5 Apple AirPods Pro alternatives that cost less – CNET

5 Apple AirPods Pro alternatives that cost less - CNET thumbnail

You already know that there are loads of true-wireless earphones that cost less than Apple’s AirPods, but what about the company’s just-announced AirPods Pro? Are we going to have to wait for other companies to play catch-up? In a way, yes: Not many other products offer the Pro’s active noise cancellation capabilities. But, in another way, no: Lots of other products offer noise isolation, which can be nearly as effective.

Indeed, any earbuds that use silicone ear tips (and that’s most of them these days) can greatly reduce outside noise, provided you’re able to get a good seal. (That’s in contrast to Apple’s original, hard-plastic AirPods, which don’t create that seal.) One could make the argument that while ANC is valuable in over-the-ear headphones, which can muffle only so much outside noise, it’s not as important for the in-ear kind.

Airpods Pro


To be fair, the AirPods Pro offer more than just ANC: They have a Transparency Mode that allows outside sounds to pass through, and they’re sweat- and water-resistant, which the current AirPods are not. They also autopause when you take when one out of your ear (and autoresume when you put it back), a feature I wish other earbud makers would copy.

Still, $249 is awfully steep for a couple featherweight pieces of plastic, sophisticated though they may be. Let’s take a look at some alternatives that cost less — in some cases a lot less — and see what you’re giving up. 

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Though priced about $20 lower than the AirPods Pro, Sony’s true-wireless earbuds offer the same kind of ANC technology and transparency mode. (In fact, they’re the only earbuds in this roundup to include both those features.) Plus, they have a sensor that autopauses music when you take one out of your ear.

Now for the bad news: The WF-1000XM3 isn’t specifically rated as sweat- or water-resistant. So if you’re planning heavy workouts, these ‘buds aren’t for you.

Read our Sony WF-1000XM3 review.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Jaybird’s best effort to date definitely has a premium price, but the Vista still costs quite a bit less than the AirPods Pro. They’re lightweight and comfortable, with a USB-C charging case and an IPX7-rated waterproof design. All that’s missing is a transparency mode.

Read our Jaybird Vista review.

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It’s a good time to watch for bargains on the CNET-favorite Jabra Elite 65t and slightly enhanced Elite Active 65t, both of which have seen some good discounts lately (probably due to the imminent arrival of the new, smaller Elite 75t). For example, a manufacturer-refurbished Elite 65t recently went on sale for $68.

These earbuds have a quick-charge case (15 minutes nets you 90 minutes of listening) and are fully sweat-resistant. They’re particularly good for making calls, if that’s important to you.

Read our Jabra Elite 65t review.

Sarah Tew/CNET

The Liberty Air has long been a CNET favorite for offering better-than-AirPods sound for about half the price. (They’re even less now.) Why better? Because of that all-important in-ear seal, which allows for better bass (and noise isolation) than the original AirPods. Ironically, they more closely resemble the newer AirPods Pro. You should also check out the newer Liberty Air 2, which features better battery life and improved voice calling as well as UBC-C charging.

Read our Anker Soundcore Liberty Air review.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Almost too good to be true, the EarFun Free manages to deliver Bluetooth 5.0, both USB-C and wireless charging and a fully waterproof (IPX7-rated) design. CNET’s David Carnoy also praised their “surprisingly good sound.” They’re currently priced at $50, but there’s an on-page coupon that knocks 10% off — and I’ve seen them as low as $40 (so watch for sales).

Read our EarFun Free review.

What do you think? Will one of these do the trick for you, or are you going to start saving for AirPods Pro?

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Apple Watch Series 5 review

Apple’s iPhones numbers may have suffered in recent years, but when it comes to smartwatches, the company remains utterly dominant. Recent figures from Counterpoint put Apple Watch growth at 48% year over year for the first quarter, commanding more than a third of the total global smartwatch market. Samsung’s myriad different models, meanwhile, put the company in a distant second with 11%.

All of that is to say that Apple’s clearly doing something right here, and competitors like Fitbit and Fossil (the latter of which has been working closely with Google) have plenty of catching up to do on the smartwatch front. Given the company’s sizable head start, it probably comes as no surprise that the latest version of the watch is more interested in refining the device, rather than reinventing the wheel.

