Best wireless headphones 2024: our 8 expert picks for every budget

Best wireless headphones: quick menu

Best wireless headphones Buying Guide 2024: Welcome to What Hi-Fi?'s round-up of the best Bluetooth headphones you can buy in 2024.

Wireless headphones are the picture of convenience these days – no wires, quick and simple Bluetooth pairing, week-long battery lives, constantly improving sound quality and, in an increasing number of pairs, active noise cancellation.

While many audiophiles will refuse to give up on wired headphones (fair enough, they still sound better), we can confirm that great-sounding wireless pairs exist across the price spectrum, having reviewed more than we could count over the years under our stringent testing process and What Hi-Fi? Awards judging criteria.

Naturally, not all wireless headphones are born equal. For every decent pair that passes through our test rooms, a handful fails to deliver, whether due to their substandard audio quality, middling ANC or haphazard touch controls – all of which can ruin your music listening experience. The best models not only nail one of these areas but all of them, delivering all-round sophistication across performance, features and design.

Indeed, this buying guide is where you can find them! And if you're lucky, there may well be one of the below (or if not, another five-star performer at least) in our round-up of the best headphones deals.

So let's start with our current crop of What Hi-Fi? Awards winners, shall we?

Written by
Becky Roberts
Written by
Becky Roberts

Having been testing and writing about headphones for more than a decade, I'm one of What Hi-Fi?'s go-to reviewers for wireless headphones; an expert at picking the best-performing and best-value pairs across the wide and wonderful spectrum thanks to years of first-hand reviewing experience and accumulative contextual knowledge. My picks of the best wireless headphones and earbuds below are all class leaders at their respective price points, and all pairs I'd be proud to own myself.

The quick list

Best wireless headphones overall

What Hi-Fi? Awards winner. New design, same winning result for Sony’s latest premium wireless headphones

Specifications

Bluetooth: SBC, AAC, LDAC
Battery life: 30hr
Charging: USB-C
Built-in mic and controls: Yes
Transparency mode: Yes

Reasons to buy

+
Sensational sonic clarity
+
Touch controls are nice to use
+
Punchy and precise, agile bass

Reasons to avoid

-
Build less premium than XM4 predecessors
-
Don’t fold away completely

We were more than a little surprised when the first images of the Sony WH-1000XM5 tentatively emerged from their media chrysalis. Was it really a wise move to give one of Sony’s greatest recent success stories, the WH-1000XM4, a major redesign? 

As it turns out, yes it was. The Sony WH-1000XM5 may feel slightly less premium than their predecessors (which are still available at a now-cheaper price, by the way), but the leap in sound quality is a considerable one, and rivals once again have their work cut out. Better call quality and improved noise-cancelling plus a better design all make them compelling buys for anyone with the funds.

If you're hunting for a new pair of premium noise-cancelling headphones, your auditioning should ideally start here. The older XM4 were already the best around – and still are if you can't stretch your budget to the latest pair – but the XM5 are undoubtedly better for those who can afford to pay the premium. They have a better combination of sound and features for their asking price than their closest rivals, including the Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless, Bowers & Wilkins Px7 S2e and Bose QuietComfort.

And that's why they are the best Bluetooth headphones at this price point and worthy winners of the best premium wireless headphones What Hi-Fi? Award.

Read our full Sony WH-1000XM5 review

Or our Sony WH-1000XM5 vs XM4 comparison

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Sony WH-1000XM5 scores in-depth
AttributesNotesRating
Sound Entertaining and wonderfully musical★★★★★
Build Sleek and modern-looking★★★★★
Features Numerous control options, impressive app, but not waterproof ★★★★

Best cheap over-ears

What Hi-Fi? Awards winner. Affordable over-ears with no obvious shortcomings

Specifications

Bluetooth: 5.2
Noise-cancelling: Yes
Battery life: 35 hours
Charging: USB-C
Built in mic and controls: Yes

Reasons to buy

+
Compellingly clear, direct sound
+
Decent ANC for the price
+
Solid, durable build quality

Reasons to avoid

-
A little over-enthusiastic in the bass
-
Sadly no case or foldability

If you’re on a strict budget but want a decent set of over-ear wireless headphones, you won’t do better than the What Hi-Fi? Award-winning Sony WH-CH720N.

