Investing in the best wireless headphones doesn’t just free you from pesky cables. It also makes pairing to your portable devices (e.g. smartphone, laptop, tablet) more convenient, while offering listeners rich sound and special features that aren’t available on wired headphones.
Wireless headphones are more in-demand than ever, especially as modern smartphones ditch the headphone jack in favor of Bluetooth. Hence why we are testing the top models from every major headphone brand such as Bose, Sony, and even Apple, along with rising stars like Jabra and JLab Audio. Our job is to find the right fit for your budget and style.
In compiling a list of the best wireless headphones, Tom’s Guide evaluates several factors: including design, battery life, comfort, and newly introduced features that increase their value. We also test audio performance across a range of music genres, as well as take controls and ease of use into consideration.
What are the best wireless headphones?
At the top of our list is the Bose 700, which also happens to be the No.1 pick on our best noise cancelling headphones roundup. Bose updated its adaptive mic system to deliver champion active noise cancellation that can be adjusted across 11 different levels via mobile app. The improvements in ANC circuitry also boost sound and call quality, giving these noise-cancellers phenomenal all-around performance.
Next up is the Apple AirPods Pro, which has dominated the wireless earbuds category with surprisingly good noise cancelation. Newer features like the pinch-gesture controls and hands-free “Hey Siri” support make operating these pearly danglers a breeze, while series hallmarks such as the 24-hour charging case and instant iOS connectivity remain intact.
For the best overall wireless earbuds, there is no better option than the Jabra Elite Active 75t. These sporty buds are the perfect balance of form and function, packing several listening features into a tiny waterproof design. Sound is dynamic, thanks to the inclusion of a built-in EQ and several music presets, and battery life surpasses all AirPods models: single charge and charging case capacities.
There are several other models available that are designed for practicality and individual needs, ranging from Apple-centric sports headphones (Beats Powerbeats Pro) to super-affordable earbuds (JLab JBuds Air).
Make sure to bookmark this page, as Tom's Guide will continue to update it with the latest and most popular releases. For wireless earbuds, we have our eyes set on the industry’s two worst-kept secrets: the AirPods 3 and Samsung Galaxy Buds X (aka Galaxy Buds 2). On-ear headphones like the Apple AirPods Studio and Sony WH-1000xM4 , two models that have been rumored for months and are sure to generate serious buzz once officially announced, remain on our radar as well.
The best wireless headphones right now
These aren't your daddy's Bose. The Bose 700 headphones have raised the bar for active noise cancelling headphones, effectively silencing outside noise while simultaneously allowing you to clearly be heard when talking to someone on the phone or cueing up a digital assistant. The 700s don't skimp on audio quality either, offering clean, balanced sound with some impressive, intuitive tech flourishes.
Right now, it’s the only model engineered with 11 levels of noise cancellation to keep things quiet without adding distortion to your music, and the Full Transparency mode is similarly impressive. The headphones also come available in four striking colors: Black, Luxe Silver, Soapstone, and Eclipse. The Eclipse version is sold exclusively on Apple.com and Bose.com, and is bundled with a travel charging case that holds 40 extra hours of playtime. Add it all up, and it's easy to see why the Bose 700 is our best wireless headphones overall.
See our full Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 review.
Apple’s noise-cancelling wireless earbuds have definitely lived up to their hype. Headlining its feature set is active noise cancellation, which is surprisingly effective for hushing rowdy commuters and minimizing background noises during phone calls. The addition of ear tips makes a world of difference for both on-ear stability and sound quality; the tips produce a safe, tight seal that allows music to sound fuller. Apple also developed an adaptive EQ that automatically tunes the low and mid frequencies to your ear shape. Adding to its audio capabilities, Apple recently confirmed an upcoming iOS update that will give the AirPods Pro two new features: auto-switching between Apple devices and spacial audio to create a 3D-dimension soundscape.
Hands? That's so passé. Thanks to Apple's H1 chip, the AirPods Pro are packing even more hands-free Siri integration. Plus, you get the near-instant pairing and stable connections we've come to expect from an Apple audio product. And with the new Force Sensors embedded in the redesigned stems, you may never need to touch your smartphone ever again.
See our full Apple AirPods Pro review.
