There are plenty of headphones to choose from, but few have reached the cult status of the hugely popular Beats by Dre. However, over the last few years, they seemed to have fallen out of favor with audiophiles and iPhone users. Since the company became a subsidiary of Apple in 2014, some people have been looking for iPhone headphones that don’t have the name “Beats” associated with them. Thankfully, many other headphones make great Beats alternatives, with a wireless pair working the best.
Looking for something smaller than headphones? Check out the best true wireless earphones that make for great Apple AirPod alternatives.
1. Best for Audio Quality: Sony WH-1000XM4 Wireless Overhead Headphones
Alternative to: Beats Studio3 Wireless
With a sleek design and ultra-soft headband, Sony’s WH-1000XM4 wireless headphones for iPhone are an excellent choice for crystal-clear audio, putting the Edge-AI Digital Sound Enhancement Engine to work.
They use large audio drivers and the QN1 HD Noise Cancelling Processor to block out real-time ambient sounds. Taking calls with these headphones also isn’t a problem, as they feature four microphones for clear conversations.
They are a great alternative to the Beats Studio3 Wireless, as they are more affordable, have a longer battery life, the touch buttons are easier to control, and they don’t need a dedicated app for other mobile operating systems.
- 30-hour battery life
- Touch Sensor controls to pause, play, and skip tracks, control the volume, and activate voice assist
- Playback automatically pauses when headphones are removed
- Amazon Alexa functionality is only available through the Sony Headphones Connect app
- Awkward touch controls
2. Best for Comfort: Monoprice BT-600ANC Bluetooth Over Ear Headphones
Alternative to: Beats Solo 3
Delivering perfect quality sound through Bl40-millimeter audio drivers, the Monoprice BT-600ANC Bluetooth Over Ear Headphones are an excellent choice if you value deep, accurate bass, an extended frequency range, and tonal clarity.
You may be unfamiliar with Monoprice, but these wireless headphones for iPhone will give any brand a run for their money. They feature Hybrid Active Noise Cancellation to block out unwanted sounds and suppress environmental noise by as much as 38 decibels.
The Monoprice BT-600ANC are a great alternative to the Beats Solo 3, as they’re $100 less and have larger ear cups with thicker foam padding. The battery life is the same, and they both come with a carrying case, but the MonoPrice are better value for your money.
- 40-hour battery life
- Foldable with a protective carrying case
- Qualcomm aptX HD audio codec for high-definition audio
- Default sound setting not as expected
- Ear cups too small for some
Also helpful: if you like listening to music while you exercise, you may want headphones made for workouts.
3. Best for Clarity: Marshall Major IV On-Ear Bluetooth Headphones
Alternative to: Beats Studio Pro
The Marshall Major IV on-ear Bluetooth headphones have been designed to produce sounds as intended in the recording studio. Marshall is one of the world’s largest amplifier makers, so they should know something about audio.
They have custom-tuned dynamic drivers to deliver clear sound over all frequencies and are compatible with wireless charging stands. The headband has thinner foam padding than you’d expect but is surprisingly comfortable. The headphones are also great for traveling, as they are collapsible.
With their undoubtedly cool looks and great audio reproduction, the Marshall Major IV are the best option if you are looking to replace your Beats Studio Pro. Not only are they cheaper, but they have a longer battery life, weigh slightly less, and support wireless charging.
- 80-hour battery life with 15 hours of playback from a 15-minute charge
- Large multi-direction knob to control playback
- Additional 3.5-millimeter jack to share with friends
- Three hours to fully charge
- Some users report trouble pairing with mobile devices
- Unconventional ear cup design, making them look bulkier than other headphones
4. Best for Price: Sennheiser HD 250BT Bluetooth 5.0 Wireless Headphone
Alternative to: Beats Solo Pro
Coming in at almost a tenth of the Beats Studio Pro price, the Sennheiser HD 250BT Bluetooth 5.0 Wireless Headphone boasts exceptional audio quality and call clarity. Inspired by DJs, it features dynamic bass produced by Sennheiser’s transducer technology and 32-millimeter audio drivers.
The headphone supports AAC, AptX codec, and AptX Low Latency, ensuring you enjoy music, regardless of the audio format. It has volume and track selection buttons on the left ear cup and only weighs 4.4 ounces.