The next model down from the XM5 above, the CH720N don’t match the performance of their more expensive counterparts, but during our testing, we were amazed at how few compromises Sony has had to make to keep costs down.

No, they don’t have a fold-down design or come with a carry case, but generally the WH-CH720N feel surprisingly well-made and offer a comfortable fit, even during prolonged listening sessions. 

Audio quality is also excellent considering the WH-CH720N’s affordability – a clear step up on similarly priced rivals. Playing a variety of genres saw them deliver a forceful, robust and enjoyable sound, with the only minor issue being that they're slightly over-enthusiastic when it comes to the bass. 

Add to this their usable active noise cancellation, which is powerful enough to drown out background office noise, coupled with a week-long battery life, and the CH720N become an easy recommendation for buyers on a budget. Honestly, no other over-ear wireless pair that we've tested around this price comes close.

Read our full Sony WH-CH720N review

Check out the best Sony headphones

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Sony WH-CH720N scores in-depth
AttributesNotesRating
Sound Forceful, robust sound presentation★★★★★
Build Solid build quality★★★★
Features No travel case or foldability★★★★★

Best cheap in-ears

What Hi-Fi? Awards winner. The definitive pick of the budget true wireless earbuds bunch

Specifications

Bluetooth: SBC, AAC
Noise-cancelling: No
Battery life: 10hrs (20hrs with charging case)
Charging: USB-C
Built-in mic and controls: Yes

Reasons to buy

+
All-day comfort
+
Spirited, well-balanced sound
+
Decent control app

Reasons to avoid

-
Only OK total battery life
-
Slightly small-scale sound

Building affordable wireless earbuds – or in-ear Bluetooth headphones, as they're sometimes referred to – is a different discipline from creating expensive ones, but it’s no less tricky. In the WF-C500, Sony has brought much of what makes its flagship WF-1000XM5 earbuds (below) such a success without cutting too many corners.

Yes, the WF-C500 can be bettered for battery life (they offer 20 hours from the buds and case combined), but you’ll be hard-pushed to find a comfier pair. You can buy a greater outright scale of sound, though you won’t encounter a more complete control app. Some viable alternatives are a bit punchier and more ‘exciting’ to listen to, but few strike a more convincing sonic balance.

As an overall package, the Sony WF-C500 are genuine contenders for those with tighter budgets, and another worthy What Hi-Fi? Award winner.

Do you have a slightly bigger budget and fancy a pair with active noise cancelling? The next-level-up Sony WF-C700N and JBL Live Pro 2 TWS around the £100 / $100 / AU$150 mark offer ANC and a worthwhile jump in sound quality for not much more cash. Conversely, if you're after an even cheaper pair, the five-star Earfun Air are the most affordable model we can heartily recommend.

Read our full Sony WF-C500 review

Here's our pick of the best Sony headphones deals

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Sony WF-C500 scores in-depth
AttributesNotesRating
Sound Well balanced★★★★★
Build Compact and comfortable design★★★★
Features Intuitive control app★★★★★
TOP TIP
Becky Roberts
TOP TIP
Becky Roberts

I have to say, Sony's dominance at both ends of the wireless headphones and earbuds market is astonishing. The WF-C500 are easily the best entry-level pair for people wanting to spend no more than £60/$60/AU$100, combining comfort with great sound. That said, I'd heartily recommend the next-model-up Sony WF-C700 for those who can spend 20 per cent more – they sound even better and boast active noise cancellation.