If you are looking for a pair of truly wireless earbuds that offers the right balance of personalized comfort, sound, and sporty features, then add the Jabra Elite Active 75t to your shopping cart. These buds earned a perfect score (5 stars) and our coveted Editor’s Choice badge for their amazing overall performance. Design-wise, they are 22% smaller than their predecessor, the critically acclaimed Elite Active 65t, and more rugged. Jabra also added IP57 certification to make them fully waterproof in up to 1 meter of water.
Audio is another hallmark of the Elite Active 75t, delivering detailed and vibrant sound that gives music a lively presence. With the buds operating on Bluetooth 5.0 technology, they consume less power, so that you get more use out of them when fully charged. Users can also pair to two devices simultaneously and hear music wirelessly from a lengthy distance (est. 35 feet).
Note: The latest firmware update welcomes two long-awaited features, MySound and MyControls, though the company confirmed it has scaled down functionality on the latter, stating Jabra was “not pleased with the user experience.”
See our full Jabra Elite Active 75t review.
To say Sony upped its game with the WH-1000XM3 would be an understatement. The improvements in audio fidelity alone place these wireless headphones nearly on par with the Bose 700. They deliver a powerful low-end punch suited for their target demographic, bass lovers, and grant listeners a suite of sound-optimizing options accessible through the Connect app. Most music genres are well-represented, with live recordings shining in Ambient mode. The WH-1000XM3 even supports five codecs for music playback — aptX, aptX HD, AAC, LDAC, and SBC — each engineered to maximize sound quality over Bluetooth.
But the WH-1000xM3 is not just about hitting your ear drums with a sonic boom. Sony packs killer noise cancellation into a slender design, immersing listeners into their Spotify playlists, while keeping distractions to a minimum; being trapped in the middle of a construction site is the only way you’re going to be pulled away from your music. Battery life is superior as well, at 30 hours with ANC enabled.
See our full Sony WH-1000XM3 review.
A slot previously occupied by the formidable Google Pixel Buds 2, our recent face-off feature between Google and Samsung’s latest wireless models showed the Galaxy Buds Plus to be the more superior model for Android devices. The second-gen version is loaded with smart features that enhance the wireless listening experience, from seamless Spotify integration to PowerShare, which lets you power the charging case by placing it on the back of your current Samsung Galaxy smartphone. Audio has been given a boost as well, producing crisp and pleasant sonics that can be personalized on the Samsung Galaxy Wearable app. You’re also blessed with best-in-class battery life: 11 hours on a single charge.
The touch controls and microphones are where the Galaxy Buds Plus could use improvement. Enabling playback and calling on digital assistant don’t offer the most responsive results, while the mics tend to pick up a lot of ambient sound on phone calls as well.
Read our full Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus review.
For a while, we didn’t think active noise cancellation was a possibility on true wireless earbuds at all, let alone good active noise cancellation. Then Sony dropped these compact sound-silencers and blew expectations out of the water. The Sony WF-1000xM3 successfully combines stellar sonics with best-in-class ANC technology, letting you enjoy your favorite music, movies or podcasts in peace. Deep, rich bass and tonal balance give these buds an edge over the rest of the competition.
The Sony Headphones app also hosts a variety of unique features, from adjustable ambient listening to custom sound profiles, elevating the WF-1000xM3’s status among the elite to land on our list of best wireless headphones. And with an estimated 6 hours of battery life (ANC on), you'll have a lot of time to indulge in some YouTube binging.
See our full Sony WF-1000XM3 earbuds review.
It wasn’t that long ago that the Bose QC35 II was considered the king of noise cancellation. The 700s may have rightfully taken over its spot atop the ANC throne, but these headphones remain a hot seller that can be had for a low price and are well worth the investment.
In terms of noise neutralization, the QC35 II is only second to the 700s, which speaks loudly to its sound-silencing capabilities. The headphones also feature a liberating and comfy wireless design and a dedicated button to summon Google's AI. There is a volume-optimized EQ that makes your tunes sound great even when you crank your phone to 11, and with the 20 hours of battery life, you'll have plenty of power for a couple of cross-country flights.
See our full Bose QuietComfort 35 II review.
For the iPhone fanboy who desires a sporty AirPods alternative without having to give up all of its performance perks, the $249 Powerbeats Pro was specifically designed for you. These wrap-around-the-ear cordless buds don a sweat- and water-resistant shell that protects both the interior and exterior from moisture. Beats’ signature sleek low-profile design is on full display with the embossed B logo sitting pretty in the front.
