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.
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.
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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 Jabra Elite 85t is an incredible follow-up that pairs dominant sound performance with impressive noise cancellation. The Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus offers improved battery life and call quality from its predecessor, as well as innovative features. For extremely effective noise cancellation, try Bose's all-new QuietComfort Earbuds. And if you’re a fitness junkie, the Beats Powerbeats Pro features well-balanced sound and a stable, comfortable fit.
The best wireless earbuds to buy now
The market’s best wireless earbuds (and best sport headphones) just got better, thanks to a free over-the-air ANC update that adds active noise cancellation into the mix. Don’t think that you’re going to get Bose-caliber results, or anything close to what the more premium Elite 85t delivers, but Jabra did do an impressive job tweaking its algorithm to block out a good amount of external sounds.
Even before the inclusion of ANC, the Elite Active 75t proved itself as the model to beat, offering better battery life, durability, sound, and special features than its biggest threat: the AirPods Pro. The design remains sleek, though it is sturdier this time around, with IP57 certification granting waterproof protection and dust and sweat resistance. Sound is lively and can be customized through the Jabra Sound+ app, which is loaded with presets and other cool features that enhance both sound and call quality.
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.
The follow-up to our favorite pair of wireless earbuds is a sonic beast equipped with 12mm drivers that produce loud, well-balanced audio and some of the finest noise neutralization we’ve heard in the category. Jabra’s ANC technology is capable of blocking out 90% of external sounds, allowing for disruption-free listening and audible calls. The Elite 85t connects to the Sound+ app to extend functionality, offering up a plethora of special features that range from adjustable noise cancellation to customizable controls. Connectivity is stable too, thanks to Bluetooth 5.0 and Qualcomm’s fast-operating processor.
We feel Jabra could have done more to increase playtimes, as the Elite 85t falls right in between the AirPods Pro (4.5 hours) and Bose QuietComfort Earbuds (6 hours). However, the buds have terrific battery management that squeezes every minute out of the battery. The inclusion of wireless charging is appreciated as well.
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 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.
The Galaxy Buds Plus may have been overshadowed by their noise-cancelling brethren, the Galaxy Buds Live, but don’t confuse that for superiority, as these are the better true wireless value. Battery life is rated at 11 hours, which is 3 hours longer than the Galaxy Buds Live and more than double the playtime of the AirPods. The wireless charging case adds an extra 22 hours to the equation. We also found the call quality, passive noise reduction, and ambient listening mode more reliable.
Samsung’s Galaxy Wearable app extends functionality with some cool software perks. The most serviceable are the EQ settings (normal, bass boost, soft, dynamic, clear, treble boost), along with one-touch Spotify activation to instantly pull up any favorited playlist from the streaming service. Having the Find My Earbuds is clutch as well for locating misplaced buds. Lastly, we’re smitten with the sexy colorways: White, Black, Light Blue, Red, and Aura Blue.
Read our full Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus review.
One of our top picks for the best sport headphones, the Powerbeats Pro is everything you have always wanted from Beats on the wireless audio front. The bass-forward sound profile is balanced extremely well, meaning your eardrums will still be on the receiving end of some hard-hitting sonic booms, while taking in crisp mids. Apple’s H1 processor brings over many of the performance perks found on the AirPods Pro, including seamless pairing, automatic switching, and “Hey Siri” voice activation. More features may also be on the horizon via future iOS 14 updates.
But let’s talk about the real star of the show: battery life. A good 9 hours of use on a single charge is the most we’ve seen in the sporty wireless earbuds sub-category, plus you get an extra 24 hours from the massive charging case. Fast Fuel technology will also earn you 1.5 hours of playback on a 15-minute charge. We can’t forget about the wrap-around-the-ear design either, a clutch element that ensures the buds remain put when performing lateral workouts.
Read our full Powerbeats Pro Review.
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. And just recently, 9to5Google discovered that the Google Pixel 5 will have its own automated reverse wireless charging feature that may let you juice up the Pixel Buds by placing the charging case on the back of the smartphone.
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.
The Jabra Elite 75t re-enters the rankings for one reason alone: active noise cancellation. But, wait, this model never launched with the feature? That’s correct. However, Jabra released a free over-the-air update that added ANC to these top-notch earbuds, which works surprisingly well, and is better than the noise neutralization update that was given to the Elite Active 75t. Then there are the other hallmarks that make the Elite 75t a superb option, including the sleeker design, dust and water resistance, and bass-forward sound that can also be customized through the Jabra Sound+ app.
You’ll discover some other cool features in the app as well that enhance the user experience such as MySound and MyControls. The former performs a hearing test that tailors sound to your hearing, while the latter lets you customize and expand the controls on both earbuds. With price drops occurring more frequently as we head into Christmas, you’d be foolish not to gift these to someone, or yourself.
Read our full Jabra Elite 75t 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.