Best premium in-ears

What Hi-Fi? Awards winner. Sony's best true wireless earbuds to date, with a price tag to match

Specifications

Bluetooth: SBC, AAC, LDAC
Noise-cancelling: Yes
Battery life: 8hrs (24hrs with charging case)
Charging: USB-C
Built-in mic and controls: Yes

Reasons to buy

+
Class-leading levels of detail and clarity
+
Top-notch musicality and timing
+
Comfortable, lightweight design

Reasons to avoid

-
Some rivals produce more bass
-
Bose QC Ultra (below) edge it for ANC performance

Yes, it's another Sony – which just goes to show how consistent the brand is across the headphones space. With the WF-1000XM5, Sony has managed to build on the huge success of the old XM4 and produce another sensational pair of true wireless earbuds. 

Approximately 20 per cent lighter and 25 per cent smaller than the previous WF-1000XM4 they replace, the buds have been noticeably trimmed down, with smoother lines and more subtle curves. That means the case is more compact, too. 

Inside there’s a new 8.4mm Dynamic Driver X, which doesn’t sound quite as rich or full in the bass but clarity and detail are class-leading, with top-notch musicality and timing. Sony has sacrificed a little bit of the fun that was so appealing in their predecessors, but they’re an improvement in almost every other respect. 

The eight-hour battery life (with another 16 in the case) compares favourably to the likes of the Bose QuietComfort Ultra Earbuds (our favourite premium noise-cancelling earbuds, below) and the AirPods Pro 2 (our favourite Apple earbuds), though it is worth mentioning that the five-star Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 4 boast slightly more endurance.

Still, throw in improved touch controls, better noise cancellation and a packed feature list that includes Multipoint Bluetooth, Adaptive Sound Control and Speak-to-Chat, and the WF-1000XM5 are difficult to fault at their price. They are the choice pick in their competitive category. 

Can't quite stretch your budget to them? The previous Sony XM4 are sensational value as they approach their end of life.

Read our full Sony WF-1000XM5 review

Or our Sony XM5 vs XM4 earbuds comparison

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Sony WF-1000XM5 scores in-depth
AttributesNotesRating
Sound Class-leading levels of detail and clarity★★★★★
Build Comfortable, discreet design★★★★★
Features Great companion app★★★★★

Best ANC in-ears

Bose's premium wireless ANC earbuds sound the business

Specifications

Bluetooth: SBC, AAC
Noise-cancelling: Yes
Battery life: 6hrs (24hrs with charging case)
Charging: USB-C
Built-in mic and controls: Yes

Reasons to buy

+
Punchy, musical sound
+
Solid, weighty bass
+
Class-leading ANC

Reasons to avoid

-
Immersive Audio greatly impacts battery life
-
No multipoint Bluetooth
-
No wireless charging

The Bose QuietComfort Ultra Earbuds are more than just a new lick of paint over the QuietComfort Earbuds II they replace (which remain very good options at their discounted price in their final weeks of shelf life). 

Interesting is the addition of Immersive Audio, which is basically the company’s spatial audio tech. The core idea is to get the audio out of your head so it feels more like you’re listening to a traditional pair of stereo speakers, and while the idea is a nice one, we found it a little hit-and-miss during testing so isn't, in our minds, an imperative feature.

We’d be concerned if the QuietComfort Ultra Earbuds weren’t leading the way on the ANC front, but we can confirm that they’re still possibly the class leaders in this field. They’re able to take the noisiest environments - whether it's the rumble of heavy machinery as you walk past a building site or the loud chatter and sound system of a crowded pub - and reduce their impact dramatically.

Tonally, it's more of the same from Bose, and that's no bad thing. There’s a familiar fullness and richness to the audio you get from the Ultra Earbuds, but the new boys do have a bit more of a skip in their step, sounding a tad punchier and a little clearer this time around. That's a welcome upgrade in our book.

Ultimately, the QuietComfort II were already excellent... and the Ultra Earbuds sound a little better and call quality has improved. Pair that with the still-excellent noise-cancelling and you’re staring at some of the finest earbuds improved once again. Easily another five-star pair, of that there is little doubt.

