The first true wireless earbuds date back to 2014, but it was the release of Apple’s AirPods in 2016 that really fired them into the mainstream. True wireless means that there isn’t any kind of cord tethering the two earbuds together, as opposed to just wireless earphones like the Powerbeats3 Wireless or Google’s original Pixel Buds, and they are the next natural progression of wireless earbuds. Fewer and fewer people want wires of any type, and it’s as simple as that.
Apple’s AirPods set the benchmark for wireless earbuds, but the market has moved far beyond them now. Here are all the best options for 2021
Apple AirPods Pro
The AirPods Pro are Apple’s first wireless earbuds with active noise-cancellation. They're also upgraded in a lot of other ways compared to the entry-level AirPods. The "Pro" wireless earbuds have a new design with silicone eartips, so they should stay in your ears better. They have upgraded drivers and support more immersive technologies, such as spatial audio and Dolby Atmos, so they sound noticeably better. And they’re water-resistant, which AirPods are not, so they're actually a better option if you plan on working out in them. If you have an iPhone, the AirPods Pro are simply the best wireless earbuds you can buy.
Read our full review of the AirPods Pro, here.
Released: October 2019
Bose QuietComfort Earbuds
The Bose QuietComfort Earbuds — also referred to as the QC Earbuds — are the company's first noise-canceling earbuds. They're also, frankly, our pick for the best noise-canceling wireless earbuds that you can buy. They do a slightly better job at blocking out ambient sounds than the Sony WF-1000XM3 and AirPods Pro, and they also sound excellent. They only real downside is that they're pretty expensive. They're also fairly big wireless earbuds.
Released: September 2020
Cambridge Audio Melomania 1
Cambridge Audio is a British hi-fi company that's best known for high-end (and expensive) audio components, so it sort of surprised people when it announced a pair of true wireless earbuds. But thankfully they did because they're some of the best sounding wireless earbuds you can buy. They lack a lot features like noise-cancellation and USB-C charging (they charge via micro-USB instead), but for under $100, you can't really go wrong.
Released: July 2019
Bose Sport Earbuds
The Bose Sport Earbuds are wireless sport earbuds that are smaller and sleeker versions of Bose's previous wireless earbuds, the SoundSport Free. Each earbud has up to five hours of battery life, with a charging case that provides up to 10 extra hours. They don't have active noise-cancellation like the company's QuietComfort Earbuds, but they fit, feel and sound very similar. As before, the only real downside is that they're physically larger than most other wireless earbuds.
Released: September 2020
The Vista wireless earbuds were specifically designed for endurance athletes, such as long-distance runners, trail runners, mountain bikers and other extreme athletes, but really they're a great option for anybody who listens to music while working out. They’re fully waterproof and sweatproof, and they’re some of the smallest and lightest earbuds that we’ve tested. The neat thing about the charging case is, other than being super compact, is that it conveniently charges via USB-C and can quickly charge the earbuds. In our opinion, the Vista are better wireless earbuds for running than the Beats Powerbeats Pro because they’re more reliable (no connectivity issues), cheaper, lighter, and more rugged.
Read our full review of the Jaybird Vista, here.
Released: Summer 2019
Sennheiser Momentum TW 2
Sennheiser’s first-generation wireless earbuds, the original Momentum TWs, have been one of our favorite wireless earbuds for the last couple years. With the Momentum TW 2, Sennheiser basically made them better in just the right ways. They also doubled the battery life and added active noise-cancellation, without compromising audio quality — these are the creme de la cream. The only downside? They’re very expensive. They're a good option for anybody looking for the some of the best-sounding wireless earbuds you can buy.
Released: Early 2020
The Sony WF-1000XM3 are the true wireless versions of the company’s hugely-popular WH-1000XM3 noise-canceling headphones. And, frankly, they're some of the best noise-canceling wireless earbuds you can buy. Since they've been around for longer than more options, like the AirPods Pro and Bose QC Earbuds, the nice thing is that the Sony WF-1000XM3 is usually discounted, meaning you can pick up a pair for substainly cheaper than a lot of other noise-canceling earbuds.
Read our full review of the Sony WF-1000XM3, here.
Released: July 2019
The Powerbeats Pro combine the design, sweat-resistance and sound of Beats’s wireless sport earbuds, the Powerbeats3 Wireless, with the true wireless-ness and functionality of Apple’s second-generation AirPods. If you own an iPhone and AirPods don’t fit in your ears, or you just want sweatproof alternatives to AirPods, these are exactly what you want.
Read our full review of the Powerbeats Pro, here.
Released: May 2019
Google Pixel Buds
Google’s second-generation Pixel Buds are exactly what Pixel owners have deserved for years: wireless earbuds that work well and easily pair with all Pixel and Android devices (no opening Bluetooth settings required). They have intuitive touch controls and premium features that only Google could deliver, like a conversation mode integrated with Google Translate. Additionally, they have an earwing design and IPX4 water-resistance rating, so they make a great workout partner. The only real downside? No active noise cancellation.
