Best wireless earbuds Buying Guide: Welcome to What Hi-Fi?'s round-up of the best wireless earbuds you can buy in 2020.
The move towards wireless earbuds has seen the market boom in recent years and you've no shortage of models to choose from. One big appeal is the freedom. With no wires running between headphones and phone, wireless earbuds won't restrict your movement one bit. That's handy for commuting and general day-to-day life and great if you're the sporty type.
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Some wireless earbuds are true wireless designs too. These don't even have a cable or neckband connecting the buds together, meaning they look just like earplugs. Other extras include noise-cancelling tech, touch controls, carry cases that can double as portable chargers, and some models even boast a built-in heart rate monitor (the ear is a good place to measure your pulse).
And now we're seeing an influx of models that offer hands-free access to personal assistants like Amazon Alexa (such as the Amazon Echo Buds) and Google Assistant. Just speak your request, and they'll do your bidding.
With all this tech on offer, it's no wonder so many companies are releasing wireless earbuds. More choice is always good for consumers, but it can make finding the best wireless earbuds for you a bit of a minefield.
Thankfully help is at hand. We've rounded up the best wireless earbuds on the market, drawing on our extensive back catalogue of in-depth reviews of Bluetooth in-ears. So whether you want the comfiest pair on the planet, one with brilliant battery life or just want to know what are the best-sounding wireless earbuds on the market, we're sure to have a pair of buds for you.
Sony's second ever pair of true wireless earbuds, the WF-1000XM3s offer solid and stable Bluetooth connectivity and stellar noise-cancelling, which is a clear cut above the competition.
The fit is excellent, as is battery life and the all-important sound quality. They come with more tip sizes than most rivals, feature intuitive touch controls (though the absence of volume controls is a bit of shame) and sound wonderfully musical. Despite their tiny proportions, there's a good sense of scale. Instruments sound natural and authentic, with plenty of detail and composure to the performance.
You get six hours of playback as standard, while the case has enough power for an extra three charges, giving a total of 24 hours when using Bluetooth and noise-cancelling. Plus there's a fast-charge function: 10 minutes of charging breathes 90 minutes of life into these buds.
Quite simply, these 2018 and 2019 What Hi-Fi? Award winners are the best wireless earbuds we've ever tested.
Read the full review: Sony WF-1000XM3
Cambridge Audio isn't just about hi-fi separates. The Melomania 1s are the company's first-ever true wireless earbuds and, for the money, they're pretty special. Available in Black or Stone, the in-ears come with their own pocketable carry case. It's a neat design and doubles as a charger adding an extra 36 hours of battery life. Added to the nine hours you get when the in-ears are fully juiced, that works out at a whopping 45 hours of continuous use!
Each bud has a 5.8mm graphene driver, a triple-core processor (with support for AAC and aptX audio codecs), a beam-forming mic for clearer calls or chatting to Siri/Google Assistant, plus Bluetooth 5.0. The IPX5 rating means they’re water and sweat-resistant, too.
The fit can be a little tricky depending on your ears, but once in place, you'll be rewarded with rich sound. Vocals detailed, while there's precision and cohesion to the soundstage.
There’s no dedicated app for the Melomania 1s, so you can't, for example, tweak the EQ settings. But on the upside, pairing is refreshingly simple. Want the best-sounding budget buds around? These are a no-brainer.
Read the full review: Cambridge Audio Melomania 1
JBL is a heavy hitter when it comes to wireless sports earbuds – and with the Under Armour Flash as its predecessor, the JBL Reflect Flow is a value-packed entrant to the flourishing true wireless earbuds market.
The Reflect Flows are very good indeed, especially if you desire a bass-heavy sound for the gym – without resorting to on-ear or over-ear headphones. You get 10 hours of battery in the buds plus an extra 20 hours from the case, and JBL promises a quick 10-minute charge will provide an hour's playback.