Read our full Bose QuietComfort Ultra Earbuds review

Check out the best Bose headphones

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Bose QuietComfort Ultra Earbuds scores in-depth
AttributesNotesRating
Sound Detailed, dynamic and musical sound★★★★★
Build Fantastic sense of refinement★★★★
Features Exceptional noise-cancelling★★★★★

Best for Apple

For Apple users, these sensational over-ear AirPods are hard to beat

Specifications

Bluetooth: AAC, SBC
Noise-cancelling: Yes
Battery life: 20hrs
Charging: Lightning
Built-in mic and controls: Yes

Reasons to buy

+
Superb audio and noise-cancelling
+
Cinematic spatial audio
+
Exceptional build quality

Reasons to avoid

-
Near-pointless case
-
Audio cable not included
-
Practically Apple-only

If you're an Apple user and have more cash to burn than the Sony WH-1000XM5 (above) demand, you'd do well to spend it on the AirPods Max. Yes, they're pretty pricey by anyone's standards, but they justify their extra cost over the Sonys and similar competition with superior sound and build quality, plus unique Apple features that are hard for Apple fans to overlook.

The AirPods Max will work with non-Apple products using standard Bluetooth 5.0, but really you do need an iPhone or iPad to get the most out of them. Spatial audio with built-in head tracking is a particular Apple-only favourite when it comes to features.

What's more, their sonic authenticity, detail, crispness and spaciousness elevate them above the more affordable competition – and not just a little.

While the AirPods Max are no longer alone in this premium class of wireless headphones (and they're no longer the priciest, either, as the T+As below attest to), there’s no denying that they still cost a pretty penny. But if sound quality is your priority, there’s equally no denying that they’re worth it.

These original AirPods Max may well fall in price when the AirPods Max 2 finally break cover, but we've seen them repeatedly discounted at typical sales periods during the year.

Read our full AirPods Max review

Check out the best AirPods you can buy – ranked and rated

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Apple AirPods Max scores in-depth
AttributesNotesRating
Sound Super-crisp and spacious, clear and energetic★★★★★
Build Pristine look and premium materials★★★★
Features Good ANC, even better spatial audio effect★★★★★

Best for home

Open-back designs and Bluetooth don't logically go hand in hand – but these Grados sound glorious

Specifications

Bluetooth: AAC, SBC, aptX Adaptive
Noise-cancelling: No
Battery life: 46hrs
Charging: USB-C
Built-in mic and controls: Yes

Reasons to buy

+
Hugely clean, open, enthusiastic sound
+
Excellent battery life
+
Quality, no-frills build

Reasons to avoid

-
Design doesn't fold
-
No noise cancelling
-
Sound leakage doesn't suit outdoor listening

As we remarked with the original Grado GW100 (which these GW100x now oust), the idea of a pair of Bluetooth (and thus portable) open-back headphones without noise cancellation puts them in a strange, somewhat contradictory position compared with the 'closed-back', noise-cancelling market leaders from Bose, Sennheiser and Sony. Who's walking around town with a pair of Bluetooth headphones that fire as much sound away from the ear as they do into it?

Still, if you are after a pair of wireless headphones for use mainly in quiet or private spaces and prioritise great audio above all else, the GW1000x should certainly be on your radar. They sound fantastic, whether you go wireless or use the 3.5mm jack, and have an impressive 46-hour battery life (at half volume). 

They have added into the GW100's successful mix 44mm drivers, redesigned speaker housings and support for the aptX Adaptive codec, as well as a host of new tweaks and fixes, and the result is some of the best-sounding wireless cans you can find at this price. 

Quirky, yes, but unquestionably talented if you can find a genuine use for them.

