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The 11 best budget wireless headphones 2021: ditch the cable with these ace cheap wireless headphones

The 11 best budget wireless headphones 2021: ditch the cable with these ace cheap wireless headphones
(Image credit: Anker)

Remember those dark days when we were tied to our music listening device of choice by cables attached to a flimsy set of headphones? While you can still get a cracking set of wired headphones for music, the wireless variety is the top choice if you want complete freedom when tuned into your favourite sounds. And if your bank account won't stretch to a premium pair, this guide to the best budget wireless headphones should help you bag a great pair for way less.

The options in this guide may cut a corner or two when it comes to features and design in an effort to keep the cost down, but that certainly doesn’t mean you won’t get great sound for your money - and great sound really should be your number one priority. In fact, some of the budget wireless ‘phones here really do have the audio capacity to go toe-to-toe with the very best on the planet.

The majority of the best phones for music now come without a headphone port, so if you’ve recently upgraded, or you’re planning a new phone in the near-future, then take a look at our top picks below. Your next mammoth AC/DC listening sesh will never sound better.

We've also taken the liberty of compiling some useful buying advice to help make your decision that little bit easier. Just hit the button above to go straight there, or keep scrolling to check out our top picks.

Best budget wireless headphones: Product guide

Best budget wireless headphones: Anker Soundcore Life Q20

(Image credit: Anker)

1. Anker Soundcore Life Q20

Over-ear wireless headphones with noise cancelling for… how much?!

Price: £52/$59 | Features: Bluetooth, Noise cancelling | Battery Life: 30 hours

Astonishing value for money
Active noise cancelling
Long battery life
Just a ‘w’ away from ignominy

Making quite a noise for themselves in the budget wireless headphone area, Soundcore offers active noise cancelling at a price few can match. 

Impressively, its flagship Life Q20 cans are high-res audio enabled too. 40mm drivers boast an extended frequency response, and there’s proprietary BassUp technology for extra slam.

Battery life rivals the best, at 30 hours with ANC engaged. Switch noise cancelling off, and this jumps to 60 hours. There’s a quick charge mode when you need to dash.

Clearly style-wise they’re aiming to woo Sony WH-1000XM3 buyers, and at a quarter of the price the spec looks tempting too. Tribute band or the real deal? You decide.

Best budget wireless headphones and best cheap wireless earphones: Sennheiser HD 350BT wireless headphones

(Image credit: Sennheiser)

2. Sennheiser HD 350BT wireless headphones

The best value Sennheiser headphones you can buy right now

Price: £89/$99 | Features: Bluetooth, Voice Assistant support | Battery Life: 30 hours

Grown-up sound quality
Impressive battery life
No 3.5mm jack
The fit is a bit try-before-you-buy

These cut-price Sennheiser over-ear headphones aren’t just big on value, they’re feature-rich too.

The Bluetooth implementation is leading edge, at 5.0 with support for AAC, AptX and AptX low latency codecs (the latter giving better sync when watching videos on your smartphone), and there’s a dedicated Voice Assistant button for use with Siri or Google. 

Battery life is impressive too at 30 hours, there’s USB-C fast charging when you get low.

The over-the-ear design is comfortable, but there’s been some skimping on the headband padding. Performance wise, the 350BT’s are smooth and measured. 

Unsurprisingly, there’s no noise cancelling, but there’s no option for wired 3.5mm connectivity either. This means you won’t be able to use them with onboard in-flight entertainment systems, but then if you’re not planning to fly anytime soon, that won’t be an issue.

Best budget wireless headphones and best cheap wireless earphones: Cambridge Audio Melomania 1

(Image credit: Cambridge Audio)

3. Cambridge Audio Melomania 1

Sonically superior wireless earbuds look like bullets for your valentine

Price: £99/$99 | Features: Bluetooth, voice assistant compatible | Battery Life: 9 hours

Superb battery life
IPX5 rating
Google Assistant and Siri compatible
No noise cancelling
A bit fiddly

Hi-Fi-tuned, these big value true wireless earbuds from audiophile maker Cambridge Audio are a no-brainer if you’re after sonic cred for remarkably little bread.

A high stamina nine hour battery will last most of the day, and they ship in a rechargeable case that will extend playtime by a whopping 36 hours. Build quality is excellent, and they come in a choice of Black or Stone finishes.

Running Bluetooth 5.0, there’s support for AAC and aptX, so stability and synchronicity is excellent. They deliver a convincing stereo soundstage courtesy of a pair of 5.8mm drivers, and while we’d hesitate to class them as sports buds (because they’re not), they do warrant an IPX5 rating for water and sweat resistance. Experiment with the foam or rubber tips to get the best fit.

Best budget wireless headphones and best cheap wireless earphones: AKG Y50BT

(Image credit: AKG)

4. AKG Y50BT

One of the best pairs of best budget wireless headphones you can buy under £100

Price: £80/$97 | Type: On-ear | Noise-cancelling: No | Battery life: 20hr | Connector: MicroUSB

Dynamic and punchy
Fun sound
Lightweight and portable
No noise-cancelling

We’ve been fans of the wired AKG Y50s since they were first introduced back in 2014, but there was no guarantee that a wireless version of these headphones would be as good. Why? Because losing the wires often reduces audio quality.

