Apple’s AirPods Pro, which add noise cancellation to the already-popular design, have a drawback: They cost $249. These alternatives cost less and provide great sound. Only one offers active noise cancellation, but that’s not the only feature that matters.

Despite some small drawbacks, the Sony WF-1000XM3 earbuds are among the best true-wireless models of 2019. (Sarah Tew/CNET/TNS)
Despite some small drawbacks, the Sony WF-1000XM3 earbuds are among the best true-wireless models of 2019. (Sarah Tew/CNET/TNS)

Closest to AirPods Pro: Sony WF-1000XM3

CNET rating: 4 stars out of 5 (excellent)

The cost: $230 at sony.com

The good: The WF-1000XM3 earbuds sound excellent for true-wireless earbuds, with a premium look and feel. They have effective active noise cancellation, decent battery life and USB-C charging (with a quick-charge feature). Touch controls.

The bad: Not sweat-resistant; not as discreet-looking as some competing models; call performance could be a little better.

The bottom line: Despite some small drawbacks, the Sony WF-1000XM3 earbuds are among the best true-wireless models of 2019.

While they don’t look different from other no-name true wireless models on Amazon, the EarFun Free earbuds are a step up from other $50-range models. (Sarah Tew/CNET/TNS)
While they don’t look different from other no-name true wireless models on Amazon, the EarFun Free earbuds are a step up from other $50-range models. (Sarah Tew/CNET/TNS)

Advanced features for about $50: EarFun Free

CNET rating: 4 stars out of 5 (excellent)

The cost: $50 at amazon.com

The good: The EarFun Free earbuds have surprisingly good sound for their low price and offer both USB-C and wireless charging. Battery life is decent at 6 hours, with an extra four charges on the go with the charging case. They’re fully water-resistant, too.

The bad: They’re slightly bulky and may not fit all ears equally well, and there are no volume controls on the buds.

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The bottom line: While they don’t look different from other no-name true wireless models on Amazon, the EarFun Free earbuds are a step up from other $50-range models.

As long as you’re OK with a noise-isolating design, the Anker Liberty Air earbuds are an excellent alternative to AirPods and cost half the price. (Sarah Tew/CNET/TNS)
As long as you’re OK with a noise-isolating design, the Anker Liberty Air earbuds are an excellent alternative to AirPods and cost half the price. (Sarah Tew/CNET/TNS)

Longtime favorite AirPods alternative: Anker Soundcore Liberty Air

CNET rating: 4 stars out of 5 (excellent)

The cost: $80 at amazon.com

The good: Anker’s Liberty Air True Wireless earphones cost half the price of Apple’s AirPods and sound as good or better. They offer solid wireless performance, 5 hours of battery life and come with a compact charging case that delivers an extra three charges.

The bad: The charging case uses standard Micro-USB, not USB-C; if you don’t get a tight seal, sound quality isn’t as good.

The bottom line: As long as you’re OK with a noise-isolating design, the Anker Liberty Air earbuds are an excellent alternative to AirPods and cost half the price. They more closely resemble the newer AirPods Pro.

The well-designed Jabra Elite 65t truly wireless earbuds rival Apple’s AirPods and are superior in some ways. (Sarah Tew/CNET/TNS)
The well-designed Jabra Elite 65t truly wireless earbuds rival Apple’s AirPods and are superior in some ways. (Sarah Tew/CNET/TNS)

Great for sports, great for calls: Jabra Elite 65t

CNET rating: 4 stars out of 5 (excellent)

The cost: $100 at jabra.com

The good: The Jabra Elite 65t earbuds are smaller and fit more comfortably than previous models. They sound excellent for truly wireless earbuds, perform reliably and are great for making calls, with two microphones in each earpiece. Battery life is decent at 5 hours and the included charging case delivers two extra charges.

The bad: You might need some time to adjust to the keyboard layout, there’s no holder or garage for the pen and the speakers sound thin.

The bottom line: The well-designed Jabra Elite 65t truly wireless earbuds rival Apple’s AirPods and are superior in some ways.