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 Powerbeats or Beats Flex, and since those first AirPods, the market for true wireless earbuds has come a long way.
These days, there are so many different types of wireless earbuds that you can basically buy the pair that perfectly fits your lifestyle, your budget and, most importantly, your ears. (Remember: if they don't fit your ears, it doesn't matter how good they sound.) Many of today's wireless earbuds also offer new-age features, such as active and transparency modes, wireless charging, and even high-resolution audio.
Apple’s original AirPods set the benchmark for wireless earbuds back in 2016, but the market has moved far beyond them now. And there are a lot of wireless earbuds to choose from these days.
Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II Bose Read More
Best AirPodsApple AirPods Pro (2nd Generation) Read More
Best Noise-CancellationSony WF-1000XM4 Read More
Best Sound QualitySennheiser Momentum TW 3 Read More
Bowers & Wilkins Pi7 S2 Bowers & Wilkins Read More
What to Look for
Fit: The most important thing when it comes to wireless earbuds is fit. Period. Because if the earbuds don't fit in your ears, it doesn't matter how they sound or how many cool features they have — you're not going to like them. These days, wireless earbuds come in a wide range of styles, from stem-like AirPods to the more conventional "bulb" like the Amazon Echo Buds, so we recommend knowing which fits your ears best before buying.
Type: Before buying any pair of wireless earbuds, you should ask yourself: "How do I plan on using them?" Different wireless earbuds are better at different things. Some are better for running and working out because of their superior grip and high IP rating. Some prioritize sound quality, while others are better at active noise-cancellation. There are some that are good at everything while others are, well, cheap but get the job done.
Sound quality: No wireless earbuds can play true lossless-quality audio because Bluetooth technology can't support it — the bandwidth is too big. There are some wireless earbuds that can play higher-resolution tracks thanks to support for various formats, like Sony's LDAC or Apple Music's spatial audio, but it isn't truly lossless. Also, these wireless earbuds tend to be more expensive.
Noise-cancellation: There are a lot of wireless earbuds that now support active noise-cancellation and they can range from less than $100 to more than $300. The reality is, however, that the higher-end wireless earbuds are likely going to have more processing power and better quality mics and therefore do a significant job of blocking out ambient noise. Not all active noise-canceling is the same. Far from it.
Charging: Most of today's wireless earbuds have made the jump to USB-C, but not all. Apple's line of AirPods still uses the Lightning connection and there are even some that still use micro-USB. The type of charging port your wireless earbuds use is important mainly because of convenience — if it charges using the same charging cable as your smartphone, headphones and laptop, it just makes your life easier.
Other features: The more "premium" wireless earbuds are also likely to come with even more advanced features, such as transparency modes, adjustable EQ and a case that supports wireless charging. The more features and support for advanced technologies the wireless earbuds have, the more expensive you can expect them to be.
How We Tested
We test a lot of different wireless earbuds — because there are a lot of them out there. We tend to test wireless earbuds in different situations based on their skill sets. For example, we test noise-canceling wireless earbuds in both noisy and quiet environments, the latter of which is best for sound quality. We test go running (and sweating) while wearing more workout-focused wireless earbuds to see how they stay in and stack up. As is the case with any wireless earbuds, the most important thing is fit; so even if we like a certain pair of wireless earbuds, it's important for you to know what kinds of earbuds fit you best because everybody's ears are a little different.
The Best Wireless Earbuds for Active Noise-Cancellation
Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II
Released: September 2022
Bose's second-generation QuietComfort Earbuds are quite the improvement. Each earbud is roughly 30 percent smaller than its predecessors (although each earbud is still rather large). More importantly, they have drastically improved noise cancellation and noticeably better sound quality, too. They boast an improved mic array for better call quality, too. The QuietComfort Earbuds are undoubtedly one of the best noise-canceling wireless earbuds you can buy, even if they are quite a bit more expensive than their previous models.
To learn more, read our review of the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II.
AirPods Pro 2
Released: September 2022
The second-generation AirPods Pro look and fit almost identically to their 2019-released predecessor, but Apple made them better in just about every way. Thanks to a new H2 chip and a new driver, they sound significantly better and have much-improved noise-cancellation and transparency modes. The charging case has a built-in speaker and works just like AirTag, so you can have it play a noise and track it down using the Find My app; you can even wirelessly charge it with an Apple Watch puck. And maybe most notably, they are the first AirPods with volume controls right on the earbuds.
Read our full review of the AirPods Pro 2, here.
Released: June 2021
The Sony WF-1000XM4 edge out the Bose Quiet Comfort Earbuds as our pick for the best noise-canceling wireless earbuds. They are the successor to the nearly two-year-old WH-1000XM3, but Sony redesigned them, so they sound more vibrant and have better noise cancellation. They also look and feel completely different; they have a more rounded design and they're noticeably smaller (each earbud is 10 percent smaller and the case is about 40 percent smaller). Finally, Sony gave them some new-age features like wireless charging and water resistance (IPX4), so they feel like the new hotness.
To learn more, read our review of the Sony WF-1000XM4.
Sennheiser Momentum TW 3
Released: May 2022
Sennheiser's third-generation wireless earbuds are some of the best you can buy. They build on the truly excellent sound quality of their predecessors, the Momentum TW 2, but deliver even better active noise-cancellation and now come in a case that supports wireless charging. The design of the earbud has also been revamped and shrunk down (albeit slightly) so that they are more comfortable to wear for longer listening sessions. They also work with a companion app that gives you the ability to tweak EQ settings and customize the on-earbud controls.
To learn more, read our review of the Sennheiser Momentum TW 3.
