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030721 Best Wireless Earbuds Under $100

5 Best Wireless Earbuds Under $100

profileJoel Koh

About five years ago, Apple Inc (NASDAQ: AAPL) effectively killed the smartphone headphone jack when it announced that the iPhone 7 would come without it.

Although they were not the first company to drop the headphone (Oppo were the first ones so with the Oppo Finder in 2012), many in the smartphone industry followed blindly after Apple’s decision.

Undoubtedly, I would say that this decision is very business-driven, as companies like Apple can earn even more profits from selling dongles or wireless earphones.

As without the headphone jack, we are now we are largely forced to rely on smartphone dongles or wireless earbuds or headphones for our audio needs.

For example, if you are looking to get wireless earbuds from Apple, prepare to fork out at least $239 (recommended retail price) for a pair of Apple AirPods.

For context, that’s 68 plates of $3.50 chicken rice.

Source: mila0506 | Flickr

Although the AirPods have their merits, I think that $239 is pretty steep for a pair of earbuds for most.

So if you are like me and want to save some money so you can have more delicious chicken rice, you will be glad to know that I spent countless hours researching to put together this list.

NOT that I was looking for the most value for money wireless earbuds to buy.

Okay… I was.

But, you all also stand to benefit from this what.

Without further ado, here are five of the best Apple AirPod alternatives under $100 for you to consider!


TL;DR: 5 Best Budget Wireless Earbuds Under $100

Bluetooth EarbudPriceBluetoothBluetooth CodecBattery Life (Manufacturer Estimate)
QCY T8$25.905.0AAC | SBC~3.5 hours without case
~17.5 hours with the case
Mpow M12$39.955.0AAC | SBC~5 hours without case
~25 hours with the case
Tronsmart Onyx Ace$495.0aptX | AAC~5 hours without case
~24 hours with the case
Edifier TWS200 Plus$71.095.2aptX Adaptive | aptX | AAC | SBC~6 hours without case
~24 hours with the case
SoundPEATS H1$99.99
with store voucher
5.2aptX Adaptive | aptX | AAC | SBC~10 hours without case
~40 hours with the case

Do note that prices are subject to change without prior notice. Information accurate as of 3 July 2021.


Criteria for Choosing Wireless Earbuds and These Apple AirPod Alternatives

Before we begin, here are my criteria for choosing the earbuds on this list.

  • Bluetooth 5.0 and Above: Wireless Bluetooth with at least Bluetooth 5.0 and above as these earbuds generally have higher bandwidth, longer range and lower battery use compared to the earbuds with the older Bluetooth 4.2 technology.
  • USB-C Charging Support: In the future, almost all our devices will use USB-C which means you can eventually enjoy the convenience of bringing just one charger to charge all your devices. Getting a pair of wireless earbuds with Micro-USB will just set you back.
  • Warranty Support: Earbuds on this list have local warranty or at least international warranty support which will give you peace of mind in the event that you have some problem with your earbuds.

Also, here is an infographic to help you understand (Ingress Protection) IP ratings.

Source: Hilclare Lighting

With that out of the way let’s get started.

P.S. if you are reading this on Saturday (3 July 2021), please wait for the 7.7 sales Shopee and Lazada that start on Wednesday (7 July 2021) for offers, promo codes and discounts.

1. QCY T8 TWS Bluetooth Earphones ($25.90)

First up we have the most affordable option on this list, the QCY T8 Bluetooth earphones in white.

Source: QCY | Lazada

Here are its specs.

QCY T8 TWS Specs

  • Battery Life (Manufacturer Rated):
    Up to 3.5 hours of music without the case
    Up to 17.5 hours with the case
  • Battery Charging Time (0% to 100%): 1.5 hours
  • Bluetooth: Bluetooth 5.0
  • Bluetooth Codec Support: AAC and SBC
  • Charging Port: USB-C
  • Earphone Driver: 13mm dynamic driver
  • IP Rating (Water and Dust Resistance): IPX4 waterproof (protected against splashing water)
  • Low Latency Mode: Yes (110ms)
  • Warranty: One-year international warranty
  • Wireless Charging Support: No

This new model from QCY comes with a semi-in-ear design so you can expect that it will not be too good at isolating noise.

But on balance, these Bluetooth earbuds will be more comfortable — especially if you find those earbuds with in-ear designs uncomfortable.

Source: GearBest

As for the design, the earphones look like the Apple AirPods but with a twist.

The earbud’s design has more squarish corners and a golden ring which sets it apart from the Apple Airpods.

In addition, the QCY T8 comes with Bluetooth 5.1, has IPX4 splash resistance and supports modern USB-C charging.

There’s even a QCY application where you can customise the sound using an equaliser as well as change up the control functions and display the battery life.

But at this price point, you will have to compromise a little as battery life is not the best. Also, you only get support for AAC codec and SBC codec which is not the best due to its lower maximum data transfer rates.

