The best wireless earbuds deliver more than just freedom from wires. They afford you a comfortable fit, crisp audio for media streaming and phone calls, and a hands-free experience to interact with your smartphone via digital assistant.
This holiday season will see some highly anticipated releases, including the Jabra Elite 85t ($229), Jabra’s first-ever active noise cancelling wireless earbuds. There is also the OnePlus Buds Z, which were recently announced alongside the upcoming OnePlus 8T smartphone and will be a cheaper AirPods rival.
And though some have often been compared negatively to some of the best wireless headphones, improvements in Bluetooth, microphone technologies, and battery life have made them a must-have purchase for people who love to consume their music on the go.
Finding the best wireless earbuds can be a daunting task, especially since the market has exploded with options in recent years. Current champions, like Apple and Jabra, continue to release excellent products, but there are also great choices from other manufacturers.
If you’re scratching your head over which wireless earbuds to buy, Tom’s Guide is here to help you with our top picks.
What are the best wireless earbuds?
The technology behind wireless earbuds has improved markedly, and now they have become as ubiquitous as wired headphones. The very best wireless earbuds offer long battery life, great sound, and call quality, and some noise cancellation, as well as water- and sweat-resistance, so you can use them for working out without worrying about damage. And the best wireless earbuds rise to the top of the list fit comfortably within your ears and don’t budge while you’re running or working out.
After reviewing dozens of models, the best set of wireless earbuds overall is the Jabra Elite Active 75t thanks to its customizable fit, personalized sound, passive noise cancellation, and waterproof protection. The AirPods Pro is a close second with built-in active noise cancellation, seamless iOS integration, easy-to-use controls, and sweat resistance.
But there are other wireless earbuds you should check out as well. The new Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus offers improved battery life and call quality from its predecessor, as well as innovative features. Beats Powerbeats Pro features well-balanced sound and a stable, comfortable fit perfect for fitness junkies. For extremely effective noise cancellation, try Bose's all-new QuietComfort Earbuds. If you’re an avid Android user, the Google Pixel Buds 2 is worth a look for its seamless Google integration and solid audio.
The best wireless earbuds to buy now
At the top of the list is Jabra’s latest release, the Elite Active 75t. This sportier alternative to the critically acclaimed Elite 75t beats the AirPods Pro in nearly every category: battery life, durability, sound, and special features just to name a few.
The design is conveniently comfortable and reinforced with IP57 certification, making the buds waterproof and resistant to dust and sweat. Music sounds clear, balanced and vibrant, plus you have the option of personalizing your audio experience by manually tweaking the built-in EQ or selecting one of several presets in the Jabra Sound+ app. Listeners get up to 28 hours of portable juice at their disposal. Lastly, there is passive noise cancellation, which might not match that of the AirPods Pro ANC performance, but is still effective. You’ll also be happy to hear that Jabra has an over-the-air ANC update it plans on releasing this October. All of that, plus the Jabra Elite Active 75t’s moderate price, make them the best wireless earbuds in the market.
Read our full Jabra Elite Active 75t review.
The AirPods Pro improve on Apple's iconic wireless buds with a water-resistant design and a wide range of handy touch controls. Battery life could be longer but the noise cancellation features are top-notch. Turn on ANC and the AirPods Pro do a great job blocking out everyday noise, but you can switch to the useful Transparency Mode when you want to be aware of your surroundings.
Apple's high-end buds also include three pairs of swappable silicone ear tips, making it easy to find a great fit. The stems themselves are also shorter than the ones found on the original AirPods. And of course, if you’re an iPhone user, the AirPods Pro work seamlessly with iOS. Blend all of these premium features with clean, powerful sound that suits all genres of music, and you have the company’s best audio product to date. And we can’t forget about the awesome new features iOS 14 introduced such as spatial audio to create a movie-theatre-like sound experience.
Read our full Apple AirPods Pro review.
Samsung’s sequel to the popular Samsung Galaxy Buds serves as the best wireless buds for Android users. After the company retooled the design, audio performance is a highlight with dual AKG-tuned drivers pumping out crisp, neutral sound that gives instruments and vocals prominence. The call quality could be better, but you get improved battery life (nearly six hours) and a wider set of controls than the AirPods.
