The price gap between most wired and wireless stylistic brands of earbuds is huge. It’s a fact you can’t dismiss. So you’re not alone on this query. So why are these wireless earbuds so expensive?
Isn’t the omission of the wires supposed to save manufacturers money? Perhaps you’ve reasoned in that line of thought. I’ve asked myself such a question too.
But wait, there’s more to producing Bluetooth earbuds than just removing connecting wires. In this post, I’ll unpack the reasons from an angle to address this question.
While I admit that Bluetooth earbuds are so expensive these days, there are also very cheap ones in the market. Yes, you read it right – very cheap. You’ll find out in a moment.
Let’s first start with the reasons.
Reasons Why Bluetooth Earbuds Are So Expensive
Manufacturers of Bluetooth earbuds are compelled to raise their budget in order to produce more high-quality earbuds as demand for them rises as people have more and higher expectations. Those expectations cause well-known companies, like Apple, Sony, Samsung, and Bose, to command high prices for their earbuds as they satisfy customer requirements.
In a sense, these famous companies also sell their brand names with their products. However, you can get Bluetooth earbuds from other brands that are very cheap.
Although cheap, the earbuds from these unpopular brands can equally give you the comfort and standard features you need at a lower price.
Most Famous Brands Sell Fashion
People who like to keep up with the lifestyles of certain brands buy not only Bluetooth earbuds but also purchase the fashion dictated by the company.
For example, Apple is not only a technology company but primarily a fashion company. So once you’re plugged into their ecosystem, you will likely buy their Airpod to keep the lifestyle.
As a result, demand from people rises as more features are needed to keep the ecosystem of their products. The company will have no choice but to make the product expensive.
This is similar to other famous companies, especially Samsung. Therefore, the fashion attached to their product influences the price of Bluetooth earbuds.
Advanced Features of Bluetooth Earbuds
This is obvious, right? All Bluetooth earbuds are not made equal. The more juice you can get from the earbuds, the higher their price.
Most advanced Bluetooth earbuds nowadays come with sophisticated technologies ensuring comfortability and amazing functionality. As a result, people use Bluetooth earbuds for different reasons.
For example, some people would like to have earbuds in their ears while working out, multitasking, swimming, and even showering. To meet these customer needs, manufacturers have to incorporate several advanced features.
You’ll find advanced features like noise control, water resistance, quality materials, volume control, and device compatibility flexibilities. Unfortunately, all these functionalities require a raise in companies’ budgets, translating into Bluetooth earbuds’ prices.
You can’t expect earbuds with standard features to be priced equally as advanced ones optimized to meet other needs. Do you get it now?
Ok, ok, ok, now I get the reasons why most famous brands of Bluetooth earbuds are so expensive. But are they really worth it?
I’m glad you asked. Let’s take it a step further.
Are Bluetooth Earbuds Worth It Right Now?
Yes! Bluetooth earbuds have advanced in technology to provide comfort, improved sound quality, multiple connectivities, and multitasking functionalities that wired earbuds lack. Bluetooth earbuds’ mic, sound quality, and design used to be a concern of its worthiness a few yes back, but modern versions have improved a lot.
Hence, the worth of Bluetooth earbuds against their wired counterparts depends on your need. For example, suppose you prefer the comfort of wireless earbuds during exercise, unrestricted mobility at the workplace, longer distance connection than wired could afford, and smart control features. In that case, they are worth the buck you pay.
However, if you’re a fan of wires and not bothered by their inconvenience, then Bluetooth earbuds may not be worth your buck. Besides, you don’t have to worry about charging batteries and latency issues with some wireless earbuds.
With that said, Bluetooth earbuds still offer tons of value depending on the flexibility you get. To clearly reiterate both sides of the coin, Bluetooth earbuds are worth it:
- If you prefer the latest technology that matches your needs
- Because they are more comfortable during work out and doing exercise, especially if you’re into fitness and travel.
- If you want the flexibility of connecting to several devices, such as smartphones, stereo speakers, television, gaming console, computer, and other electronic devices, without a wire or cable. Imagine standing close to your wide smart TV only to connect your wired earbud. Funny, right?
- Because you get a better range of motion and flexible connectivity to various devices; you can use both earbuds or just one by itself to answer or cancel phone calls.
- Because you don’t have to worry about tension in wire and tear.
- If you need resistance to sweat and water due to your mobility usage.