With the right tip and fin combination, they produce a stable fit that holds them securely in place when tackling all manner athletic pursuits, while that extra helping of deep but accurate bass should see you over the finish line.
One notable feature is the ambient mode: press the left bud and the volume decreases, allowing you to hold a conversation without removing the buds. It's worth comparing these to the sporty five-star Jaybird Vistas (below), but for fit and sound, we think the JBL Reflect Flows have the edge.
Read the full review: JBL Reflect Flow
The Momentum Frees are essentially a streamlined version of the Sennheiser Momentum In-Ear Wireless - the design has been pared back a bit, and the battery life dropped from 10 hours to six.
Crucially, sound quality hasn't been compromised one bit - there's real weight and purpose here, coupled with bags of clarity and detail. Even with more compressed tracks, these earbuds refuse to get bogged down and still manage to carve out bass, mids and highs with expert precision.
Design is simple and unfussy, with a single short length of cable running between the two earpieces. You can adjust the length via the attached slider, and opt to run the cable behind your neck or under your chin.
Said cable also plays host to an in-line mic and controls for music playback and volume. A long press on the top or bottom buttons skips track and a short one changes volume. And build quality is as solid as we've come to expect from Sennheiser.
If you can put up with the slightly shorter battery life this is a great pair of wireless buds at a very tempting price.
Read the full review: Sennheiser Momentum Free
Comfortable, great-sounding, splashproof and weather-resistant for sweaty outdoor workouts... these wireless earbuds have it all. They're more versatile than most thanks to their wing tips to keep them in your ears, meaning you can head for a run and not worry about them falling out.
Sound is superb, full of punchy, powerful bass that should get you running that bit faster. They're reliable too, with no issues with the wireless signal and easy-to-use controls. The neckband cable incorporates a remote housing part-way down, but the power pack appears to live in the earpieces, which may explain the modest six hours battery life.
On the upside, they're IPX4 rated, meaning they can’t be submerged in water but will handle sweat and splashes better than normal earphones. The addition of NFC tech means they're particularly easy to pair with Android devices.
If the rather average battery life isn't a deal-breaker, you'll like these buds – they'r comfortable, sound great and enjoyable to use.
Read the full review: Bose SoundSport Wireless
They might not sound quite as peachy as the true wireless earbuds at the top of the list, but these Bose's still come with plenty to recommend. They don't burrow into your ears, so are comfortable to wear for extended periods.
Designed with sporty types in mind, the SoundSport Free in-ears are both sweat- and water-resistant, and have a suitably rugged feel to them. The earbud-mounted controls are very useful and save you taking your phone out when pounding the pavement. Talking of which, the earpieces are neatly held in place by Bose’s StayHear tips which feature little wings that rest against the inside of your ear for extra stability.
Five hours of battery life should be enough for a workout, but the solid plastic charging carry case serves up an extra ten hours of power. Not bad, but not a patch on the battery life of the Cambridge Audio Melomania 1s (above),
Despite all the sporty touches, the SoundSport Frees have more than enough sonic appeal to satisfy commuters. Sound is bold and balanced, with rich, weighty bass and crisp highs. These sporty, feature-packed buds sound great and tick all the boxes.
Read the full review: Bose SoundSport Free
Whether you consider yourself a serious athlete or just enjoy a weekend jog in the park, the Jaybird Vista wireless earbuds should be on your shortlist. They're true wireless, so it's an earbud for each ear and the fit is extremely secure (aided by tips with integrated fins). IPX7 water- and sweat-proofing means they'll withstand intense training sessions and the odd downpour, too.
Power up the clever Jaybird app and besides pairing you can also customise their sound for your ears and also customise the controls on each earbud. There's USB-C charging - a five minute 'super-charge' will give you one hour, while a full charge gives you six hours plus an additional 10 thanks to their charging case.
