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Best budget wireless earbuds to buy in 2022

Here are some of the very best wireless earbuds available in the budget-friendly category right now. From as little as £19.99, you can pick up wireless earbuds from a reputable brand.

Best budget earbuds
Published: Monday, 28th March 2022 at 4:21 pm

Since headphone jacks stopped being a common feature on phones, wireless earbuds have become a must-have accessory. However, if you're not keen to spend the circa £200 required to bag a top-end pair of earbuds, then there are still some great options at low prices. We've run down some of the best available today on this page.

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Many committed audiophiles continue to favour over-ear headphones, but it’s not hard to see the appeal in wireless earbuds for the average listener. They’re incredibly light, take up little space – whether in your bag or your general headspace – and if they’re a decent pair, will fit securely and comfortably. 

They can also come with a range of additional features, such as ANC (active noise cancellation), EQ control, personalisable sound and in-ear detection. 

And they’re particularly popular for gym sessions since they give you a (merciful) alternative to whatever’s playing over the speakers there while not giving you any cumbersome headphones or wires to contend with during your workout. 

Until the last few years, you really had to pay for the privilege of earbuds, with premium examples like the AirPods Pro coming with a hefty RRP of £249. 

And not everybody has that kind of cash to splash. Luckily, there’s been a boom in budget-friendly earbuds in the last few years, with plenty of excellent choices available from the likes of Huawei, Skullcandy, Cambridge Audio and JBL. 

Our team of technology experts has put a number of them to the test – and you’ll find their pick of the very best models below.

If you want higher-end alternative wireless earbuds, you can read our Apple AirPods Pro review, Jabra Elite 85t review, Powerbeats Pro review and Sony WF-1000XM4 earbuds review. If you are keen to keep your spending to a minimum, read on.

Best budget wireless earbuds at a glance

Here’s a quick run-down of all the budget wireless earbuds you’ll find in our list. We’ve ranked them in price order: 

The best budget wireless earbuds in 2022

JLab Go Air Pop, £19.99

Best super-budget earbuds | Buy now on Amazon

These earbuds from JLab have just edged into the top spot for super-cheap earbuds, overtaking the Skullcandy Dime buds below, which we also liked! However, the JLab Go Air Pop buds offer a better battery life and are still amazingly affordable.

In our full JLab Go Air Pop review, our testers said: "They've got a compact, slim design. They're light and portable too and when it comes to sound, they do pretty well considering that low, low price. However, there are some obvious drawbacks in the lack of features, an app and the cheap plastic the buds and case are made from."

Skullcandy Dime, £20.36

Best compact super-budget earbuds | Buy now on Amazon

Skullcandy Dime earbuds review

Pros:

  • Impressive price tag
  • Solid sound quality
  • Super-compact charging case

Cons:

  • Side buttons are hard to operate
  • Slightly disappointing battery life

This is as affordable as it gets with our pick of the best budget earbuds – and at a very compelling £29.99, it’s hard to resist Skullcandy’s entry-level Dime. We’re calling them out as a nice gift to someone (who may or may not be distraught after losing their AirPods or similar, perhaps).

Yes, they’re held back a little by a fiddly sensor-tapping system, but that’s counterbalanced by a surprisingly solid sound quality and a highly compact build. You could genuinely attach these to your keyring and stow them away in your pocket. 

Read our full Skullcandy Dime review.

EarFun Free Pro 2, £69.99

Best budget ANC earbuds | Buy now on Amazon

Pros:

  • Great value for money
  • Solid ANC for the price 
  • Compact and comfortable

Cons:

  • Touch controls can be fiddly
  • No EarFun app available

If you need ANC-on-a-budget, we recommend the EarFun Free Pro 2. For just under £70, you get a compact and comfortable set of wireless earbuds - but having solid noise cancellation at this price point really does make them stand out.

They are proof that you don’t have to pay big money for a pair of wireless buds that have this tech and come with a variety of solid features, including on-bud touch controls, a small case that can be charged wirelessly and 30+ hours total playtime.

Read our full EarFun Free Pro 2 review.

Nothing ear (1), £99.99 

Best budget earbuds for design | Buy now on Amazon

Nothing ear (1) review

Pros:

  • Comfortable fit
  • Cool, transparent design
  • Active Noise Cancellation

Cons:

  • White/transparent case may dirty easily
  • No voice control

The Nothing ear (1) has a transparent casing that shows off the inner workings of these wireless earbuds. Beyond this ultra-modern and somewhat futuristic design, the main selling point of these earbuds is that they come with Active Noise Cancellation. The ANC modes can be switched between using touch controls or via the ear (1) app.

Other features include IPX4-rated water resistance that protects them from splashes or light rain and in-ear detection that will automatically pause music when the earbuds are removed from your ears.

Read our full Nothing ear (1) review

Skullcandy Indy ANC, £99.99

Best budget earbuds for personalisation | Buy now on Amazon

Skullcandy Indy ANC

Pros:

  • Snug fit
  • Sleek design

Cons:

  • Limited ANC
  • Frustrating button-tapping system

One rung above the Dime in Skullcandy’s true wireless range of earbuds are the Indy ANC, which are the brand’s very first pair of noise-cancelling earbuds and build on the Skullcandy Indy True by offering noise-cancelling tech. It’s not the most effective out there, but what really made the Indy ANC stand out for us was the Personal Profile feature in the app. If you go through a series of volume- and pitch-based tests, it will tailor the EQ levels to match your personal requirements – and it genuinely improves the playback.