Since it is technically an Apple product, that means you can expect Apple-y integration as well, which includes access to several iOS-friendly features and quick pairing to all iOS/MacOS devices. In addition, the Powerbeats Pro offers solid audio and a secure, comfortable fit. The best part? You get 9 hours of battery life, which is 4 hours longer than the AirPods. Just keep in mind that these earbuds are also bigger than the AirPods. Those who’ve been waiting for Beats to drop some new colors will be happy to hear the brand has four new attractive shades set for launch this month: Glacier Blue, Cloud Pink, Lava Red, and Spring Yellow.
See our full Powerbeats Pro Review.
At a time when working from home now seems conventional, the Surface Headphones 2 proves its worth, backed by intelligible controls and features that make listening to music and working from home equally pleasant. Despite ditching Cortana, the headphones offer plenty of digital assistant support in Siri and Google Assistant to carry out practical tasks, along with Microsoft 365 integration to use voice dictation in real-time with popular Office programs (e.g. Word, Outlook). Another compelling feature that improves ease of use is the dial control found on both earcups, which allow you to seamlessly adjust the volume and noise-cancelling levels.
Speaking of which, ANC is impressive and blocks out about 75% of ambient noise. Music also sounds great on the Surface Headphones 2, feeding your ears with strong bass response and clean vocals. Our only issues with the sequel are its lack of lengthy battery life and extended features via companion app.
Read our full Microsoft Surface Headphones 2 review.
No one said you had to pay a premium to own great wireless earbuds. In fact, JLab has built its reputation manufacturing trustworthy cordless buds for cheap. At under $50, you can’t go wrong with the JBuds Air, which features powerful bass response and sturdy aesthetics. The buds are a superlative choice for exercisers who want energetic sound and IP55 durability, as well as budget shoppers who want an AirPods alternative for $100 less.
Battery life falls in the same area as the AirPods, though the portable carrying case does guarantee the buds won’t die on the road, storing up to 14 hours when fully charged. It’s also cool that the charging cable is built into the design, eliminating the need to carry around extra wires. We also love that the case is lightweight and doesn’t weigh down your pockets.
See our reviews of the best cheap wireless earbuds
How to choose the best wireless headphones for you
The most important thing to look for in the best wireless headphones is battery life. Most devices have an expected battery life, or the number of hours the company says the device can last on a charge. Most wireless earbuds are rated for 5 to 8 hours, while Bluetooth headphones can last about 25 hours or higher.
Another important factor is design — depending on how you like to wear them, you may want to go with on-ear, over-ear or in-ear wireless headphones.
Let’s not forget accessories. Should you want to purchase wireless headphones, look at the bundled accessories listed on the packaging. On your radar should be an aux cable, carry case, charging cable, and a user guide.
If you're interested in a pair of truly wireless buds, make sure you receive a handful of extra ear tips, charging cable, user guide, and most importantly, a charging case. Since earbuds have shorter battery life than over-the-ear headphones, there's a great likelihood you'll have to charge them on the go.
Customization, while not a necessity, is something else to consider. Those who are interested in personalizing their own headphones or earbuds can check online to see what brands have customization programs; Bose currently lets you design the QC35 II with 37 different colors and two finishes (high-gloss or anodized aluminum) for an extra $50.
How we test the best wireless headphones and earbuds
To help you separate the wheat from the chaff when shopping for headphones, Tom's Guide evaluates the following criteria: design, comfort, features, performance and value. We employ a rigorous review process, comparing products with similar fit, features and pricing.
Each pair is worn over the course of a week for 2 hours at a time. During this testing period, the staff is evaluating comfort, ease of use and, of course, audio quality. We listen to several predetermined sample tracks that span a number of genres, including hip-hop, rock, jazz, classical and R&B, and we evaluate the volume, clarity and fullness.
In terms of features, we test the effectiveness of active noise cancelling, Bluetooth range and battery life. For the fitness-focused models, we test to see how they stand up to vigorous workouts, evaluating both how securely they fit while we exercise and how well they handle ambient noise from things like falling weights and gym machines. We test every feature for app-enabled headphones along with ease of setup.
Once we complete our testing, we rate headphones based on our five-point system (1 = worst, 5 = best). If a product is truly exemplary, it's awarded an Editors' Choice.
And now that more streaming music services are offering high-resolution resolution audio, be sure to read our audio codec FAQ for everything you need to know about FLAC files, MP3s and everything in between.