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 Sony WH-1000XM3 headphones, our choice for best wireless or the Enacfire E18 Earbuds 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 (March 2019)
- The Apple AirPods 2 have officially been announced and are available for pre-order. Priced at $199, the revamped buds offer a new chip and a wireless charging case.
- Our review of the Samsung Galaxy Buds is live! For $129, the wireless buds deliver great audio with plenty of cool tech tricks.
- Jaybird has announced the new Run XT wireless headphones. The truly wireless buds add new colors and full 1PX7 waterproofing. Stay tuned for our review.
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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