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12 best budget wireless headphones 2021: top cheap wireless headphones - no cables required

12 best budget wireless headphones 2021: top cheap wireless headphones - no cables required
(Image credit: Anker)

Our guide to the best budget wireless headphones proves you really don’t need to splash a load of money to get a set of great-sounding, sharp-looking headphones. Right now, you can pick up a great pair of cheap wireless headphones from some of the biggest names in the business including Sony, Apple, Beats, Jabra and AKG. 

While there are a few cheap wireless headphones out there which don't cut the mustard, you won't find them here – as we've picked out a range that won’t kill your enjoyment with crap audio. After all, we don't all have a bank account the size of Dave Grohl’s, so when we find a cracking set of budget wireless headphones, we like to shout about it. 

Yes, some of them cut corners in terms of features and design to keep the prices rock bottom (or close to), but others punch well above their weight and deliver remarkable audio. We've even thrown in some buying advice to make some of the decisions a little easier.

And don't forget that most of the best phones for music now come without a headphone port (cheers, Apple), so you’ll probably need some wireless cans to go with your phone anyway. With that in mind, here are our picks for the top budget wireless headphones you can buy right now.

Best budget wireless headphones: Product guide

12 best budget wireless headphones 2021: Anker Soundcore Life Q20

(Image credit: Anker)

1. Anker Soundcore Life Q20

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

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

Astonishing value for money
Active noise cancelling
Long battery life
Design is a little on the cheap side

Making quite a noise for themselves in the budget wireless headphone area, Soundcore offers active noise cancelling at a seriously low price that few audio brands can match. Impressively, its flagship Anker Soundcore Life Q20 cans are high-res audio enabled too. That's unreal considering how cheap these wireless headphones are.

40mm drivers boast an extended frequency response, and there’s proprietary BassUp technology for extra slam. They don't skimp on battery life either. In fact, it  rivals the best at 30 hours with Active Noise Cancellation engaged. Switch noise cancelling off and the Life Q20 jumps to 60 hours of listening time per charge. Even better, there’s a quick charge mode when you need to juice up and dash.

From a style perspective they’re clearly aiming to woo fans of the Sony WH-1000XM3, and at a quarter of the price the spec sure looks tempting too. Tribute band or the real deal? You decide, but these are the best budget wireless headphones you'll find right now.

Read our Anker Soundcore Life Q20 review

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

(Image credit: Sennheiser)

2. Sennheiser HD 350BT Wireless Headphones

The best value Sennheiser headphones you can buy right now

Launch price: $99/£89 | 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. 

The Sennheiser HD 350BT's battery life is impressive too, with around 30 hours per full charge - there’s USB-C fast charging when you get low on juice. The over-the-ear design is comfortable for sure, but there’s definitely been some skimping on the headband padding. Performance wise, the 350BT’s are smooth and measured, which is surprising considering how cheap they are. 

Unsurprisingly, there’s no noise cancelling on these budget wireless headphones, but there’s no option for wired 3.5mm connectivity either. Hmm. 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.

Read our Sennheiser HD 350BT review

12 best budget wireless headphones 2021: Cambridge Audio Melomania 1 Plus

(Image credit: Cambridge Audio)

3. Cambridge Audio Melomania 1 Plus

Don't miss these sonically superior cheap wireless earbuds

Launch price: $140/£120 | Features: High performance audio mode, customisable EQ control, rapid USB-C charging | Battery Life: 7-9 hours

Great value
Top performance
Snug fitting
No noise cancelling

Cambridge Audio weren’t messing around when they upgraded their popular Melomania 1 model – packing the Plus version with more than enough audio goodness to keep users grinning.

True, they don’t feature any noice cancelling tech, but don’t write these earbuds off too quickly. You’ll get a tasty seven hours of charge when using the Melomania Plus’ High Performance Audio mode and another couple of hours on top of that without. You can even fine tune the settlings through the Cambridge Audio Melomania app, and that includes EQ levels, firmware updates, battery checks and more.

The Melomania 1 Plus' audio is wonderful with High Performance Audio mode and is definitely the way to go if you pick up a set. The audio filling your head is spacious without trickling away into the ether and the bass is top drawer – just the right amount for rock and metal.

They might look a little like earplugs, but that's a very minor quibble for what you’re getting out of the box and the Cambridge Audio Melomania 1 Plus come highly recommended.

Read our Cambridge Audio Melomania 1 Plus review

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

(Image credit: Jabra)

4. Jabra Moves Style Edition

If your style is lightweight and low cost, nab these cheap wireless cans

Launch price: $99/£49 | 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 affordable wireless over-ears, the Move Style Edition, are featherweights at 150g. They also come in three different colours (black, grey and blue-ish), and certainly look more expensive than their budget price. 

Battery life is good enough at 14 hours, and quite a step up on Jabra’s first generation Moves, which died after eight hours. The Jabra Moves Style Edition will recharge in just two hours. If you do run flat, a 3.5mm stereo jack means you can wire them up (provided you still rock a device with a headphone port) 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 the Jabra Moves Style Edition either. The earcups sport physical buttons for the features you’ll need. A misnomer perhaps, but all things considered, we can live with that considering how cheap these are.

