Putting together a list of the best headphones and earbuds for battery life requires lots of testing and research. Fortunately, the Laptop Mag crew has had the privilege of reviewing the market’s top performers, helping you decide which model best suits your needs and budget.
Ideally, you want something that keeps you entertained on flights or throughout the workweek before recharging. The problem is that not many wireless headphones and earbuds are engineered to hold a charge for very long. Factor in premium features like active noise cancellation (ANC), EQ settings, and lossless audio streaming, along with high volume, and the battery drains quicker than a Hummer goes through gas.
For this list, we selected headphones and earbuds that not only come with bountiful battery life, but also remain faithful to their advertised playtimes and demonstrate excellent battery management. Expect to see prime selections from industry staples (e.g., Sennheiser, Sony) and newcomers (e.g., Cleer, JLab, Urbanista) that are setting the new standard for extended operation.
Here is our ranking of the best headphones and earbuds for battery life based on functionality, specs, and price.
What are the best headphones and earbuds for battery life?
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Ranking at the top of our list of the best headphones and earbuds for battery life are the Sennheiser Momentum 4. These noise-cancelling headphones are loaded with high-end features, including adaptive ANC, Bluetooth multipoint (to connect to two devices simultaneously), Hi-Res playback, and smart controls. Accommodating this elevated level of functionality is 60 hours of playtime, along with insanely powerful quick charging that no other model in the category can match.
The Creative Outlier Pro ANC currently stands as the best wireless earbuds for battery life. Only a handful of rivals provide between 10 to 15 hours of playtime per charge. What separates the Outlier Pro ANC from the pack is its fascinating feature set, consisting of 3D sound, hybrid ANC, and wireless charging. Most importantly, its charging case holds up to 60 hours.
Coming in third place is one of the best wireless headphones deals out there: the $99 1More SonoFlow. Strong, reliable connectivity, and 50 hours of ANC playtime (70 hours with ANC off) come part of the package. Not too far behind is the more expensive Technics EAH-A800, which delivers similar battery life, along with hi-fi sound and other audiophile-centric features.
These are just some of the many terrific options you’ll want to consider having as a travel companion. Scroll down to read more extensive breakdowns, along with the rest of the best headphones and earbuds for battery life.
The best headphones and earbuds for battery life right now
Sennheiser went all out creating their fourth-gen noise-cancelling headphone. The Momentum 4 has lots of audio features that enhance what’s already grade-A sound right out of the box. You can tweak sound manually or enable adaptive modes that automatically tune the soundstage to your hearing. ANC works similarly to and nearly rivals the category-leading Bose 700. This level of performance requires strong battery life, and the Momentum 4 doesn’t disappoint, achieving up to 60 hours per charge and having the most powerful quick-charging technology out there: 5 minutes = 4 hours of listening time.
The comfort levels aren’t the best, nor are the touch controls, but all that functionality makes them well worth the investment, especially for battery life mongers.
Read our full Sennheiser Momentum 4 review.
Creative’s reputation in the audio space has always been solid and their latest venture into true wireless earbuds builds on their legacy. Of the numerous models they’ve launched, the Outlier Pro ANC is the top dog for many reasons. First, it’s one of the few wireless earbuds under $100 to feature 3D audio. It delivers the same dynamic and punchy sound as the brand’s well-received computer speakers. Hybrid ANC performs up to par and can be adjusted to block out different noise levels. These are all huge battery drainers, but Creative thought ahead, stuffing an 85mAh lithium polymer battery into the buds that can hold between 10 to 15 hours per charge. The wireless charging case holds 60 hours. A 10-minute charge also generates 2 hours of use.
Improvements could have been made to the controls and fit, but these flaws don’t take away from the Outlier Pro ANC’s fantastic overall performance.
Read our full Creative Outlier Pro ANC review.
You’re wondering why not the flagship Sony WH-1000XM5? Simple: the WH-XB910N holds 10 hours more when ANC is turned off, comes with many of the same features as its more expensive sibling, and is often on sale (we’ve seen it for as low as $123). Let’s not overlook performance either because these are some of the best Sony headphones available, backed by versatile a soundstage that can be upscaled when enabling Sony’s DSEE technology. Sony’s 360 Reality Audio platform is also available for 360-degree sound.