Announced alongside a repositioned line of iPhones, the Apple Watch Series 5 doesn’t include any hardware additions quite as flashy as the LTE functionality and ECG (electrocardiogram) monitor it introduced with previous updates. There’s an always-on display and a built-in compass — as far as smartwatch features go, neither is the sort of thing that’s likely to win over longtime holdouts. But taken as a whole, the new features go a ways toward maintaining the device’s spot at the top of the smartwatch heap.

Visually, Watch remains largely unchanged from previous generations, aside from the increased display size that arrived on the Series 4. The addition of the always-on display, however, addresses a longstanding issue with the device. When not in use, the Watch has traditionally been a blank screen. It seems like a massive oversight, but it’s also an understandable one. Battery life has always been a big concern with products this size, and keeping a screen on at all times is a surefire way to make sure you’ll run out of juice before the end of the day.


While improved battery life would almost certainly be a welcomed feature in future updates, Apple’s made a bit of a compromise, offering an always-on watch that lasts the same stated 18 hours as its predecessors. I found I was, indeed, able to get through a day no problem with standard use. My own usage had the product lasting closer to 20 hours without the need to recharge, but even so, the device needs to get charged once a day, regardless — otherwise you’ll almost certainly be out of juice the following day.

The long-awaited addition of sleep tracking failed to materialize for this model — one of the few places where Apple continues to lag the competition. Of course, adding such a feature would require a much more robust battery than one capable of getting 18 hours on a charge.

Apple’s employed some clever fixes to ensure that the new feature won’t totally sap battery life. Each of the faces gets a low-power, always-on version. In the case of the Meridian face that I’ve been using (new for WatchOS 6), it’s white text on a black background. Hold the watch up to your face, however, and the colors invert. The active version is easier to see, and the always-on version uses less power.

The low-temperature poly-silicon and oxide display (LTPO), meanwhile, adjusts the refresh rate based on usage. It’s a broad spectrum: 60Hz at the high end and as little as 1Hz on the low. The ambient light sensor also automatically adjusts the brightness to help conserve power. Covering the watch with your hand will jumpstart the low-power mode.


While complications and other features are still on display, they’re simplified, removing any power-hungry features. That means the second hand disappears on the standard watch face, and when the watch is in workout mode, the milliseconds will disappear until you bring the watch back up to your face.

The ambient light sensor also works to dim the display in those situations when a bright always-on screen are a genuine nuisance, like watching a movie in a theater. Though while it’s fairly dark, you’re probably better off switching the watching into Theater mode, which turns the screen off altogether until you press the crown.

The other big update on the hardware side is the addition of a built-in compass. Like LTE and the speaker before it, the feature represents another case of bringing more smartphone features over to the watch. At present, there are only a handful of Watch applications that utilize the new feature, the most prominent being Apple’s own Maps. The addition of the compass makes it much easier to navigate directly from the wearable itself.

It’s a handy offering on that front. If you don’t mind the smaller screen size, it’s great being able to find your way around a new area without pulling out your phone.There’s also Apple’s own Compass app, which could prove handy when going for a hike, and also includes a new elevation reading taken from a combination of Wi-Fi, GPS, map data and barometric pressure to determine your positioning relative to sea level.

Given that the product isn’t actually available yet, the number of third-party apps that take advantage of the feature is still pretty limited. That said, the much-loved star map app Night Sky offers a pretty compelling use for the compass, as you swing your arm around to get a better notion of your own place of the massive, ever-expanding cosmos.

The last big addition is Emergency Calling. Of course, it’s not always possible to test out every new feature on a device for obvious reasons. We’re going to have to take Apple’s word for it on this one. The feature, which is only supported on the cellular version of the Series 5, brings the ability to call local emergency services when traveling abroad — even when there’s not a phone nearby. The feature also works with the fall-detection feature announced the last time around, sending an emergency SOS if the wearer takes a spill.


The new watch will also feature a number of software additions new for WatchOS 6, including Cycle Tracking, which makes it possible to log menstrual health, symptoms, period and fertility windows. There’s also the Noise app, which utilizes the Watch’s built-in microphone to track when noise levels get beyond 90 decibels — at which point they can begin to cause hearing loss.

