Best Apple AirPods alternatives: Smart earbuds to try out instead

There's so much more to truly wireless life
Apple AirPods alternatives

Newsflash; Apple's AirPods are not the only truly wireless earbuds out there. That might come as a surprise to lovers of all things Apple and yes, for those who don't want to stick those toothbrush head-looking Pods into your ears, you do have options.

Those options are also smarter too and while still veer on the pricey side, will offer more features for your money. They'll still do those all important things as well like letting you listen to music wire-free or take calls hands-free.

Read this: The best hearables

We've tested a bunch of other smart earbuds and picked out our favourites that you might consider trying out instead of Apple's ones. Whether it's a better fit, fitness tracking, or augmenting audio, there's should be something for everyone here.

Best for fit - Bragi Dash Pro

Apple AirPods alternatives:

Re-upping its original hearable solution, Bragi has brought a Pro edge to its Dash buds. And this isn't just a lick of paint — it bumps up battery life to five hours, debuts real-time translation, tracks exercise automatically and even offers a 4D menu that allows you to use head gestures to navigate menus.

If you want to really jump to the next level, you can also get the Dash Pro tailored by Starkey, which will see you head to an audiologist and get a custom fit — perfect for those who have a hard time finding a solution for their ears. Its fitness smarts, which include heart rate monitoring and swim tracking may not have been completely faultless during our testing, but this is still an impressive and deeply impressive pair of buds.

Feature check: Five hours battery life, real-time translation, exercise tracking, Android/iOS compatible

Wareable verdict: Bragi Dash Pro

$329 (Tailored $499), bragi.com | Amazon

Best for sound quality

Here One

Apple AirPods alternatives:

If you're not so much about the fitness features or fit and instead want premium sound quality, look no further than Doppler Labs' first widely available hearable, the Here One earbuds.

Building on the Here Active Listening, the Here One adds music streaming, layered listening and Siri/Google Now controls to the initial features of noise filtering, cancelling and augmenting. Battery life is a bit of a concern here, but you can always charge things up on the go with the One's case.

Feature check: Augmented audio, two hour battery life, Android/iOS compatible

Essential reading: Apple AirPods v Here One

$289, hereplus.me | Amazon

Nuheara IQ

Apple AirPods alternatives:

Another solution for those craving optimal wireless sound is the Nuheara IQ - a crowdfunding success story, which raised ten times its initial target before shipping in January 2017. Much like the Here One earbuds, the IQ focuses on altering how you hear the world around you. Also involved is noise cancelling and the ability to mix your own balance between your music and the surrounding world.

During our experience, we enjoyed the sound options, audio blending and range of presets, but the music controls and battery life leave room to improve. Crucially, it offers better battery life than the Here One, which may convince you to go for these over its sleeker compatriots.

Feature check: Four hours battery life, augmented audio, Android/iOS compatible

Wareable verdict: Nuheara IQbuds review

$299, nuheara.com | Amazon

Best for fitness - Jabra Elite Sport

Apple AirPods alternatives:

Audio quality and fit are important, but the Jabra Elite Sport are on hand for those looking to take a pair of wireless earbuds out with them during exercise.

On the tin, you've got it all here - real-time coaching, heart rate tracking and VO2 Max testing, plus sweat and waterproofing. However, there's also audio pass-through in order to let you pay attention to the world around you and switch between calls and music.

In testing, it's worth noting we found that the sports tracking, comfort and sound quality to be solid, though HR tracking had its inconsistent moments and hammers home that you need to get the right fit. Thankfully, Jabra has offered a revamped version to greatly improve one of our other gripes, battery life, and also added the ability to tune your sound with new equaliser profiles.

Feature check: Fitness tracking, real time coaching, heart rate monitoring, 4.5 hour battery life

Wareable verdict: Jabra Elite Sport review

$199.99, jabra.com | Amazon

Incoming...

Apple AirPods alternatives:

While much of the hearable market has been refreshed this year with new options from the big players, we're still keeping an eye on what's to come.

Dropping at the end of October are Samsung's second generation smart earbuds, the Gear IconX 2018, which bring the Korean company's smart assistant Bixby to the fore and a much improved battery life - five hours of streaming music over Bluetooth, seven hours of standalone use and up to four hours of talk time.

Even if you're rocking a non-Samsung Android smartphone in your pocket, the buds will tap into Google Assistant, but unfortunately there's no support for iOS users here.

We'll be testing the earbuds soon, so stay tuned for how we get on with Samsung's second effort.


Shop for recommended smart earbuds on Amazon

Bragi The Dash Pro
Bragi The Dash Pro
$299.90
Apple AirPods
Apple AirPods
$159
Jabra Elite Sport
Jabra Elite Sport
$149.99
Samsung Gear IconX (2018)
Samsung Gear IconX (2018)
$149.99

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