Sunday, December 3, 2023

These are the best wireless earbuds you can buy at every price


The best wireless earbuds need more than just great sound. We’ve reviewed a sizeable number of models available and rated the absolute leaders of the pack based on every important metric: comfort, battery life, noise cancellation, water resistance, phone and assistant integration, and so on. These tiny headphones from companies like Jabra, Samsung, Sennheiser, Sony, and others are almost as important as the phones we have in our pockets. Our buyer’s guide for the best wireless earbuds for Android and iPhone will help you find the pair that suits your needs and tastes the best, regardless of what you like listening to.

What are the best wireless earbuds you can buy today?

Like any pair of headphones, which earbuds or wireless headphones are right for you is subjective in a few key ways. They have to fit right, feel comfortable over longer periods, and produce sound that’s pleasing to your ears. If audio fidelity is paramount for you, there are good options for that, just as there are options for being active or present great value without breaking the bank.

Topping our list for the best wireless earbuds are the Jabra Elite 7 Pro because they strike the right notes where it counts. We’re talking about excellent sound quality, excellent comfort, solid microphones, and accessibility — and all at a pretty reasonable price. Slightly bigger and more expensive but better-sounding are the Sony WF-1000XM4.

If sound really matters — and money is no object — the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2 are so good they could rival many over-ear headphones with their clarity. It won’t matter what genre you like most, and with improved battery life to boot, these are premium earbuds worth a look.

The Bose QuietComfort Earbuds are the best when noise cancelation is a priority, but they don’t skimp out on sound quality, either. As a result, they are among the best available if audio clarity is on your must-have feature list. Google’s Pixel Buds A-Series play nice with any Android phone or tablet, and you’ll probably find them to be among the most comfortable to wear for long periods. The Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro have seen price drops that make them solid value for what they bring to the table. Even the tightest budget can still find something within reach in this list.


Jabra Elite 7 Pro

Best wireless earbuds overall

Bottom line: Jabra has been hard at work at the audio game for the last few years, and the Elite 7 Pro cover a lot of the key points. Their renewed focus on fit and comfort, coupled with the quality sound and outstanding phone call clarity, make them a hard pair to pass on.

Water-resistance IP57
Bud battery life 8 hours
Case battery life 30 hours
Case size Small
Digital assistant Google Assistant, Siri
Audio codecs SBC, AAC
Speaker size 6mm drivers
Wireless charging Yes
Other features ANC, HearThrough, equalizer


  • Excellent audio quality with solid ANC
  • Better fit and comfort
  • Outstanding call quality
  • Pretty good durability
  • Reliable button controls


  • Custom ANC shouldn’t be mandatory
  • Too few codecs
  • No multipoint… for now

The Jabra Elite Active 75t are still available as one of the best value earbuds you can wear right now, and they ultimately set the stage for what the Elite 7 Pro bring to the table. As an experienced hearing aid company, Jabra has shown a consistent ability to find balance in how it approaches both comfort and sound.,These earbuds feature a nicely balanced sound signature that you can easily adjust in the excellent Sound+ app available for Android and iOS. The Elite 7 Pro also share these design and functionality principles with the Elite 7 Active, delivering smooth mid-range and treble frequencies that won’t hurt your ears, even during piercing high notes.

While there is good active noise cancelation (ANC), it’s a bit annoying Jabra forces you to customize it to your ear before you can even use the feature. What helps even more is that there’s excellent passive noise isolation here, which helps further the cause, owing to the excellent build that makes these so comfortable to wear, even for longer periods.

As for battery life, you get up to eight hours per charge, and that’s with ANC on. You can stretch that further if you leave it off. The included case nets three additional charges for an overall total of around 30 hours. The case itself charges via USB-C or Qi wireless charging, including a fast charging option where plugging in for five minutes can get you up to 60 minutes of playback.

The Elite Active 7 Pro are also IP57 water and dust-resistant, which means they’ll have little issue with sweat, rain, snow, or other water-absorbing activities. They actually provide the same level of protection compared to the Elite 7 Active, except they don’t have the same rubberized coating the Active pair does.

These earbuds are also incredible for making calls, not least of which because of Jabra’s MultiSensor Voice Technology. In our tests, the receiver on the other end told us it was among the clearest phone calls they’d ever heard from a pair of headphones. There’s also an included “transparency” mode available at the tap of a button — did we mention there are physical controls here? — that pumps in sound from the outside world through one of the three included microphones. That makes it easier to talk to people or hear the outside world without removing the earbuds. Not to mention a handy mute button when you need a moment.

The Elite Active 7 Pro aren’t perfect, though. For example, while you can use a single earbud in mono mode, there’s no multipoint support, meaning you can’t connect to two devices simultaneously. It’s also a shame it didn’t add other Bluetooth codecs to round out a great audio package.