Source: The Sound Guys

According to Headphonesty:

Bitrate is the measure of the rate at which data is transferred from one point to another. It is measured in bits per second (bps), kilobits per second (kbps), or megabits per second (Mbps).
We also use bitrate to describe the fidelity of audio files. An MP3 file that was compressed at 320kbps, will have a much better dynamic range and sound quality to one compressed at 128kbps.
With higher bitrate, audio files with higher bit depth and sample rate can be sent wirelessly, thus increasing the quality of the audio. However, this means an increase in bandwidth used for transmission.

So in general, the higher the bitrate the better.

Where to Buy

Lazada

2. Mpow M12 Wireless Bluetooth Earbuds ($39.95)

Next up we have the Mpow M12 Bluetooth earbuds in black.

Source: Shopee

Here are its specs.

Mpow M12 Specs

  • Battery Life (Manufacturer Rated):
    Up to 5 hours without the case
    Up to 25 hours with the case
  • Battery Charging Time (0% to 100%):
    2 hours (wired)
    3 hours (wireless)
  • Bluetooth: Bluetooth 5.0
  • Bluetooth Codec Support: Qualcomm QCC3020 chip that supports AAC and SBC
  • Charging Port: USB-C
  • Earphone Driver: 6mm PU dynamic drivers
  • IP Rating (Water and Dust Resistance): IPX8 waterproof (heavy rain, heavy sweat and water resistance)
  • Low Latency Mode: No
  • Warranty: One-year local warranty from Gadget King Asia
  • Wireless Charging Support: Yes (Qi Wireless charger included)

If you are willing to spend a little more, you will get quite a bit with the M12.

For $39.95 you get support for Qi wireless charging which is a feature not seen at this price point.

In addition, you get helpful LED lights in the front that indicate how much battery is left.

Upgraded mono/twin modes enable the sound to be transmitted from your smartphone to the left and right earphones simultaneously, effectively reducing the sound delay, and allowing you to choose either one earbud (L/R) of M12 to talk and to listen to music.

Source: Mpow | Aliexpress

That’s not all.

The M12 is quite rugged as they boast an IPX8 waterproof rating. Mpow states that the earpieces can withstand heavy rain, sweat and can even be used in the shower.

Battery life is also quite decent as it lasts five hours without a case on a single charge which should be good enough for most people’s daily use and commutes.

But the Bluetooth earbuds are not perfect as the charging case is quite big and a bit heavy, measuring‎ 13W x 12H x 5D cm and weighing 73.71 Grams.

Also, the earbuds lack support for aptX codec which is slightly better in theory compared to the SBC or AAC codecs.

Where to Buy

Shopee

3. Tronsmart Onyx Ace ($49)

Next up we have the Tronsmart Onyx Ace that comes in black or white.

Source: Lazada

The Bluetooth earbuds feature a semi-in-ear design so you can expect that they will not be too good at isolating noise.

But on balance, these Bluetooth earbuds will be more comfortable — especially if you find those earphones with ear tips uncomfortable.

Here are its specs.

Tronsmart Onyx Ace Specs

  • Battery Life (Manufacturer Rated):
    Up to 5 hours (50% volume) without case
    Up to 25 hours (50% volume) with case
  • Battery Charging Time (0% to 100%): About 1.5 hours
  • Bluetooth: Bluetooth 5.0 with cVc 8.0 noise cancellation technology
  • Bluetooth Codec Support: Qualcomm QCC3020 chip that supports aptX and AAC
  • Charging Port: USB-C
  • Earphone Driver: 13mm dynamic
  • IP Rating (Water and Dust Resistance): IPX5 waterproof (protected against water jets)
  • Low Latency Mode: No
  • Warranty: One-month local warranty
  • Wireless Charging Support: No

For $49, you get support for the aptX Bluetooth codec which is slightly better than the AAC and AAC codecs.

Like the Mpow M12, you also get helpful LED lights in the front that indicate how much battery is left.

There’s even support for mono/stereo pairing.

That’s not all.

The Onyx Ace is relatively rugged as it boasts an IPX5 waterproof rating which is protected against water jets.

Battery life is also quite decent as it lasts five hours without a case on a single charge which should be good enough for most people’s daily use and commutes.

What sets the Onyx Ace apart from the first two Bluetooth earbuds is its superior call quality due to its stem design, quad mics and cVc 8.0 noise cancellation technology.

However, some reviewers noted that the touch controls on the Onyx Ace were not as sensitive as they would have liked.

But all in all, these earbuds are pretty good for the price.

Where to Buy

Lazada

4. Edifier TWS200 Plus ($71.09)

Next up we have the Edifier TWS200 Plus which come in Dark Grey and Ivory White.

Source: Inter Asia Technology

In my opinion, these are the best looking earbuds on this list.

