10 Features That Define the Best AirPods Alternatives in 2024

Step into the exciting universe of AirPods alternatives! Discover sound marvels and surprises across various price brackets.

Like you, I’m always searching for the perfect audio companion. That’s why I’ve ventured beyond the usual, diving into a realm filled with intriguing possibilities.

Our quest? It’s not just about any earbuds; it’s about finding the best fit for you. I’ve checked everything from the comfortable to the crystal clear, from budget-friendly to premium powerhouses.

The real game-changer? Our approach. We’re transforming the usual review process with an innovative scoring system. It’s not just about numbers; it’s about what matters to you. Comfort, sound clarity, battery life—we assess it all to zero in on your personal preferences.

So, are you ready to be amazed? Let’s uncover the best AirPods alternatives and find the pair that truly resonates with your rhythm. Dive in, engage with our guide, and elevate your earbuds experience!

Read more: SoundPEATS Air 4 vs. AirPods 3: Who Wins? Top 9 Insights!

CategoryAirPods 3JBL Live FlexSony LinkBudsEdifier W320TNSoundPEATS Air4Galaxy Buds LiveNothing Ear (Stick)
IP Rating101089879
Call Quality7.576.
Sound Quality109687810
Total /1008883.572.583.574.57785.5
Credit: Picky Audio

Category 1: Comfort – Your Ears’ New Best Friends

Best AirPods Alternatives - Comfort - Your Ears' New Best Friends

Let’s get cozy with earbuds! In this comfort crusade, we’ve tested the best of the best. Each pair promises to be your ears’ new BFF, but let’s see who delivers the snuggle.

  • AirPods 3: The popular kid on the block. They’re like the comfy sneakers you can wear all day. Lightweight and breezy, but if your ears crave a custom fit, they might leave you wanting more.
  • SoundPEATS Air4: Think of them as the memory foam mattress for your ears. With multiple ear tips, they’re like a hug for your ear canals. Snug, comfy, and just right, they score a dreamy 9 out of 10.
  • Edifier W320TN: These are the tailored earbuds suits. Customizable comfort is their game. With an array of tips, they’re all about making your ears feel special. A well-deserved 9/10 for these comfy chameleons.
  • JBL Live Flex: They’re the chunky knit sweaters of earbuds. It’s a bit bulky, but oh-so-comforting once you get used to them. An 8 for these cozy companions.
  • Nothing Stick: Sleek and stylish, but do they sacrifice comfort? Not really! They are a bit bulkier, yet they balance style with comfort, earning a solid 8.
  • Galaxy Buds Live: The unique beans! They nestle in your ear. Some find this fit perfectly, others, not so much. It’s a love-it-or-hate-it kind of comfort, scoring an 8.
  • Sony Link Buds: The Oddballs with a twist! They don’t dive into your ear canal, preferring to hover outside. This unusual approach might be what your ears have longed for, scoring an 8 for out-of-the-box comfort.

In the end, comfort is king, and it’s all about what feels suitable for you. Whether you’re after a cloud-like caress or a firm embrace, one of these contenders is bound to be your ear’s soulmate!

Category 2: Security of Fit – The Ultimate Test for Active Lifestyles

Security of Fit - The Ultimate Test for Active Lifestyles

How do these earbuds fare in the dynamic world of workouts and active use? Let’s get into the gritty details of each model’s stability and fit during exercises.

  • AirPods 3: These iconic buds are designed more for casual use. During rigorous activities, they tend to struggle with staying put. For their moderate hold, they earn a score of 8.
  • SoundPEATS Air4: Surprisingly, these buds hold their ground quite well. They stay secure, even in the most intense workout sessions. They’re comfortable and reliable, earning a score of 8.
  • Edifier W320TN: These buds also perform admirably during physical activities. Their secure fit is consistent, regardless of the movement’s intensity. They score a well-deserved 8 for their secure fit.
  • JBL Live Flex & Nothing Stick: Both have a slightly bulkier design, which can affect their stability during vigorous exercises. They stay relatively in place but may require occasional readjustment, earning each a score of 8.
  • Galaxy Buds Live: These are a bit of a mixed bag. Their unique design isn’t the best for high-impact activities. They’re prone to slipping, especially when you’re on the move, resulting in a lower score of 6.
  • Sony Link Buds: Here’s where things get interesting. With their unique design, the Link Buds offer a surprisingly secure fit. They have a wing tip that locks them in place, making them great for running or weight training activities. Their ability to stay put and allow you to hear your surroundings earns them a high score of 9.