Read our full Grado GW100x review

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Grado GW100x scores in-depth
AttributesNotesRating
Sound Clean, open, enthusiastic sound, detailed and powerful sound★★★★★
Build No thrills, but excellent quality★★★★
Features Excellent battery life, but no ANC★★★
TOP TIP
Becky Roberts
TOP TIP
Becky Roberts

You may well associate wireless headphones with travel – and very reasonably too. But if you want to cut the cord for convenience and predominantly listen indoors, away from the noise of the outdoor world, these open-back (i.e. leaky!) Grados will reward you with better sound quality than you'd get from any similarly priced, traditional closed-backs on this list. If you just want a wire-free pair to listen to at home or in the garden, the Grado GW100x do actually make a certain degree of sense. 

Best for audiophiles

Bridges the gap between wired and wireless performance more than anything else we've heard

Specifications

Bluetooth: aptX Adaptive, AAC
Noise-cancelling: Yes
Battery life: 35-70hrs
Charging: USB-C
Built-in mic and controls: Yes

Reasons to buy

+
Benchmark wireless sound performance
+
Lightweight for all-day comfort
+
Very decent battery life

Reasons to avoid

-
Inaccessible price for most
-
Fit may not suit wider heads
-
Treble could be sweeter

Appropriately considering its Solitaire name, the T+A are gems, alone in a territory of wireless performance quality that no other pair we’ve heard can inhabit.

They cost hundreds more than most people would ever dream of paying for headphones, be they wired or wireless, but for those who prioritise convenience and sound quality equally, plus have the budget to spend big, the T+A Solitaire T nail their brief without compromise/ These have to be the most convincing wired/wireless hybrids we’ve come across. 

What first hits us about the Solitaire T is how natural and squeaky clean they sound. These are headphones that don’t wish to impart any character or colour to your music; they want to tell it as it is, and it makes for a listen that we can’t describe as anything else but pure - they feel like cans that are starting to bridge the gap between wired and wireless performance as we've always known it.

Previously, the Mark Levinson No.5909 set the benchmark at this four-figure price point, but T+A has pushed it that bit higher. For now, they’re in a class of one.

Read our full T+A Solitaire T review

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T+A Solitaire T scores in-depth
AttributesNotesRating
Sound The current benchmark for audio quality★★★★★
Build Lightweight but a little tight for wider heads★★★★
Features Excellent battery life★★★★★

Also consider

Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 4: These newcomers have just received a five-star review and hearty recommendation from us due to their welcomely rich, refined sound, clever suite of features including intelligent charging, and superb battery life. The Sony XM5 are more neutral sounding and edge them for detail, but the Sennheisers are certainly up there with them and the Bose QuietComfort Ultra.

Mark Levinson No. 5909: If you're looking for serious-sounding wireless over-ears but don't think the Apple AirPods Max are for you and you cannot afford the T+A Solitaire T, these Mark Levinsons shouldn't be ignored. They may not look as premium as either aforementioned pair, but their wireless performance is up there with the best we've ever heard. Given their recent discount, they're bargains.

Bowers & Wilkins Px7 S2e: Perhaps the most convincing Sony WH-1000XM5 rival, Bowers & Wilkins' latest wireless over-ear efforts are hard to fault. They tick every box, with a lovely full, lush detailed sound, modern specs and class-leading aesthetics. The Sonys are, in our minds, better value at their lower price, but there's not much in it at all. Great buys, particularly if you value classy looks.

Recent updates

  • March 2024: Replaced the AirPods Pro 2 earbuds with the AirPods Max over-ears given their falling price and suitability to the buying guide's headphones orientation.
  • January 2024: Added an 'also consider' section (above) to give readers more choice.
  • December 2023: Replaced the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II with the new Bose QuietComfort Ultra.
  • November 2023: Labelled our newly crowned What Hi-Fi? Award winners as such.
  • August 2023: Added the Sony WH-CH720N headphones as our best cheap over-ears pick, replacing the outgoing Sennheiser HD 250BT.

How to choose the best wireless headphones for you

The world is awash with wireless headphones, so how do you know which pair is best for you?