Read our full Skullcandy Indy ANC review.

Cambridge Audio Melomania 1+, £99.95

Best budget earbuds for battery life | Buy now on Amazon

Cambridge Audio Melomania 1 Plus

Pros:

  • Great value for money
  • Brilliant sound quality
  • Long battery life
  • IPX5 water-resistant

Cons:

  • No active noise cancellation

Just under £100, we feel there are two major selling points to the Melomania 1+ from Cambridge Audio. Firstly, the sound quality they deliver is truly exceptional. Secondly, they offer a mammoth 45 hours of battery life, far outstripping any other products on this list. We also appreciate the physical buttons on either side – and while the lack of ANC might look like a glaring omission, we’re still resolute believers this technology isn’t an essential feature in earbuds.

Read our full Cambridge Audio Melomania 1+ review.

Beats Studio Buds, £129.99

Best budget earbuds for ease of use | Buy now on Amazon

Beats Studio Buds review

Pros:

  • Gorgeous design
  • Very comfortable two-way fit
  • Easy-to-operate UI
  • One-touch pairing uniquely across iOS and Android

Cons:

  • No Apple H1 chip

Since being purchased by Apple in 2014, Beats has successfully retained its reputation for producing high-quality audio products - and their latest set of wireless earbuds, the Studio Buds, are no exception. While they’re missing the Apple H1 chip that brings the Powerbeats Pro to life, these are still an undeniable fantastic addition to the Beats line. The Studio Buds are gorgeously designed, deliver solid levels of ANC and, in an industry first, offer one-touch pairing across both iOS and Android. Simply bring your device into the vicinity of the Studio Buds, and a pairing prompt will automatically appear on-screen.

Read our full Beats Studio Buds review.

Huawei FreeBuds Pro, £129.99

Best budget earbuds for calls | Buy now on Amazon

Huawei FreeBuds Pro review

Pros:

  • Comfortable fit
  • Active Noise Cancellation
  • Good voice call quality

Cons:

  • No IP-rated water resistance
  • Design doesn’t feel very luxe
  • App not supported for iOS

Huawei’s ostensibly mid-range earbud offering make this list because we feel they offer terrific value for money and under-deliver in very few areas. We appreciated their sturdy build, the super-clear calls offered by the three built-in mics and the ‘bone voice sensor’, and an ANC function that performs supremely well, among others that are so-so at this price point. Plus, they proved a very comfortable fit for our experts.

Read our full Huawei FreeBuds Pro review.

JBL Reflect Mini NC, £129.99 

Best budget earbuds for battery | Buy now on Amazon 

JBL Reflect Mini NC review

Pros:

  • Active Noise Cancellation
  • Compact charging case
  • Comprehensive water resistance
  • Secure fit

Cons:

  • Uncomfortable over long periods

The final entry in our list are priced equally alongside the FreeBuds Pro – and we include them both here as these feeling like an entirely different proposition. The JBL Reflect Mini NC are aimed squarely at those who are sports-focused: they’re water-resistant to an impressive IPX7 rating, so while you can’t quite go for a swim in them, they’ll survive a rainy run outside or an onslaught of sweat (gross, but worth bearing in mind). All in all, they make a smart choice for anyone who wants their own soundtrack at the gym but wants to avoid spending the big bucks.

Read our full JBL Reflect Mini NC review.

How we tested budget wireless earbuds

We don’t just test earbuds at RadioTimes.com – we also review smartphones, tablets, smartwatches, soundbars and printers. We’re passionate about tech, and we’re passionate about giving you honest, unbiased advice about what’s good and what’s not.

That’s why we follow the same set of processes each time we review a pair of earbuds and judge each product by the same set of criteria. This way, we don’t overlook any product’s strengths or weaknesses.

Our team of experts give each set of earbuds a star rating out of five and to one decimal point. We arrive at this by giving five different sets of criteria their own rating. These are ease of setup, design, features and sound quality (both double-weighted, since we consider these critical criteria for earbuds) and value for money. Each criterion contributes to the final rating.

We’re constantly testing and reviewing all the latest products – quite often before they’re available to buy. If you want to stay up-to-date with all our latest reviews, plus all the latest news and deals from the tech world, then sign up for our newsletter below:

How to choose the best budget wireless earbuds

Here are a few key pointers when you’re choosing your earbuds.

  • Budget is relative. There’s still a lot of price scope among budget wireless earbuds. We’ve put together a list of options below that range between £30 and £130 in price. Those price differences are largely down to three things: quality of sound, battery life and the presence of ANC.
  • Do you want noise-cancelling tech? This is something we urge you to think carefully about, as it’s a technology that continues to improve, and it performs best among flagship and high-end earbuds. That being said, we’ve included several examples here which feature noise-cancellation, and we’ve let you know when it’s particularly good for a budget product.
  • Be prepared for trade-offs. There are no items on our list that are poor-quality. But, as with all budget-friendly tech, you’ll need to expect shortcomings in certain areas. The earbuds in our list don’t necessarily have the premium design or advanced app features that you’ll get in higher-end alternatives.
  • Are you the forgetful type? This might sound silly, but it’s worth bearing in mind that items as small and compact as earbuds can go AWOL very, very easily. On the one hand, you won’t miss a low-cost pair if the worst happens; on the other, some higher-end options have built-in Tile compatibility, which will let you track them down.
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Looking for home audio? Don’t miss our best smart speaker list. Or, if you’re looking for the perfect gift for a tech fan, why not check out our tech gifts guide. 

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