There are no rush worries here, though. The AKG Y50BTs sound just as good as the wired Y50s, which means they’re punchy, dynamic, detailed and downright fun to listen to. Whatever you chuck at them, from Soundgarden to Slipknot, sounds authentic and exciting, just as the artist would want.

Add a lightweight and very portable design, plus good looks and excellent comfort, and these are undoubtedly the best budget wireless headphones to buy.

Read our AKG Y50BT headphones review

Best budget wireless headphones and cheap wireless headphones: Skullcandy Smokin' Buds 2 Wireless

(Image credit: Skull Candy)

5. Skullcandy Smokin' Buds 2 Wireless

Moronic name, but these cheap wireless headphones work well

Price: £30/$36 | Type: In-ear (neckband) | Noise-cancelling: No | Battery life: 7hr | Connector: MicroUSB

Exceptionally affordable
Full, fun sound
Weak battery
Some wireless drop-out

Get past the cringeworthy name and these bargain-tastic in-ears are some of the best budget wireless headphones for anyone with less than £50 to spend. There’s a fairly hefty neckband that helps to keep them in place while you wear them, but it can be removed if you think it’s too chunky.

That leaves behind a fairly lightweight pair of earbuds tethered together by a thin cable that includes a remote and microphone. Sound quality is also good, particularly for the money, and while the battery life and wireless signal aren’t the best, you can’t have the moon on a stick when you’re only paying £30.

Best budget wireless headphones and cheap wireless headphones: Jabra Move Wireless

(Image credit: Jabra)

6. Jabra Moves Style Edition

If your style is light weight and low cost, you’re in luck…

Price: £49/$99 | Features: Bluetooth, 3.5mm stereo jack | Battery Life: 14 hours

Lightweight design
Decent battery life
Earcups a little plasticy

The latest iteration of Jabra’s oh-so affordable wireless over-ears, the Move Style Edition, are featherweights at 150g, and available in three colours (black, grey and blue-ish). They certainly look more expensive than their ticketed price. That’s our kind of style.

Battery life is good enough at 14 hours, and quite a step up on Jabra’s first generation Moves, which expired after eight, and they’ll recharge in just two. If you do run flat, a 3.5mm stereo jack means you can wire them up (provided you still rock a smartphone with a headphone jack) and keep on truckin’.  

They’ll also retain their charge for 12 days, helpful if you simply forget to plug them in.

There’s no fancy gesture controls required to operate them. The earcups sport physical buttons for the features you’ll need. A misnomer perhaps, but all things considered, we can live with that.

Best budget wireless headphones and cheap wireless headphones: JBL Tune600BTNC

(Image credit: JBL)

7. JBL Tune 600BTNC

Another noise-cancelling option if you think the Lindy’s look dull

Price: £69/$99 | Type: On-ear | Noise-cancelling: No | Battery life: 12hr (Bluetooth and noise-cancelling) | Connector: MicroUSB

Powerful, weighty sound
Decent noise-cancelling
Bass can be overpowering
Plastic scratches too easily

If you want a bit of budget noise-cancelling but the Lindys above look a bit boring for your tastes, you can’t go far wrong with the JBL Tune600BTNCs. The plastic ear cups get scuffed up quite easily, but the compact design is very portable and there are a number of colours to choose from.

Comfort levels are high, the 12-hour battery is more than good enough for most scenarios, and the noise-cancelling is decent for the money. The weighty, bassy delivery is a real draw for many people, although for others it might be a little overpowering. Like a big bottom end? Then these JBLs are the best budget wireless headphones for you.

Best budget wireless headphones and cheap wireless headphones: Beats by Dre Beats X Wireless Headphones

(Image credit: Beats by Dre)

8. Beats by Dre Beats X

The best budget wireless headphones for no-fuss easy pairing

Price: £79/$59 | Type: In-ear | Noise-cancelling: No | Battery life: 8hr (Bluetooth) | Connector: MicroUSB

Fast charging feature
Easy to pair with your phone
Durable – fine to throw in your bag
Voice call function isn't the best

Beats Powerbeats Pro are a cracking pair of true wireless earbuds, but if you don't have the budget for those premium wireless earphones, give the Beats X a whirl instead. They offer eight hours battery life and, thanks to an Apple W1 chip, they offer a fast charge function too. 

Basically, the Fast Fuel charge fives you up to two hours playback from only a five-minute mega charge. That's ace if you're travelling to work and have forgotten to charge your headphones overnight. 

While we found the Siri-enabled RemoteTalk function to be a little hit and miss, the sound is decent considering the Beats X falls into the cheap wireless headphones price category quite neatly.