Best wireless earbuds overall

Jabra Elite 7 Pro – True Wireless Bluetooth Earbuds


  • $200 at Amazon
    $200 at Best Buy

Jabra’s Elite 7 Pro are the best wireless earbuds for sound quality, durability, battery life, comfort, and portability.


Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro

Best value earbuds

Bottom line: It took a few attempts, but Samsung is finally in a groove with its wireless earbuds. While battery life takes a hit, the improvement in sound quality, ANC, spatial audio, microphone performance, and water resistance make the Galaxy Buds Pro the pair to beat.

Water-resistance IPX7
Bud battery life 8 hours
Case battery life 28 hours
Case size Small
Digital assistant Bixby, Google Assistant, Siri
Audio codecs SBC, AAC
Speaker size 13mm drivers
Wireless charging Yes
Other features ANC, HearThrough, 360 Audio, Voice Detect


  • Excellent sound
  • Effective ANC
  • Rugged water and sweat resistance
  • Comfortable design
  • Spatial 360 Audio
  • Reliable microphone quality


  • Lower battery life than before
  • Finicky touch controls
  • Needs custom EQ

Samsung’s Galaxy Buds Pro take the best features from the previous Galaxy Buds+ and Galaxy Buds Live wireless earbuds and make a stand for being one of the best available. It’s a distinction the company has wanted from the start, but it took several attempts to get to this level of respectability.

The design borrows heavily from the past, yet puts a different twist on these earbuds to accommodate all the extra tech inside. They’re small and nimble, but they have more girth to pack in the active noise cancelation (ANC) and other sensors that bring in the new features. They also have larger drivers to pump out clearer and crisper sound by default, with the option to choose among six equalizer presets in the Galaxy Wearable app. It’s just too bad there’s no custom EQ to add your presets to the list.

ANC has two settings (high and low) and four Ambient mode settings, but both can work together uniquely. Voice Detect lowers the volume of the audio you’re listening to and turns on Ambient once you start talking to make it easy to hear a conversation. The audio comes back when there are no voices for up to 10 seconds. Samsung claims the ANC can cut out up to 99% of background noise, but that’s mostly accurate for low-frequency sounds. Higher pitches could still break through.

With 360 Audio inside using Dolby Head Tracking technology, the Galaxy Buds Pro are also great for watching content coded in 5.1 and 7.1 surround sound. It’s a virtual spatial audio effect that enhances the reverb of a movie or show, though it’s a shame you can’t listen to music from streaming services with the same effect.

Samsung also managed to continue its steady improvement in call quality. We were impressed with how clear calls were, with those we spoke to not realizing we were using earbuds. The one caution to handling these earbuds is the overly responsive touch controls, where accidental taps can often happen when adjusting them in your ears.

The good news is that they’re more rugged than you might expect. With an IPX7 rating, the level of water and sweat resistance means the Galaxy Buds Pro are perfectly suited to a run or workout. Certainly a better option that way when compared to the Galaxy Buds 2.

These features come at the expense of battery life, where you max out at up to five hours per charge when ANC is on. It goes up to eight hours if you keep ANC off, but either way, those numbers aren’t as good as some competitors. The included case will get you three extra charges, which you can charge via USB-C or wireless charging pads. A quick five-minute charge through USB can get you up to an hour of playback.

Best value earbuds

Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro – Bluetooth Earbuds

$130 at Amazon $130 at Best Buy $130 at B&H

Samsung did a lot for the Galaxy Buds Pro, especially for the extra features that make them so easy to listen to.


Sony WF-1000XM4

Best upgrade pick

Bottom line: Sony followed up its excellent WF-1000XM3 with a pair that does just about everything better, including sound and active noise cancelation. These improvements put them among the very best pairs available.

Water-resistance IPX4
Bud battery life 8 hours
Case battery life 24 hours
Case size Medium
Assistant support Google Assistant, Siri
Audio codecs SBC, AAC, LDAC
Speaker size 6mm drivers
Wireless charging Qi
Other features ANC, Ambient sound, equalizer, 360 Reality Audio


  • Outstanding ANC performance
  • Stellar sound quality
  • Amazing battery life
  • Wireless charging case with USB-C
  • LDAC and 360 Audio support
  • Solid app support


  • Touch controls need work
  • Smaller ears may not feel comfy
  • Single-bud mode only in right buds

At this point, ANC has found its way into more true wireless earbuds, but they won’t match the level attained here with the WF-1000XM4, which are world-class by comparison. Their predecessors, the WF-1000XM3, were among the best in the business and can still hold their own, but when it comes to an upgrade, it’s hard to top this pair. They still won’t win accolades for beauty, but are definitely effective at doing what they’re supposed to.

