Active noise-cancellation for total sound immersion. Transparency mode allows you to hear and connect with your environment while listening. Sweat- and water-resistant. Wireless charging case provides an impressive 24 hours of battery life.
A pricey choice compared to others.
Comfortable design that stays in place with soft built-in stabilizers. Good sound quality with punchy bass and emphasized highs, ideal for phone calls. Intuitive tap-based controls. Sweat-resistant; good for workouts or chores.
Our testing found the battery life underwhelming.
Lightweight and compact charging case. Offers 6 different sizes of ear tips for a good fit. Offers 3 sound modes to suit different listeners. IPX6 water resistance stands up to sweat or splashes. Offers 36 total hours of battery with charging case.
Some reviewers complain of bass-heavy sound and mediocre mic quality.
Compatible with both iOS and Android. Offers true active noise-canceling with transparency mode for staying aware of your surroundings. IPX4 water resistant for sweat. Supports Spatial Audio. Offers one-touch pairing.
ANC and transparency not as good as Apple's other offerings.
Premium comfort. Waterproof. Sweatproof. Durable. Active noise-cancellation. Solid 7.5 hours of battery life. Fast-charging. Optimized for phone calls. Available in multiple designer colors.
A longer battery life would be preferable.
We recommend these products based on an intensive research process that's designed to cut through the noise and find the top products in this space. Guided by experts, we spend hours looking into the factors that matter, to bring you these selections.
Like it or not, electronics companies are phasing out headphone jacks, and that means that sooner or later you’re going to want a set of wireless headphones to get audio from your smartphone, tablet, or laptop. 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.
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 earpiece 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.
So what differentiates various wireless earbud models and brands? For us, it comes down to four key features.
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.
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-canceling 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.
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.
The best bang for your buck in wireless earbuds are between $25 and $60. Earbuds in this price range strike a nice balance between price 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.
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.
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 are. 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.
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.
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.
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.