Unless you’re one of the few early birds, chances are, you won’t be plugging Apple’s new and odd AirPods into your ears come Christmas time. You can still try your luck and make a goose chase when the earbuds hit stores next week, but you might also have better luck turning your gaze somewhere else. While the AirPods do have a distinct advantage when it comes to the iPhone 7, they’re hardly the only game in town. And, depending on your actual needs, they might not even be the best. If you’re still looking for a good pair of wireless buds for your ears, here’s a shortlist for your holiday wish list.
Erato Apollo 7
While dual, totally wireless earbuds have been around even before Apple revealed the AirPods, the idea really only became mainstream thanks to those. Naturally, now every wireless earbud that comes out will be compared to the AirPods, and some of them might actually outdo Apple’s standard pair. the Erato Apollo 7, just one of the company’s three earbuds, is touted to be the biggest rival to the AirPods. Less obnoxious-looking, the Apollo 7 comes in a lightweight and sweatproof package that belies its ability to output quality audio. The downsides? Only three ours of continuous playback and a price tag that is twice as much as the AirPods.
Still on the pricey side, we come to the Onkyo W800BT, which bills itself as the True Wireless headphones. And it might have basis for that boast, if audio quality is your only measure. The W800BT is noted to produce clear open sounds, though lacking in weight. While it’s design is not as outlandish as the AirPods, it’s still nothing you can simply pop into your ear mindlessly. And the carrying case, which also doubles as a charging cradle, isn’t exactly the most compact around. Still, if you’re aiming for a balance of sound and minimalist features, the Onkyo W800BT is a good bet.
If, on the other hand, you want the bells and whistles and then some, the Bragi Dash offers all that at practically the same price. Its biggest pull is its own internal storage, so you can leave your phone at home when you go out for a run, and head movement controls, which may look more awkward than they sound. It’s biggest disadvantage is its price.
Jabra Elite Sport
Jabra is one of the more popular brands when it comes to fitness-oriented audio accessories, so when you see the Jabra Elite Sport, you know what to expect. With an IP67 rating, you immediately know this was meant to be taken out and get wet. But don’t use it under the pool too long. It companion mobile app does more than just keep track of your movement and heart rate, it also recommends training programs for you as well.
Samsung Gear IconX
Samsung’s surprise accessory this year combines the Dash’s independence from smartphones and the Elite Sport’s fascination with health. Although it does so to a lesser degree, it also comes with a matching lower price tag. While the Gear IconX naturally functions best when paired with a Samsung smartphone, its most basic functionality is compatible with any smartphone. Despite the name, these earbuds don’t support aptX and audio quality is passable at best.
If you are looking for a no frills, no nonsense pair with good performance, the Earin M-1 might be a more interesting proposition. Simple and lightweight, the M-1 trades fancy features for better bass delivered by two dedicated amps. While a bit above the price of an AirPod, the M-1 promises better quality than what Apple’s little white hooks can deliver.
Strapped for cash even for AirPods, the SmartOmi “Boots” aims to still give you a bang for buck experience, despite the suspicious price. Of course, you do get what you pay for, though, in this case, it’s not exactly terrible. Plus, the buds are sweat and water proof, so they can be used for runs as well. While it does offer one-touch Siri and Google Now activation, there might be a bit of lag there.
Bang & Olufsen Beoplay H5
OK, these are not “true” wireless earbuds, but when you’re really looking for some quality audio equipment that won’t burden your head, Bang & Olufsen is the name to beat. The Beoplay H5 look good and sound great. Thanks to the magnets on the back of the buds and the braided design of the cord, it also makes for a somewhat inconspicuous fashion accessory when not in use.