All this is topped off with an exciting, entertaining sound and a big dollop of bass. What they lack in detail, they make up for in sheer enthusiasm. They might not sound as refined as the Cambridge Audio Melomania 1s, but if you’re tired of feeling your earphones slowly falling out of your ears when out running, the Vistas are a superb choice.
Read the full review: Jaybird Vista
If you think some gym accessories are as appealing as a middle-aged man in lycra, check out the Sennheiser CX Sport. Sure, they have neon yellow accents, but they're not 'all the gear no idea': they sound satisfyingly solid, with a powerful delivery that should get you going for one more squat.
Sporty touches include a choice of rubberised ear fins which help lock the buds in place for a secure fit, plus an IPX4 rating, meaning they're splash and sweat-resistant. Handy if your buds tend to be flung in the bottom of a wet gym bag.
Battery life is six hours and the CX Sports take around one and a half hours to reach full capacity. A ten-minute quick charge via Micro USB will breathe an hour of life back into them.
Sonically, these earbuds deliver Sennheiser’s traditional in-ear sound – so expect plenty of clarity and enough pumping bass to keep you going through a tough workout. Rivals offer a more dynamic sound, but these hardwearing wireless earbuds should please active types who like to 'go hard or go home'.
Read the full review: Sennheiser CX Sport
The AirPods Pros sit above the standard AirPods you'll find lower down this list. They're pricier, but you do get better sound quality, an improved level of comfort and the addition of Apple's own noise-cancelling technology, which is up there with the best at this money.
Unlike the standard AirPods, the Pros come with a choice of silicone tips. Once you've achieved a good seal, you'll enjoy some of most effective noise-cancelling we've ever experienced (Apple claims its adjusted 200 times per second for maximum effect).
Each bud has a force sensor on the stem – squeeze it to activate Siri, answer calls, skip a track, etc. The only disappointment is that Siri is the only method for adjusting volume without reaching into your pocket for your phone.
Battery life is a claimed five hours for the earphones with another 19 hours from the charging case. In a hurry? A five minute charge will give you another hour of listening.
The AirPods Pro earbuds are sweat- and water-resistant, albeit to a lesser degree than sporty rivals, and they don't sound as good as the Sony WF-1000XM3s. But if you're an iPhone user, you're going to want to give these superb wireless earbuds an audition. They're a joy to use.
Read the full review: Apple AirPods Pro
Bowers & Wilkins has managed to make hay in the headphone market, building on its excellent reputation for making loudspeakers. Wireless in-ears with a neckband design is a new form factor for B&W, but the PI3s really do hit the spot.
Battery life is a solid eight hours and though they aren't IPX-rated, B&W claims they are "resistant to light rain, splash and sweat". It would be nice to get a few extra ear tips to sort the fit, so just give them a thorough audition out of the box.
The B&Ws produce an open, punchy and tonally balanced sound and they're a good fit for any musical genre. Battery life is a very respectable eight hours and a 15-minute quick-charge gets you two hours of playback. The in-line controls are nice to use with decent-sized buttons including a large textured button for the main play/pause and skip track function.
There is a bit of cable noise to contend with, but that's not uncommon for products of this type and shouldn't be a deal-breaker. If you're after entertaining sound, for the gym or your daily commute, the PI3s deliver.
Read the full review: B&W PI3
Considering these are Sennheiser's debut in the field of true wireless earbuds, they're very impressive. The design is suitably no-nonsense (as we would expect from Sennheiser), while they boast a healthy feature set and respectable four hour battery life. Best of all, sound quality is very balanced, highlighting nuances that others tend to miss.
They come with their own USB-C charging case – a compact, fabric covered box with secure magnetic slots to hold the earpieces. The buds pair automatically when you remove them. and the case provides two extra charges, extending the battery life to a total of 12 hours. The Smart Control app shows you the exact percentage of power left in each earpiece, which is a nice touch.
Build quality is good and the design is clean and uncluttered, with metallic rings on the exterior surface of the buds that double as touch sensitive controls.
