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 230 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 Anker Soundcore Life Dot 2 Truly Wireless are the best earbuds under $50 that we've tested. While these in-ears have over seven hours of continuous playback time, their carrying case holds roughly 12.5 additional charges, which exceeds most other truly wireless headphones on the market. They can also passively block out a good amount of ambient noise like office chatter.
These decently comfortable headphones are well-built and rated IPX5 for water resistance, although we don't currently test for it. Thanks to their stability fins and assortment of differently-sized ear tips, they shouldn't fall out of your ears once you get the right fit. Their bass-heavy sound profile adds a bit of punch, thump, and boom to your mixes. They also have very little leakage, so you crank your music up without worrying about others around you hearing it.
Unfortunately, they don't have a companion app or EQs to help adjust their sound to your liking. Their mic also struggles to separate your voice from ambient noise around you, so whoever's on the other end of the line may have difficulties understanding you if you're talking from a busy street. That said, these in-ears have long continuous battery life and plenty of additional charges to help keep you going throughout your day.
If you're looking for even more wallet-friendly headphones, consider the Skullcandy Dime True Wireless. While they aren't as comfortable as the Anker Soundcore Life Dot 2 Truly Wireless, and their total battery life is significantly shorter, the Skullcandy can be found at a lower price point. These headphones have a more neutral sound profile than the Anker, which some users may prefer. Although they're still a little warm and boomy, their sound is suitable for a variety of audio content. They also have a stable fit, feel well-built, and are rated IPX4 for water resistance, though we don't currently test for this. Unfortunately, their continuous battery life falls under four hours, which may not be enough to get you through a long day at the office. Luckily, their carrying case holds roughly 2.5 additional charges if you need it.
Check out the Anker if you prioritize a better overall battery performance from your earbuds. However, if you're looking for something even more cost-effective and don't mind their simple, no-frills design, it's worth considering the Skullcandy.
The Beats Flex Wireless are the best earbuds under $50 for working out that we've tested. These colorful in-ears have a neck cable design that's flexible and lightweight. They also have a comfortable and stable fit, so once you achieve a good seal, they should stay put in your ears.
These headphones have a bass-heavy sound profile that adds boom, punch, and thump to your mixes, which can help keep you pumped up at the gym. The mid-range is well-balanced, so vocals and lead instruments are present and clear, although a little veiled. They also have roughly 11 hours of continuous playback time, which should last through long days at the gym. Thanks to their W1 chip, you can seamlessly pair them with devices in your Apple ecosystem too.
Although we don't currently test for it, they lack an IP rating for water resistance. However, it's up to the manufacturer to test the headphones by an independent, certified company, and some manufacturers opt-out of this step. Their integrated mic also has a disappointing noise handling performance so your voice gets drowned out by moderate background noise. That said, if you prefer a neck-cable design to keep your headphones handy at the gym, they're a solid choice.
The Samsung AKG Type-C are the best wired earbuds under $50 that we've tested. These in-ears are for devices with a USB-C port, like newer smartphones or computers. Thanks to this connection, they have very low latency, which makes them suitable for streaming video. They're also comfortable and come with three differently-sized ear tips to help you achieve the best fit.
They have a slightly bass-heavy sound profile that packs a bit of extra boom into your mixes. Their mid-range is still very neutral, so vocals and lead instruments are reproduced clearly and accurately. If you tend to take calls using your headphones, their in-line mic has a good recording quality, ensuring that you're heard clearly. They have a well-built design too and have in-line controls, making it easy to quickly play or pause your audio as well as answer or end calls.
Unfortunately, they don't have an EQ or presets, so you can't adjust their sound to your liking. While they're passably stable, they could fall out of your ears during more intense physical activity. That said, if you don't mind their simple design, these headphones offer a balanced sound profile and a comfortable fit. They're also among the best USB-C headphones that we've tested.
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 Samsung AKG Type-C, and they don't block out as much background noise, but the TIN 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, and they can passively block out a bit more background noise. Although they lack low bass, they have a fairly neutral mid-range, so voices and lead instruments are clear and present.
If you listen to a very wide variety of genres and content and want headphones with a better-balanced sound profile, get the Samsung, but if you're rough on your earbuds and want something more durable, go for the TIN.
Jul 19, 2021: Replaced the FIIL T1X True Wireless with the Anker Soundcore Life Dot 2 Truly Wireless as the FIIL aren't currently available. Also added the Beats Flex Wireless as the 'Best Earbuds Under $50 For Working Out' as they offer value to most users.
May 21, 2021: Replaced the ENACFIRE E60 Truly Wireless with the Skullcandy DIme True Wireless as the ENACFIRE have been upgraded and we don't currently know how this variant performs in comparison to our model. We have also replaced the Beats urBeats3 Earphones with the Samsung AKG Type-C as the Beats aren't currently available.
Mar 24, 2021: Replaced the Anker SoundBuds Curve Upgraded 2019 with the FIIL T1X Wireless as the Anker aren't widely available. Added the Anker Soundcore Life Dot 2 Truly Wireless as 'Best for Noise Isolation'. Removed the Creative Outlier Air V2 Truly Wireless as they're now priced above our $50 price point.
Jan 27, 2021: Removed the AUKEY Latitude Wireless as 'Better-Isolating Alt' due to changing availability. Replaced the FIIL T1X True Wireless with the Creative Outlier Air V2 as 'Best Truly Wireless Under $50' as their graphic EQ adds more sound customization options. Added the FIIL T1X to Notable Mentions.
Nov 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.
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.