The best wireless earbuds afford you many of the same perks that an elite pair of wired or wireless headphones would, maybe even more. They free you of cables, letting you consume music on the go without being physically tethered to your portable devices: smartphones, tablets, and laptops. Even better, they pack lots of performance – great sound, call quality, and special features – into a compact design.
As the category continues to grow in popularity, so does the demand for wireless earbuds, especially with modern smartphones slowly doing away with the headphone jack. Le sigh. Nonetheless, this hasn’t stopped tech staples like Sony, Samsung, and even Apple from releasing stellar cordless buds. We’re also seeing other popular electronics brands such as Jabra and Anker jump on the wireless earbuds’ bandwagon, releasing superior products that hold their own against the top dogs.
In compiling a list of the best wireless earbuds, we take many variables into account, from battery life to connectivity to design to sound. Other notable hallmarks such as mobile app support, setup, and special features are factored into the equation as well.
After testing the market’s top offerings, we’ve ranked the best wireless earbuds based on budget, performance, and style. Scroll down to see which ones best suit your listening needs.
What are the best wireless earbuds?
The Apple AirPods Pro currently stand as the best wireless earbuds due to their enhanced fit, seamless iOS/MacOS functionality, and surprisingly good active noise cancellation. We’ve found these cordless danglers to be the ideal companion for all Apple devices. They also work with Android and Windows devices via Bluetooth, though the setup process can be a bit arduous.
Coming in a close second is the recently launched Bose QuietComfort Earbuds, for its unbeatable noise cancellation and great sound. As mentioned in our review, Bose “managed to gather all of the winning qualities of its flagship headphones, shrink them down and put them in a pair of truly wireless earbuds.” The design and control scheme are also major improvements from what was delivered on the company’s last truly wireless model, the SoundSport Free.
Those on the hunt for Android-friendly wireless earbuds may want to look at the all-new Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus. They have better battery life and sound than the AirPods Pro and plenty of neat features. Not to mention they work well across all OS platforms. The Jabra Elite Active 75t is another amazing option with dynamic sound, solid battery life, and lots of personalized features that enhance functionality.
The Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2 blends excellent sound and powerful noise cancellation into a clean, minimalist design, while the Sony WF-1000xM3 remains a solid noise-cancelling model with first-class audio and ANC in a deluxe package.
Whether you’re a business traveler who requires complete silence in flight or just an avid music lover who wants amazing sound in a tinier form, there’s a model on our list of best wireless earbuds tailored to your ears.
The best wireless earbuds you can buy today
Apple made almost every change necessary to make the AirPods Pro the best wireless earbuds that money can buy. Fans wanted active noise cancellation and got just that, which is superbly effective, thanks to Apple’s multi-mic system that uses two mics on each bud to analyze ambient sound and cancels it out before reaching the soundstage. The technology is intuitive and blocks out about 85% of street noise.
The included ear tips also make a world of difference in fit and sound. They create a comfy, tight seal around the canal that ensures the Pods don’t slip out when rushing to catch the bus. Gym rats and gamers who sweat profusely no longer have to worry about damaging their buds either, as Apple made the AirPods Pro water and sweat resistant. It’s this personalized fit, along with Apple’s all-new Adaptive EQ, that also makes music sound fuller. Not to mention Apple has introduced an all-new spatial audio feature in iOS 14 that helps create a 3D soundscape for listeners.
Read our full Apple AirPods Pro review.
Bose did the unexpected, which was take the excellent active noise cancellation of the Bose 700 and carry it over onto the all-new QuietComfort Earbuds. Nothing short of an engineering feat, this model blocks out a vast amount of ambient sound and does so with half the mics of its over-the-ear brethren. This same mic array is what allows for fantastic call quality and digital assistant use across all platforms as well. Even more impressive is how the buds manage to blend both ANC and Transparency modes, allowing you to hear ambient sounds more clearly for improved awareness. Bose’s Active EQ technology and proprietary drivers also give these buds a sound curve similar to the 700, resulting in warm, relatively balanced audio.
Our one gripe about the QuietComfort Earbuds is battery life, which could be longer. The massive charging case doesn’t hold as much portable power either in comparison to other models, plus it’s huge and cumbersome to carry around.
Read our full Bose QuietComfort Earbuds review.
Samsung’s first-ever ANC wireless earbuds are a notable entry in the company’s line of popular mobile accessories and delivers top-tier sound in a unique, stylish design. You can expect crisp treble, clear vocals, and impactful bass when indulging in Spotify playlists, which you can instantly pull up on the buds with the touch of a button by customizing the controls in the Galaxy Wear app. There’s also the option to fine-tune sound to your liking by selecting from six different presets. One of the bigger perks of owning these buds over the AirPods Pro is longer battery life; the Galaxy Buds Live offers an hour more playtime with ANC on and three hours more when turned off.
However, the device’s killer feature, active noise cancellation, does not live up to expectations. It’s decent enough to eliminate small ambient noises, but don’t expect silence when walking down a busy street. We feel the touch controls could be better as well.
Read our full Samsung Galaxy Buds Live review.
