(Pocket-lint) – The convenience, sound quality and comfort that modern-day wireless earbuds provide make them a must-own gadget.
Whether you’re an audiophile looking for something to complement your wireless headphones, want something sleek with a good microphone for calls, or perhaps seek a sweat-resistant pair for intense workouts, there’s now a wide range of options to choose from.
With this growth in popularity, however, the task of picking between the top-tier Bluetooth earbuds has become harder and harder. Almost all big-name audio brands now have some kind of wireless buds for you to consider, with each pair offering a unique blend of design, features and sound profile.
Of course, not all are created equally. We know because we’ve tested, reviewed and rated a veritable truckload of them – and use this buyer’s guide to provide a summary of the pairs we believe are the very best right now.
In the picks below, we’ll give you an idea of which ones to consider. And for those who are new to wireless earbuds, learn how to choose the best earbuds for your needs with the help of our advice section.
For those who prefer the solid connection a wire provides, you can also check out our guide to the top wired earbuds, as well.
What are the best wireless earbuds?
- Sony WF-1000XM4
- Apple AirPods Pro
- Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 3
- Beats Fit Pro
- Bose QuietComfort Earbuds
- Astell & Kern UW100
- Huawei Freebuds Pro 2
- Klipsch T5 II ANC
- Bang & Olufsen Beoplay EX
Our Top Pick: Wireless Earbuds
- Amazing sound
- Superb ANC
- Great case
- Slightly divisive looks
Sony’s first pair of noise-cancelling wire-frees were received with a somewhat mixed response, but the newest generation is super. Where these are set apart from their rivals is in ANC.
Add the over-ear quality ANC to a device with great sound, long battery life and a comfortable fit, and what you have is a winning combination. The look and design of the earbuds might divide opinion, but then that’s true of pretty much any true wireless earphones.
Wireless earbuds we also recommend
Wireless earbuds are a very personal bit of tech, which is why our top overall recommendation won’t be the right pick for every type of listener. Here are four other exemplary true wireless earbuds that you could consider.
Apple AirPods Pro
- Great ANC
- Superb iOS integration
- Excellent sound
Apple’s most premium earbuds are some of the very best out there, particularly if you use iOS. They’ve got world-class active noise cancelling for that all-important isolation, and the sound quality is seriously impressive.
Couple that with a really comfortable design and you’ve got earbuds that are a joy to wear. Instant pairing with Apple devices and easy swapping between them is a cut above other earbuds if you’re invested in the ecosystem, and the overall experience is one of sheer convenience alongside premium touches.
Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 3
- Great sound
- Comfortable fit
- Good design
Sennheiser’s Momentum line has been really reliable, and it hits the heights again with the third version, which is more comfortable than ever and looks really nice. The sound quality is excellent, and with adaptive noise-cancelling it’s pretty good value.
The case has a lovely textured finish that we think is as nice as any out there, while battery life is very solid, too. That adds up to an extremely likeable set of earbuds with a really nice balanced sound.
Beats Fit Pro
- Spatial Audio
- Great sound and ANC
- Comfort for all occasions
- The case can’t wirelessly charge
- Android users miss out on some features
If you’re looking for a pair of earphones that suits pretty much every occasion – and perhaps want something slightly more exercise-ready Apple’s AirPods – the Beats Fit Pro make a lot of sense.
The company has better options for those who are exclusively interested in a listening experience or something for workouts, but nothing else is quite the same jack of all trades. And, even better, the trade-off by opting for the Beats Fit Pro is minimal.
There’s a comfortable fit whether you’re listening casually or on a pavement-pounding run, very solid ANC for commuting, easy pairing for Apple users and even neat features like Spatial Audio and dynamic head tracking.
The only major gripe with have with this model is the lack of a wireless charging case, but, even still, it’s one to seriously consider.
Bose QuietComfort Earbuds
- Great ANC
- Excellent sound
- Middling controls
- Quite chunky ‘buds
Bose makes its debut on this list with an absolutely superb pair of earbuds that blew us away on review. They pack in superb noise cancelling, as well as brilliant comfort in the wearing, just as the name suggests.
Music sounds simply brilliant through the earbuds, and while the controls aren’t quite so intuitive or helpful as some others, they’re still right up there with the best sets available.
- Nice looks
- Astounding sound
- Good comfort
Taking the attitude that noise cancelling can compromise sheer audio quality, these earbuds from Atell & Kern do away with the feature to concentrate on the incredible impressive sound they deliver.
Music is simply sumptuous and matches far more expensive audio setups at times, even if we miss cancelling when it comes to hopping on a train or bus. The earbuds look nice and are pretty comfortable to wear, and for those who want the best audio quality they’re a great option.