Best budget wireless headphones and cheap wireless headphones: Sennheiser CX Sport

(Image credit: Sennheiser)

9. Sennheiser CX Sport

The best budget wireless headphones for exercise

Price: £79/$129 | Type: In-ear | Noise-cancelling: No | Battery life: 6hr | Connector: MicroUSB

Punchy, powerful sound
Sturdy fit
Great for exercise
Short battery life

If you’re after a pair of cheap wireless headphones to soundtrack your runs or gym workouts, the Sennheiser CX Sports are the way to go. Those rather garishly-coloured fins do a great job of keeping the buds comfortably nestled in your ears, regardless of how, er, enthusiastically you throw yourself into your workout.

The cable between the two earphones runs around the back of the neck and includes a control unit and mic, as well as the six-hour battery. That might not be great longevity, but at least charging them up is quick - 10mins of juice-up time gets you a whole hour of music.

Audio is weighty, solid and punchy, which is perfect for delivering that extra bit of musical motivation when you need it the most.

Best budget wireless headphones and cheap wireless headphones: SoundMagic E11BT

(Image credit: Soundmagic)

10. Soundmagic E11BT

These neckband earbuds are an AOR choice

Price: £69/$59 | Features: magnetic clasp, IPX4 rating | Battery Life: 20 hours

Excellent battery life
Practical flat neckband
IPX4 shower-proof rating
Generic design

Compact they may be, and a little bit AOR in design, but these low profile buds are a cut above the budget wireless headphone crowd. Their largely aluminium housing inspires confidence, and the flat neckband is an easy win.  

They’re also shower-proof IPX4 certified, which makes them a good choice for your daily jog… to the pub.

The E11BT buds magnetise so you can blithely wear them around your neck when supping that pint, and a simple in-line remote offers handy volume and track control; they’re not as fiddly to use as true wireless alternatives.

Wireless connectivity is Bluetooth 5.0. There’s no aptX support – but then we wouldn’t really expect it given the price. Obviously there’s no noise cancelling either, but get a good fit (a trio of tips are provided) and you can be sure of reasonable isolation. 

Battery life is an impressive 20 hours. You’ll easily go a few days without needing to recharge. When you do, the in-line remote offers up a micro-USB port.

Best budget wireless headphones and cheap wireless headphones: JayBird X3

(Image credit: Jaybird)

11. Jaybird X3 Bluetooth Wireless Headphones

The best budget wireless headphones for custom sound

Price: £109/$129 | Type: In-ear | Noise-cancelling: No | Battery life: 8hr (+6hr from case) | Connector: MicroUSB

Good Bluetooth reliability
Secure and comfortable fit
Can be used as running headphones
Noise isolation isn't the strongest

The final addition to our best budget wireless headphones round-up comes from Jaybird in the form of its X3 Bluetooth earphones, with wrap-around neck band and flexible ear hooks to help the actual buds stay lodged in your ears.

The noise isolation (there to minimise background chatter) is just ok – check out our pick of the top noise-cancelling headphones if that's your main goal for buying headphones – but the eight hours battery life per charge is decent. 

The most unique feature about these cheap wireless earphones is customisable sound: dive into the Jaybird MySound app (iOS, Android) and you can customise your sound settings and save the presets. 

Best budget wireless headphones: Buying advice

Best wireless headphones

(Image credit: Getty/Richard Drury)

You may assume that a limited budget means limited options when it comes to the best budget wireless headphones, but £80/$100 will get you a decent pair of cheap wireless headphones: from sizable on-ear noise-cancellers, through to in-ear run-friendly headphones. In fact, you can now even buy some of the best true wireless earbuds at this price.

There's so much choice now that it’s easy to become crippled by the options available to you. The trick when it comes to choosing is to think about when and where you’ll be doing most of your listening. If your enjoyment of Tool is severely hampered by the inane ramblings of the tools you call ‘colleagues’, definitely consider a pair of budget noise-cancelling headphones.

If a mess of cables is holding you back during a run or workout, then a pair of cheap wireless headphones that are fitness-specific (ie, sweat- and water-resistant, with a stay-put shape) will be just the ticket.

Getting the right fit for your earholes matters too, particularly when it comes to in-ear headphones. Our ears come in all shapes and sizes, and failing to ensure your chosen headphones fit yours correctly could mean they fall out, or worse still they simply won’t sound good.

When selecting from among the best budget wireless headphones, make sure to consider the battery life being offered and which version of Bluetooth is being used. The later the version - we’ve now moved up to 5.0 - the more battery-friendly and potentially better sounding it is. AptX Bluetooth, meanwhile, is specifically for audio and suggests that sound quality has been prioritised – at least to an extent.

Are the best budget wireless headphones any good?

In a nutshell, yes. Of course, cheap wireless headphones do need to cut some corners in order to get the overall price down to a palatable figure, but many of them are still very impressive in terms of sound, features and performance.

The overall quality of the best budget wireless headphones here means you will get far more joy out of listening to your music, podcasts or audiobooks when you're on the go. We've deliberately chosen cans that sound good when playing most genres of music, but especially rock and metal – hey, what can we say? We love rock and metal!

Overall, don't think that because these cheap wireless headphones may cost way less than the premium wireless cans they must sound way worse, because that's simply not true. We love the versatility of the Beats by Dre Beats X, and use them for commuting, working out and blasting tunes at home, while the AKG Y50BT will blow you away with such impressively detailed sound.

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