Users can't get enough of their awesome sound quality and user-friendly functions. Get high marks for their no-slip fit and auto pause when removed from the ear. Comfortable. Rarely drop the Bluetooth connection.
They are expensive, but you get outstanding quality for the price.
They’re incredibly affordable, and they include noise cancellation. The battery lasts up to 9 hours. They’ve got a built-in in-line microphone, so making phone calls is a snap.
The noise cancellation is passive, so it’s not as good as headphones with active noise cancellation. The wire between each earbud is a bit short, making it a bad fit for people with larger necks. It doesn’t have EQ settings like other TaoTronics headphones do.
A good deal – clear sound quality, comfortable fit, and it comes with accessory bundle that includes a car charger, case, and USB cable. Exceptional 8-hour battery life per charge.
Pairing is a bit challenging. Occasionally dropped connections.
Get up to 8 hours of use with a full charge. The sound is clear, and the fit is comfortable for most. Few complaints about Bluetooth connectivity. Purchase includes a few necessities, such as extra ear tips and carrying case. Mid-level price.
A few customers report one earbud malfunctioning, and at least one received a charging cable that didn't work.
They can last up to 10 hours on a single charge. A carrying case is included. Ear hooks will fit. Anker offers an 18-month warranty, which is well above average.
The buttons are a little flimsy, so it’s often hard to tell if they’ve registered anything when you push them. All buttons are on one side, which can make it feel lopsided and distracting during exercise.
We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.
We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.
Like it or not, headphone jacks are dying, and that means that sooner or later you’re going to need a set of wireless headphones to get audio from your smartphone, tablet, or laptop. And while many people enjoy the classic over-the-ear style of traditional headphones, a growing number of listeners prefer earbuds, which snugly fit inside each ear with no bulk and plenty of sound.
When it comes to wireless earbuds, there are a lot of options ranging from disposable ultra-cheap pairs to high-end models with features to help optimize audio quality. Finding the right pair is a matter of considering your own use case — for example, if you plan on running with them, or if you often listen in noisy environments — and picking an affordable pair that can keep up with you.
Here’s everything you need for the decision-making process: what to look for in a pair of wireless earbuds, how much to pay, and what we like best about our favorite models.
Before you start shopping, consider which features you’ll need for your lifestyle. Start by answering these questions.
Wireless earbuds are Bluetooth headphones that wirelessly connect to any Bluetooth device, but here’s the important part: they use a wire to connect to each other. So, while wireless earbuds are wireless from your device, they still use a wire that in most cases hangs behind your neck. This is important because some users prefer truly wireless earbuds, which use no wires, wirelessly connect to each other and your source device, and cost a lot more. If you’re prone to losing small electronics, don’t mind a single wire, or simply want the most affordable wireless audio you can find, get a pair of wireless earbuds. If you need the latest and greatest tech and don’t mind charging them more frequently, get a pair of truly wireless earbuds.
Wireless earbuds use a single wire to keep each earpiece connected to the other, and there are a few styles available. Some earbuds come with neckbands, with the earpieces extending from the ends around the collarbone. Others use shorter wires and connect each ear piece behind your head, like a horizontal headset. Decide which style is more comfortable for you, and focus your search on those models.
If you plan on taking phone calls with your wireless earbuds, you’ll need a pair with a built-in microphone. In most cases, the microphone is located closer to your mouth so it will pick up your voice more easily. If you’re just going to be using your earbuds for listening, save some money and avoid the models with microphones and in-line controls.
The perfect wireless earbuds
Bose is known for its high-end audio products (and high-end price tags), and products like the SoundSport show off why the company deserves every bit of its reputation. These headphones are expensive, even by Bose standards, but they’re worth it. They’ve got active EQ, so you’re always getting the absolute best sound possible; they’re jet black, so they go with everything; and they’re easy to pair and use. It’s impressive that Bose has made earbuds that sound this good. If they’re within your budget, they’re your best option.
So what differentiates various wireless earbud models and brands? For us, it comes down to four key features.
Audio quality: Hands down the most important aspect of any set of earbuds is how good they sound. A quality set of wireless earbuds will produce plenty of bass and make dialogue-based audio like podcasts or phone calls sound crisp and clear. To get a sense of how good a pair of wireless earbuds sound, check user reviews and, in general, be aware that less expensive earbuds don’t sound as good as more expensive models.
Magnetic ends: It may sound like a minor convenience, but some wireless earbuds include magnetic ends, so the earbuds stick together when they’re hanging around your neck. Magnetic ends are the perfect solution for anyone who drops their headphones a lot, or for anyone who’s ever lost them while working out at the gym.
