want to switch phone brands in a year? You’ll lose audio quality and a number of features along with it.
Find the AirPods Pro Alternative for You
AirPods Pro might be the most popular earbuds, but they aren’t for everyone. Their lack of waterproofing and slippery fit make them dismal for athletes, and their Apple-centric tech can leave non-iPhone users feeling left out.
But there are a bunch of alternatives for your tech and your lifestyle, and many of them are even better than AirPods.
We have to recommend ReduxBuds as our top pick. Because they’re new, they outdo AirPods Pro in just about every way. And for a limited time, you can get them for half the cost of AirPods. Don’t wait until they start flying off shelves in 2021!
If you don’t manage to grab ReduxBuds before the sale ends, any other pick on this list will give you the perks of AirPods Pro and then some.