- If you multitask a lot, for example, they let you be on a call, listen to a podcast, or watch a movie without disturbing your roommates as you go for coffee.
- If you need the function of passive and active noise cancellations as well as antibacterial protection that removes the worry of infections for long time use.
With all the above said, Bluetooth earbuds may not be worth it for you:
- When sound quality is not as good as a similarly priced set of wired ones.
- If charging them is a great deal for your consistent use.
- If you’re intolerant to Bluetooth pairing issues, in some cases
- If you experience delay caused by transmission and reception
While the Bluetooth earbuds may not be worth it due to the downsides above, various brand manufacturers are working around the clock to improve the technology.
Those factors, too, account for why they’re expensive. So let’s see how those features contribute to their expensiveness.
What Makes Good Quality Bluetooth Earbuds Expensive?
Sound quality, call quality, audio-codec support, battery life, and Bluetooth range are the primary driving factors for expensive Bluetooth earbuds, besides other secondary functionalities. Therefore, manufacturers invest many resources to ensure a fine cut of advancement to meet consumer satisfaction.
When it comes to good quality Bluetooth earbuds, you can’t afford to pay high for cheap features. Instead, you need to ensure the whole package is worth every buck.
Bluetooth Audio Codec
The relevance of Bluetooth earbuds rests on the audio codecs that they support. Therefore, the audio codec determines the audio quality you’ll get. The common codecs you’ll find are SBC, AAC, aptX, aptX HD, aptX LL, LDAC, LC3, and Samsung Scalable Codec.
SBC is the most basic codec with the poorest quality audio, supported almost by all earbuds. So if the Bluetooth earbuds support only SBC, don’t buy them if it’s expensive.
You’re likely to spend more on Bluetooth earbuds that support aptX HD, aptX LL, LDAC, LC3, and Samsung Scalable codecs because they provide the best audio quality experience.
In addition, you’re less likely to experience latency issues, especially if you’re using the earbuds for gaming or watching movies on PCs or TVs.
Audio Technology (Noise Control)
Bluetooth earbuds with sophisticated audio technology such as active noise cancellation, noise cancellation for voice calls, and sound isolation features are likely to cost you more.
With these features, you can minimize the noise of a child crying, the screeching sound of car tires, or an engine running to enjoy your music.
In case you want to hear what someone is saying something, you can also mute your music with a button press and hear the earbuds without removing them. This gives you great comfort, especially when you’re working out and talking with someone else.
However, this technology consumes power, so you don’t want to use the noise-canceling feature for long hours.
Bluetooth earbuds with simple controls are mostly cheap. However, others furnished with call, media, noise, voice, volume, and advanced controls will likely cost you extra bucks.
Most stylistic earbuds that enable you to increase volume, skip or pause a track, answer phone calls or issue voice commands at the tap of control pads are expensive. Some even have sensors that stop music when you remove it from your ears.
However, with cheap Bluetooth earbuds, you mostly do those controls on your phone or whatever transmitter you’re using, which means that the device has to be close to you at all times.
What people sometimes ignore when buying Bluetooth earbuds is the volume levels. If you prefer the immersive experience with Bluetooth earbuds when playing music, then you should check it.
Not all Bluetooth earbuds are made equal. While some earbuds need to be increased to their maximum for the immersive experience, others may give you an equivalent effect at 50% or below that volume level.
This is also dependent on the kind of codecs that the earbuds support. You may want to test a couple of samples at a shop before settling for one.
The lifespan of Bluetooth earbuds depends on the robustness of the charging case. Charging cases that are air-tight, have solid fringes, and are resistant to sweat and water are more expensive than simple designs.
In addition, some can absorb shock on hitting hard surfaces, which helps protect the earbuds. Hence, you can’t expect these features to be loaded into cheap Bluetooth earbuds, especially for those with stylistic lighting and wireless charging.
Robust charging cases are less likely to encounter issues of one Bluetooth earbud not charging.
How far the batteries of Bluetooth earbuds and their charging case can take you is a major factor in their cost.
Most manufacturers provide information on hours of listening and talk times with a single charge of Bluetooth earbuds, which is very important to note. The higher the hours, the better the battery system. They’re usually between 2-6 hours.
However, some batteries last shorter than they sometimes state. So when you see 15-30 hours of listening or talk time, you should know that it’s with the charging case.