Not everything hits its mark, which is why we’re advising to completely ignore the unreliable digital assistant.
Read our full Sony WH-XB910N review.
At $349, the EAH-A800 aren’t the most attainable hi-fi wireless headphones out, but audiophiles with deep pockets will find the asking price just right. Technics’ sound profile is stellar, delivering clear and expansive audio that complements all forms of media (e.g., music, movies, games, podcasts). LDAC support gets you a high bitrate of 990kbps on compatible devices for CD-quality sound, plus there are several customization settings in the companion app to personalize sound.
Factor in decent ANC and you’ve got high-powered headphones that require strong battery life, which Technics was much obliged to provide. A full charge produces 50 to 60 hours, depending how you use the headphones. If that isn’t enough to sell you on usability, then the EAH-A800’s insanely powerful quick charging surely will: 15 minutes via USB-C connector equates to 10 hours of playtime.
The idea that noise-cancelling earbuds would ever be this cheap would have been unthinkable not long ago. But the Epic Air Sport ANC manages it, and you might be relieved to know that this isn’t a cheap and nasty pair of buds underneath a sound-silencing sheen. On the contrary, it’s actually very practical on the whole, with great battery life and respectable sound output.
Unlike similar, ear hook-equipped earbuds, the Epic Air Sport ANC rarely feels uncomfortable, and you get a few different tip sizes to find the perfect fit. Special mention goes to the buds’ longevity: around 11 hours per charge with ANC enabled, comfortably more than twice that of the AirPods Pro. A charging case that holds 55 hours of playtime isn’t so bad either.
The Enduro ANC is the only sub-$140 ANC headphone we know of with aptX Adaptive codec support, customizable sound, solid noise cancellation, and up to 60 hours of battery life. Coming out of the 40mm Ironless Drivers is engaging audio that’s highlighted by deep bass, striking mids, and clear highs, which can all be tweaked to your liking. Per our reviewer, the noise cancellation is good enough to “provide several peaceful moments around the house.” You get some cool wireless features as well, including customizable ambient listening and multipoint technology. But the Enduro ANC’s greatest selling point is ANC playtime, nearly tripling what current Bose headphones offer.
A low price often presents compromises, which in this case are the less appealing design and buggy mobile app. In the end, these are trivial complaints for a fine-sounding model with serious battery life.
See our full Cleer Enduro ANC review.
The Major IV is a notable upgrade that maintains the hallmarks of its predecessor, while nearly tripling its battery life. A full charge gets you 80 hours (no, that’s not a typo), which should get you a good 2 to 3 months of playtime when using the headphones in moderation. You can also charge the headphones wirelessly via wireless charging pad. Marshall’s retro audio equipment design is still attractive and features innovative physical controls like the multi-directional control knob that makes pairing, playback, volume, and call management simple to execute. The 40mm dynamic drivers pump out excellent mid-range too.
As with most on-ear headphones, the Major IV does let in more noise than it blocks out, which can affect audio quality. Also, while we like the rich bass these cans deliver, we also felt the low end could have delivered punchier results. Other than that, the Major IV is another solid addition to the company’s long line of high-performing headphones.
Read our full Marshall Major IV review.
Master & Dynamic gave its flagship wireless earbuds the sporty treatment. The MW08 Sport comes with aesthetic upgrades such as shatterproof materials and water resistance, along with a Kevlar-wrapped charging case. Two-level ANC ensures less-noisy environments when exercising or lounging at home. Battery life is remarkable with 10 hours of ANC playback on a single charge, which can be extended to 12 hours when disabling the feature. Most fitness buffs want energetic and vibrant sound to get their motor running and the MW08 Sport delivers it, pumping out balanced frequencies with deep, impactful bass.
The feature set is extremely limited and doesn’t match what other sports headphones bring to the table; two models that come to mind are the Jaybird Vista 2 and JBL Reflect Mini NC. Also, the MW08 Sport is more expensive than the original MW08, which doesn’t come cheap either at $299.