Sony didn’t have to play too much with the existing sound profile, but did maintain a consistent design approach. Rather than skew the default sound stage to push more bass, Sony preferred to keep it more neutral to start with, leaving plenty of room to customize it through the equalizer settings in the Headphones Connect app. That helps the mid-range breathe and come through with greater detail, while the highs maintain a warm signature throughout. Of course, if you want bass, you can get it from the app as well, including through the Extra Bass feature.

Battery life is excellent, with up to eight hours alone and an additional 24 hours with their charging case. Sony chiseled that case down 40% to make it a lot more portable, which is great considering how cumbersome the previous one tended to be. Along with ANC, the WF-1000XM4 have an ambient sound mode that also performs well. And then there’s 360 Reality Audio for listening to content with a spatial effect. The LDAC codec gives you the ability to listen to hi-res audio tracks through services that support them.

There’s a lot to like about these earbuds, and though they are among the best noise-canceling pairs available, they aren’t without some drawbacks. The fit may not be for everyone, and the Adaptive Sound Control mode still feels like a work in progress. And while the IPX4 rating does offer some water and sweat resistance, you will need to be careful not to submerge them in water and wipe them down after a run or workout to keep them clean.

Best upgrade pick

Sony WF-1000XM4 – Truly Wireless Earbud Headphones


$248 at Amazon $248 at Best Buy $248 at B&H

The WF-1000XM4 feature superb ANC performance that underpins the excellent sound quality and good battery life.


Samsung Galaxy Buds 2

Best balance

Bottom line: Samsung takes a lot of what’s worked with its earbuds in the past and crams it into a pair that are the most comfortable the company has made to date. You won’t be doing anything too rugged with them, but they make up for their delicate design with solid audio quality and a fit that should please most ears. With ANC onboard and a few other extras, they are worth considering.

Water-resistance IPX2
Bud battery life 7.5 hours
Case battery life 29 hours
Case size Small
Assistant support Bixby, Google Assistant, Siri
Audio codecs SBC, AAC, Scalable
Speaker size 11.5mm drivers
Wireless charging Yes
Other features Active Noise Cancelation, Ambient Sound


  • Bold sound
  • Effective ANC
  • Very comfortable fit
  • Good battery life
  • Nice color options


  • IPX2 rating isn’t very durable
  • Microphones are so-so
  • Finicky controls

For Samsung, the Galaxy Buds 2 don’t replace the Galaxy Buds Pro, but rather complement them by replacing the Galaxy Buds+. In doing so, the company engineered a worthy combination of performance and comfort that, while forcing some compromises, delivers a pretty solid experience once you put them on.

Shaving off 10% in size compared to the Galaxy Buds+ makes these earbuds feel more diminutive, which in turn makes them more nimble once you place them in your ears. It makes for a nice balance, though you do have to wear them accepting that they don’t really have water and sweat resistance. Don’t get these if you plan to sweat a lot while working out.

The comfy fit pays immediate dividends because of the ability to create a tighter seal to retain as much of the audio as possible. These do sport different drivers from the Galaxy Buds Pro, yet the audio output doesn’t always feel dramatically different, only adding to the value of what you get when you start listening to content. While there may be slightly more sibilance and subtle mids, the sound profile comes out pretty clear and crisp. Use the Galaxy Wearable app, and you can use one of the six EQ presets to try and boost it further.

Bringing in ANC is great, in part because it also feels like it’s along the same lines as the Galaxy Buds Pro. The latter does block out slightly more background noise, but it’s often going to feel like an even race. The onboard mics do okay with Ambient Sound, though the ones on the Buds Pro generally perform much better. That’s also why phone calls on the Buds 2 are much better in quieter surroundings.

Battery life isn’t as high as previous pairs, but you can still expect up to 7.5 hours with ANC off, or five hours with it on, depending on volume levels. You get three extra charges from the case, topping it up via USB-C or wireless charging.

Best balance

Samsung Galaxy Buds 2


$101 at Amazon $120 at Best Buy $120 at B&H

Samsung latest entry-level true wireless earbuds offer a very agreeable combo of performance and comfort.


Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2

Best sound quality

Bottom line: Putting on a pair of Sennheiser headphones comes with a bigger set of expectations, and these should be no exception. The Momentum True Wireless 2 are the best sounding in this category for the simple fact they offer the best sound stage, belying their diminutive size. They also have a much better battery life than their predecessors and include superb noise cancelation.