Huawei Freebuds Pro 2
- Superb sound balance
- Impressive low bass performance
- Effective ANC and in-ear detection
- Great price
- So-so battery life
- Bluetooth range could be better
- Slight sibilance at times
Huawei Freebuds Pro 2 is the company’s answer to the AirPods Pro, delivering advanced noise cancelling, comfortable fit and advanced features like in-ear detection, adaptive ANC/EQ and Hi-Res audio support in a package that costs relatively little.
What’s really impressive is how the company has managed to squeeze in two different drivers to work the sound, delivering really low, good quality bass frequencies, and very clear, crisp trebles. Our only real complaints are that we wish the battery life lasted longer and that the Bluetooth range was better.
Otherwise, for a pair of buds that cost well under £200 in the UK, it’s a very compelling set of features in a pair of buds that will do your music as well as they do calls and video conferencing.
Klipsch T5 II ANC
- Great looks
- Impeccable sound
- Solid ANC
- A price hike on the standard version
We really, really liked Klipsch’s standard T5 II earbuds, but the newest version adds ANC for a blockbuster of a package, even if that also pushes the price up a fair bit.
You get a superb sound that’s balanced and delicate but can also push things into brilliant, and loud territory depending on your genre. It’s got true range, and a great wirelessly charging case that’s satisfying to open and shut.
Build quality is excellent, and connectivity is rock solid to make for a really impressive effect overall.
- Great looks
- Sounds incredible
- New design
- Still could be more comfortable
B&O continues its long history of high-quality audio products with this excellent set of earbuds, which sport a new design compared to older options. You get a stem with microphones for better call quality, for one.
The real star, though, is the incredibly good sound performance – music is simply sumptuous through these earbuds, which explains why they’re really quite pricey. Good ANC and solid battery life round out a very decent package.
Other products we considered
When trying to figure out what we believe are the best wireless earbuds currently available, we spent hours testing and researching. We consider a number of factors when it comes to recommending earbuds – and apply the same criteria when a new device is being considered for inclusion. It’s not all judged on our testing, either – we also try to factor in consumer reviews, brand quality and value.
In all of our roundups, there are also many products we test that don’t make the final cut. Since they may be the right fit for some people, however, we’ve listed them below.
How to choose the right wireless earbuds
Scroll back five years or so and wireless earbuds were a fresh new look for the market, but now there are almost countless options to choose from. Here are some key questions that could help you narrow your options down.
What sort of design do you like?
While Apple’s AirPods initially dominated the look and feel of almost all earbuds, there’s now a real sense of diversity in the market, with earbuds coming in all shapes and sizes. You would be well advised to figure out what sort of look you prefer – whether it’s buds with stems, those without, in-ear options or ones that don’t have buds at all.
This will help you to narrow down your options drastically, and highlight a few that fit into your favoured style.
Do you want to work out with them?
While most top-end earbuds are now expected to launch with sweat resistance at minimum, some still don’t manage to. You should definitely think about whether you plan to do any exercise in your earbuds, or if you’re at risk of needing to use them in the rain.
After all, nothing could be more annoying than your earbuds dying because they can’t withstand the elements. Of course, if you’re only going to use them at home or in public transport, you should be fine regardless.
How key is active noise cancelling?
Active noise cancellation (ANC) is a brilliant bit of technology that filters out background noise around you using microphones onboard the earbuds to determine what to cancel out. When it works well, it’s a game-changer that can make it was easier to concentrate on your audio on, for example, trains or planes.
That said, it’s also a feature that generally tends to push up the price of the device it’s in (although this is becoming less of an issue over time). So, while we think it’s a brilliant addition, you could save a chunk of cash by disregarding it.
What’s your budget?
Speaking of cash, it’s another huge variable in your search for the right earbuds. There are now earbuds out there at practically every price you could think to name, although we still think around £100/$100 is a safe place to start to have more confidence in what you’re buying.
If you’re happy spending £300/$300, you’ll be able to pick up a really superb piece of tech, but if your budget is different the most important thing is to make sure you know what it is!
More about this story
Every product in this list has been tested in real-life situations, just as you would use it in your day-to-day life.
We’ve been using wireless earbuds since they were just prototypes, and have been judging them against each other ever since they first properly hit the market. That means comparing their sound performance right down to the finest details.
Also important for us is connectivity and integration with smartphone software, as well as the design touches that make some earbuds just stand out from the crowd. Increasingly, waterproofing and ANC are becoming expectations for high-end ‘buds, while battery life and price are also key variables.
As with any roundup, it’s not possible to deliver a list that works for every type of user, but we lean on the experiences and opinions of the wider Pocket-lint team – as well as thoroughly assessing the areas above – in order to do our best in this regard.
What we always tend to avoid when compiling these picks are needless spec comparisons and marketing lines; we just want to provide an easy to understand summary that gives you an idea of what each pair of wireless earbuds is like to use. Our verdicts are concise, but this is purely in the interest of brevity.
Writing by Conor Allison. Editing by Cam Bunton.