We didn’t think Jabra was capable of improving its wireless earbuds, but they definitely showed out with this model. The Elite Active 75t takes everything that made its predecessor, the Elite Active 65t, one of the best wireless earbuds for casual listening and fitness and turned the performance knob up to 11. Jabra shrunk the design by 22%, while nearly doubling the battery life on both the buds and charging case. The waterproof coating is also great for exercising and does a phenomenal job of absorbing wetness to prevent slippage.
What’s even more remarkable is how powerful the audio is on these sporty buds; sound is lively and lends itself well to all music genres. Access to the Jabra Sound+ app broadens the buds’ sonic capabilities by allowing you to play with the EQ or select from one of five band presets. Best of all, not only do these buds come with impressive passive noise cancellation, but Jabra just released an over-the-air ANC update that gives both models in the Elite 75t series surprisingly effective noise neutralization. And for free!
Basically, Sennheiser repackaged its popular wireless earbuds with a bigger battery and active noise cancellation, and the end product is undeniable. The Momentum True Wireless 2’s ANC performance is up there with the AirPods Pro, using a single mic on each bud to minimize ambient sound at high levels; loud TVs and noisy neighbors will go unnoticed. Playtime has been increased from 4 to 7 hours, with the gorgeous slate gray fabric charging case housing an extra 3 charges. These buds also retain the beautiful sound of the original, delivering sumptuous audio with precise detail, which can also be personalized via Sennheiser Smart Control app, though the default profile is great as is.
Those with small ears and pockets will find the Momentum True Wireless 2 less enticing, as the buds don’t provide the best comfort or fit for tiny ear holes, while the upscale price tag ($300) makes them one of the more expensive options in the category.
See our full Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2 review.
Jabra spared no expense when creating its first-ever noise-cancelling wireless earbuds. The Elite 85t has its own dedicated ANC chip that works hand-in-hand with the Qualcomm QCC5126 processor to deliver adaptive, exceptional sound on all fronts. If you loved listening to music on the Elite 75t, then you’ll appreciate the audio quality this version delivers, housing 12mm drivers that are finely tuned to produce the perfect blend of warm and bright sound. Noise cancellation is resilient and capable of blocking out 85% of external sounds to hear your favorite jams distraction-free. Then there is the Jabra Sound+ app, which is packed with personalized features, from the equalizer to the MyControls setting that extends functionality by assigning single, double, and triple-press commands to both buds.
With such a monstrous spec sheet, it is disappointing to see that the Elite 85t doesn’t have the strongest battery life, barely beating out the regular AirPods. On the flip side, Jabra did a commendable job with battery management, so you can get extended playtime by either turning off ANC or setting up a Sleep Timer in the app. Oh, and the latest software update brings Bluetooth 5.1 to the Elite 85t.
Google’s back and the Pixel Buds 2 are better than ever. First off, they’re actually wireless this time around. Next, they’re comfortable and sound good, not exactly on a par with the leading brands, but not far off either. Best of all, at $179, it’s cheaper than most of the competition. But the Pixel Buds 2 claim to fame is its seamless translation services by way of Google Translate, which allows you to have a conversation with real-time translation. Another cool feature that Google has recently implemented is support for the Find My Device app, which will allow users to easily track down misplaced buds. If the reports are true, then we might also see the Pixel Buds 2 compatible with the Pixel 5’s automated reverse wireless charging feature, as spotted by 9to5Google.
As impressive as it is, we would be remiss to ignore the Pixel Buds 2’s weaknesses, in particular, battery life. These buds share the same meager playtime as the AirPods Pro (with noise cancelling on). Not to mention the discharge times are off, as the right bud often consumes more energy than the left bud.
Read our full Google Pixel Buds 2 review.
The Powerbeats Pro combines water- and sweat resistance and a low-profile design with signature Apple-y integration, making them a no-brainer for workout enthusiasts who want to cut the cord. Even though Beats headphones tend to be bass-heavy, the Powerbeats Pro features very well-balanced sound. Pairing the earbuds and using the controls are almost frictionless experiences. They also have longer battery life than the AirPods Pro at up to 9 hours of listening time. Best of all, they carry over many of the cool software perks that come with iOS 14, including auto switching, audio sharing, and “Hey Siri” hands-free support.
While the earbuds themselves are excellent workout companions, the charging case, which provides an additional 24 hours of use, is huge and heavy to carry around. Taking calls in drafty conditions is another issue the Powerbeats Pro presents, though you’ll enjoy some great-sounding conversations in quieter settings.
Want a great pair of wireless earbuds that operates smoothly across multiple platforms? Here it is. The Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus doesn’t just play nicely with iOS and Android devices, but also offers more battery life, better sound, and cooler wireless features (e.g. reverse charging with any compatible Samsung Galaxy phone) than the AirPods Pro. Having 11 hours of playtime on a single charge is such a huge deal, giving users lengthier playtimes in between charges. The pill-shaped charging case doubles that number and supports faster quick charging to get you 1 hour of use on a 3-minute charge.