Water-resistance IP55
Bud battery life 7 hours
Case battery life 21 hours
Case size Medium
Assistant support Alexa, Google Assistant, Siri
Audio codecs aptX, SBC, AAC
Speaker size 7mm drivers
Wireless charging No
Other features ANC, Ambient mode, equalizer


  • Great comfort
  • Great audio quality
  • Excellent ANC performance
  • Improved battery life
  • Companion iOS and Android app


  • Onboard controls need work
  • No official sweat resistance
  • Expensive

Sennheiser got the sound part right with the first Momentum True Wireless, only to struggle in delivering adequate battery life. The Momentum TW2 does a much better job staying on for longer periods, and, coupled with the excellent sound, they pump out. It’s hard to argue with them being the best for audio quality. Battery life is now up to seven hours per charge, with a total of 28 hours coming from the nifty charging case. It features USB-C for wired charging but lacks wireless charging, which is disappointing at this price.

Another big addition was including ANC support. While not necessarily the best in the business in that particular aspect, they are no slouches in keeping background noise to a minimum. The Momentum TW2 manages to punch above their relative weight in reducing ambient noise to a level that comes really close to the best ANC performance out there.

As for the sound, the bass-forward profile should acclimate well to any pair of ears. It has an elegant feel to it, matching the physical design. The bass is pronounced without feeling overbearing, even if it slightly overtakes the mids, while the high notes are clear, crisp, and warm throughout. Sennheiser’s Smart Control app lets you use the onboard equalizer to customize how you want them to sound if the default profile doesn’t work for you.

The earbuds themselves are larger than others on this list, so not every pair of ears will feel like a natural fit. Thankfully, that’s not a big problem considering how good they sound for their size, especially compared to on-ear or over-ear headphones.

Best sound quality

Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2 – Bluetooth in-Ear Buds


$188 at Amazon $200 at Best Buy $200 at B&H

Sennheiser’s penchant for excellent sound isn’t hamstrung by smaller size, and the Momentum True Wireless 2 are audible proof.


Bose QuietComfort Earbuds

Best noise-canceling earbuds

Bottom line: They’re easily the bulkiest earbuds on this list, but Bose has pushed Sony from the crown for the best noise-canceling performance with the QuietComfort Earbuds. These are technical marvels in that they sport active noise cancelation that belies their size, as bulky as they may be. So you get great sound for your troubles, but no way to tweak it to the way you’d want it.

Water-resistance IPX4
Bud battery life 6 hours
Case battery life 18 hours
Case size Large
Assistant support Google Assistant, Siri
Audio codecs SBC, AAC
Speaker size 6mm drivers
Wireless charging Qi
Other features ANC (adjustable with 11 levels)


  • Superb sound quality
  • Outstanding ANC performance
  • Solid ambient mode
  • Comfortable fit
  • Wireless charging case


  • Larger by comparison
  • Case is much bigger
  • App needs an EQ
  • Pricey

ANC is slowly but surely finding its way into more true wireless earbuds out there, including at different price points, but the pair to beat is now the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds. The Sony’s WF-1000XM4 are the toughest competitors in this arena, yet Bose has something good enough to compete. That’s why they’re an easy choice for this list, even if they won’t win accolades for beauty. They’re still effective at doing what they’re supposed to.

Bose chose to keep the sound profile neutral, avoiding any significant bumps toward the bass. That helps the mid-range breathe and come through with greater detail, while the highs maintain a warm signature throughout. The bass is less thick than you might expect, but it’s not necessarily missing. The only issue is: There’s no way to customize it because Bose’s app doesn’t have an EQ to tune the sound — a thoughtless omission in this price range.

Battery life is pretty good, though it does vary when ANC is on. You’re more likely to get just above five hours when it is and an additional 18 hours with the charging case. For a pair of true wireless ANC earbuds, the QC Earbuds are a cut above the WF-1000XM3, making them elite in this particular category. As with most ANC headphones, the QC Earbuds have an ambient sound mode that reverses the ANC microphones to allow the outside world in, removing the need to take off your earbuds if you’d like to hear what’s going on around you.

There’s a lot to like about these earbuds, and though they are the best noise-canceling pair available, they aren’t without some drawbacks. The fit may not be for everyone, and the case will not be as easy to pocket as others are. There’s also the price, which is expensive by any true wireless standard, so you have to really want the best ANC available.

Best noise-canceling

Bose QuietComfort Noise-Cancelling Earbuds


$199 at Amazon $199 at Best Buy $199 at Walmart

The QuietComfort Earbuds feature superb ANC performance that underpins the excellent sound quality and good battery life.


Google Pixel Buds A-Series

Best for Android users

Bottom line: Google cut down the price and a few features on its 2020 Pixel Buds to make the A-Series the better value. They look and sound the same, but also work more efficiently in a couple of key areas.