The Series 5 starts at $399 for the standard version and $499 for cellular. Prices go up from there, including the lovely new titanium version, which will ruin you $799. The ceramic is arguably the best looking of the bunch, but $1,299 disqualifies that model for the vast majority of us. No one ever said good looks came cheap. There are countless other combinations beyond that, which will be available for mix and match at Apple’s retail locations. Everyone you know may be wearing an Apple Watch, but it’s still possible to make yours stand out a bit.

In keeping with the addition of a low-cost iPhone 11, the company’s keeping the Series 3 around at $199, offering a much more accessible price point for first-time buyers. For those who already own the device, there’s probably not enough here to warrant an upgrade from last year’s model, but some welcome new features like the always-on help keep the line fresh.

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Apple could add in-screen fingerprint reader to 2020 iPhone

According to a new report from Bloomberg, Apple has been working on in-screen fingerprint readers. But that feature won’t be ready for the new iPhone that will be announced next week. It could be released in 2020, or maybe 2021 if Apple’s suppliers can’t meet deadlines.

If you’ve played with the most recent smartphones from Samsung, Huawei and other Android manufacturers, you know that in-screen fingerprint readers already work quite well. When you unlock your phone, you can see a fingerprint icon on the screen. It then works just like any fingerprint reader — you put your finger on the icon and it unlocks your phone.

In 2017, Apple introduced Face ID for the iPhone X as a replacement to Touch ID, its fingerprint technology. But it sounds like the company now wants to give users multiple options by re-adding Touch ID to its smartphones.

All 2018 iPhone models as well as the most recent iPad Pro models now all work with Face ID. But you can still buy some Touch ID devices, such as the iPad Air or the MacBook Pro. The fingerprint readers are integrated in a separate button.

Bloomberg also confirms a Nikkei report about a future iPhone SE. Apple could launch a new low-cost iPhone SE.

Despite the name, it would be based on the iPhone 8 design instead of the previous iPhone SE design. It would feature the same 4.7-inch display that you can find on the iPhone 6, iPhone 6S, iPhone 7 and iPhone 8.

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Apple might launch a low-cost iPhone SE successor in spring 2020 – CNET


Apple might revive the iPhone SE next spring. 

César Salza / CNET

Apple will unveil its iPhone 11 lineup for 2019 next Tuesday, but we might already have a glimpse at what it expects to do in 202. The Cupertino, California, company plans to add a cheaper iPhone — its first since 2016’s $399 iPhone SE — to its lineup next spring to win customers back from competitors like Huawei, Nikkei reported Wednesday.

In July, Apple reported that iPhone sales slid 12% to $26 billion in its fiscal third quarter.

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The name and price have yet to be decided yet, but the size will be comparable to the 4.7-inch iPhone 8 from 2017, The phone will share most components with this year’s iPhones and use a cheaper LCD display to keep the cost low, according to the Japanese paper.

Apple didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

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Apple to release new low-cost iPhone next year

Back in 2016, Apple first announced iPhone SE. Apple projected the iPhone SE as an affordable smartphone starting at $399. However, Apple did not release any updated version of the device in the following years. Today, Nikkei reported that Apple is planning to release a successor to iPhone SE in 2020. This upcoming low-cost iPhone will feature 4.7-inch LCD display and share most of the same components with the flagship iPhones this year.

With this launch, Apple is planning to win back some customers from Chinese rivals including Huawei, Xiaomi, Oppo and Vivo. The decision to release to low-cost iPhone is not surprising given the fact that iPhone sales is declining year over year. Apple is planning to attract new customer base using low-cost devices and then monetize them through services like Apple TV Plus, Apple Music and others.

Apple is planning to release this new low-cost iPhone during Spring 2020.

Source: Nikkei

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All the Apple Rumors You Can Stomach Before September

Illustration for article titled All the Apple Rumors You Can Stomach Before September

Photo: Alex Cranz (Gizmodo)

September is just around the corner, and so is Apple’s annual fall event where it announces a stream of new products. Earlier leaks have hinted at a three-camera array for the new iPhones, but it also looks like we’ll see some new iPads, and the biggest MacBook Pro in years, according to a Bloomberg report. In any case, here’s a rundown of what to expect once Apple Day rolls around.

