Here are the best cheap headphones for working out and daily life

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They’re cheap • They’re virtually indestructible and waterproof • They’re easy to use • Good battery life

Sound quality is fine but not great • Phone calls can be wonky

The Mpow Flame is a great, cheap set of headphones for working out and daily life.

A confession: I cannot be trusted with expensive headphones. I lose them, I break them, I sweat into their innards while on a long-as-hell jog

I’ve lost two sets of AirPods, both gifts. One pair just up and disappeared and I have no idea what I did with them. The other set I dropped and lost forever while walking — after bowling and a few pitchers — to grab cheesesteaks with friends. (Side note: What I wouldn’t give to be back out in the world, bowling and eating cheesesteaks with friends.) 

I also love to run and let’s just say most headphones cannot handle my levels of perspiration. Not to get too gross but yeah, I need headphones that are effectively waterproof if I’m going to take them on summertime jogs. 

OK, so there’s the preamble. And, I’m not trying to be dramatic here, but damn if my life didn’t change on Aug. 29, 2018. Fed up with breaking and losing all of my headphones, I asked Twitter for help. 

I got a few suggestions, but none were what I would actually define as reasonably priced. Like, come on guys, Beats are not reasonably priced. I wanted headphones where I wouldn’t be upset if lost or broke them. I needed cheap, workhorse headphones. 

Then a hero emerged. NBA Twitter stalwart @SnottieDrippen (whose real name is James Holas) gave me a recommendation that would — no shit — change my life.

With that ringing endorsement, I ordered a pair of Mpow Flame Bluetooth headphones and, if anything, they had been undersold. In my mind, they’re perfect headphones for working out and for living like the idiot I am.

Here’s a quick, seven-point list explaining why: 

1. They’re basically indestructible. 

I’d be so impressed if you broke a pair of Mpow Flame Bluetooth headphones. I put the same pair through the washing machine twice and they still worked exactly the same as before. 

They pretty much are waterproof. If you sweat a lot while working out, or you get caught in the rain, you don’t really have to worry. I used to lose sound in AirPods while sweating and running. No longer. I’ve gotten soaked in a thunderstorm sans umbrella, left my Mpow headphones in, and there was no lasting damage. My current pair is covered in paint from household projects. Still no damage.

I’ve only ever had to replace them when I lose a pair, which admittedly is still relatively often. Which brings me to my next point…

2. They’re *actually* cheap. 

My first pair was around $18. Prices have since shot up (lol) to around $21. If you have Amazon Prime, they’re easy as hell to get and are pretty much always available for around $20. I still try to not lose them, but I don’t feel awful when I do. 

3. The battery life is impressive. 

Fully charged via the supplied micro-USB cable, I can take Mpow Flame headphones on marathon-training runs — legit four-hour-long excursions — and they won’t die, even as I (again) sweated profusely. 

4. The Bluetooth connection is seamless. 

I have an easier time connecting my Mpow Flames with my iPhone XR than I ever had with AirPods, which could get spotty. Or, sometimes, one AirPod would work while the other gave me no sound. No such issues with the Mpow Flames. I turn them on and a pleasant British robot-lady immediately tells me, “Power on, your headset is connected.” 

5. They’re comfy and secure around your ears. 

If you’re a runner, fast-walker, or someone whose ears don’t usually conform to fancier headphones, these are a good option. They come with different sized rubber-earplug-thingies and flexible hooks that go around your ear and don’t budge. AirPods and other headphones used to always fall out of my ears. The headphones are also really lightweight and block out noise pretty well.

6. They have the basic, practical functions you need. 

A large button on the right earphone pauses your music if you tap it. If you hold it down, it functions as the power button. It has volume controls on the top of the right earphone. You can, allegedly, use them for phone calls. I’ve found that feature a little wonky. They’re not perfect, OK? Many reviewers on Amazon report being able to participate in phone calls with ease, so it could be user error on my part. 

My paint-covered power button.

My paint-covered power button.

Image: Tim Marcin / Mashable

My paint-covered volume controls.

My paint-covered volume controls.

Image: Tim Marcin / Mashable

7. They have a simple design and look fine.

Are you going to feel as cool wearing Mpow Flames as you would in Beats or Bose headphones? No. But they have a simple design and look fine enough. If you want a certain color, they’ve got lots of options, but I almost always get some version of black. You’re not going to stand out in either a good or bad way. That’s fine by me.

Alright then. You’ve probably noticed I haven’t talked much about sound quality. Let me be clear: I am not an audiophile. Neil Young would hate me

With that admitted, the Mpow Flame sound quality is fine. I would call it good enough. Is your music going to sound as good as it would with over-ear, Bose, noise-canceling, NASA-approved, VR-enabled, price-of-a-used-car headphones? Obviously not, these things cost 20 fucking dollars.

But my music sounds better in my Mpow Flames than it does coming out of Macbook Pro speakers. That’s good enough for me. I mostly use headphones for commuting — well, back when I could take the subway to work, anyway — and working out. The sound quality on my podcasts and music is good enough to drown out a packed train or my tired legs. I don’t need much more. 

If you’re a person like me — if you lose stuff constantly, you sweat a lot, or you just want something simple, cheap, and good — I can’t recommend Mpow Flames enough. If you have no problem dropping a few hundred bucks on headphones, meanwhile, I recommend you keep good track of your purchase after a few pitchers of beer with friends. 

 





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