Some Bluetooth earbuds come with silicone ear-tips or ear cushions in various sizes. Having these in the package could be an added value for the amount you’re purchasing it.
Well-designed ear tips that form a good seal for your ear canal provide good sound and prevent external noise interruptions with the music. However, when you close it, some cannot fit into the charging case.
There you have it! A combination of several of the above features mostly accounts for why Bluetooth earbuds are expensive. The below expounds more on from another perspective.
But does it mean most cheap Bluetooth earbuds lack them? Not exactly!
Are Cheap Bluetooth Earbuds Any Good?
Most cheap Bluetooth earbuds provide the comfort and standard functionality of wireless earbuds that any expensive ones offer, except that they may not compare for advanced features. In addition, they are as safe as expensive ones and usually give you good value for money with reasonable features for normal use.
Cheap may be relative if you consider the brand. The cheapest Bluetooth earbud of any brand is as good as its expensive ones in most cases since the core of their technology is basically the same.
The expensive versions only have a couple of functionality added, with a slight improvement in the core technology here and there.
For example, the cheapest and most expensive Apple Airpods you can get are around $94.99 and $249, respectively. They all have the latest iOS that support iPhone and iPod touch, iPad, Apple Watch, Mac, and Apple TV models.
In addition, they have almost the same compatibility range for Apple devices except for differences in secondary functionality.
This is similar across most brands. Therefore, the cheapness of such Bluetooth earbuds model doesn’t make it any worse.
However, cheap Bluetooth earbuds across brands differ in their core technologies. So while some famous brands may connote better technology, they don’t necessarily deliver the primary functions of th earbuds any better than other brands.
So you can get cheap Bluetooth earbuds that can serve you well on the standard functionality but only with a few stylistic advanced features. Those luxurious features don’t take away the cheap Bluetooth deliverability, though.
Isn’t there a tradeoff with Bluetooth earbuds safety when it’s cheap? I guess you’ll ask that.
Hmm….let’s look at that.
Are Cheap Bluetooth Earbuds Safe?
Bluetooth earbuds are considered safe regardless of whether they’re cheap or expensive because they emit low levels of non-ionizing radiation. According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), low amounts of this radiation are innocuous to people. In their own words, routine exposure to non-ionizing radiation “has not been shown to cause any harm to people.”
Like the expensive Bluetooth earbuds, the cheap ones only receive radio waves that involve minute energy unlikely to cause a mutagenic effect, according to known scientific consensus.
Let’s dive into it a bit further.
Any safety issues regarding cheap Bluetooth earbuds can be looked at in two ways: evidence-based and science-based analysis. It’s actually for Bluetooth earbuds in general.
Evidence-based Safety Studies
Evidence-based studies that have been done so far haven’t established any correlation between Bluetooth earbuds’ radiation and any health issue like brain cancer. Something could come up as more studies are conducted, though.
Science-based Safety Analysis
On the science-based side, no plausible mechanism could cause radiation from Bluetooth earbuds, even the cheap ones, to ionize an electron and corrupt a DNA to cause a health hazard.
The reason is that any electromagnetic wave lower than ultraviolet (UV) doesn’t have enough energy to ionize electrons in your body. And guess what – the radiation from Bluetooth earbuds has lower energy than UV, which cannot cause so much stress to cells to initiate any hazard.
Just as visible light, which also has less energy than UV, doesn’t cause any health hazards, radiation from Bluetooth earbuds wouldn’t. Like we’ll be walking in darkness all day long…..lol.
You should rather worry more about using Bluetooth earbuds for long hours. You can experience irritation for lack of ventilation if the earbuds are not designed for long-hour comfort use.
Below are what other experts say about Bluetooth-based earbuds’ safety.
Keeping Bluetooth earbuds on all day could be harmful, even for expensive ones.
What Are The Best Cheap Bluetooth Earbuds?
Among the popular brands of Bluetooth earbuds, the cheapest you can get is Skullcandy, which costs around $16.66, followed by JBL, costing around $30. However, there are other cheap options for unpopular brands below $20.
Below are the cheapest options for each brand, depending on your budget and preference.
If you wish to enjoy all the top-notch features of Apple Airpod technology at a lesser price, then the 2nd generation Airpod certified by Geek Squad will be your best bet.
It provides all the quality features described above except for the ear-tip at $94.99. In addition, you get four months of free Apple Music on top of it with 90 days manufacturer’s warranty.