Before you start browsing you should first and foremost decide which style of Bluetooth headphones you want. Our round-up of the best wireless headphones above includes several over-ear headphones, which – as you might've guessed – sit over your ears, with the earcups connected by a headband. These tend to provide good physical isolation and an enveloping, spacious sound compared with in-ear designs, and more often than not throw in active noise cancellation (ANC) for good measure – though naturally they are bulkier to wear and transport and tend to cost more. Brands such as Sony, Bose, Sennheiser, Bowers & Wilkins and Apple lead the way, though with Sonos wireless headphones reportedly on the horizon, the competition isn't letting up.

And then there are in-ear wireless earbuds – those now-rare pairs with a neckband cable joining the buds, and the much more popular 'true wireless' earbuds where the earpieces are completely untethered from one another. Yes, like AirPods. The AirPods 3 and AirPods Pro 2 may be the most popular of them all, but they aren't the very best sounding – something the excellent Sony WF-1000XM5 and other awesome AirPods alternatives demonstrate. The most obvious benefit of wireless earbuds is their discreetness and portability, not to mention that you can get pairs for less than the price of a drinks round.

Once you've decided on a style, you need to decide which features are must-haves. Bluetooth connectivity goes without saying (seeing as you've landed on a best wireless headphones buying guide!), but also consider how much importance you place on active noise cancellation (do you need to block out noise?), battery life (24+ hours is decent) and waterproofness (look for an IP rating on the spec sheet). Getting a pair that supports a high-quality Bluetooth codec could offer better sound quality if your source device (say, your phone) also supports that same codec, too.

Our more comprehensive how to choose the right pair of headphones article can help guide you on your wireless headphones journey.

How we test wireless headphones

While we have state-of-the-art testing facilities in Reading and London, where our team of experienced, in-house reviewers test the majority of hi-fi and AV kit that pass through our door, wireless headphones are on-the-go products that deserve to be tested as such.

To that end, our wireless headphones reviewing process tests everyday aspects such as the portability and ruggedness of their build, their long-wear comfort and how their claimed battery life translates into real-life use. Pairs with active noise cancellation, as are increasingly common these days, we'll ensure part of our testing involves using them in various environments, such as an office, on public transport and – when we can – during flights.

Of course, sound quality is key in forming our verdicts and star ratings too. As What Hi-Fi? is all about comparative testing, each pair we review is compared to the best in its price and style class – whether that's one standout pair or a few we favour the highest among the many models we listen to each year for reviews and What Hi-Fi? Awards judging. So if we get a pair of over-ear wireless headphones in for review around the £300/$350/AU$550 mark, we will test it against the class-leading Sony WH-1000XM5 and likely another five-star model too. We keep current What Hi-Fi? Award winners and plenty of five-star products across every product category we review in our jam-packed stockroom so that we can always easily compare new products to rival ones we know and love.

All review verdicts are agreed upon by the team rather than an individual reviewer to eliminate any personal preference and to make sure we're being as thorough as possible, too. There's no input from PR companies or our sales team when it comes to the verdict, with What Hi-Fi? proud of having delivered honest, unbiased reviews for decades.

You can read more about how we test and review products on What Hi-Fi? here.

Wireless headphones FAQs

Are wireless headphones better than wired?

In terms of sound quality, Bluetooth headphones have made huge progress in recent years, closing the gap between the sonic capabilities of wireless and wired models. The introduction of higher-end wireless headphones such as the Apple AirPods Max and Mark Levinson No.5909 have pushed wireless performance further than ever before. 

The gap still remains, though: the best wired headphones at a particular price will still sound notably better than the best wireless pair at that same price point. So if sound quality is key and you don't mind sacrificing cable-free convenience and noise cancellation to get it, wired is still the way to go.

A more detailed comparison can be found in our wired vs wireless headphones guide.

Wireless headphones or earbuds: which are better?