Water-resistance IPX4
Bud battery life 5 hours
Case battery life 24 hours
Case size Small
Assistant support Google Assistant, Siri
Audio codecs SBC, AAC
Speaker size 12mm drivers
Wireless charging None
Other features Adaptive Sound mode, translation


  • Wireless charging case & USB-C wired charging
  • Integration with Android and Google Assistant
  • Good sound
  • Lightweight build
  • Fantastic media controls


  • Lacks active noise cancelation
  • Battery life could be longer
  • Comfort might not be great for everyone
  • No wireless charging case

Google gave the 2020 Pixel Buds a makeover from the original Pixel Buds that worked on several levels. The Pixel Buds A-Series follow up on that at a more affordable price. And more importantly, they largely function the same way, meaning you don’t have to deal with a reduction in audio quality. As before, they work well on Android, much like how the AirPods are great when paired with an iPhone. Open the case the first time, and with one tap, they’re paired to most modern Android phones.

Unless you’re using a Pixel device, where the settings are within the phone’s system settings, you can download the companion app during setup on other Android handsets to access some of the extras available. Customize the touch gestures and use the “find my buds” feature if you misplace one or both. You lose out on the swiping gestures to adjust volume, though. Nevertheless, the touch controls are among the best and most consistent of any pair of earbuds we’ve tested to date.

The same audio features do still largely apply, otherwise. Adaptive Sound Control will raise or lower playback volume depending on how much noise is around you. It’s the only alternative available instead of ANC or an ambient mode. You can toggle on Bass Boost to add some extra focus on the low-end (they do need it), but Google still hasn’t added a proper equalizer to customize sound further.

The translation features, which are already quite good, got their boost by adding Transcribe mode to help Spanish, French, Italian, and German speakers translate into English. The move, in turn, also improves how English speakers get translations from those languages too. Finally, sharing Detection lets you share one of your earbuds with someone, where each of you can control volume individually. You might need to share a bud if it’s an important phone call or you’re both listening to the same podcast, for instance.

One of the biggest reasons to consider the Pixel Buds over anything else is how they integrate with Google Assistant. You can activate it via a touch gesture or verbally by using the trigger word, hands-free. The charging case is smaller than most others, though you need to keep it handy because the Pixels Buds aren’t battery stalwarts. At least you get quick charging through USB-C and wireless charging convenience.

Best for Android users

Google Pixel Buds A-Series – True Wireless In-Ear Headphones


$100 at Best Buy $99 at Google

The Pixel Buds A-Series feature great integration with Android and Google Assistant, plus better connectivity.


Beats Studio Buds

Most comfortable

Bottom line: Beats hasn’t been known for doing things small, but the Beats Studio Buds buck more than one trend, as far as the brand’s reputation is concerned. Not only do you get a much more balanced audio profile, but also a major step forward in comfort.

Water-resistance IPX4
Bud battery life 8 hours
Case battery life 24 hours
Case size Medium
Assistant support Google Assistant, Siri
Audio codecs SBC, AAC
Speaker size 8.2mm drivers
Wireless charging No
Other features Hands-free Siri, equalizer


  • Better than typical Beats sound
  • Super comfortable fit
  • Hands-free Siri access
  • Works well with Android
  • Decent app support
  • Fast charging


  • No H1 or W1 chip for Apple users
  • No auto play and pause
  • No wireless charging

Beats has made wireless earbuds before, but there really is something different about the Studio Buds. For starters, they are positively diminutive by comparison to anything else bearing the brand’s logo. They’re small enough, in fact, to rival even the smallest pairs on any list. That sometimes comes with cautions affecting performance and output, yet somehow these little buds pack a real punch.

It really does begin and end with the comfort because the tighter seal helps augment the solid audio they’re capable of. The brand’s propensity and obsession with bass isn’t so prominent here, as Studio Buds engineers clearly had a different template in mind when they developed these earbuds. The sound stage is balanced, where you can easily tell that the highs and mids got a little more attention this time around.

Unlike past Beats earbuds, these are tailored to Android users. You get quick pairing, which is always nice, along with an app to customize things further. The Beats app still isn’t as deep as other competitors, though you do have an equalizer to try getting more out of them, as well as listening modes to change things up whenever the mood strikes. You won’t get excellent ANC performance out of them, which is why the passive isolation from a tight seal looms even larger in the broader sense.

Hands-free Siri is all good on iOS devices, but what about Android? You won’t necessarily get Google Assistant as easily, but it’s also not terribly hard to wake it up. Call quality is passable, whereas battery life also teeters between good and mediocre. With ANC on, you can get up to five hours per charge, or eight hours if you turn if off — all of which is based on default volume. The case has no wireless charging, except if you manage to plug in, only five minutes of charging can get you up to 60 minutes playback.

Most comfortable

Beats Studio Buds


$100 at Amazon $120 at Best Buy $120 at Walmart

Beats steps away from its traditional sound signature and offers great sonic balance to go with the excellent small size.


