Apple Air Pods (from 179 euros) – the classics
The AirPods are everywhere – in the train or in the ears of sports superstars. The white earplugs are considered to be Apple’s most successful accessory ever. By the end of 2019, the brand of 100 million AirPods sold could fall – despite some weaknesses. Because the Apple Buds sound rather medium, offer no noise cancellation and many users like to fall out of their ears. But the wireless connection with the iPhone and other Apple devices works magically thanks to the special H1 chip – just lay next to each other, done! The microphones for making calls and for Siri commands are great. And despite the pens, which look a bit unfortunate, the AirPods are unbeatable as a fashion accessory. Supposedly appear at the end of October new “AirPods Pro” with noise cancellation, which should sit safely thanks to ear inserts. They are likely to cost around 300 euros with a wireless charging cradle.
Samsung Galaxy Buds (99 Euro) – the Cheapest
Compared to the minimalist AirPods, the Galaxy Buds look more like a too-large medical hearing aid. In the design Samsung does not shine, but the price. For 99 euros is already a box here, which can be charged wirelessly. For this Apple requires AirPods including 229 euros. And the Korea pods also have their advantages: They sit barely noticeable and light in the ear, the batteries last at least six hours (AirPods: five hours). And the noise insulation is better than Apple. When purchasing some Samsung devices, the Galaxy Buds are included for free. And that is a worthwhile addition, even if the thin sound and the built-in microphones can not quite convince.
Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless (250 Euro) – The Sound Kings
Brilliant audio quality “Made in Germany”, that’s what Sennheiser stands for. And the Lower Saxony do not disappoint with their earplugs. Clear, transparent highs, punchy basses, subtle gradations between voices and instruments – so tiny ear buds can hardly sound better. Who indulges in this noble sound, but must be angry about some details. When connecting and disconnecting from the smartphone, many users have problems. Here Sennheiser is far from the comfort of AirPods. This also applies to the batteries. Only four hours per charge, and only twelve hours including the electricity from the (very chic) loading box with fabric cover – here are the competitors much more conditioned.
Beats Powerbeats Pro (250 Euro) – the Temple AirPods
If the AirPods tumble out of their ears again and again – they find almost the same technology with Apple subsidiary Beats, but with a strap over their ears. This does not make the Powerbeats look as stylish as the AirPods. For that they are safe, especially in their main purpose, the sport. Apple’s H1 chip, the brilliant connection to iPhone & Co. as well as the Siri functions are identical to the AirPods. The sound is far from as bass-heavy as usual from Beats, but pleasantly clear and transparent. And because there’s more room for a rechargeable battery, the powerbeats last for an unrivaled nine hours. Disadvantages: The strap over the ears is indeed practical, but especially disturbs the wearer of glasses or hats. And the charging case is too big for the trouser pocket.
Sony WF-1000XM3 (250 euros) – the sound-insulated
The Sony’s win no beauty contest. They protrude almost as far out of ears as a Bluetooth headset for the office. But the electronics and the batteries need space. And that provides tangible benefits: The active noise cancellation works excellently. It filters out ambient noise very well, but does not completely isolate the wearer from its environment. The batteries last for six hours with noise reduction enabled. And if this filter is turned off, the juice is enough even for eight hours. And these eight hours are really enjoyable, thanks to excellent sound with breezy highs and deep bass, but never sounded dull.
Bang & Olufsen Beoplay E8 2.0 (from 275 Euro) – the Luxurious
From this secure fit in the ear dream AirPods owners. The Beoplay come with five different relatively rough ear fins, which anchor the pegs perfectly in each ear. And, as usual for the Danish Edel brand, the design is at least Apple-level. Leather, aluminum, stainless steel and woven fabric are used for the E8 and the loading bag – very chic! Touch pads on the plugs control the key features and change the noise rejection that B & O calls “transparency mode”. Who is addressed when listening to music, taps on the left ear piece and hears his environment again loud and clear. The sound is pleasantly clear. Only the Bluetooth connection to the smartphone sometimes causes trouble.
Libratone Track Air + (199 Euro) – the clever ones
An incomparably clever three-stage noise suppression is the highlight of the Danes earphones. If you like, set the strength of the insulation between 0 and a maximum of 30db yourself. Alternatively, there is a smart feature that automatically selects the level – and a level that lets environmental noise through well. This is important in road traffic. With three different ear pieces the libratones sit well. The triangular shape offers a lot of space for the touch operation – with which, however, the volume can not be changed unfortunately. But then the smartphone has to be taken out of the bag again. Also not ideal: The sound is alright, sounds with over-present mids but not brilliant. And with iOS devices, there is sometimes a slight shift between picture and sound.
Bose SoundSport Free (160 Euro) – the sports stars
For athletes, the Bose are the most tempting alternative to the Powerbeats. They are sweat and waterproof according to standard IPX4. And they sit securely in the ears with three different inserts called Bose StayHear +. Clever: Instead of controlling the volume with touch commands – or only via smartphone – two tiny buttons for loud and quiet are located at the bottom of the right ear piece. The sound convinces with clear highs and deep basses. And even if active noise cancellation is lacking, the silicone ear tips provide for undisturbed music enjoyment than with the AirPods. Weak point are the batteries. The five hours per charge of the earphones are ok. But the electricity from the charging box only provides an extra ten hours. For comparison: The AirPods come inclusive box on 24 hours.
Amazon, Microsoft, Google – the next generation
The next AirPods challengers are already on their premiere. The Amazon Echo Buds with Alexa voice control appear in the US on October 30 for $ 130, a Germany launch is still unclear. Despite the low price, noise cancellation with Bose technology is on board. Also this year in the US for $ 250 come the Microsoft Surface Earbuds, which master not only music but also real-time translation in 60 languages. And in early 2020, Google announced the $ 179 million Pixel Buds 2. They are to make forget the luckless predecessors who were still connected by cable.