Wireless headphones free you from the cords that tether you to your music. And now that smartphones are ditching the headphone jack, they're more useful than ever. But with a plethora of Bluetooth headphones available, which are worth a spot on your ears? Is it the Jabra Elite 65t, our current favorite Bluetooth earbuds, the Bowers & Wilkens PX, our choice for best over-ear headphones or the Smartomi Q5 Wireless Earphones our choice for best truly wireless earbuds for under $60? We tested the most popular and well-known Bluetooth headphones to find the ones that are best for you.
News and Updates (November 2018)
- In a surprising move, Microsoft just announced the $350 Surface Headphones, which offer 13 levels of noise cancelling, 15 hours of battery life and Cortana.
- We just pitted the Sony WH-1000XM3 headphones against the reigning champion Bose QuietComfort 35 IIs in a wireless ANC headphone face-off, find out who won here.
- The new Bragi Dash Pro earphones can translate over 40 languages in real time. The buds will also track your heart rate and steps, store up 1,000 songs and last five hours on a charge.
What to Look For
- The most important thing to look for in a pair of Bluetooth 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 6 to 8 hours, while Bluetooth headphones can last about 25 hours.
- 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.
- If you're interested in a pair of truly wireless buds, makes sure they come with a charging case. Since they have shorter battery life, there's a great likelihood you'll have to charge them on the go.
How We Test 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 ten-point system (1 = worst, 10 = 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.
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