But while these four-star wireless earbuds sound great and boast some killer features, we had a few issues with their charging case and their ability to hold a charge.
RHA has got in on the true wireless act with the talented £150 TrueConnects, which sound good and cost roughly the same as a pair of AirPods. Unfortunately, unlike Apple, RHA has not quite managed to nail the connectivity. As a result, we experienced the odd Bluetooth blip.
Everything else about the TrueConnects is well-considered though. The battery lasts around five hours between charges and the supplied charging case can recharge the buds up to four times, prolonging the battery life for an extra 20 hours. Comfort is excellent, with surprisingly effective passive isolation when used with the supplied Comply foam tips (you also get several sets of standard silicone tips in the box).
More importantly, the TrueConnects are one of the better-sounding sub-£150 true wireless earphones around. They angle towards a neutral tonal balance, with crisp treble and plenty of satisfying, subtle bass.
Some slight connectivity niggles aside, their ease-of-use and insightful sound makes them a good alternative to the likes of the Apple AirPods.
Read the full review: RHA TrueConnect
At just £35, these are some of the most affordable wireless earbuds on the market, and the best value for those on a budget. Sound is full and fun, and while it won't trouble a high-end pair, it's very impressive given the price.
As you might expect, features are thin on the ground. The cable can be removed from the flexible neckband and the battery life is a decent 6-7 hours. You get a basic three button remote just below the left earpiece and a little plastic fastener that lets you loop the cable together when you're wearing - but not using - them.
There’s no frills here, so aptX, fast charging and NFC are all absent from the spec list. But if you're looking for affordable wireless headphones, these offer dynamic and fun sound for the money, with a relatively wide and well-separated soundstage.
They lack a little audio finesse – but they cost a fraction of the price of a premium pair. And for that reason, they come highly recommended.
Read the full review: Skullcandy Smokin' Buds 2 Wireless
Noise-cancelling is a tricky technology to implement in a pair of wireless earbuds, but these Libratones pull it off remarkably well. The Danish company has achieved a stylish design, too. The buds are nice and light, and their pill-shaped charging case is one of the smallest we’ve seen. What's more, you can charge the case wirelessly – by sitting it on Libratone’s Coil charger, which resembles a drinks coaster.
Battery life is a decent six hours from the buds, plus a total of three extra charges or 24 hours total from the case. Pairing the earphones with Libratone's app can be a lengthy process, but once completed, the app provides three noise-cancelling options (manual, smart and ambient). It's some of the most versatile and convincing noise-cancelling we've heard.
They might not deliver the most refined or thrilling sound for the money, but it's still clear and detailed with a welcome lack of outside noise. They're a comfortable fit too. Overall, these small, light buds are very good – but the user experience isn't the best.
Read the full review: Libratone Track Air+ review
The original, truly wireless Apple AirPods were a tech marvel let down by distinctly average sound quality. This second-generation version sounds better and packs in the features, meaning pairing and switching connections is now effortless,.
These Bluetooth 5.0 buds are powered by Apple's new H1 chip and you've got the option to splash out on a wireless charging case. The big news, though, is there's been a boost in the audio department, pushing the AirPods into hi-fi territory. They produce a louder and more sophisticated sound that benefits from a natural, fairly neutral sonic balance.
Battery life is excellent: five hours of listening and another 19 hours available via the supplied (non-wireless) charging case. The launch of iOS13 added Audio Sharing, a nifty feature which allows a second pair of AirPods to connect, and listen, to a single iPhone. And thanks to Siri, you can now reply to incoming messages using your voice.
Downsides? There's no interchangeable ear tips so you'll just have to hope that 'one-size-fits-all'. But if you're an Apple fan, there's plenty to like here.
Read the full review: Apple AirPods (2019)
You can usually rely on Samsung when it comes to things like build quality, innovation and performance. So it's no surprise that these true wireless buds boast a healthy battery life, a lengthy spec list and superb touch-sensitive controls.