Remember, the fit can be entirely subjective and varies significantly from one person to another. These scores reflect a combination of design features and personal experiences during exercises. What works for one may not work for another, so it’s always best to try them out yourself!

Category 3: IP Rating – Braving the Elements

IP Rating - Braving the Elements

The IP (Ingress Protection) rating is crucial in earbuds. It tells you how well your earbuds can withstand water and dust. Let’s dive into the ratings and see how each model stacks up.

  • AirPods 3: They boast an IPX4 rating. This means they can handle splashes and sweat with ease. Perfect for a jog in light rain or a sweaty gym session. They earn a score of 10 for having the earbuds and case equally protected.
  • SoundPEATS Air4 & Sony Link Buds: These models also have an IPX4 rating. They can handle splashes, making them suitable for light outdoor activities. Each scores a solid 8 for their reliable protection.
  • Edifier W320TN & Nothing Ear Stick: Stepping up the game, these models feature an IP54 rating, adding dust resistance to the mix. This makes them a bit more versatile for outdoor and dusty environments. Both earn a score of 9 for this added durability.
  • JBL Live Flex: Similar to the Edifier W320TN and Nothing Ear Stick, the JBL Live Flex offers an IP54 rating. However, its case is only rated at IPX2, meaning it’s less water-resistant. The earbuds score a 9, but the case brings the overall score down slightly.
  • Galaxy Buds Live: These buds have a modest IPX2 rating. They can handle a bit of sweat but are not the best choice for heavy rain or dusty conditions. Consequently, they get a score of 7, the lowest in this group due to their limited resistance capabilities.

While some models are splash-resistant, others can bravely face water and dust. When choosing your perfect pair, consider your lifestyle. Are you an outdoor enthusiast or a gym-goer? Your choice might depend on how tough you need your earbuds to be against the elements!

Category 4: Case and Battery Life – Powering Your Tunes

In earbuds, a robust case and lasting battery life are critical. Let’s delve into how these contenders fare in keeping your music playing.

  • AirPods 3: These come with a sleek, thin case. It’s not just beautiful; it’s functional with wireless charging capabilities. The battery life is impressive, ensuring hours of uninterrupted music. They lead the pack with a score of 10, thanks to their style, functionality, and endurance combination.
  • SoundPEATS Air4: Sadly, these lack wireless charging, but they make up for it with decent battery life. Their case is not the thinnest but offers enough juice to keep your tunes playing for long periods. They earn a score of 7 for their reliable, though not cutting-edge, features.
  • Edifier W320TN & Nothing Ear Stick: Both boast cases with wireless charging and fast charging options, adding convenience to your daily use. Their battery life is commendable, providing ample playback time. Each scores an 8, balancing features with functionality.
  • JBL Live Flex & Galaxy Buds Live: These also offer cases with wireless charging. Their battery life is on par with the competition, ensuring you’re rarely left without music. Both earn a solid score of 8 for their mix of modern charging options and reliable battery life.
  • Sony Link Buds: The case is slightly thicker but offers the much-appreciated wireless charging. The battery life is adequate, though not the best in the group. They score 8, striking a balance between charging convenience and battery longevity.

Your earbuds’ case and battery life can significantly impact your listening experience. Whether it’s the need for wireless charging for on-the-go ease or long battery life for extended listening sessions, each of these models offers something unique. Choose based on what keeps your music going!

Category 5: Controls – Mastering Your Music Experience

Controls - Mastering Your Music Experience

The control features of earbuds can significantly enhance your listening experience. Let’s analyze each model’s control capabilities and score them based on their versatility and customization options.