The answer to this FAQ is less black and white, as both headphones and earbuds have their strengths over one another. Headphones, by which we are referring to on-ears and over-ears, have better physical isolation and a more enveloping soundstage, and also are less obtrusive to your precious ears, often making them more suitable for longer wears. If you're after the best possible wireless sound quality, you'll find it in a pair of wireless over-ears. Earbuds, however, deliver a more direct sound due to their in-ear positioning, and are more discreet to wear and transport thanks to their compact nature. There is also a far wider choice of earbuds on the market at the budget end due to the exploding popularity of AirPods.

Which are 'better' depends on which qualities you value more.

Are wireless headphones waterproof?

Most true wireless earbuds nowadays are waterproof – not least if they have first and foremost been designed for exercise, like these sport headphones. That isn't so much the case for wireless over-ear headphones, which generally don't have protection from water or dust and therefore should be hidden from rainstorms as much as possible... and kept away from taps! The best way to check if headphones are waterproof (or 'water resistant, as most literature labels it) or not is to check their official technical specification on the company's website, or our review of them. 

Water (and indeed dust) resistance for headphones is often measured and presented as an IP (Ingress Protection) rating, an international standard that indicates the degree of protection in electrical products against the 'intrusion of objects, water, dust or accidental contact'. A rating consists of 'IP' plus two numbers – the first number indicates the level of protection against solid objects, while the second number represents the level of protection against water. Which numbers corresponds to which levels of protection can be found on our IP ratings explained advice article.

Can you answer calls with wireless headphones?

Almost all wireless headphones and earbuds these days integrate one or more microphones that facilitate the taking and making of voice calls – and in some cases also help to deploy active noise cancellation and/or voice control. That means you can answer your phone calls without having to pick up your phone, provided your headphones are indeed connected to your phone over Bluetooth. Most wireless headphones have touch controls or physical buttons that include an answer/hang-up key, though pairs with built-in voice assistants let you do that simply by using your voice, completely hands-free.

Can you still use wireless headphones when they're out of battery?

In the case of wireless earbuds, no. When they (and in the case of true wireless earbuds, their charging case) run out of battery, tough luck – you'll need to charge them up again to hear your sweet, sweet tunes through them. 

However, wireless headphones tend to feature a 3.5mm or USB-C jack for you to wire your headphones to your device if you so choose – or, indeed, as a temporary measure if their battery is flat. Traditionally, and in most cases, this is possible as the analogue (wired) output does not required the headphones' digital circuitry to work. That said, some wireless over-ear pairs nowadays do only work when they have power, even for just wired listening.

Can wireless headphones connect to a TV?

If you have thin walls, like to watch TV when the kids are asleep, or would simply like a more involving personal listening experience that your TV's speakers can't give you, listening to TV audio through wireless headphones can be transformative. 

Of course, you need to make sure your TV can output audio via Bluetooth. Some Bluetooth-equipped TVs even offer their own audio delay settings, which can help you marry up picture and sound. If it doesn't, you could buy and plug in a Bluetooth transmitter dongle for it, though be weary that this could introduce lip-sync errors.

Speaking of which, one issue when using wireless headphones with a TV is lag – the delay between what you see on the screen and what you hear. This is due to latency: the time it takes the sound to travel from the source to the headphones. But Bluetooth standards and codecs have steadily improved latency and squashed most of the issues, so headphones and TVs today (and from the past few years) shouldn't have any problems.

You can read more about how to connect headphones to your TV here.

Are wireless headphones good for gaming?

This is where we'd point you to our comprehensive gaming headsets vs headphones article, though the quick answer is: yes, they can be good for gaming – buy a pair of good open-sounding, mic-inclusive wireless headphones that can transmit audio to your console (via a dongle) or PC while also doubling up as your commuter music companions, and they will be very effective. But dedicated gaming headsets – while not typically great for music – are often tuned for a better, more immersive gaming audio experience and will likely have higher compatibility with more gaming devices, as well as a more accurate microphone and perhaps even other gaming features like a mixer for balancing chat audio and game audio.