Their elegant design and claimed seven hours battery life were enough to catch our attention. But on closer inspection, the Gear IconXs are crammed with features.
Unlike most rivals, these buds boast a 3.4GB internal memory – so you can store up to 1000 tracks in case your phone runs out, or you want to leave it at home while jogging. You also get a built-in Running Coach feature, which logs your time, distance and burned calories in conjunction with Samsung’s S Health app.
While there is a touch of coarseness through the midrange and treble, sound is musical, with a finely-balanced frequency range and a generous helping of bass. We heartily recommend you audition these talented buds.
Read the full review: Samsung Gear IconX
Sennheiser’s Award-winning Momentum family has gone from strength to strength, as evidenced by these impressive wireless in-ears. The neckband design keeps them stable and houses the battery and Bluetooth receiver. This means that the battery life is an impressive 10 hours, and the earpieces themselves are less bulky that a true wireless pair.
The main section of the neckband is covered in soft sheepskin nappa leather, so it feels both comfortable and lightweight (53g). The controls – a cluster of easy-to-use buttons – are built into the left arm of the neckband, and there's USB audio support so you can connect directly to your laptop and listen to music.
Sound is very good indeed, with a sense of space and openness that few wireless earbuds can match. If you can get on with the neckband design, these will reward you handsomely. And if not, check out the very similar Momentum Frees (above) instead.
Read the full review: Sennheiser Momentum In-Ear Wireless
When we first clapped eyes on these true wireless earbuds from Philips, we were impressed but not bowled over. Sure, they pack plenty of bass, and while the detail is a little lacking, the sound boasts plenty of energy. But at £100, they were a three-star product. Fast forward a couple of years, and the price has dropped to around half that. Which makes them a different proposition altogether.
They're aimed at commuters rather than gym-goers, but they fit snugly and remain secure – even when we shake our head. Pairing them with a device such as a smartphone is easy, and battery life is decent enough. You get six hours playback, plus another six hours via the supplied charging case.
Philips has managed to shoehorn an impressive 8.2mm driver into each earpiece, so these are perfect for those who crave fat, juicy bass. The focus on the low-end comes at the expense of refinement, but you get a decent amount of detail for your money. A good option for those seeking budget true wireless buds with plenty of grunt.
With a marathon 20-hour battery life, these are some of the longest-lasting wireless earphones we've tested. They feature a comfortable, pliable neckband design and they're IPX4 rated two, so they won't be troubled by a few beads of sweat or a splash of water.
Features include Bluetooth 5.0, a three-button remote that’s compatible with both Android and Apple devices, plus support for AAC. Unlike rivals such as the Beyerdynamic Byron BTs, there's no support the higher standard Bluetooth aptX, but that's not a disaster... especially given the attractive price.
Build quality is decent and the flexible rubber neckband is comfortable, with a built-in battery on each side to balance weight distribution. More importantly, they sound great: there's enough space and detail to more than justify the price. Its a shame they're not as dynamic as they could be these elegant buds don't cost too much and perform well on the daily commute.
Read the full review: SoundMagic E11BT
The Bluetooth sports buds market is a crowded one, but these Libratones will appeal to any music-loving fitness fanatic who want to enjoy a tangle-free workout. They offer eight hours of wireless playback from a single charge and good noise-cancellation.
Activate the CityMix Smart mode and the buds will automatically adjust the intensity if the noise-cancelling to match your motion and surroundings, leaving you free to focus on what you're doing. It's effective enough, but rival noise-cancelling buds allow you more awareness of your surroundings.
Controls are comprehensive, with a separate function button, plus a three-button remote with raised rubber icons that are easy to locate when jogging. And even during vigorous activity, the earbuds remain rooted in your ear thanks to a choice of tips – including some with in-ear hooks.
And the sound? Suitably dynamic for a sporty pair although you can tweak the EQ modes using Libratone's app. Definitely one to sling in your gym bag.
Read the full review: Libratone Track+