Best true wireless earbuds Notable mentions
The best Bluetooth headphones to buy in 2021 (Earphones)
Why you should consider in-ear Bluetooth headphones: they offer better batterylife over true wireless earbuds.
16. Beats Powerbeats: The best Bluetooth earphones for in-ear stability
Price: £130 | Buy now from Amazon The Powerbeats range has been around for a decade now and this iteration takesthe best parts of its predecessors and wraps them up into one neat andaffordable package. Beats’ signature earhook design makes them extremelystable for use at the gym or while running and the company’s big, bassy soundsignature is there for all to hear.With sweat- and water-resistance, battery life of up to 15 hours and in-builtSiri voice assistant functionality, which can be activated at the touch of abutton, the Powerbeats cater perfectly for those seeking a pair of headphonesto accompany their workout.Read our full Beats Powerbeats review for detailsKey specs – Headphone type: In-ear; Built-in microphone and music controlbuttons: Yes; Plug type: N/A; Weight: 27g; Cable length: N/A; Stated batterylife: 15 hours* * *
The Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus are the best all-around true wireless earbuds
For most people, the Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus are the best true wirelessearbuds around: they’re not too expensive, afford a host of features, andboast a long battery life and pocketable charging case. Sure, these aren’t themost beautiful earbuds listed, but they meet the needs of most listeners.More and more of us rely on our earphones as communication devices; I for onetake hands-free calls nearly everyday. Anyone who spends a silly amount oftime in conference calls or quelling their parents’ anxieties will be able todo so clearly with the Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus microphone system. It may notbe quite as clear as the AirPods Pro or Google Pixel Buds (2020), but it’sabout the best you can get for the price.
Why you should get true wireless earbuds
The earbuds fit magnetically in place and perfectly connect and disconnect toyour device automatically once placed inside.We’re witnessing a true wireless epoch: it’s no longer niche or novel tolisten completely untethered on your way to work. If you depend on publictransit to get you to and from work, then total wireless earphones are a greatdaily companion because of their portable build, convenient charging cases,and array of feature sets. Technological advancements have lowered thefinancial barrier to entry, and cheap true wireless options are readilyavailable to budget listeners.You might like: What is Bluetooth multipoint and why should you care?Even if you’re a remote worker, truly wireless earbuds can still be for youespecially if you like to exercise. Nothing’s more convenient than listeningcompletely wire-free. There is a slew of great true wireless workout earbudsfor runners and gym rats alike. Not only have numerous companies gone theextra mile by getting products officially IP certified, but they alsointegrate useful athletic features (e.g. ear hook design, silicone wing tips,Ambient Aware mode).While it’s true that battery depletion is a problem, resulting in a shortenedlifetime of true wireless earbuds compared to their on-ear or over-earheadphone alternatives, you’re paying a premium for convenience. For some ofus, it’s easy to justify while others may be better off with wired earbuds ordealing with bulkier wireless headphones.
Best true wireless earbuds: Notable mentions
When it comes to a category like headphones or speakers, it’s a challenge tomake a list like this. Not only are there plenty of factors to think about(sound, features, price, etc.), there are also tons of products to choosefrom. It’s a process, to say the least. Luckily, that isn’t the case with truewireless earbuds.The Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro and Google Pixel Buds (2020) are both great setsof true wireless earbuds, specifically for Android handsets.We try to get as much hands-on time with products as we can before declaringit one of the “best.” Which means that most—if not all—of the products on thislist have been put through our full review process. But what do we do when wehaven’t spent time with a product? Lots and lots of research. We spend hoursbrowsing through forums and discussions within the audio community. Even ifwe’ve already reviewed a product, we usually do this anyway to get as much ofa birds-eye view of the landscape as possible. * Anker Soundcore Liberty Air 2: These earbuds with angled nozzles may just be your best bet for a budget pair of true wireless earbuds. They run for $99 and have excellent isolation and microphone quality. Their sound quality is also not half bad, and it can be EQ’d in the Soundcore app. * Apple AirPods: While they’re flawed in many ways, the AirPods are still a great choice if you prioritize a good connection and a portable charging case. * Bang & Olufsen E8 Wireless: This model was absolutely exceptional in features, battery life, and isolation (memory foam tips are a godsend). However, it had persistent connection issues with Windows 10 and Android devices. For the most expensive entrant in our competition here ($300), those problems were enough to sink them. * Bose QuietComfort Earbuds: These comfortable earbuds feature stellar active noise cancelling, but come at a high cost of $279. They have an IPX4 rating, and customizable touch