Read our full Master & Dynamic MW08 Sport review.
The idea of solar-powered headphones just screams gimmicky, but the Urbanista Los Angeles is far from it. These wireless cans feature Powerfoyle solar cells on the headband that capture solar energy when exposed to light, allowing you to recharge on the fly, as long as it's exposed to sunlight outside or any other powerful light source. You can even gauge how much power the headphones are gaining or draining when in use through the companion app. Once achieving a full charge, up 80 hours of use (50 hours with ANC on) is available, which is some of the longest-rated playtime in the category. Sound is also bass-forward and brings an energetic presence to most songs.
Bear in mind that the clamp force on these headphones is incredibly tight, making them uncomfortable to wear after an hour. ANC is also weak compared to other noise-cancelling models. Nonetheless, the Los Angeles deserves recognition for its ingenuity.
Wireless earbuds are more convenient for fitness activities, but the JBL UA Project Rock Over-Hear Training Headphones make a compelling case for avid exercises that want more performance out of their workout companion. These headphones pack booming JBL sound and adaptive noise cancellation into a near-indestructible design that can survive the abuse you’ll put it through at the gym. Access to the JBL Headphones app means you can personalize sound by selecting from a variety of well-engineered presets, including a custom one tuned by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson that pumps out dynamic bass response to “crush workouts.” The only thing more powerful than the sound is battery life, which is rated between 35 to 45 hours, depending on how you use the headphones.
You’ll want to keep wear times under an hour since the clamping force on these cans is incredibly tight; the headband applies a lot of pressure on the skull. Those who like to use the digital assistant for hands-free voice commands will have to endure the annoying setup process as well.
Read our full JBL UA Project Rock Over-Ear Training Headphones review.
How to choose the best headphones and earbuds for battery life for you
It’s obvious what to prioritize when seeking out the best headphones and earbuds for battery life, but what should you look for specifically? Start with playtimes. Great noise-cancelling headphones will get you anywhere between 20 to 60 hours, while standard wireless headphones can reach up to 80 hours and true wireless earbuds fall somewhere between 8 to 15 hours per charge. Follow up with battery management, which is often represented by select features that optimize use and power consumption. See what models have an auto-off timer, wear detection to auto-pause music, and a mono mode (one-bud use for calls and listening).
Charging solutions are very important. Most modern headphones and earbuds have adopted USB-C charging, which operates faster and more efficiently than previous charging connectors (e.g., USB-A, micro-USB). This technology has also paved the way for quick charging, increasing the number of watts sent to the battery for instant use in a matter of minutes. Wireless charging is another feature that’s become popular over the past two years, letting you power up headphones or earbuds cable-free by placing them on a Qi-enabled charging pad.
Third on the check list is Bluetooth Low-Energy (BLE). While introduced on Bluetooth 4.2, it’s become more common on Bluetooth 5.0-enabled devices and uses less power to communicate with devices.
Lastly, you’re looking at audio quality and volume. The two go hand in hand because you want headphones or earbuds that can produce great sound at reasonably loud volumes, but not too loud. You’re not trying to blow out an ear drum or drain the battery quickly, which high volume is notorious for doing on audio devices.
How we test the best headphones and earbuds for battery life
We evaluate design, sound, playtime, and value when determining the best headphones and earbuds for battery life. All selections are compared to similar products in the category.
These products have been tested over the course of a month – 2 to 3 hours daily. We assess discharge times, quick charging, and battery-draining factors such as noise cancellation, volume, and special features like audio codecs (e.g., aptX, LDAC) and spatial audio. The latter is tested using compatible hi-res streaming services (e.g., Apple Music, Deezer, Tidal).
To learn more about how these services can enhance the sound quality on your laptops and mobile devices, take a look at this expert audio codec FAQ on everything you should know about FLAC files, MP3s, and all other audio file codecs.
After testing is completed, all selections are rated based on our five-point system (1 = worst, 5 = best). Any product that is truly exemplary is awarded an Editor’s Choice.
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