Audiophile-approved earbuds designs that perfectly replace your Apple AirPods!

I love a good pair of earbuds! In fact, I really can’t function without my personal earbuds. Once my earbuds are in, the rest of the world is out! I deep dive into the world of my favorite tunes, away from real-world problems, happy in my own little audio bubble! Hence, owning a pair of innovative and perfect earbuds is an absolute necessity for me, and I’m sure that’s the case for other music lovers out there as well! Quite a few of us are Team AirPods all the way. However, great earbuds go beyond Apple as well. And this nifty list includes all of them! This collection of exciting designs has a pair of earbuds for everyone! From earbuds that magnetically hang like a necklace to earbuds that snap onto your phone – these earbuds provide unique design solutions and are a must-have for audiophiles!

Designed by Yibai Science & Technology from Shenzen, these are called the “Jade Culture Earphone Jue 20.” That’s a bit odd name but everything else about these conceptual wireless earbuds listed on iF Design Award 2020 is super cool. When not in use, the earbuds magnetically lock together to take the form of a necklace pendant that’s suspended by the tethering wire. Then again, when you want to listen to your favorite tunes, simply separate the pendant and get groovy. Picture this scenario – your buddy compliments, “This pendant looks so cool, bud”, and you’ll detach them and plug into your ears to their amazement, “It’s my pair of earbuds, mate!” Added bonus – you surely won’t lose one of the earbuds as there is no accidentally falling down- speaking to you AirPods!

Named Koishi, after the Japanese word for Pebble, the TWS Earphones come with a soft, pebble-inspired form that’s beautiful to look at, comfortable to store in pockets, and can even be stacked one above another as Zen Stones. They come in three stone-inspired colors and even sport a slightly mottled stone texture. Running right through the case is a light strip that helps let you know when the earbuds are charging, or when they’re low on charge. However, it also visually guides you to instinctively know where the earphones are, so you can glance at the case and pull the earbuds out without fiddling to find them.

The Snapods are a pretty formidable pair of earbuds on the spec sheet, but their clever magnetic attachment system really puts them in a different league altogether. They’re designed to snap directly onto any of the iPhone 12 phones, although a simple stick-on metallic ring lets you turn any smartphone (Android or iOS) into a Snapods-ready smartphone. This also means you could attach the Snapods to phone cases, tablets, or even your laptop! And of course, the Snapods charge wirelessly (even though they come with a USB-C port), which means you can snap them off your phone and onto your wireless charger to juice them. Theoretically, if your phone supports reverse charging, you could simply charge them by placing them on the back of your phone too!

The Yinyang earbuds are influenced by the duality of the millennia-old cultural concept of yin and yang. The Chinese philosophical thought behind the yin and yang is the balance between two forces that oppose and complement each other at all times. These conceptual Samsung earbuds are designed to reflect that philosophy by striking a perfect balance between user experience and portability. Yinyang earbuds are created to be the smallest in the market so that they can fit everyone (a problem I personally go through with my first-gen AirPods). The compact size will be achieved by getting rid of the ear tips.

Razer’s limited edition Pikachu earbuds are awesome for all the right reasons. Not only are they an absolutely delightful-looking pair of familiar yellow earbuds, they even push the limit by coming in a Pokéball shaped charging case – which is even more exceptional because it’s a ‘charging’ case and Pikachu’s an electric type Pokémon! The adorable earbuds are essentially a limited variant of Razer’s Hammerhead earphones, but in yellow, and with a Pikachu graphic replacing the Razer triple-snake logo. The truly wireless earbuds dock magnetically into a Pokéball-shaped charging case, which may not be tiny enough to fit into your pocket, but which noob carries Pokéballs in their pockets? The earbud case has a tiny lanyard that’s perfect for strapping around your hand as you walk around and get jealous looks from fellow Pokémon lovers.

Think of it. The situation’s been perfectly set up. FaceID or facial recognition seems counter-intuitive now, considering everyone’s wearing masks, and there’s little chance companies are going to embrace a fingerprint sensor on the phone again for quite a while. This solution, by Alvaro Navarro, seems perfect for a lot of reasons. A. It’s absolutely convenient because truly wireless earbuds already have touch sensors on them. B. It’s easy to implement too and can work with practically any smartphone. C. It could be a great business model, allowing companies to push out more earbuds as a result (good design and good business don’t always intersect though), and D. It could be a much more secure way of unlocking your phone.

The TWS earphones’ unique shape comes with a specially designed 3D acoustic chamber that helps make the audio sound richer, with better, more distinct basslines… while also helping reduce sound distortion as well as providing organic noise isolation of up to -35 dB, allowing it to rival the Airpods Pro’s active noise cancellation tech just through its ergonomic design. The amount of careful consideration built into the Lytte HarmoniQ is truly remarkable. Each earphone casing is meticulously 3D printed using DLP printing tech (a feature that allows it to have that unique acoustic chamber shape) and hand-polished to look as remarkable as it does. Just like most smart earphones, the Lytte HarmoniQ supports iOS as well as Android integration, with the ability to tap, double-tap, and long-press to control music playback as well as smartphone functions (including summoning the phone’s voice AI).

If you’ve still been struggling to find a perfect-fitting pair of earbuds (like I am) that you can’t just do without, Logitech-backed Ultimate Ears may have just thought up a solution in the form of UE Fits – true wireless earbuds that offer a custom fit. The earbuds come integrated with LEDs to trigger the special gel-filled ear tips to harden and mold in the unique shape of your ears for enhanced sound quality and noise cancelation. This package sounds pretty futuristic since we are still in the era of silicone ear tips or foam tips that fill the ear canal for finer audio output. UE has fitted the earbuds with the Lightform technology to mold the tips to your ears for a customized perfect fit in under 60 seconds. For the fitting process, the earbuds have to be paired to an Ultimate Ears app.

Designed to work BOTH as TWS earphones for most consumers, as well as FDA-approved hearing aids for the impaired, the Olive Pro provides an enhanced hearing for everything – nearby sounds, music, and conversations. Outwardly, they slightly resemble the AirPods Pro with the bulb and stem design, and with the silicone earpiece… and believe it or not, that’s not subtle plagiarism, it’s a design feature. You see, by bridging the gap between medical devices and consumer-tech, the Olive Pro makes it ‘cooler’ and less of a social stigma for the hearing impaired to wear these aids. Designed to help them blend into society, the Olive Pro’s consumer-centric aesthetic helps normalize an affliction. On the hardware front, the Olive Pro boasts powerful drivers and microphones that work to seamlessly distinguish between noises, voices, and music.

Created as a successor to the CES 2019 Innovation Award-winning WT2 earphones, the Timekettle M2 is a pair of TWS earphones that have an unusual two-part design, the reason behind which becomes incredibly evident once you realize what they’re actually designed for. There are two main components to any conversation – talking to a person, and listening to the person talk to you. It’s only natural that earphones designed to facilitate conversation would embrace those two parts, right? The Timekettle M2, in that regard, isn’t your standard TWS earbuds. Sure, they’re meant for listening to music and podcasts or giving commands to your phone’s voice AI, but their prime feature is the ability to foster a multi-lingual two-way conversation by allowing two people to wear one earphone each as the M2’s onboard translation engine seamlessly fills in the gaps.