controls. * Bose Sport Earbuds: These workout earbuds have a comfortable and stable fit, an IPX4 rating, and a few creature comforts like automatic ear detection. They don’t isolate very well, but this shouldn’t be an issue when working out because you want to be aware of your surroundings. * Google Pixel Buds (2020): Google’s debut true wireless earbuds are a great AirPods competitor, and feature an excellent design with the best charging case we’ve seen yet. These are IPX4-rated, and last for six hours on a single charge; if you’re looking for a streamlined Android experience with hands-free Google Assistant support, get these earphones. * Jabra Elite 75t and Jabra Elite Active 75t: If battery life and durability are your top two priorities, either of these headsets will serve you well. Both have excellent microphone systems and are very comfortable. The Active 75t is more durable than the standard Elite 75t (IP57 compared to an IP55 rating). The Jabra Elite 75t happens to hold its own compared to the Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus. * Jaybird Vista: These are some incredible workout earbuds. They’re IPX7 water-resistant, meaning they can be fully submerged without damage. The compact charging case supports quick charging via the included USB-C cable. Plus, the fit is superb, albeit a bit painful after an hour for small ears. If you don’t have the money or desire to shell out for the Powerbeats Pro, get these. * JLab JBuds Air Icon: These are among the best cheap true wireless earphones you can get. JLab updated the connection mechanism from the original JBuds Air, resulting in reliable connectivity. You also benefit from great battery life, and n integrated USB charging cable at the bottom of the included case. For a functional headset that costs even less, get the JLab GO Air instead. * Master & Dynamic MW07 Plus: If you’re not concerned with a tight budget and want something that oozes quality and attention to detail, these aptX, noise cancelling earbuds should do the trick. If you want a similar build and neutral-leaning sound signature, the cheaper Master & Dynamic MW07 Go is a perfect fit. * Mobvoi TicPods 2 Pro: These are a great option for listeners who want hands-free access to Siri or Google without paying a premium for the integrated technology. Mobvoi uses its own TicHear AI, so users just have to say the phrase, “Hey Tico,” to activate their virtual assistant of choice. * Panasonic RZ-S500W and Panasonic RZ-S300W: As far as design is concerned, these headsets are nearly identical with the former being slightly larger than the latter. Why the size discrepancy? Well, the RZ-S500W includes hybrid active noise cancelling, and is among the best true wireless noise cancelling tech around. The RZ-S300W is IPX4-rated and supports quick charging just as the more premium model. Both headsets have good integrated microphone systems, but the RZ-S500W microphone array is much better at relaying accurate audio. * RHA TrueConnect 2: Listeners who are looking for an AirPods alternative that fits better and boasts a more sophisticated design are sure to be happy with these IP55 earbuds that operate via Bluetooth 5.0. * Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro: Samsung’s noise cancelling earphones drop the bean-shape of the Galaxy Buds Live in favor of a more traditional earbud design. These IPX7 earphones fit well, and are a great option for athletes who want their earphones to do a little bit of everything. * Sony WF-1000XM3: The Sony WF-1000XM3 are definitely one of the best pairs of ANC true wireless earbuds out there. They were just bumped off this list by the Sennheiser MOMENTUM True Wireless 2, but if you’re looking for great sounding earbuds that also have Google Assistant integration and adaptive sound, these are a great buy. * 1MORE True Wireless ANC: Noise cancelling isn’t going to blow you away, but these earbuds support both aptX and AAC for high-quality streaming. Users also benefit from connection stability afforded by Qualcomm True Wireless Stereo Plus technology.A number of true wireless earbuds are about to hit the market with a newsmartphone refresh, so be sure to check back for reviews and analysis ofmodels.See: Best AirPods alternatives
How we tested the best true wireless earbuds
By using a dummy head, audio engineers are able to test out how audio productswill perform for most people — and so do we. Specifically, we tested frequencyresponse, isolation, and battery life to keep things simple. You can read moreabout it here if you want to know more about the specifics. * For each product, we played several sine sweeps through the earphones and logged the frequency response once we arrived at a repeatable result that demonstrated the hallmarks of a good seal. * To test the battery, we use pink noise and a real-time analyzer to find the setting needed to output 75dB(SPL) over the products, and we play music on an infinite loop. This means every reading can be directly compared to each other. * To test isolation, we took a sample of pink noise at 90dB SPL at one meter, once with the headphones off, and another with the headphones on. We then subtracted one curve from the other.While these three tests are simple, they cover the biggest areas of concernwith true wireless earbuds. Keep in mind that your battery life will vary ifyou tend to crank the volume. Additionally, you could squeak out betterisolation performance if you use third-party tips.
