New kid on the block

Amazon Echo Buds

Ol' reliable

Apple AirPods

For a first attempt, the Amazon Echo Buds perform surprisingly well with stellar battery life, comfort, and active noise cancelation.

$130 at Amazon

Pros

  • Up to 20 hours of audio playback with the case
  • Active noise cancelation built-in
  • Multiple ear tips included
  • Works great on iOS and Android

Cons

  • Micro-USB for charging
  • No wireless charging case

Apple made truly wireless earbuds mainstream with the AirPods. While its sound quality and isolation aren't great, AirPods are the most convenient truly wireless earbuds on the market.

$165 at Amazon

Pros

  • Great microphone quality
  • Super compact design
  • Wireless charging case
  • Up to 24 hours of total audio playback with the case

Cons

  • Poor sound isolation
  • No easy media controls
  • No customizability on non-Apple devices

It really boils down to ecosystem when comparing the two wireless earbuds. If you live within the Amazon ecosystem and use Alexa across your home, or you just don't use Apple products, the Echo Buds are an easy pick. On the other hand, if you live and breathe Apple's ecosystem, Apple's AirPods are a nice complement.

What makes them unique?

Amazon Echo BudsSource: Jeramy Johnson / Android Central

Unsurprisingly, both earbuds are similar. For example, both buds feature up to five hours of audio playback on a single charge. They feature the same auto-play/pause functionality when you remove one bud and automatically connect to the last known device when you put at least one bud in your ear. You can choose to use one bud at a time to effectively double your listening time or both simultaneously for stereo audio on both, too.

In terms of sound quality, the Echo Buds edge are better than AirPods by a mile.

While the Echo Buds case is relatively small, it is large when comparing it directly to the AirPods case, which is known for being super compact. That's surprising considering the AirPods case nets you an additional 19 hours of listening time versus the Echo Buds, which only get you 15 hours. Both earbuds have enough battery life to last quite a while and will easily get you throughout your day, but the AirPods net you just a bit more.

The AirPods feature Lightning for wired charging and are wireless charging-capable. While it is proprietary, it's much better than he Echo Buds, which use the ancient Micro-USB connector for charging and don't feature wireless charging of any kind. Neither solution is great, but the AirPods takes the slight edge by offering wireless charging.

The Echo Buds offer active noise cancelation (ANC), which is powered by Bose. The Echo Buds' ANC performance is good, and will be a great for those who want to drown out the background but not completely block it. It's a great first attempt but won't beat out the top dogs such as Apple's more expensive AirPods Pro or Sony's WF-1000XM3. However, that is much better than the AirPods, which feature no noise isolation of any sort. In fact, they don't even have rubber tips to help with passive isolation. The AirPods have mediocre passive isolation at best and let in a ton of environmental noise.

Amazon Echo Buds Apple AirPods
Bud battery life 5 hours 5 hours
Charging case battery life 15 hours 19 hours
Digital assistant support Alexa, Google Assistant, Siri Siri
Wireless charging case No Yes
Case charging connector Micro-USB Lightning
Active noise cancelation (ANC) Yes No

AirPods Source: Rene Ritchie / Android Central

In terms of sound quality, the Echo Buds edge are better than AirPods by a mile. The Echo Buds feature a bass boosted sound signature that is otherwise neutral and flat. Meanwhile the AirPods sound signature is basically the opposite with a super underwhelming and nearly non-existent bass response. And while the low- and mid-mids are neutral, the upper-mids, and treble is slightly boosted giving the AirPods a more airy, treble-forward sound that can sound fatiguing to some ears.

The Echo Buds work with more devices than AirPods do. This makes the Echo Buds the better fit for most people.

Comfort is excellent on both earbuds and highly depends on what type of earbud you prefer more. The Echo Buds feature ear tips that shove in your ear. The advantage here is that you have options with the ear tips, allowing you to customize the fit and get it to exactly how you want it. However, some may find it discomforting. On the other hand, AirPods are equally as comfortable for a different reason. The AirPods sit right outside of your ear canal rather than sitting within it. This means the AirPods don't seal at all, which forces some users to turn up the volume on their AirPods in order to hear anything. However, this also means that if AirPods don't fit your ear you're basically out of luck as they're a one size fits all earbud.

Remember the ecosystem thing we talked about? That's the biggest differentiator between the two buds. Apple's AirPods integrate super well with Apple devices such as the iPhone, iPad, and Mac. When you first get the AirPods, you simply open the lid near your iOS device and tap the pair button on your screen. Not only will it pair to that specific device, but it'll automagically pair to all of your devices signed into the same iCloud account. Switching devices is just as easy. You'll also get hands-free Siri, too. However, their biggest downside is that all that magic disappears when you pair them to a non-Apple device. The AirPods effectively function as a standard Bluetooth headphone at that point.

Unfortunately, Amazon doesn't make phones or computers so the integration isn't as seamless, but is still fairly simple. Download the Amazon Echo app on your device (available on both iOS and Android) to get started. You'll get hands-free Alexa support by simply saying her name (Alexa), and via a tap and hold gesture, you can trigger Google Assistant or Siri depending on what phone you're using (there's no hardware gesture to trigger Alexa, unfortunately). You'll have to manually enter pairing mode if you want to switch devices as well.

At the end of the day, it just depends on which ecosystem you prefer, but the Echo Buds work with more devices than AirPods do. This makes the Echo Buds the better fit for most people.

Universal buds

Amazon Echo Buds

Alexa all the things

Amazon's Echo Buds get the fundamentals right with solid battery life, ANC, and comfort. It's biggest pitfall is charging over Micro-USB port in 2019.

For the Apple enthusiast

Apple AirPods

Apple all the things

AirPods are by far the most popular truly wireless earbud on the market. Convenience is the reason to get them, but they suffer from poor noise isolation.

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