Best budget wireless headphones and cheap wireless headphones: JBL Tune600BTNC

(Image credit: JBL)

5. JBL Tune 600BTNC

A fantastic noise-cancelling option for smaller budgets

Launch price: $99/£69 | 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 in this list 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 perfect for listening on the go (and shoving in your bag in between use) 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 the JBL Tune600BTNCs are the best budget wireless headphones for you.

Best budget wireless headphones and best cheap wireless earphones: Apple Airpods

(Image credit: Apple)

6. Apple AirPods

The best budget wireless headphones for Apple fans

Launch price: $199/£199 | Features: Bluetooth, Siri voice control, fast charging | Battery Life: 5 hours

Fuss free always-on connection
Lightweight and comfortable
Short battery life
Playback controls are limited

There’s no getting around it: Apple AirPods are the world’s most iconic earbuds, so pretty much everyone and your nan will either own a pair or be thinking about getting some. Depending on the time of year, you can often nab them for a little cheaper than the regular price too, thanks to the best AirPods deals.

Apple AirPods are incredibly simple to set up and use, and they’re always connected, so you literally take them out of the case, stick ’em in your ears and they’re ready to rock. If someone starts speaking to you, take one of the AirPods out of your ear and the music automatically pauses. Slick.

Admittedly, the battery life isn’t great compared to some other budget wireless headphones in this list, and the sound is bettered by the AKGs and Cambridge Audio Melomania 1’s, but there’s plenty else to like here. For example, they’re lightweight in the ear and fast to charge - just 15 minutes’ charge gives you three hours of listening. (If you want the best Apple audio tech (including ace noise-cancelling) and hang the cost, check out our AirPods Pro review.)

The built-in microphones are responsive and will pick up your voice loud and clear if you’re using your AirPods to make and take voice calls. The music playback control is fiddly - you need to use Siri voice command to skip or replay tracks - but of course you can also sort that via your phone. 

Read our Apple AirPods review

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

(Image credit: AKG)

7. AKG Y50BT

One of the best budget wireless headphones under £100

Launch price: $97/£99 | 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 anywhere as good. Why? Because losing the wires often reduces audio quality.

Thankfully there are no such worries here, though: the AKG Y50BT Wireless 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. So you won't be getting Corey Taylor's back up anytime soon when pumping out Nero Forte on these.

Throw in a lightweight and incredibly portable design, plus decent looks and excellent comfort for longer listening sessions, and these are undoubtedly among the best budget wireless headphones to buy now.

Read our AKG Y50BT headphones review

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

(Image credit: Skull Candy)

8. Skullcandy Smokin' Buds 2

Moronic name, but these cheap wireless headphones work well

Launch price: $40/£40 | 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 the bargain Skullcandy Smokin' Buds 2 in-ears are some of the best budget wireless headphones for anyone with less than £35 to spend. A fairly hefty neckband helps to keep them in place while you wear them, but you can quickly ditch it 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: Beats by Dre Beats X Wireless Headphones

(Image credit: Beats by Dre)

9. Beats by Dre Beats X

The best budget wireless headphones for no-fuss, easy pairing

Launch price: $59/£79 | 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 traveling 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 nicely.

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

(Image credit: Sennheiser)

10. Sennheiser CX Sport

The best budget wireless headphones for exercise

Launch price: $130/£120 | 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 time gets you a whole hour of music listening.

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)

11. Soundmagic E11BT Wireless

These budget wireless neckband earbuds are an AOR choice

Launch price: $59/£69 | 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 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)

12. Jaybird X3 Bluetooth Wireless Headphones

The best budget wireless headphones for custom sound

Launch price: $129/£109 | 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

Man listens to music on red wireless headphones sat on a brown leather sofa

(Image credit: Getty/Richard Drury)

How to spot the best budget wireless headphones from the duds

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.

How good are the best budget wireless headphones, really?

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.

Woman listens to music through a pair of Apple AirPods

(Image credit: Apple)

How much do good budget wireless earbuds cost?

By now we’ve hopefully made one thing clear: you don’t need to drop huge amounts of cash to get a decent pair of wireless headphones. That said, budget wireless earbuds cost more than other types of cheap wireless cans simply because they’re more desirable and easier to wear. 

You can blame AirPods for this, as folks have become obsessed with stuffing tiny buds into their ears instead of rocking bigger, over-ears. Wireless earbuds are also getting better all the time in terms of performance and features, so they’re genuinely starting to offer richer, more nuanced sound. That said, don’t expect them to out-gun the world’s loudest headphones in terms of sheer volume muscle - that would be like Ed Sheeran setting up next to Manowar and expecting to be heard over that racket. Never gonna happen, mate.

So, how much do good budget wireless earbuds cost? The Cambridge Audio Melomania 1, featured above, are priced £99/$99, which is reasonable for the high levels of tech stuffed into them. The entry-level AirPods cost £159/$159, putting them at the top-end of the budget wireless earbuds bracket, but you can get much cheaper ones. For example, the Lypertek SoundFree 20s have generally positive reviews and cost around £69.99, while the JLab Audio JBuds Air ANC True Wireless Earbuds cost a staggeringly low £49.99/$42.45.

There are other budget brands out there too, namely EarFun and EnacFire, which sell budget wireless earbuds for around £25/$56, but don’t go expecting sound and performance anywhere near the top picks in our guide here. But then if you’re paying such low prices, what do you expect?

Where to find the best cheap headphone prices