The companion mobile app is also user-friendly, making it seamless to adjust the ambient-listening levels, cycle through EQ modes, and customize the touch controls. And, of course, the earbuds are beautiful as well as comfortable and come with an aesthetically appealing, pill-shaped charging case that supports reverse charging to juice up the buds when placed on the back of your newly purchased Samsung Galaxy S20. Samsung sells the Galaxy Buds Plus in several attractive colorways too, including White, Black, Light Blue, Red, and the all-new (and sexy) Aura Blue.
Read our full Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus review.
The best wireless earbuds for working out, the Powerbeats Pro from Beats combines water- and sweat resistance, a low-profile design and signature Apple-y integration, making them a no-brainer. Beats headphones tend to be bass-heavy, but the Powerbeats Pro features very well-balanced sound. Pairing the earbuds and using the controls are almost frictionless experiences. And the Powerbeats Pro also offers longer battery life than the AirPods Pro at up to 9 hours of listening time.
The ear hooks give the set a very stable, secure fit. They come with a medium-size set of silicone tips attached, and three additional options in small, medium and large sizes. If you're looking for a pair of sweat-resistant earbuds that you can wear to the gym, on the trail, on the train or at work, the Powerbeats Pro is worth the money. Beats is also keeping the product line fresh with the release of several new enticing colors: Spring Yellow, Cloud Pink, Lava Red, and Glacier Blue.
Read our full Powerbeats Pro Review.
A title once held by the remarkable Sony WF-1000xM3, the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds are now considered the best noise-cancelling wireless earbuds. How Bose managed to give its flagship buds almost the same powerful and effective ANC technology as the Bose 700, with half the mics, is an engineering feat. Distractions will go unheard, as you enjoy media (e.g. music, videos, IG clips) with rich, well-balanced sound. The buds are even capable of blending ANC with ambient listening, giving you full awareness of your surroundings with the utmost precision; external noises sound clearer and are less harsh on the ears. What you’ll appreciate most is call quality because Bose’s powerful mic array does a phenomenal job of picking up loud, crisp-sounding vocals, while minimizing background fracas at the highest level.
We do wish Bose optimized battery life better, especially since the listening modes take up a lot of power and the massive charging case holds a shorter amount of playtime than the AirPods Pro’s case.
Read our full Bose QuietComfort Earbuds review.
It might be new to the scene, but Google’s first-ever true wireless model has impressed the critics, including us, enough to be featured on our best wireless earbuds list. The Pixel Buds 2 live up to the promise of what the original should have been, Android-friendly buds that offer an amazing Google experience and nail the basics. Google made several upgrades on both the inside and outside, going completely wireless with a stylish, comfy design that sits flush on the ears, while creating custom-designed 12mm dynamic drivers that pump out warm, rich sound. Though their biggest selling point is the flawless Google integration that grants users access to Google Assistant (and its hundreds of commands) and Translate wherever they want, as well as instant pairing to Android devices.
It’s a bummer to see these buds share the same battery life as the AirPods Pro (with ANC on), but the attractive 24-hour charging case and insane quick-charging technology (10 minutes = 2 hours) helps remedy this. Google has also shared some details on a software update that will include several improvements, including decreases in phone dropout, enhanced auto-recovery for Bluetooth connections, and better media playback on phones.
See our full Google Pixel Buds 2 review.
It takes great sporty earbuds to compete with category leaders like the Elite Active 75t and Powerbeats Pro. The Jaybird Vista is a model that has been overlooked since its launch, offering the best durability and charging case of the batch. Each bud is covered in IPX7-rated casing that meets U.S. military MIL-STD 810G rugged compliant standards. In other words, the Vista has passed shock, vibration, drop, crush, and wetness tests. How’s that for durability? The charging case is reliable too, holding up to 16 hours of juice when fully charged and featuring a braided loop that can attach to other items, be it your camping backpack or workout shorts.
Fit is another strong point and Jaybird ensures the most stabilized fit possible by bundling these buds with a variety of ear tips. You’ll likely wear them no longer than an hour because they will cause some slight discomfort. Also, monitor the battery levels because six hours can go by faster than you think, especially for runners who keep their focus on the road.
Read our full Jaybird Vista review.
Boasting an estimated six hours of battery life (with ANC on) and a stylish, elegant design, the Sony WF-1000XM3 richly deserve a spot on our best wireless earbuds list. They successfully combine great audio quality with impressive noise cancellation. Deep, rich bass and tonal balance give the buds an edge over the competition.