While both headsets are wireless, the Sennheiser HD 250BT weighs slightly less and uses a newer Bluetooth version than the Beats Solo Pro. The Sennheiser HD 250BT also has a noise-isolating function, which the Beats doesn’t.
- 25-hour battery life and USB-C charging
- Bluetooth 5.0 connectivity
- Pairs with Smart Control App to customize listening profile
- No foam padding
- Headband’s arms go through ear cups and protrude downward
- Exposed wires can easily be damaged
Good to know: playing calming sounds like white noise and rain provides many benefits.
5. Best for Mobile: Skullcandy Riff 2 On-Ear Wireless Headphones
Alternative to: Beats Solo 3
Available in several colors and in a wired version, the Skullcandy Riff On-Ear Wireless Headphones are a great alternative to the Beats Solo 3. These wireless headphones for iPhone pair with your mobile phone through the Skullcandy app, which you can use to customize your EQ levels.
The Skullcandy Riff 2 incorporate tracking technology through Tile Finder, so you’ll never lose or forget them. The earcups are made from soft foam and covered with synthetic leather. The headphones are also compatible with virtual assistants and are collapsible.
While the Beats Solo3 have a longer battery life, the Skullcandy Riff 2 weigh less, have larger and more comfortable ear cups, cost significantly less, and have better audio quality, depending on the style of music you’re listening to.
- 34-hour battery life and 4 hours of playback from a 10-minute charge
- Built-in volume, track, and call button
- Can be paired with two devices at the same time
- Headband uncomfortable due to minimal padding
- Synthetic leather on ear cups isn’t great quality
6. Best for Wired: Panasonic HT161-K Over-Ear Headphones
Alternative to: Beats Solo Pro
The Panasonic HT161-K headphones are a great alternative to the Beats Solo Pro, as they use 30-millimeter neodymium drivers that handle up to 1000Mw maximum power input – and they’re much cheaper.
The large foam earcups fit snuggly on your ears, and the headband is adjustable. However, this model doesn’t have a built-in microphone, so you won’t be able to take calls. Besides being more affordable than Beats Solo Pro, the 10Hz – 27kHz frequency response makes the Panasonic HT161-K a great alternative if you prefer balanced audio tones.
With the release of the iPhone 7 and every device afterward, the 3.5-millimeter headphone jack has been removed. The only connection for an audio headset is the Lightning port, so you’ll need the dedicated adapter for these wired iPhone headphones.
- Extra long 6.6-foot audio cable
- Inline microphone
- Lightweight and durable
- No foam padding on headband
- Cord can be excessively long for some
- No volume buttons on the headphones
Flying soon? Learn how to use your headphones for in-flight entertainment.
7. Best for Traveling: JBL Tune510BT Wired On-Ear Headphones
Alternative to: Beats Solo 3 (2018)
The JBL Tune510BT headphones are the wireless version of the Tune 510 iPhone wired headphones, and perform just as well, incorporating JBL’s Pure Bass sound with 32-millimeter audio drivers.
The volume and playback controls are on one side, and the earcups are covered in soft, thick foam. The headphones are charged with a USB-C cable, and a 5-minute charge gives you two hours of music.
Comparing these headphones with a like-for-like, they are similar in form and function to the 2018 version of the Beats Solo 3. However, JBL Tune 510BT have better bass accuracy and response frequency, making audio clearer. They also have a better microphone for phone calls and require no dedicated app.
- 40-hour battery life
- Built-in microphone
- Dynamic pairing lets you connect to two devices simultaneously
- Very little padding on headband
- Synthetic leather on ear cups prone to cracking and peeling
With the limited current product range of Beats, it’s relatively easy to find an alternative that performs much better – and usually at a much lower cost. Beats might have been a fan favorite shortly after they launched, but after several technical investigations and reviews, many felt that the audio quality of Beats wasn’t worth the initial hype, citing poor build quality and over-engineered audio settings.
Of course, not everyone loves traditional headphones. If that’s the case for you, consider our recommendations for the best noise-canceling earbuds. Or, if you’d rather play music out loud by the pool, check out these waterproof Bluetooth speakers.
Image credit: Unsplash
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