Noise cancellation: Noise-cancelling headphones are a modern miracle: they use an algorithm to generate tones that cancel out the sounds around you, so all you hear is what comes through each earbud. Noise cancellation can be a pretty pricey feature, so don’t expect to find it on budget models, but in our book, it’s worth it.
If you’re a swimmer, get waterproof wireless earbuds. They’re a little more expensive, but waterproof earbuds can be really effective for swimming, whether you’re listening to your favorite music or best coaching app.
Wireless earbuds get dirty easily. We recommend keeping a can of compressed air handy for spraying out any built-up dust or dirt if you need to. And buy a microfiber cloth if you’re interested in keeping your earbuds shiny and fingerprint-free.
Some wireless earbuds include safety features for drivers. For example, many work for making phone calls, but the telephone audio only plays through one ear. That means you can still hear important traffic noises when you’re behind the wheel.
Different wireless earbuds have batteries of different sizes, which means that they last different lengths of time. Some last two to four hours on a single charge, while others can last as long as eight to ten hours. Once you’ve narrowed down your choices, compare the battery life to see if there is a clear winner.
Inexpensive: Basic wireless earbuds cost between $10 and $25. Models in this price range are pretty spartan and don’t offer much in the way of extra features, but they will definitely play back high-quality audio. Battery life in this price range can be pretty rough, too. Don’t expect more than four to six hours on a single charge if you’re looking at inexpensive wireless earbuds. If you just need a pair of earbuds for casual listening or temporary situations like travel, you don’t need to spend more than this.
Mid-range: The best values in wireless earbuds are between $25 and $60. Earbuds in this price range strike a nice balance between price point and features. It’s not hard to find earbuds that sound great and last all day in this price range. If you really need high-end features like noise cancellation, you’ll need to spend more, but for most users the right wireless earbuds won’t cost more than $60.
Expensive: Wireless earbuds that cost more than $60 offer audiophile sound quality, high-end finishes, and luxury features like noise cancellation. If you’re looking at earbuds in this price range, you’ll definitely get more features, but you’ll be paying a high premium for them.
Our favorite grab-n-go earbuds
TaoTronics’ earbuds bring a ridiculously good feature set to the table at a bargain-bin price point, so much so that you might consider picking up a few pairs to have in various situations. They’ve got magnet tips, nine hours of battery life, and passive noise cancelling. Did we mention they also come in multiple colors?
Consider memory foam earbud tips. Most wireless earbuds include multiple sizes of silicone tips, so you’ll likely find a good fit no matter what size your ears. However, some users struggle to find the right silicone tips and opt for memory foam tips instead, which expand to make a perfect fit with your ear each time you put them in. If you’re looking to get the most out of your audio, get memory foam tips. Just make sure to get the right size to go with your specific wireless earbuds.
Practice connecting and disconnecting your earbuds with your phone. Using Bluetooth to connect and disconnect wireless earbuds isn’t super complicated, but it can look and feel a little different on every device. When you first get your wireless earbuds, connect and disconnect them until you’re completely familiar with the process. That way, you won’t have to struggle with it when you’re on the go.
If you’re a fan of super simple operation, check out the EXFIT Bluetooth Headphones. You wear them around your neck, and when you need to listen, you pull out the retractable earbuds and put them in your ears, and then they snap back when you’re done. They’re perfect for anyone who doesn’t like to hassle with wires, and they keep the wires safe so they’ll last an exceptionally long time. If you’re looking for a pair of wireless earbuds for working out, we recommend the Amazon Basics Wireless Bluetooth Headphones. They’ve got incredible battery life, in-line controls for adjusting the volume, and a built-in microphone for talking on the phone. They’re ultra durable for athletes, and come with a carrying case, as well as multiple earbud tips, so you’re guaranteed to get the right fit while you’re exercising.
Q. If I get a pair of wireless earbuds with ear hooks, can I remove the hooks?
A. It depends on the pair. Most, but not all, wireless earbuds with ear hooks include them as optional attachments. If you’re thinking about buying a pair with ear hooks, check the product page or the user reviews to be certain that they come off. We recommend going with removable ear hooks just in case you run into a scenario where you don’t need them.
Q. How long does it take to recharge a pair of wireless earbuds?
A. It depends on the pair, but in general, recharging a pair of wireless earbuds takes an hour or two. Wireless earbuds charge much faster than truly wireless earbuds and deliver roughly the same amount of battery life.
Q. Can I replace the battery on a pair of wireless earbuds?
A. No. Wireless earbuds have built-in rechargeable batteries, but those aren’t meant to be replaced. All batteries stop accepting a charge eventually, so this does mean that someday you’ll need to replace your wireless earbuds, but most pairs last for several years before that’s necessary.
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