Audio purists and buyers with a very low budget may prefer wired headphones and earphones, but the convenience of going wire-free is a big draw for many. And while Bluetooth wasn't quite as good a technology for audio transmission when it started out, it has since improved to the point where most people can't tell the difference in sound quality anymore. That and dropping prices are the biggest reasons for the growing popularity of wireless headphones and earphones.
Wireless headphones are significantly more affordable than they once were, and it's possible to buy a good pair for not a lot of money today. We've put together a list of the best wireless headphones at a reasonable budget point of Rs. 5,000, which includes both in-ear and on-ear models. However, let's first try and gauge if this is something you need, and in which cases going wireless will benefit you.
Why should you buy wireless headphones under Rs. 5,000?
Till a few years ago, a decent pair of wired headphones cost around Rs. 5,000. Today, you can get a good pair for much less, so you might be tempted to spend that extra money to do away with the need for a wire. In our opinion, Rs. 5,000 is a decent amount to spend on a good headset, and can be considered an investment towards ensuring that you have good sound to go with your smartphone wherever you go.
The benefits of wireless listening are immense. The foremost is the freedom from having a non-physical connection between your source device and headphones, which can come in handy when commuting, using during workouts or jogging, or in any generally cluttered environment. In all of these cases, wires get in the way, and the lack of wires keep things safe, convenient and easy.
The best wireless earphones under Rs. 5,000: OnePlus Bullets Wireless
With modern features, a good specification set, decent battery life and exciting sound, the OnePlus Bullets Wireless is the most interesting pair of Bluetooth earphones you can buy today. Launched alongside the OnePlus 6 (Review) in mid-2018, the OnePlus Bullets Wireless is priced at Rs. 3,990 and is our top pick among wireless options you can buy today.
Certain features such as the magnetic pause and resume mechanism are limited to use with OnePlus smartphones, but for everything else, the Bullets Wireless work perfectly fine with just about any Bluetooth-compatible device. Perhaps the most interesting feature is the magnetic power switch; the Bullets Wireless are switched on by separating the earphones, and switched off by magnetically clamping them together again.
In terms of specifications, the OnePlus Bullets Wireless gets it right for the most part. Although the Bluetooth version is a bit dated at v4.1, you do get AptX support and up to eight hours of battery life per charge. The Bullets Wireless also come with a feature that is a rarity on budget wireless earphones - USB Type-C and fast charging. You can get an 80 percent charge with just 10 minutes of charging, which eases one of the biggest drawbacks of wireless headphones - the downtime.
Sound quality is excellent, particularly when used with an Android phone that also supports aptX. You get good instrument separation and crisp vocals, although the bass is a bit soft. Nonetheless, the low-end is well handled, and we didn't experience any distortion even at the loudest volume levels. On the whole, sound is great for the price, making the OnePlus Bullets Wireless one of the most capable wireless earphones on a budget.
The best wireless headphones under Rs. 5,000: JBL E45BT
The JBL E45BT is typically priced a bit higher than our Rs. 5,000 budget, but some e-commerce portals often offer this headset at under Rs. 5,000 for select colour variants. And for that price, the JBL E45BT is our pick for the best wireless headphones on a budget. Featuring an on-ear design and a focus on simplicity, the JBL E45BT does exactly what it is supposed to — offers decent sound for a sensible price.
The headphones are compact, well built, and have a battery that runs for about 13 hours on a full charge, which is excellent for a budget product. The headset is also comfortable, and has a microphone that enables hands-free voice calling when paired with a smartphone.
Like all JBL products, the sonic signature on the JBL E45BT tends to favour bass and treble. If you listen to popular genres and like this typical sound, this should be just fine for you. At this price, the JBL E45BT is a functional, capable headset that does what it's supposed to do, and wins our recommendation for the best wireless headphones on a budget.
Also consider: Jabra Elite 25e
A strong competitor to the OnePlus Bullets Wireless, the Jabra Elite 25e is the entry-level wireless consumer audio product from Danish audio specialist Jabra. Priced at Rs. 3,999, the Jabra Elite 25e is well-built, looks good and has strong bass, although this can be a bit excessive at times.
Voice call quality isn't a strong point, but if you're looking for a punchy headset to listen to music with the occasional need for hands-free use, the Jabra Elite 25e is a decent choice. There is also a dedicated button for activating the voice assistant on your smartphone, and a decent 12-13 hours of battery life on a single charge. It's a worthwhile option to consider, especially if you like your music bass-heavy.
How we picked these headphones
Our selections in this guide are based on our reviews and experiences with the products, and we've picked options that we've extensively used or reviewed. We've selected both in-ear and on-ear options in our selections, and while it might be possible to find wireless over-ear headphones at this price, none of those options were good enough in our tests.
Most wireless headphones, including our recommendations above, come with microphones and on-board controls for hands-free use. This is a basic requirement, and we recommend that whatever you pick, it does come with these features included. Furthermore, since wireless headphones are as much about the DAC and electronics on-board, it's important that you buy a product from a good brand that knows what it's doing.
Other headphones under Rs. 5,000 you could consider
Skullcandy Method Wireless: Priced at Rs. 4,299, the Skullcandy Method Wireless looks good, has a neckband-style design and offers a punchy sound signature. Battery life is decent as well, and the headset is sweat resistant making it ideal for workout sessions.
Boult Audio Twinpods: Rs. 2,499 for this pair of truly wireless earphones seems like a great deal, and indeed are worth the price if you absolutely want the benefits of truly wireless connectivity in this budget. Sound quality is decent provided you get a good fit, and the earphones look good as well.
1More iBFree Sport: If you're looking for a rugged pair of earphones, the iBFree Sport from 1More are worth considering. At Rs. 3,149, you get a wide soundstage and good bass, along with IPX6 water and dust resistance.
Soundmagic ES20BT: If you're looking for a very affordable way to get into wireless listening, the Soundmagic ES20BT could be your best bet. At Rs. 1,529, these are significantly more affordable than most other options in the space. You will have to make do with the budget build and sound though.
JBL Endurance Jump: With an IPX7 water and dust resistance rating, the JBL Endurance Jump is one of the most rugged and fitness-friendly wireless headsets available under Rs. 5,000. It's priced at Rs. 4,199, making it a good option for anyone looking for budget earphones to use while working out.
Beyerdynamic Byron BT: This headset is usually priced above above Rs. 5,000, but if you wait and watch for deals, you could get it at a much lower price. It's a very good pair of wireless headphones from a reputed brand, with a focus on sound quality.
Sony WH-CH500: Another on-ear option, the Sony WH-CH500 comes from a breed of capable wireless audio products and is priced at Rs. 4,485. However, plain looks and inadequate padding are drawbacks for this otherwise decent headset.
Which are the best budget Bluetooth earphones and headphones in India? We discussed this on Orbital, our weekly technology podcast, which you can subscribe to via Apple Podcasts or RSS, download the episode, or just hit the play button below.