The Sony WF-1000xM3 is built specifically for casual listening, not fitness, since the casing doesn't support water-resistant protection. Still, the earbuds are incredibly comfortable, with each bud weighing practically nothing at 0.3 ounces. While the tap gestures don’t operate as well as they do on AirPods, Sony does offer a great free app. Listeners have the option to play with the built-in EQ and create their own sound profile or choose from nine different presets as well as adjust the ambient sound levels. And what’s this about the WF-1000xM3 supporting aptX HD? Well, there’s a rumor floating around that these buds might receive an update for wireless streaming on Hi-Res Audio codecs, which would definitely increase its value in the category.
Read our full Sony WF-1000XM3 earbuds review.
Fast, smart, and longer-lasting than the first-gen model, the AirPods 2 remains a top-tier option for iPhones owners who want the true wireless Apple experience without spending extra on the AirPods Pro. A current price drop to $135 (check Amazon) makes them even more appealing. Apple gives people what they want with wireless charging and a hands-free approach to Siri. Other notable features include a Find My iPhone setting, Announce Messages with Siri, audio sharing between two AirPods or Beats headphones, and instantaneous connectivity to iOS/MacOS devices. The AirPods 2 are also set to receive automatic switching as part of the upcoming iOS 14 update, which is rumored to launch this September.
On top of all of that, you’ll find much pleasure knowing the AirPods 2 holds a longer charge (5 hours) than the AirPods Pro (4.5 hours). However, portable power is the same, with the charging case holding 24 hours of juice. And the fact that they offer 50% more talk time is the icing on the cake, especially since the original AirPods' was near-instantaneous.
See our full Apple Airpods 2 review.
Samsung’s bean-shaped earbuds have finally launched and are one of the category’s more impressive offerings, powered by AKG 12mm speakers and numerous features that extended functionality on multiple levels. Mobile music lovers will love the accurate and lively sound these buds produce; instruments are distinctive, and vocals are airy. They come with Spotify integration too, so you can pull up your favorite playlists with the touch of a button. Samsung’s companion app also lets you customize the buds in multiple ways, from the sound (e.g. built-in EQ) to the touch controls, which act finicky at times.
We had our reservations about the design, and granted it’s not for everyone, the Galaxy Buds Live still offers users a snug and pleasant fit. However, the device’s biggest selling point, active noise cancellation, doesn’t do a great job of eliminating loud ambient sounds.
Read our full Samsung Galaxy Buds Live review.
How to choose the best wireless earbuds for you
Take a look at Tom’s Guide’s comprehensive guides for the best headphones and earbuds you can buy, across every major category and price point.
With so many wireless earbud options to choose from, you may find it difficult to settle on one. There are several factors to weigh, and which one is most important depends on personal preference.
One factor to consider is fit. How comfortable is the earbud in your ear? Do the earbuds come with different sized tips so you can adjust them to your ear? The fit of wireless earbuds becomes even more crucial if you want to use them while working out. And if that's the case, water and sweat-resistance is another factor to consider.
Battery life is also key in choosing the best wireless earbuds. Check out the rated battery life and whether any carrying case comes with the earbuds to provide additional power. Then there's sound quality of both music and phone calls, which you can determine from reviews by professional testers and people who've bought the earbuds.
And of course, price is a big consideration. If you can splurge, you have a wider array of choices. But if you need to be budget-conscious, you may want to go with lower-priced brands or with older generations of wireless earbuds.
How we test wireless earbuds
In determining the best wireless earbuds, we consider fit, battery life, sound quality, design and value (are they worth the price?). We also factor in features like how well the controls work and how easily the earbuds pair with phones.
In terms of audio, we listen to many sample tracks that span a number of genres, including hip-hop, rock, jazz, classical and R&B, while evaluating volume, clarity and fullness. We also make phone calls to assess both call quality and microphone performance.
During the testing phase, our reviewers wear each pair of headphones for hours at a time throughout the course of a week. Reviewers will make note of battery life and how well it matches the rated battery life provided by earbud makers.
We evaluate earbuds based on our five-point system (1 = worst, 5 = best). If a product hits nearly every mark, it’s awarded an Editors' Choice badge.