  • AirPods 3: Known for their intuitive controls, the AirPods 3 feature is always on Siri for voice commands. However, they lack on-ear volume control, which can be a drawback for some. Their skin detection technology for play/pause is a neat addition. They score a 7.5 for their balance of simplicity and intelligent features.
  • SoundPEATS Air4: These earbuds offer basic control functionalities, including play, pause, and volume adjustments. However, they lack track skipping and wear detection, making them less versatile. Given these limitations, they score a 7.
  • Edifier W320TN: Featuring Force Touch controls, similar to the AirPods 3, they offer excellent sensitivity and full customization via an app. This level of customization and sensitivity earns them an 8.5.
  • Nothing Ear Stick: With a unique pinch-and-hold feature, these earbuds offer extensive control options. They allow full customization through their app, providing a tailored listening experience. For their innovative and user-friendly controls, they score a high 9.
  • JBL Live Flex: These earbuds score a 7.5. They offer a decent range of control options, including volume adjustments. However, adding volume control means sacrificing noise-canceling control, which might not be ideal for everyone.
  • Galaxy Buds Live: Equipped with Bixby voice control and a range of touch controls, they score an 8.5. They offer a comprehensive control experience, though their wear detection only works when removing both earbuds.
  • Sony Link Buds: These earbuds stand out with a score of 9. They recently received an update that added volume control via a quad tap, enhancing their usability. They also offer the option to tap on the earbud or even on your ear, bringing a unique and versatile control experience.

In summary, the control features vary widely among these earbuds. From basic touch controls to advanced voice commands and app-based customization, each model offers a different level of control over your listening experience. Choose based on how much control you want at your fingertips!

Category 6: Connectivity – Staying Seamlessly Connected

Connectivity - Staying Seamlessly Connected

In the digital age, connectivity is critical, especially for earbuds. Let’s explore how each model fares in multi-point connection features, ecosystem compatibility, high-res codec support, and low latency modes for gaming.

  • AirPods 3: They excel in ecosystem compatibility, especially within the Apple universe, with seamless device switching. However, they lack proper multi-point connectivity. Their latency is excellent for gaming when used with an iPhone. They score a solid 8 for their specialized but impressive connectivity within their ecosystem.
  • SoundPEATS Air4: These earbuds stand out with Apex lossless codec support, offering high-res audio experiences. They lack multi-point connectivity but excel in low latency for gaming, making them an excellent choice for audiophiles and gamers alike. They earn a 9 for their high-res support and gaming performance.
  • Edifier W320TN: Featuring LDAC codec for high-quality audio and low latency modes suitable for gaming, these earbuds score a 10. They offer a balanced connectivity experience for high-quality music listening and gaming.
  • Nothing Ear Stick: While they don’t offer multi-point connectivity, their low latency gaming mode is commendable. However, the absence of high-res codec support slightly limits their appeal to audiophiles. They score an 8 for their overall balanced connectivity features.
  • JBL Live Flex & Galaxy Buds Live: Both models offer decent connectivity options with low-latency gaming modes. The Galaxy Buds Live works exceptionally well within the Samsung ecosystem, similar to how AirPods 3 operate within Apple’s. Each scores an 8.5, with a slight edge to Galaxy Buds Live for their ecosystem integration.
  • Sony Link Buds: These earbuds lack multi-point connectivity but offer seamless switching between devices in their ecosystem. Their low latency mode is ideal for gaming, earning them an 8. They balance their connectivity features well, catering to casual listeners and gamers.

In conclusion, connectivity in earbuds goes beyond just pairing with your device. It encompasses how well they integrate into your digital ecosystem, their support for high-quality audio codecs, and their performance in latency-sensitive activities like gaming. Choose based on how and where you use your earbuds the most!

Category 7: App Customization and Extra Features – Tailoring Your Audio Experience

In this era of personalization, app features and customization play a pivotal role in enhancing your earbuds’ performance. Let’s delve into how each model fares in EQ customization, noise-canceling capabilities, and other unique app features, scoring them on reliability and customization options.