Read our full review of the Google Pixel Buds, here.
Released: April 2020
The WF-SP800N are Sony’s mid-range wireless earbuds. They have active noise-cancellation similar to the company's high-end WF-1000XM3 (they even use the same companion app), but they’re also designed as workout earbuds thanks to their earwing design and IP55 water-resistance rating. The compromise, which also makes them more affordable, is that the WF-SP800N lack the same QN1e processor as the WF-1000XM3, so they don’t sound as good or have the same noise-canceling abilities.
Read our full review of the Sony WF-SP800N, here.
Released: May 2020
The Sony WF-XB700 is the company’s most affordable and most entry-level pair of wireless earbuds. They share a similar sound to Sony WF-SP800N, but lack any of the features (such as noise-cancellation and transparency modes). They also don’t work with Sony’s companion app so there’s no way of adjusting the EQ. The Sony WF-XB700 are a good option for anybody who wants wireless earbuds with Sony’s sound and hardware, but don’t want to break the bank. Think of these as a great budget alternative to Apple’s AirPods.
Read our full review of the Sony XB700, here.
Released: April 2020
Master & Dynamic MW07 (Plus and Go)
The MW07 Plus and the MW07 Go are Master & Dynamic’s second-generation wireless earbuds. The MW07 Plus look essentially identical to the company's original MW07, so they're still made of acetate, but they add active noise-cancellation and three times the battery life. If you want wireless earbuds that are luxurious and sound excellent, the MW07 Plus are great. The MW07 Go are the company's more affordable and more sport-focused wireless earbuds. They're made of an ultra-durable TR90 composite instead of acetate, which helps them be 15-percent smaller and lighter than the MW07 Plus. They're also more water- and sweat-resistant.
Released: Late 2019
Price: $299 (Plus); $199 (Go)
The second-generation AirPods look identically to the ones that were released in 2016, and they work almost exactly the same way — but they up the ante in quite a few ways. With the new H1 chip, they pair faster, have better battery life and better mics. And they support “Hey Siri” voice commands, so you don’t need to push any button to activate the voice assistant. Apple now offers the option of a wireless charging case, as long as you’re willing to pay a little extra. Unlike AirPods Pro, these entry-level AirPods lack noise-canceling and transparency modes; they also lack support for spatial audio and Dolby Atmos. That said, if you have an iPhone these are by-far-and-away the best true wireless earbuds you can buy.
Read our full review of the Apple AirPods (2nd-Generation), here.
Released: March 2019
Price: $159; $199 (with wireless charging case)
Jabra Elite 85t
The Elite 85t are Jabra's flagship wireless earbuds and they build off the groundwork set by the their excellent predecessors, the Elite 75t and the Elite 65t. They look and fit every similar, but the Elite 85t have a few design adjustments to make them a tad more comfortable. The biggest upgrade is that the Elite 85t add active noise-cancellation. (It's true that Jabra has rolled out a software update to both the Elite 75t and the Elite 65t that adds active noise-cancellation, but there's isn't as powerful.) The Elite 85t sound slightly better, too. The only tradeoff (besides cost) is that these premium earbuds have a IPX4 rating, which is bit of a dip from the Elite 75t's IP55 rating.
Released: October 2020
Jabra Elite 75t
The Jabra Elite 75t wireless earbuds still one of our favorite AirPods alternatives. They have a great battery life and support USB-C charging. They also have active noise-cancellation thanks to a software update that Jabra rolled out in late 2020. In a nut shell, they're solid wireless earbuds that boast excellent sound and call quality, and they're pretty sweat- and water-resistant.
Read our full review of the Jabra Elite 75t, here.
Released: November 2019
1More True Wireless ANC
1More is an audio company that specializes in hi-fi headphones at affordable prices. The True Wireless ANC are its first pair of wireless earbuds with active noise-cancellation. The interesting thing about them, other than price, is that each earbud has two drivers, a dynamic driver and a balanced armature driver, that helps them sound very good. They're a solid option for people looking for noise-canceling wireless earbuds, that are more affordable than the AirPods Pro, Sony WF-1000XM3 and Master & Dynamic MW07 Plus.
Read our full review of the 1More True Wireless ANC, here.
Released: February 2020
Amazon Echo Buds
Amazon’s first wireless earbuds are built with Bose’s “active noise-reduction” technology. It's not as powerful as the technology that Bose built into its own QC Earbuds, but it still does a good at blocking out high frequencies. The Echo Buds sound decent, too. The main downside is that they feel more plastic-y and cheaper than most other wireless earbuds. They also charge via micro-USB. Still, they are a great option for anybody who wants wireless earbuds that's sound and noise-canceling skills are impressive, especially given their very affordable price.
Read our full review of the Echo Buds, here.
Released: October 2019