Jaybird Vista 2

Most rugged earbuds

Bottom line Jaybird maintains the kind of rugged treatment that makes the Vista 2 ideal for workouts and general activity, thanks to their IP68 water resistance rating. They also have excellent audio, with a fantastic companion app that opens the floodgates to custom sound.

Water-resistance IP68
Bud battery life 8 hours
Case battery life 24 hours
Case size Medium
Assistant support Google Assistant, Siri
Audio codecs SBC, AAC
Speaker size 6mm drivers
Wireless charging Qi
Other features ANC, Ambient sound, equalizer


  • Good audio quality
  • Audio customization abounds
  • Comfortable fit and rugged design
  • Decent ANC and ambient modes
  • Improved battery life
  • Case is trackable and water-resistant


  • Still just as bulky as before
  • aptX support would’ve been great

When it comes to durability relative to audio performance, the Jaybird Vista 2 are the best option. Jaybird added ANC support, which comes with excellent passive noise isolation to give the effect an extra bump. There isn’t a huge difference in size or design from its predecessor, aside from some aesthetic touches here or there. They have a nicely crafted design that fits most ears, but the tighter seal they can create makes a big difference in how well these earbuds sound. Bass lovers will rejoice at the audible thump afforded by the default sound signature, though there’s a lot more where that came from.

Jaybird’s companion app makes things really interesting because it hosts an active community of fellow users who create EQ presets you can apply to the Vista 2. You will find something catering to every genre of music, and you can modify or create your own. Save the ones you like most and switch between what works while working out or what is best at work.

With an IP66 rating, the level of water and sweat resistance is good enough to take the proverbial beating for every activity. Swimming is probably taking it too far, but you can certainly run in the rain or not worry about some splashing. Make sure to clean and wipe them after exposure, and they should feel good as new each time.

Battery life is decent at up to six hours with ANC on (eight hours when off), and the louder default volume helps keep it closer to that ceiling. The case has its own IP54 rating, and is trackable through the Jaybird app. That’s all on top of the extra 16 hours in battery life, giving the earbuds two additional full charges. You can also quick charge them via USB-C or lay them down on a wireless charging pad.

Most rugged

Jaybird Vista 2 True Wireless Sport Bluetooth Headphones


$200 at Amazon $200 at Best Buy $200 at B&H

Jaybird’s encore with the Vista 2 proves to be a success as it carries on where their predecessors left off and adds plenty more.


AirPods Pro

Best for Apple users

Bottom line: Apple made the AirPods Pro, of course, for Apple users, and the feeling of exclusivity is obvious from the moment you first crack open the case. The Pro introduced ANC and a host of iOS-friendly features that make it perfect for anyone with an iPhone. It’s a breeze to switch between Apple devices, except the pinch-based controls are what have us hooked.

Water-resistance IPX4
Bud battery life 5 hours
Case battery life 24 hours
Case size Small
Assistant support Siri
Audio codecs SBC, AAC
Speaker size High-excursion Apple driver
Wireless charging Qi
Other features H1 chip, ANC, Transparency mode, Adaptive EQ


  • Excellent noise cancelation
  • Transparency mode works very well
  • Super comfortable design
  • Playback gestures are great
  • Compact, high-quality charging case


  • So-so battery life
  • No customization on Android
  • Lightning for charging
  • Expensive

Despite being somewhat limited on Android (no autoplay/pause, Google Assistant, or customization), the AirPods Pro join the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2 and Sony WF-1000XM3 at the top of the heap for ANC true wireless earbuds. The AirPods Pro benefit from stellar ANC performance, and while they won’t beat out the others at the top, they do come close to almost everything else on the market.

Sound quality is solid with the AirPods Pro, with more bass and mid-range than the regular AirPods 2 can squeak out. Focusing on the mids creates the illusion that sound is moving closer to you, and that’s because instruments and vocals are often in that part of the spectrum. The highs suffer a bit because of that, creating an uneven profile that may be more pronounced with certain genres.

They’re smartly designed to aid in a comfortable fit, and we can attest to how good they are in that regard. Unlike other earbuds with plastic “stem” silicone ear tips, the AirPods Pro attach directly to the bud’s speaker. That makes the tip more malleable to mold itself into the shape of your ear.

Battery life is hardly anything to get excited about, unfortunately. They can theoretically hit 4.5 hours of playback with ANC on — five hours with ANC off — but that also depends on volume level. The saving grace lies with the charging case that can offer around 20 hours of additional listening time. Apple users won’t mind charging over its proprietary Lightning connector, whereas Android users certainly might. You could get around that, to some degree, by making use of the wireless charging support.

Best for Apple users

Apple AirPods Pro


$179 at Amazon $190 at Best Buy

Apple takes care of its users with the AirPods Pro by getting the fundamentals right on comfort, playback, and ease of use.