  • AirPods 3: The AirPods 3 shine with their spatial audio and accessibility options, including uploading an audiogram. They also boast the most advanced ‘Find My Buds’ feature. However, their EQ customization is limited to the settings available in the Apple ecosystem. Despite limited EQ customization, they score an 8 for their seamless integration and unique features.
  • SoundPEATS Air4: Their app offers EQ customization but is somewhat buggy. The noise canceling feature significantly alters sound quality, boosting bass more than canceling noise. They get a 6 due to the app’s limitations and basic noise-canceling capabilities.
  • Edifier W320TN: The app is slightly restrictive, With only EQ presets and no band customization. However, it offers a well-designed user interface and impressive noise canceling for an earbud without an in-ear tip. Despite limited EQ options, they score an 8.5 for intense noise canceling and user-friendly interface.
  • Nothing Ear Stick: They boast a clean interface and extensive customization, including advanced EQ with Q factors and band frequency adjustments. They also provide noise-canceling solid capabilities. These earbuds earn a 9.5 for their comprehensive customization options and effective noise canceling.
  • JBL Live Flex: These earbuds offer robust noise canceling, not as strong as Edifier W320TN but better than Galaxy Buds Live. Their app allows extensive EQ customization and a unique hearing test to tailor sound profiles. They score a 9 for their blend of customization and noise-canceling features.
  • Galaxy Buds Live: Working best within the Samsung ecosystem, they offer EQ presets, light noise canceling, and a ‘Find My Buds’ feature. They score an 8.5, balancing their app features well within the Samsung ecosystem.
  • Sony Link Buds: The app provides excellent band EQ customization and unique features like speak-to-chat and 360 audio. Their overall app reliability and customization score them an 8, offering a balanced feature set for customization and user experience.

The right app can transform your earbuds from simple audio devices to highly personalized audio accessories. Whether you prioritize noise canceling, EQ customization, or unique features like spatial audio or Find My Buds, each model offers something unique to enhance your listening experience.

Category 8: Call Quality – Clear Conversations, Anywhere

Call Quality - Clear Conversations, Anywhere

Call quality is crucial to any earbud experience, especially in noisy environments. Let’s analyze how each model performs in call quality, particularly in simulated city noise conditions, and compare their performances.

  • AirPods 3: Known for their superior call quality, the AirPods 3 handle city noise well, maintaining clear voice transmission. They use advanced microphone technology to filter out background noise effectively. They perform admirably in a bustling city environment, scoring 9 for their consistent clarity.
  • SoundPEATS Air4: These earbuds offer decent call quality. However, they struggle slightly with noise isolation in simulated city noise, leading to some background noise seepage. They get a score of 7 for their average performance in noisy conditions.
  • Edifier W320TN: With effective noise reduction capabilities, the Edifier W320TN’s call quality is impressive. They handle city noise well, ensuring your voice is heard clearly without too much background interference. They score an 8 for their solid performance.
  • Nothing Ear Stick: These earbuds excel in call quality, even in noisy environments. They use advanced noise reduction technology to keep your conversations clear. In a simulated city setting, they performed excellently, scoring 9.
  • JBL Live Flex: The JBL Live Flex earbuds offer good call quality, but they face some challenges with wind noise. They maintain decent voice clarity in city environments, scoring a 7.5 for their overall performance.
  • Galaxy Buds Live: These buds perform well in quiet environments but struggle in noisy city settings. The call quality tends to suffer with increased background noise, leading to a score of 6 in challenging conditions.
  • Sony Link Buds: Sony’s Link Buds deliver good call quality with a unique design that doesn’t compromise voice clarity. They perform well in city noise simulations, effectively balancing voice and background noise. They earned a score of 8 for their reliable performance.

While some earbuds excel in quiet environments, the test comes in noisy, urban settings. Each model offers varying levels of noise isolation and microphone quality, impacting how well your voice is transmitted during calls. Choose based on where you’ll be taking most of your calls!

Category 9: Volume – Cranking It Up Without Compromise

Volume - Cranking It Up Without Compromise

Volume levels and sound quality at high volumes are critical for a satisfying listening experience. Let’s evaluate how each model performs regarding loudness, sub-bass presence, and distortion control.

