Affordable AirPods Alternatives That Could Be Better

Key Takeaways

  • Soundpeats Air4 earbuds provide an affordable alternative to Apple’s AirPods with a sleek matte finish and extras like aptX Lossless and multipoint Bluetooth.
  • While the sound quality may not be on par with higher-end headphones, the Air4 earbuds still offer solid audio performance for the price.
  • The inclusion of aptX Lossless allows for high-quality lossless audio over Bluetooth, though compatibility with this codec may be limited on certain devices.

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Budget earbuds are getting better all the time, and there are few better examples than Soundpeats earbuds. While the company keeps the prices low, new models usually introduce extra features or better sound. In the case of the Soundpeats Air4, the step forward is the inclusion of aptX Lossless.

In case you’re unfamiliar, Bluetooth audio is typically “lossy,” meaning you’re losing some of the song’s original audio content as it is compressed to fit across a Bluetooth connection. The aptX Lossless codec can provide up to 24-bit/96kHz lossless audio over Bluetooth.

As nice as it is, many phones can’t use the aptX Lossless codec, for various reasons. Is this codec the only trick the Soundpeats Air4 earbuds have up their sleeve, or is there more here to like?

Soundpeats Air4

Soundpeats Air4

The Soundpeats Air4 offer an affordable alternative to Apple’s AirPods with a sleek matte finish and extras like aptX Lossless and multipoint Bluetooth. The sound isn’t up to par with higher-end headphones, but they’re still a solid buy.

Battery Life
26 hours

Charging Case Included?



Audio codecs
SBC, AAC, aptX Lossless


Driver Size

Wireless Charging

Case battery

Black, White

Charging Port

Noise Cancellation
Hybrid ANC

Earbud weight

Charging case weight

Bluetooth profiles

Max playback time
6.5 hours

Charging time
2 hours


  • Good sound quality for the price
  • Simple design fits well
  • Multipoint Bluetooth is useful
  • Game Mode for lower latency
  • Soundpeats app features custom EQ
  • Matte finish looks impressive

  • No transparent mode
  • No wireless charging
  • Call quality isn’t great
  • Noise cancelation isn’t very effective

Price and Availability

Person holding an SOUNDPEATS Air4 aptX Lossless Wireless Earbud
Hannah Stryker / How-To Geek

The Soundpeats Air4 are evolved from the older Air3, as the name implies. Like the previous model, there are two color options: black or white. While the Air3 had silver accents on both the black and white models, with the Air4, the black model now has a copper accent in line with other Soundpeats models.

The Soundpeats Air4 sell for $79.99, though Soundpeats does begin to discount its earbuds after they have been on the market for a while, so they will likely drop over time.

Simple Design and a Basic Fit

The case of the SOUNDPEATS Air4 aptX Lossless Wireless Earbuds open with the light on
Hannah Stryker / How-To Geek

Like the previous Air3 earbuds, the Soundpeats Air4 have a relatively simple design, clearly modeled after the original Apple AirPods’ style. The buds just drop into your ears with no silicone tips to help them stay seated, with just the longer bottoms of the buds keeping them securely seated in your ear.

Instead of the glossy finish of the AirPods and most similarly styled designs, the Soundpeats Air4 earbuds use a matte finish. These looked stylish in person, especially with the black unit I tested for this review. Not only does the finish look nice, but it helps you keep a grip on both the earbuds and the case, which uses the same finish.

Getting back to the fit, the Air4 fit my ears just fine. Like the original AirPods, the Air4 never felt in danger of bouncing out of my ears. Even jogging down the stairs didn’t dislodge the earbuds.

Decent Sound, But You Need to Work For It

Alternate angle of the SOUNDPEATS Air4 aptX Lossless Wireless Earbuds laid on a wood desk
Hannah Stryker / How-To Geek

The Soundpeats Air4 earbuds use a 13mm driver in each ear, which is 1mm smaller than the driver in the Air3. Drivers have been shrinking in many popular in-ears over the years, usually without a corresponding drop in sound quality. The Air4 earbuds feature Bluetooth 5.3 connectivity, with multipoint to allow you to connect to multiple devices at the same time.

Soundpeats isn’t typically a company that skimps on Bluetooth codecs, and that remains the case here. Alongside the SBC and AAC codecs, the Air4 earbuds feature aptX Lossless for 24-bit/96kHz lossless audio. Unfortunately, this codec only works on certain devices, but as more devices support it in the future, having the compatibility is handy even if you can’t use it right away.