Anker Soundcore Liberty Air 2 Pro

Most versatile earbuds

Bottom line: There’s more than one reason why Anker’s Soundcore Liberty Air 2 Pro earbuds are on this list, and the biggest of them all is because they’re one of the best we’ve heard to date. They may not have every single feature but make up for that with solid performance across the board.

Water-resistance IPX4
Bud battery life 7 hours
Case battery life 26 hours
Case size Medium
Assistant support Google Assistant, Siri
Audio codecs SBC, AAC
Speaker size 11mm PureNote driver
Wireless charging Yes
Other features HearID EQ, 6 microphones


  • Great sound quality
  • Excellent battery life
  • USB-C and Qi wireless charging
  • Extremely comfortable
  • Custom equalizer


  • Lacks aptX codec
  • Touch controls are finicky
  • Not the best for sweaty workouts

It’s always nice to find a pair of earbuds that don’t try too hard. That’s very much the case with the Anker Soundcore Liberty Air 2 Pro, which focus largely on audio performance to offer what is a truly effective pair worthy of serious consideration. The bass and mids get equal opportunity in the sound signature, which does chip away at the highs, but the overall result is very resonant audio despite the lack of aptX codec support.

Anker also addressed fit and comfort in ways that make these among the most comfortable earbuds to wear. With nine different tips in the box, the odds are good you’ll find your comfort zone, which affects how tight the seal is for better passive noise isolation. That matters for getting even more out of the onboard ANC, which comes in four modes, and performs more admirably than you might expect compared to the best options. The companion app has the company’s HearID equalizer to help adjust how you want the sound to feel.

It helps that Anker also addressed call quality, significantly improving it to the point where clarity is paramount in each conversation. Part of the reason is that there are six microphones instead of four, and they do a better job of picking up your voice. Unfortunately, touch controls don’t always work as advertised, whether for audio playback or phone calls, so it’s something the company will have to address with a firmware update.

On the other hand, battery life does hit the right levels for the price. The buds can go up to seven hours per charge with ANC off (six hours with ANC on), and the case adds another 26 hours moreover. It charges via USB-C and also supports wireless charging.

Most versatile

Anker Soundcore Liberty Air 2 Pro True Wireless Earbuds


  • $90 at Amazon $90 at Best Buy

The Liberty Air 2 Pro have a lot to offer, starting with how good they sound and how easy it is to find the right fit.


Razer Hammerhead True Wireless Pro

Best for gaming

Bottom line: Razer shows off its true wireless chops by crafting these gaming-ready earbuds that come with the audio trappings to make them viable for every session. Low latency performance and THX certification deliver plenty, but these earbuds also do just fine for more than just playing games.

Water-resistance IPX4
Bud battery life 4 hours
Case battery life 16 hours
Case size Medium
Assistant support Google Assistant, Siri
Speaker size 10mm drivers
Wireless charging Qi
Other features EQ and Gaming mode, THX certification


  • Fabulous audio quality
  • ANC support
  • Low latency for gaming
  • Extra ear tips
  • Good app support


  • Mediocre battery life
  • Clunky button controls
  • No spatial audio

For Razer, the Hammerhead True Wireless Pro make mobile gaming worth doing without worrying about wires or cables. They’re nicely crafted with a design that should fit most ears, with a tighter seal that makes a big difference in the passive isolation, which works well with the onboard ANC. There’s ample bass to listen to, with steady balance for the rest of the audio spectrum, and there’s more where that came from.

Razer includes six pairs of silicone ear tips, plus an extra pair of Comply Foam tips. Somewhere in there, you will find a pair of tips fitting your ears well enough to keep the bass from leaking out. The ANC does the rest of the work to block out background ambient noise, with a helping hand available through Razer’s app’s equalizer to tweak the sound further. The Gaming Mode steps in for the 60ms low latency when it’s time to play a game on your phone or tablet.

When it comes to gaming and movies or TV shows, the THX certification adds more to everything you watch and is worth using. So it’s just a bummer that Razer didn’t also give the Hammerhead Pro an update to the spatial audio feature it has in its over-ear headphones. It is theoretically possible to do it through a firmware update, but it hasn’t happened yet.

It’s also too bad the company couldn’t stretch out more than four hours of bud battery life, especially when cheaper earbuds often beat that. The case is limited to only two extra charges, so you will need to charge these up more often. Luckily, you can do that by either plugging in via USB-C or placing it on a Qi wireless charging pad.

Best for gaming

Razer Hammerhead True Wireless Pro


$100 at Amazon $130 at Best Buy

Razer goes after more than just gamers with these loud and effective earbuds that sound off on everything.

Bottom line

Wireless earbuds have grown more popular over the last few years, and the variety has grown with them, making them an important audio category. Choosing the right pair is easier than it may seem because so many vendors are getting in on the action, and price points now vary so widely.