  • AirPods 3: Known for their balanced sound profile, the AirPods 3 maintains clarity even at high volumes. They offer a robust mid-bass punch without significant distortion, earning them a score of 10 for their excellent performance across all volume levels.
  • SoundPEATS Air4: These earbuds deliver impressive deep bass response, especially notable at higher volumes. However, there’s a slight distortion when the volume is maxed out, particularly in bass-heavy tracks. They score an 8 for their generally good performance, with a minor caveat at peak volume.
  • Edifier W320TN & Nothing Ear Stick: Both models retain sound quality at high volumes with minimal distortion. The Edifier W320TN offers an excellent balanced sound, while the Nothing Ear Stick leans towards a crisper treble with a decent sub-bass presence. Each scores a 9 for handling volume without sacrificing audio quality.
  • JBL Live Flex: These earbuds stand out for their sub-bass performance at high volumes, which is a rarity in the earbud market. They handle loud volumes well, but like many others, they’re not entirely free from distortion at the very top end. They earn a 9 for their impressive bass delivery at elevated volumes.
  • Galaxy Buds Live: While they are one of the louder earbuds in the lineup, they face issues with bass performance at higher volumes. The bass tends to cut out at about 70% volume on bass-heavy tracks. This inconsistency leads to a score of 6.
  • Sony Link Buds: The Link Buds offer a consistent audio experience across volume levels but lack a bit in sub-bass performance. They maintain clarity without distortion, earning an 8 for their reliable but not bass-heavy output.

While some earbuds excel in maintaining clarity and bass performance at high volumes, others struggle with distortion or bass loss. This category is crucial for those who like to listen loud and want their music to remain clear and distortion-free, regardless of volume.

Category 10: Sound Quality – The Ultimate Auditory Experience

Sound Quality - The Ultimate Auditory Experience

Sound quality is arguably the most crucial aspect of any earbud. Let’s dive into an in-depth review of each model, assessing their overall sound performance.

  • AirPods 3: These earbuds are a benchmark in sound quality. They offer a well-balanced audio profile with crisp highs, clear mids, and a decent bass presence. The AirPods 3 delivers a consistent and versatile sound suitable for various genres. They earned a top score of 10 for their exceptional sound quality.
  • SoundPEATS Air4: The SoundPEATS Air4 impresses with its deep bass response. However, they slightly lag in treble and mid-clarity compared to the best in this category. They score 7, a solid choice for bass lovers but not the best for a balanced audio experience.
  • Edifier W320TN: These earbuds offer strong performance and balance across different frequencies. They deliver clear mids, detailed highs, and a substantial bass. Their sound is on par with some of the best, earning them an 8.
  • Nothing Ear Stick: The Nothing Ear Stick stands out for its crisp treble and substantial sub-bass. They provide a slightly more V-shaped sound signature, which is excellent for contemporary music genres. Their engaging sound profile earns them a 9.
  • JBL Live Flex: If sub-bass is what you’re after, the JBL Live Flex might be your pick. They offer the most sub-bass presence in this lineup, though at the cost of slightly recessed mids. They score a 9 for bass enthusiasts but may not suit all tastes.
  • Galaxy Buds Live: The Buds Live delivers a well-rounded sound with crisp treble and a complete bass response. Their overall sound is quite pleasing and well-balanced, earning them an 8. They offer an excellent soundstage but could use more detail in the middle.
  • Sony Link Buds: The Sony Link Buds offer a decent sound quality with great treble and mids. However, they lack a bit in bass response compared to others. They are suitable for a wide range of music genres but might not satisfy those looking for a deep bass experience, scoring an 8.

The sound quality varies significantly across these models, with some excelling in bass response and others delivering a balanced and detailed sound across all frequencies. Your choice should align with your music preferences and what you value most in your listening experience.

Conclusion – The Final Verdict & Personalized Scoring

After a thorough analysis across ten crucial categories, here’s how each earbud stacks up in terms of total scores:

  1. AirPods 3: Leading the pack with their well-rounded performance in almost every category.
  2. Nothing Ear Stick: A close second, excelling particularly in sound quality and app customization.
  3. Edifier W320TN & JBL Live Flex: Tied for third, each with unique sound quality and robustness strengths.
  4. Galaxy Buds Live & Sony Link Buds: Offering respectable performances with specific strengths in connectivity and comfort.
  5. SoundPEATS Air4: A decent option, especially for those who prioritize bass response.

Remember, what works for one might not work for another. Your perfect earbuds are the ones that align with your lifestyle, preferences, and priorities.