Best running headphones: At a glance
* Best budget running headphones: JBL Endurance Sprint | Buy now * Best budget wired running headphones: Sony MDR-XB510AS | Buy now * Best noise-cancelling running headphones: Apple Airpods Pro | Buy now * Best running headphones for battery life: Adidas FWD-01 | Buy now * Best-sounding headphones for running: NuraLoop | Buy now * Best true wireless running headphones: Beats Powerbeats Pro | Buy now
2. Beats Powerbeats Pro: The best true wireless running headphones
Price: £220 | Buy now from Amazon The Powerbeats Pro offer the best battery life and fit of any true wirelessheadphones out there. You get nine hours of juice from a single charge andjust five minutes in the carry case will yield 90 minutes of playback in apinch. The ear hook design also means the headphones don’t move an inch duringyour runs.Both headphones offer the same controls, with a volume up/down button and alarger multifunctional button that you can use to control your music. Thesound quality is impressive and the headphones connect to a variety of devicesquickly, easily and reliably. Aside from the high price, the only fly in theointment is the large carry case, which is too bulky to pop in a pocket andonly brings the total battery life to 24 hours, despite its hefty size.However, since the Powerbeats Pro offers all-day battery life from theheadphones themselves, you can leave the case behind anyway.Click here to read our full Powerbeats Pro reviewKey specs – Style: True wireless earbuds with earhooks; Water resistance:IPX4; Battery life: 9 hours (24 total with case)* * *
5. Beats Powerbeats: The best running headphones for fit and bass
Price: £110 | Buy now from Amazon The Beats Powerbeats are a wonderful synthesis of the true wireless PowerbeatsPro and the Powerbeats 3 (2016). These neckband-style headphones are extremelystable when worn during exercise; you can be bobbing your head like PaulaRadcliffe on the final mile of the marathon and they just won’t budge.The neckband doesn’t chafe your neck due to its rounded design and the wiringgoing to the earpieces runs behind your ears, which helps you forget you’reeven wearing headphones. But the Powerbeats’ standout quality is their bassreproduction. The low end is phenomenal, creating a powerful audio experiencefull of weight and intensity. It’s perfect for pushing you on to complete thatextra mile or two when the lactic acid really begins to kick in.Simple controls make the Powerbeats a breeze to use and they’re both sweat-and water-resistant so you can complete runs in the rain or particularlysweaty treadmill sessions without fear of damaging them.Click here to read our full Beats Powerbeats reviewKey specs – Style: Wireless earphones; Water-resistance: IPX4; Battery life:15 hours* * *
6. Apple AirPods Pro: The best noise-cancelling wireless earbuds for
runningPrice: £250| Buy now from Currys The AirPods Pro are the first true wireless headphones we’ve come across thatoffer active noise cancellation (ANC) while also having a secure enough fitfor running. They’ve immediately become our go-to option for runs as a result.There are some situations when you don’t want ANC activated when running – ifyou’re on a busy road, for example – so you can switch to the AirPods Pro’stransparency mode, which filters in external noise to your music so you’reaware of your surroundings. However, when you can enable the ANC it’s a joy,making your music more immersive and blocking out the distractions of theworld around you so you can focus on your run.The sound quality of the AirPods Pro is excellent thanks to the in-ear design,and the fit is comfortable to wear for long periods while also being secureenough for running. The battery life of the buds is solid rather thanspectacular at 4.5 hours with ANC enabled (you can get five hours if you turnit off), but the quick charge feature, which nets you an hour of playback fromjust five minutes in the case, means that you’ll never be caught short ofjuice before your run.Click here to read our full Apple AirPods Pro reviewKey specs – Style: True wireless earbuds; Water-resistance: IPX4; Batterylife: 4.5 hours (24 total with case)Buy now from Currys* * *
10. Adidas FWD-01: The best running headphones for battery life
Price: £59 | Buy now from Amazon It’s difficult to find much fault with Adidas’ FWD-01 neckband Bluetoothearphones. Their main selling point is their superb battery life, whichextends to 16 hours or more between charges. Should you forget to charge them,they also offer superfast USB-C charging, meaning you can top them up to 60%in a mere 15 minutes.Aside from this, we’ve found the FWD-01 to be very well suited to runningbecause their design deliberately doesn’t create a perfect seal in your ears.This means not only are you more aware of your surroundings when running butalso you don’t get that irritating amplification of every step.Despite this, the earbuds remained snugly in our ears and we were really fondof the sound quality, too. As with most sports-orientated headphones, they’rea bit boomy but there’s plenty of detail through the mid-range frequencies andtreble. In fact, our only minor gripe is that the magnet that holds theearbuds together when they’re hung around your neck isn’t very strong. Coupledwith the lack of grip from the fabric-coated cable, there’s a risk of themslipping off when they’re not in use.Key specs – Style: Wireless earphones; Water-resistance: IPX4; Battery life:16+ hours* * *
Over-Ear Headphones Offer The Best Sound Quality
Over-ear headphones are the ultimate in comfort and sound quality but are byfar the least portable. As the name suggests, these headphones often don’ttouch your ears at all. Instead, they have padding that clamps around yourears, which is how they’re able to stay comfortable for so long. Part of thereason over-ear headphones sound better is that they have more room for largerdrivers, or different types of drivers, that require more space to workproperly.