AKG’s dual-tuned speakers pump out clean and lively audio. The buds also have their own iOS and Android apps, which lets you personalize the sound and touch controls, though the latter blesses you with more perks such as Spotify integration and a Gaming mode with dedicated EQ.
Read our full Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus review.
Sony’s third attempt at a noise-canceling true wireless model is a success, backed by strong sonics and noteworthy ANC performance. The audio giant’s boomy soundstage has been fine-tuned to kick out cleaner, yet still impactful lows that play nicely with mids and highs. But it’s the WF-1000xM3’s sound-silencing technology that impresses most, as Sony’s dual-mic system hushes ambient noise far better than most sub-luxury headphones. Access to the Sony Headphones Connect app is amazing for personalization, letting you fine-tune the soundstage and tweak the ambient-listening settings to hear external sounds clearly. Strong battery life on a single charge also makes it one of the better AirPods Alternatives out there.
Just be mindful that the touch controls are not the greatest; the touch panels often misinterpret commands. Call quality is another area where the WF-1000xM3 could use improvement, as most calls sound muffled and cut out sporadically.
As phenomenal as the AirPods Pro may be, there’s no denying the model that came before it. The AirPods II still delivers a top-tier true wireless experience that makes connecting to iOS and macOS devices instantaneous, while allowing for seamless voice command via Hey Siri. You’re also getting many of the same features found on its noise-cancelling sibling, including Announce Messages with Siri, audio sharing between two AirPods or Beats headphones, and automatic switching, which is set to be part of an upcoming iOS 14 update rumored for launch this September. Adding some third-party ear tips into the mix can help provide a more pleasant and secure fit too.
Investing in Apple’s second-gen buds also means you’re fine living without some modern features like EQ presets and an ambient listening mode. Those same sentiments carry over to battery life, which, while slightly better than the AirPods Pro, won’t last you long on flights.
There’s no denying that Bang & Olufsen’s first-ever sports wireless buds are pricey, but as the saying goes, you get what you pay for. In the case of the Beoplay E8 Sport, it’s craftsmanship and performance. This model carries over the same accurate sound signature as its more sophisticated sibling, the Beoplay E8, giving music a lively presence with superbly balanced frequencies. Bass levels knock hard enough to stimulate a second wind on long runs, while vocals are reproduced superbly to make listeners feel like their favorite musicians are performing front and center for them. More striking is the build quality, as the buds are made up of top-notch materials, are waterproof, and come with a robust charging case that looks badass.
Aside from its hefty price tag, the only other major complaint we have revolves around connectivity, as Bluetooth 5.0 isn’t the most reliable on these buds. You might encounter some stutter when stepping just a few feet away from your audio source or have the right earbud disconnect randomly.
Read our full Bang & Olufsen Beoplay E8 Sport review.
How to choose the best wireless earbuds for you
Battery life is most crucial when searching for the best wireless earbuds. Most models offer 4 to 8 hours on a single charge. Make sure the buds come bundled with a charging case too, so to keep them charged and stowed away during commutes. Charging cases can provide multiple charges and hold anywhere between 12 to 40+ hours of additional playtime.
Design is just as important. Ideally, you want a pair of buds that offer personalized fit and comfort, along with multiple ear tips to accommodate different ear shapes. Durability and water-resistant protection shouldn’t be overlooked either.
Next up is audio, which applies to all media formats (e.g. music, videos, games) and phone calls. Explore models with powerful drivers and customization settings that allow you to tweak sound profiles to your liking.
Let’s not forget wireless functionality. Many wireless earbuds come programmed with Bluetooth 5.0, which gives users faster connectivity, increased range (est. 120 meters max), longer battery life, and multipoint pairing to connect to two audio sources simultaneously. Digital assistant support (Siri, Google, and Alexa) falls under this section as well.
We’re seeing more wireless earbuds boast advanced features like an adaptive EQ and active noise cancellation. These are features well worth spending on extra on, if engineered properly, and will be more common as the category evolves.
How we test the best wireless earbuds
When testing for the best wireless earbuds, Laptop Magazine evaluates several factors: design, comfort, sound, and value just to name a few. Our reviewers also compare these models to similar products in the category in terms of features, fit, and pricing.
Wireless earbuds are worn over the course of a week for 2 to 3 hours at a time. During this period, we assess comfort, ease of use, and audio quality. We listen to several sample tracks across a number of music genres, including hip-hop, rock, jazz, and classical, while analyzing clarity, depth, and volume. Audiobooks, games, podcasts, and videos are also taken into consideration.
Our reviewers also test battery life, Bluetooth range, digital assistant support, ease of setup, and any app-enabled features compatible with laptops, desktops, and all portable devices like smartphones and tablets.
Furthermore, we test streaming music services that offer hi-res audio. To learn more about how these services can improve the sound quality on your laptops and mobile devices, here is an expert audio codec FAQ on everything you should know about FLAC files, MP3s and all other audio file codecs.
Once our testing is completed, every model is rated based on our five-point system (1 = worst, 5 = best). Any product that is truly exemplary is awarded an Editor’s Choice.