On The Band’s “Unfaithful Servant,” the entire sound was somewhat harsh sounding in the upper midrange, at least on the Soundpeats Classic EQ setting. The soundstage was relatively wide in this track, at least for earbuds, but the high end was too strident unless addressed with EQ. In the case of this song, the Classical Music EQ setting tamed the treble.

After the previous track (and a few others), I was curious if it was just what I’d been listening to that didn’t work with the Soundpeats, so I tried something poppier with Dua Lipa’s “Future Nostalgia.” While the treble was indeed less forward, the bass seemed lacking. On previous earbuds I’ve tried from the company, the Soundpeats Classic EQ profile always worked for me, so this seemed odd.

One song that did work, oddly enough, was FIDLAR’s disjointed take on the Tom Petty song “Free Fallin’,” which I can’t say I expected. The harsher nature of this song’s production and the sound signature of the Air 4 seemed to work together in a way that the EQ setting hadn’t with any other song.

Soundpeats uses what it calls Hybrid ANC here, a take on active noise cancellation. It’s odd to see this in this type of design, considering ANC relies on a tight fit, and that is effectively impossible with an AirPods-style design.

It didn’t work amazingly well and I can’t say I was surprised. A transparent mode for extra awareness would have been more welcome, as would a better microphone. You’ll be able to make calls, but the quality here is lacking.

Microphone Audio Sample: Indoors

Microphone Audio Sample: Outdoors

Controls and the Soundpeats App

Person holding an SOUNDPEATS Air4 aptX Lossless Wireless Earbud showing the outside
Hannah Stryker / How-To Geek

The controls come in the form of capacitive touch panels on either earbud. These were easy enough to use, and they didn’t get overly sensitive. That said, if you’d like, you can disable them entirely via the Soundpeats app, available for iPhone and iPad as well as for Android devices.

The app can be useful for more than disabling controls. This is where you’ll adjust the EQ that I mentioned earlier. If you don’t find any of the presets to your liking, don’t worry, as there is also a custom EQ feature that lets you define your own EQ curve.

If you’re using the Soundpeats AIr4 less for music and more for movies and games, the app also lets you enable Game Mode, which drops the latency to just 88ms at the expense of some audio quality.

Battery Life: Not Exceptional

Charging the SOUNDPEATS Air4 aptX Lossless Wireless Earbuds
Hannah Stryker / How-To Geek

The Air4 earbuds offer 6.5 hours of playtime, assuming you have the ANC disabled. With ANC turned on, the battery life drops to just 3.5 hours. The case can recharge the buds three times, giving you a total of up to 26 hours, assuming you’re not a fan of noise cancellation.

The charging case is bare bones, and only offers USB-C charging, without any wireless charging. That said, USB-C charges the case completely in less than two hours.

Competition: Which Budget Buds?

Person wearing the SOUNDPEATS Air4 aptX Lossless Wireless Earbuds
Hannah Stryker / How-To Geek

While the Air4s are solid earbuds, they’re in a crowded price range. For example, the Earfun Air Pro 3 earbuds sell for the same price, and while they don’t have aptX Lossless, they feature both aptX Adaptive and the LC3 codec, plus a transparent mode. They also offer longer battery life than the Air4 and feature a case with wireless charging.

The 1MORE ComfoBuds Mini are slightly pricier, retailing for $99, but they also offer arguably better sound quality than the Soundpeats. They also feature wireless charging, great noise cancellation, and as the name implies, excellent comfort.

The Air4 even gets competition from other Soundpeats products like the Mini Pro HS. These cost less than the Air4, feature LDAC support, and yes, even a transparency mode.

Should You Buy the Soundpeats Air4?

The Soundpeats Air4 offer solid sound quality, at least once you’ve found the EQ preset that works for you, and like many Soundpeats earbuds, they’re quite affordable considering the features. Due to the one-size-fits-most build, not everyone will have the best fit, but they fit me not just comfortably, but securely.

The Hybrid Active Noise Cancellation isn’t great, but it’s better than nothing. One omission that’s slightly more difficult to forgive is the lack of any kind of transparency mode. Considering many affordable earbuds that don’t offer ANC still offer some take on a transparent mode, it’s puzzling that Soundpeats didn’t add this feature to the Air4.

Even those complaints are largely offset by the price of the Soundpeats Air4, assuming they have what you’re looking for otherwise. If you’re looking for a simple, good-sounding set of earbuds without spending too much, these are definitely in the running.

Soundpeats Air4

Soundpeats Air4

The Soundpeats Air4 offer an affordable alternative to Apple’s AirPods with a sleek matte finish and extras like aptX Lossless and multipoint Bluetooth. The sound isn’t up to par with higher-end headphones, but they’re still a solid buy.

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