If you take your headphones with you everywhere, you may find over-ears too large and bulky. In-ears and earbuds are a great alternative that are often very portable and can easily be tossed into a pocket or bag. While some of the most popular in-ears can be extremely expensive, you don't have to spend a ton to get a good pair for everyday use. Note that while typically the term 'in-ears' refers to headphones that go deeper in the ear canal, and 'earbuds' simply sit in your ear, these terms are often used interchangeably, so we'll include both in this article.
We’ve tested over 190 pairs of earbuds and in-ear headphones, and below are our recommendations for the best earbuds under $50 to buy. Make sure to check out our recommendations for the best earbuds, the best cheap earbuds, the best headphones under $50, and the best wireless Bluetooth earbuds under $50.
The best earbuds under $50 that we've tested are the Anker SoundBuds Curve Upgraded 2019. These Bluetooth in-ears feature an ear-hook design that makes them stable enough to take to the gym, and they're even rated IPX7 for water resistance, though this isn't something we currently test for. They have an excellent 18.5-hour battery life, so they should easily last you a couple of full workdays, and they're quite comfortable overall.
Their out-of-the-box sound profile has a bit of extra thump but should be versatile enough for most genres and content. Unfortunately, they feel a bit cheaply made, with a very thin cable connecting the left and right earbuds. However, this can be expected at their low price, and the earbuds themselves are made of dense and solid plastic. Since they don't have ANC, they won't help much with blocking out the low rumble of bus or train engines, but they do a good job with background chatter or the noise from an AC unit.
They even come with a nice hard case to take them around with you, which is a welcome addition at their low price point. Overall, they're among the best headphones we've tested, and they offer a great price-to-performance ratio, making them well-suited for a wide range of uses, from exercising to commuting.
If you want a pair of budget headphones that do a much better job at blocking out background noises, get the AUKEY Latitude. Their 7.3-hour battery life is much shorter than the Anker SoundBuds Curve Upgraded 2019, and they aren't quite as comfortable, but they have a better-balanced sound profile. Despite not having an ANC feature, they still do an impressive job at blocking out background noise and will even help isolate out the low rumble of bus or plane engines.
If battery life is very important to you, get the Anker, but if you want a pair of budget in-ears that will do an excellent job at blocking out background noise, go for the AUKEY.
The FIIL T1X are the best truly wireless earbuds under $50 that we've tested. These well-built in-ears have a comfortable and stable design, so you can even wear them to the gym. They have an over six-hour continuous battery life, and their portable charging case offers around three extra charges for when you're on-the-go.
Overall, they have a bass-heavy sound profile that delivers an extra thump and punch, pleasing fans of bass-heavy music genres like hip-hop and EDM. Listeners who prefer a different sound can find 15 EQ presets in the FIIL + companion app to help them customize their sound. They don't leak a lot of noise, either, so you can turn up the volume without annoying those around you.
Unfortunately, they don't support multi-device pairing, which can be inconvenient for listeners who frequently switch their audio source between their phone and their laptop. Also, their control scheme isn't the most intuitive, so it may take a few tries before you memorize their commands. However, if you're on a budget, these headphones offer a comfortable, customizable listening experience that can please many different listeners.
If you're looking for an even more affordable pair of truly wireless earbuds, consider the ENACFIRE E60 instead. While their sound profile isn't as neutral as the FIIL T1X True Wireless, and they don't have any sound customization features, they still offer a decently versatile performance at a lower price. They're comfortable and well-built, and they have a stable fit in your ear even though they don't come with stability fins. Their sound profile is a bit bass-heavy, but their underemphasized treble can make some songs sound a bit dark and veiled. Fortunately, they don't leak a lot of noise, and their portable charging case offers about five additional charges, which is nice.
If you want a customizable pair of truly wireless earbuds with a more balanced sound, check out the FIIL. However, if you're on a tight budget, consider the ENACFIRE instead.
The best wired earbuds under $50 that we've tested are the Beats urBeats3. These wired earbuds are decently well-built, with flat rubberized audio cables that feel like they’ll take quite a bit of abuse. They offer a unique perk in the form of an available Lightning port connector, so they’re a good pick if you own a newer iPhone but miss zero-latency audio connections. Optional stability fins and their lightweight design mean that they should stay in your ears, even during high-intensity workouts.
They deliver a slightly overemphasized bass response that’ll ensure a bit of added kick and thump in your favorite EDM or hip-hop tracks without completely crowding out more delicate instrumentation, so they’re suitable for everything from hip-hop to folk music. They do a decent job of passively blocking out ambient noise and provide very good audio leakage performance, meaning that they’re also a solid choice for listening on your daily commute.
Unfortunately, volume and voice assistant controls don’t seem to work on Android devices. Their deep in-ear fit also might not be comfortable for everyone. Still, the Beats are a good fit if you’re looking for a well-balanced, zero-latency listening experience in a portable package.
If you want a wired pair of earbuds that feel much more durable, get the TIN Audio T2. Their sound profile isn't as well-balanced as the Beats urBeats3 Earphones, and they don't block out as much background noise, but they feel much better built. Their earbuds can detach from their cable, so you can easily replace it if it becomes damaged, and they're built from dense metal that feels very durable and premium. They leak practically no audio at all, so you can blast your music without bothering those around you.
If you listen to a very wide variety of genres and content and want headphones with a better-balanced sound profile, get the Beats, but if you're rough on your earbuds and want something very durable, go for the TIN.
11/23/2020: Replaced the SoundPeats TrueFree/True Wireless with the ENACFIRE E60 Truly Wireless. Added the Anker Soundcore Life Dot 2 Truly Wireless and removed the Anker SoundCore Liberty Lite Truly Wireless from 'Notable Mentions'.
09/25/2020: Replaced TaoTronics SoundLiberty 79 Truly Wireless with FIIL T1X True Wireless. Added TaoTronics Sound Liberty 79 Truly Wireless to 'Notable Mentions'. Removed Samsung U Flex Wireless from 'Notable Mentions' to reflect pricing changes.
07/28/2020: Slight changes to the text for accuracy and clarity; no change in recommendations.
05/29/2020: Replaced Anker SoundCore Liberty Lite Truly Wireless with TaoTronics SoundLiberty 79 Truly Wireless. Added Anker SoundCore Liberty Lite Truly Wireless to 'Notable Mentions'.
03/31/2020: Changed "Best Truly Wireless Earbuds Under $50" to Anker SoundCore Liberty Lite and added SoundPeats TrueFree as 'Cheaper Alternative'.
Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best earbuds under $50 for most people to buy. We factor in the price (cheaper headphones win over pricier ones if the difference isn't worth it), feedback from our visitors, and availability (no headphones that are difficult to find or almost out of stock everywhere).
If you would like to choose for yourself, here's the list of all our reviews for in-ears and earbuds under $50. Be careful not to get caught up in the details, there are no perfect headphones and everyone perceives the comfort and sound of their headphones differently.