Here are its specs.

EDIFIER TWS200 Plus Specs

  • Battery Life (Manufacturer Rated):
    Up to 6 hours without the case
    Up to 24 hours with the case
  • Battery Charging Time (0% to 100%):
    40 minutes fast charging
    A 15-minute charge will bring you 2 hours of use.
  • Bluetooth: Bluetooth 5.2 with cVc 8.0 noise cancellation technology
  • Bluetooth Codec Support: Qualcomm QCC3020 chip that supports aptX Adaptive, aptX, AAC and SBC
  • Charging Port: USB-C
  • Earphone Driver: 13mm LCP diaphragm
  • IP Rating (Water and Dust Resistance): IP54 dust (dust protected) and water resistance (protected against splashing water)
  • Low Latency Mode: Yes as aptX Adaptive decoding technology provides both a high-quality bitrate and low-latency transmission of audio.
  • Warranty: One-year International warranty
  • Wireless Charging Support: No

The TWS200 Plus feature a semi-in-ear design so you can expect that they will not be too good at isolating noise.

Battery life is great as well as the earbuds without the case can last for six hours. In addition, the earbuds can be juiced up pretty fast as a 15-minute charge will bring you two hours of use.

Also, the TWS200 Plus is slightly more rugged than the other earbuds on this list as it offers dust protection. However, water protection is not as good.

What sets the TWS200 Plus apart from the earbuds above is its support for aptX Adaptive, Qualcomm’s latest Bluetooth codec that will eventually replace aptX HD.

AptX adaptive also marries aptX HD and aptX Low Latency to deliver great sound quality and low latency (60 milliseconds) which is great when you are streaming video or gaming on your connected device.

And as the name suggests, the aptX Adaptive codec dynamically adapts to adjust the bitrate for optimal quality.

On the surface, aptX Adaptive’s comparatively lower 279kbps to 420kbps bitrates look disappointing compared to aptX HD’s 576kbps bit rate.

But, these numbers don’t tell the whole story as Qualcomm states that this codec is just more efficient than the previous version.

In addition, the TWS200 Plus supports Qualcomm mirroring technology:

With mirroring technology, only one earbud maintains the Bluetooth connection with the smartphone, while the secondary bud mirrors the connected bud. This technology is engineered to deliver a rapid, seamless swap in multiple use cases. If a consumer removes the connected earbud, the secondary earbud assumes the connection with zero interruption. Or if the connection between the smartphone and mirroring bud is stronger than the connected bud, the connection will invisibly swap to ensure the best possible connection.

This will ensure that your connection to your device stays strong.

The only downside I can think of are the earbuds high price and weak water resistance.

Where to Buy

AliExpress

5. SoundPEATS H1 ($99.99 With Voucher)

Last but not least we have the SoundPEATS H1 true wireless earbuds that come in black and grey.

Source: Soundpeats H1

Here are its specs.

Source: SoundPEATS | Lazada

SoundPEATS H1 Specs

  • Battery Life (Manufacturer Rated):
    Up to 10 hours without case (volume at 60%)
    Up to 40 hours with case (volume at 60%)
  • Battery Charging Time (0% to 100%):
    About 2 hours
  • Bluetooth: Bluetooth 5.2 with cVc 8.0 noise cancellation technology
  • Bluetooth Codec Support: Qualcomm QCC3040 Chip that supports aptX Adaptive, aptX, AAC and SBC
  • Charging Port: USB-C
  • Earphone Drivers:
    Knowles balanced armature + 8.6mm Dynamic driver
  • IP Rating (Water and Dust Resistance): IPX5 waterproof (protected against water jets)
  • Low Latency Mode: Yes as aptX Adaptive decoding technology provides both a high-quality bitrate and low-latency transmission of audio.
  • Warranty: One-year local warranty
  • Wireless Charging Support: Yes (Qi Wireless)

You would have noticed that in terms of specs, the SoundPEATS H1 is very similar to the Edifier TWS200 Plus.

There’s support for aptX Adaptive decoding technology which provides both a high bitrate and low-latency transmission of audio.

The H1 also supports Qualcomm mirroring technology as well.

But what sets the H1 apart from all the other Bluetooth earbuds is its sound quality.

The H1 actually has two drivers and features a hybrid setup.

A Knowles balanced armature driver takes care of the higher frequencies while the 8.6mm dynamic driver takes care of the lower frequencies.

This will allow you to enjoy HiFi audio with deep bass and rich details in the mids.

Not to mention its support for Qi wireless charging.

The only downsides to the H1 are its high price. Also, the charging case is rather big as well measuring 72W x 22.5H x 27D cm.

Where to Buy

Lazada

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About Joel Koh
History student turned writer at Seedly. Before you ask, not a teacher. I hope to help people make better financial decisions and not let money control them.
You can contribute your thoughts like Joel Koh here.

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