By Lauren Dragan
This post was done in partnership with The Wirecutter, a buyer's guide to the best technology. When readers choose to buy The Wirecutter's independently chosen editorial picks, it may earn affiliate commissions that support its work. Read the full article here.
After extensive research and over two dozen hours of testing by our expert panelists, we think the Anker Soundbuds Sport IE20 are the best Bluetooth in-ear headphones available under $50. Though they aren't perfect, if you're looking for something ultra-affordable that gets the job done, the IE20 are the best of the options available. They sound decent for the price, fit most people, handle phone calls remarkably well, and are inexpensive enough that it's possible to ignore their flaws. Additionally, with Anker's 30-day return-for-any-reason policy and 18-month warranty, if you find they aren't for you, you won't be stuck with buyer's remorse.
Who should get this
I occasionally get emails from people who tell me that they aren't too picky about sound quality; they just want headphones that work well enough, don't cost much, and can take a phone call without sounding terrible. These are the headphones for those folks.
Keep in mind that at this price range, the vast majority of the money you spend goes into making them wireless (e.g., Bluetooth tech, batteries). This means the costs are cut in other areas: the drivers (i.e., the sound), the build, and the extra features. In all of these aspects, you definitely get what you pay for. None of the headphones we tested were a slam dunk in all facets of our testing.
How we picked
The vast majority of the under-$50 options haven't been professionally reviewed. For some reason, most pro reviewers consider "budget" $70 to $100. Much as we did in preparing our cheap-earbud guide, we were pretty much left to rely on Amazon reviews and our own testing. Of course, we always look at Amazon reviews with a skeptical eye, to suss out what's genuine and which smack of paid reviewing. In this category that skepticism proved to be especially important. We also shied away from brands that had no consumer support and sell directly through Amazon, because if anything goes wrong, you have nobody to contact for warranty assistance. That left us with 11 headphones we thought looked promising.
After the delightful process of charging and pairing all of the contenders, our expert panel listened to each and evaluated them on fit, sound quality, ease of use, comfort, and overall appearance. Based on their experiences, each panelist chose their top three. We then took price into consideration, and from there selected an overall pick.