First off, the new iPhones. Apple is reportedly launching three new phones under the “Pro” moniker, one each to replace the iPhone XR, XS, and XS Max. While the exact naming is unclear, the Bloomberg report confirms that the polarizing square camera design is likely due to the addition of a third sensor. The sensor will reportedly allow for ultra-wide angle shots, higher-resolution photos, and better low-light pics. Adding a third sensor means the new iPhones will take three shots simultaneously and then use AI to produce a “combined” photo—so theoretically, it won’t be an issue if you accidentally cut out a person, for example. The higher-end phones will also sport better video capabilities, including a feature that will allow you to retouch, add effects, tweak colors, and crop video as you’re recording. For the “budget” option, Apple will add a second back camera.

Improved cameras aren’t the only upgrades. Bloomberg reports that you can expect to see reverse wireless charging where you can charge devices, like the AirPods, with your phone—very similar to the Samsung Galaxy handsets released earlier this year. Under the hood, the phones will sport faster A13 processors, ostensibly to help with augmented reality features. Other upgrades include multi-angle FaceID, better water resistance, and new OLED screens that replace 3D Touch with “Haptic Touch.” None of the phones will be 5G ready, but it’s possible that the new phones will ship with fast-charging USB-C cables.

Some other interesting news: Apple’s also planning on a new big boy laptop. The new MacBook Pro is expected to clock in at over 16-inches with teeny tiny bezels. Size-wise, Bloomberg reports it should be similar to the current 15-inch MacBook Pros. The bigger size is notable, as it’s the largest laptop Apple’s made since it discontinued the 17-inch MacBook Pro in 2012.

Now onto everything else. Earlier this year, Apple introduced a new iPad Mini and the iPad Air. For September, it’ll supposedly refresh the iPad Pro and an entry-level iPad for schools. Both the 11-inch and 12.9-inch iPad Pros will get upgraded cameras and processors, but otherwise, will stay the same. The entry-level iPad will come in at 10.2 inches, but that’s about all the information we have on that.

As for wearables, the Apple Watch Series 5 doesn’t seem to be getting much in terms of hardware. This year, it would appear Apple’s focusing much more on software updates via watchOS 6, most of which were announced earlier at WWDC. AirPods, however, are likely to see a price hike but include water resistance and noise cancellation. Lastly, Apple also refuses to give up on the HomePod—it’s supposedly working on a cheaper version with just two tweeters as opposed to the seven featured in the current HomePod.

We’ll know more in early September. When exactly? It’s looking a lot like September 10, as Apple generally holds its press event on the second Tuesday or Wednesday of that year. (It also avoids holding events on September 11th.) That’s bolstered by a 9to5 Mac report, which noted that an iOS 13 beta screenshot titled “Hold For Release” showed the Tuesday, September 10th date. In the meantime, we’re taking any bets on how much the iPhone 11 Pro Max, or whatever it ends up being called, will cost.

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Apple pushes ‘incredible’ iPhone 6s with new ‘Made in India’ marketing campaign

Apple has launched a new marketing campaign in India focused on the iPhone 6s. The campaign focuses on the fact that the iPhone 6s is “made in India,” and highlights the device’s low cost.

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Apple started manufacturing the iPhone 6s in India back in June of last year. Apple supplier Winstron first received approval for its iPhone plant in India in March of the same year, starting production of the iPhone SE in the country.

The new Made in India iPhone 6s ad campaign was first spotted by Varun Krishnan on Twitter. Apple touts that the iPhone 6s gives users a 12MP camera with 4K video, as well as a Retina HD display, A9 processor, and “long battery life” (via The Verge).

Apple has used its Made in India initiative as a way to avoid import taxes imposed by the Indian government. A report last year suggested that Apple was also planning to manufacture high-end iPhones in India as well, but more recent reports have cast doubt on that.

Despite the focus on local manufacturing, however, Apple has struggled in India. The company stopped selling the dated iPhone 6 in the country earlier this year as a way to improve its brand image. Furthermore, Apple’s India team has undergone restructuring over the last year, naming former Nokia executive Ashish Chowdhary its head of India operations.

Apple and Tim Cook were at one point very bullish on the growing size of India’s smartphone market. Recent data, however, has suggested that Apple has a very small share of that market. Apple is also still working to meet a requirement of 30% locally-made products to receive approval to open Apple Stores in the country.

Just saw this ad , Apple is explicitly promoting made in India pic.twitter.com/OpjClRJAhs

— Varun Krishnan (@varunkrish) May 15, 2019

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