For many, the Jabra Elite 7 Pro will be the best option. They strike the right balance in the areas that really matter, like size, sound, durability, and supporting features. They’re small enough to fit comfortably in most ears and are ruggedized enough to withstand water and sweat should you need extra protection. Sound quality is among the best available, call quality is outstanding, and the Sound+ app has features worth trying.

Equipped with good ANC, plus unique features to cater to call quality, there’s a lot to work with. They provide excellent passive isolation with the right seal to listen to everything without worrying too much about the background. You also have physical control buttons that avoid false positives when you press them.

Jabra scored a real win with these among the best wireless earbuds. They may not come in first place in every category, but it’s hard to argue with how consistently great they are to use.

How do true wireless earbuds differ from regular wireless earbuds?

In simple terms, true wireless earbuds function without cables and cords. Regular wireless earbuds are “wireless” because they don’t connect to the device playing the audio, but do have a cable connecting the two earbuds. In that case, the Bluetooth connection from a smartphone connects to one earbud, which then relays that connection to the other earbud through the cable.

True wireless earbuds perform the same function, albeit wirelessly. So, in effect, you have something like a daisy chain, where the phone pairs with one earbud (usually the right one) and then relays that connection to the left. Unfortunately, this method hasn’t always been reliable, with audio hiccups and cuts happening because of it. Bluetooth 5.0 has helped improve that, whereas some true wireless earbuds will connect both sides to the phone.

What are the advantages of true wireless earbuds?

The most immediate advantage is that you’re not dealing with any wires. No chance of cables tangling or accidentally breaking. You have two separate earbuds in a case that charges them on its own. The case has a battery you can charge, meaning that you don’t always have to plug it in to charge the earbuds themselves.

Some cases support wireless charging to add more convenience. Most also have USB-C ports for wired charging, some of which also include fast charging.

Despite their smaller size, true wireless earbuds are often equipped with the same features wireless earbuds have. They can include onboard controls for playback or even active noise cancelation (ANC) and voice assistants. There are models with higher water and sweat resistance and those more focused on increased audio fidelity.

What are the disadvantages of true wireless earbuds?

With no cables connecting the two earbuds, there is always the risk of losing one of them. Moreover, the lack of a cable connecting the two places more emphasis on the connection between the two earbuds themselves. While this has improved, there is a chance that one side’s audio may drop out — brief as it may be.

Not having cables also makes true wireless earbuds easier to run or work out with. Comfort and fit are always considerations under those circumstances, but you should also be careful to use them with the right protection in place. That means at least an IPX4 rating or better if you want enough durability for workouts.

The constant charging cycles also take their toll on the lithium batteries’ true wireless earbuds and their case use. Not every manufacturer approximates a shelf life, but with regular usage, you may find your earbuds don’t last as long after two years. Wireless earbuds aren’t impervious to these issues themselves, but since they’re not cradled in a charging case, the batteries don’t go through as many cycles.

Does it matter what Bluetooth version my earbuds have?

Yes, but not always for the reasons you might think. For example, Bluetooth 5.0 doesn’t really impact audio quality, so having that onboard doesn’t mean they will sound better than a pair using version 4.2. Updated Bluetooth protocols will impact things, the way version 5.0 improves range and battery efficiency, for instance.

That additional range could make it easier to walk around at home wearing your earbuds, listening to music while the phone isn’t near you. Usually, major updates to the Bluetooth protocol add higher data transfer speeds, but the benefits aren’t always shown with audio quality. Other times, they might.

What are the best codecs for wireless earbuds?

For Android devices, Qualcomm’s aptX, aptX LL, aptX Adaptive, aptX HD, aptX Lossless codecs are generally better than SBC (subband codec), which is the standard codec all Bluetooth audio devices support. The main reason is that aptX has more bandwidth than SBC, which can positively affect audio quality. AptX Adaptive also automatically adjusts the bit rate in real-time to maintain smooth playback and reduce connection drops.

AAC (Advanced Audio Codec) is also common and is the preferred codec YouTube uses. While iPhone users benefit from it, it hasn’t been as efficient on Android phones. Samsung has its own proprietary codec it calls Scalable, first introduced in the Galaxy Buds. Its purpose is to be adaptive, so the bit rate and connection don’t impact what you’re listening to. It’s exclusive to Samsung’s own earbuds, so not adopted by other brands the way Sony’s LDAC is. It, too, also has a variable bit rate, though it’s not widely adopted yet.

Credits — The team that worked on this guide


Ted Kritsonis loves taking photos when the opportunity arises, be it on a camera or smartphone. Beyond sports and world history, you can find him tinkering with gadgets or enjoying a cigar.

Table of contents

Read more

More News