The offer saves you about $30, and you don’t miss any stylistic features of voice commands and controls for working out or multitasking at the office.
Bose Bluetooth Earbuds
The Bose sport earbuds fit anyone who needs earbuds curated for workouts and running. If you’re someone who sweats a lot while exercising, these earbuds are bulletproof.
It cost $115, a bit more expensive than the cheapest Airpod, but it comes with different size ear-tips to give you the correct sound quality. It’s compatible with iOS and Android with a Bluetooth range of 9 m.
It gives you long-range mobility comfort, besides tap controls for play, pause, answer calls, and volume controls, as well as noise cancellation.
Samsung Bluetooth Earbuds
If you only care about quality, then the Samsung galaxy buds 2019, true wireless earbuds, offer good value for your money. It costs $59.96 and comes with a charging case.
It is compatible with iOS and Android devices and offers a wider range of sound with substantial bass. Whatever the ambient conditions you may experience, these buds have ambient-aware technology that lets you hear traffic, flight announcements, and coworkers calling out to you.
Any office worker or sports enthusiast will find it a gamer changer.
Sony Bluetooth Earbuds
A cheap and quality brand doesn’t usually go together. However, the Sony true wireless Bluetooth earbuds defy that notion at a price of $49.99 with loads of stylistic features.
If Bluetooth earbuds fall from your ears when you’re running or working out, they solve that with over-ear grips. It also compatible with iOS and Android devices with several control features.
If you sweat a lot, you don’t have to worry about it because it’s splashproof.
Google Bluetooth Earbuds
Google is everywhere. The Google pixel buds A-series is one of the stylistic earbuds you can get at a good price of $49.99. Moreover, it comes with three months of YouTube Premium and Google One 100GB.
You don’t have to worry about compatibility with iOS and Android devices. Besides, it has adaptive sound technology, which modulates volume as you move between quiet and noisy environments.
JBL Bluetooth Earbuds
With $37.23, you can get the JBL free X true wireless earbuds with three ear-tip and two gel sleeve sizes to give you the comfort of listening to music.
Its simplistic design allows you to enjoy its automatic mono call mode for a natural call experience while working out or running.
Beats Bluetooth Earbuds
If you’re an Apple user who wants other quality Bluetooth earbuds with similar Apple Airpods perks, then the Beats by Dr. Dre studio earbuds with active noise cancellation should serve you well.
It supports iOS and Android devices but comes with four months of free Apple Music for Apple users. Besides the immersive experience the earbuds offer, it’s water and sweat resistant, and has controls with a tap and voice command prompt with Siri.
All these go for $69.99 with 90 days warranty, far lower than the cheapest Airpod.
Jabra Bluetooth Earbuds
Jabra offers one of the secure fit earbuds that are comfortable to use at fitness sessions indoors and outdoors. With regards to price, the Jabra Elite Active 65t earbuds are one of its cheapest true wireless earbuds at $39.99.
The earbuds are Apple and Android compatible and boast a personalized sound setting system.
Skullcandy Bluetooth Earbuds
Among the popular earbuds brands, Skullcandy Jib true wireless earbuds are the cheapest in the market. Despite its cheapness ($16.64), it has comparable iconic features.
It is sweat and water-resistant, making it suitable for exercising, and has controls for calls, track, and volume. In addition, it comes with three-sized ear gels for good sound.
Other Bluetooth Earbuds under $20
Several other options for cheap Bluetooth earbuds are in the system. You can find a lot based on your preference. Some cheap options with at least Bluetooth 5.0 are JLab Go air true wireless Bluetooth earbuds, TOZO A3 Bluetooth earbuds, Hikapa X9 wireless earbuds, and BD&M earbuds.
Most of them are water and sweat resistant, costing around $15. You can even get Roeric wireless earbuds IPX8 for $10 if you so desire.
The below video also provides interesting perspectives on some nice cheap Bluetooth earbuds.
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Bluetooth earbuds of most iconic brands are so expensive due to two main factors, as explained above:
- Most are first fashionists, before technology
- Higher demands for advanced features
While those famous brands are expensive, several under-budget options exist that you can choose from. You’ll be surprised to find unpopular brand options comparable to most iconic brands.
Do you have other opinions on why Bluetooth earbuds are so expensive? Kindly share in the comment, and I’ll be glad to connect with you.