Bowers & Wilkins PI7 S2
Released: January 2023
The Bowers & Wilkins PI7 S2 are the follow-up to the company's original PI7. The main difference is the "S2" models have improved battery life and Bluetooth range, but otherwise they are very similar to their predecessors. Like before, they are capable of playing high-resolution audio files up to 24-bit/48 kHz (although you need to stream from a device that supports aptX Adaptive). They have pretty good active noise-cancellation and a charging case that supports for wireless charging. Maybe their coolest feature is that their charging case doubles as a Bluetooth receiver, so you can connect to an in-flight entertainment system and listen to your wireless earbuds as you fly.
To learn more, read our review of the B&W PI7 S2.
Jabra Elite 7 Pro
Released: September 2021
Jabra's wireless earbuds have been known for their excellent sound and call quality, and its latest flagship pair, the Elite 7 Pro, excels at both. On top of that, they have solid active noise-cancellation and a really rugged design (IP57 water-resistance rating) so they're safe for workouts. The only real downside is that they don't have multi-device Bluetooth pairing and lack the fancy features and support for immersive sound technologies like AirPods Pro. Also, if they're too expensive but you like the brand/fit, the Jabra Elite 3 ($79) is a great budget alternative.
Master & Dynamic MW08
Released: April 2021
The Master & Dynamic MW08 is the true successor to the company's MW07 Plus. They're about 15 percent smaller yet have slightly larger drivers, so they're able to deliver a slightly more vibrant and punchier sound. They also work with a companion app (called M&D Connect), unlike any of the company's previous wireless earbuds, that lets you toggle between various noise-cancellation and transparency modes. The new models are made of a combo of ceramic (rather than acetate) and stainless steel.
To learn more, read our review of the Master & Dynamic MW08.
Beats Studio Buds +
Released: May 2023
The Beats Studio Buds + are new and improved versions of Beats' 2021-released Studio Buds. The "Plus" models look almost identical to those earbuds but have improved sound, better active noise-cancellation and transparency modes, better mics for call quality, and longer battery life. Maybe the coolest feature is that it also come in a wicked cool transparent finish (although you can buy them in black or ivory, too). Like their predecessors, the Studio Buds + are essentially AirPods Pro alternatives. They work very similarly — as Apple owns Beats and has been able to integrate them with similar technologies — but they also have features that make them good fits for Android (like fast pairing and support for Google's Find My Device).
To learn more, read our review of the Beats Studio Buds +.
Samsung Galaxy Buds Live
Released: August 2020
The Samsung Galaxy Buds Live are noise-canceling wireless earbuds with an innovative design. Each earbud has a unique bean-like shape so that it fits comfortably in your ear without creating a physical seal, which also prevents you from getting that pressurized feeling of being underwater. While very good noise-canceling wireless earbuds, they're really designed for Samsung Galaxy smartphone owners because it has exclusive features like quick pairing and wireless charging (via Samsung's Wireless PowerShare).
Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro
Released: January 2021
The Galaxy Buds Pro is different from the company's Galaxy Buds Live in a couple of key ways. They have a more traditional in-ear design which helps them deliver better sound and improved active noise-cancellation. They also have a significantly better water-resistance rating (IPX7), so they're more suited for workouts. They also have a cool "voice detect" feature that you can turn on, which automatically lowers the volume of the music when you start talking. These wireless earbuds should really only be considered if you have a Samsung Galaxy smartphone as there's no app support for iPhones.
The Best Wireless Earbuds for Running and Working Out
Beats Fit Pro
Released: October 2021
The Beats Fit Pro is the next evolution of the company's Powerbeats Pro and one of the best wireless earbuds for runners and athletes. They have a lot in common with Apple's AirPods Pro since they are powered by the same H1 chip (so they can fast pair to any iPhone); they have the same active-noise-cancellation and transparency modes and support spatial audio with dynamic head tracking. And they sound almost as good. The big difference from AirPods Pro is that the Fit Pro has an all-new flexible earwing tip design to help them better stay in your ears. The only real downside is that they don't have a case that wirelessly charges.
Jaybird Vista 2
Released: May 2021
The Vista 2 are the next-generation versions of Jaybird's original Vista, which were some of the favorite wireless earbuds for running and working out. The Vista 2 look and fit exactly the same as their predecessors, and they're designed for the same people: endurance and extreme athletes, such as long-distance runners, trail runners and mountain bikers. Jaybird gave these new wireless earbuds a few meaningful upgrades, however, such as an improved IP68 rating, making them some of the most rugged wireless earbuds you can buy. They also have active noise-cancellation and transparency modes, making them great for runners and bikers who want to block out all the noise — or hear all of it. (Note: if you don't care about the extra ruggedness or noise-cancellation, you can still buy the original Vista for $50 less.)
Ultimate Ears Fits
Released: October 2020
The UE Fits are different from all other wireless earbuds because they give you a completely custom fit. You place the earbuds in your ears and then, through the companion app, you trigger a 60-second custom molding process that shapes the gel in each ear tip so that it perfectly fits your ears. The UE Fits don't have a ton of other features —there's no noise-cancellation or transparency modes, for example — but if you've had trouble with wireless earbuds staying in your ears, these are the ones to get.
To learn more, read our review of the UE Fits.
Bose Sport Earbuds
Released: September 2020
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.
Beats Powerbeats Pro
Released: May 2019
The Powerbeats Pro combines 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. They are still a solid option for iPhone owners who can't wear AirPods, however now that Beats launched the Fits Pro (above), which are essentially a newer (albeit in-ear) version of these wireless earbuds, they do feel a bit dated.
To learn more, read our review of the Powerbeats Pro.
Anker Soundcore Life P3
Release date: April 2021
The Soundcore Life P3 are excellent wireless earbuds for runners that are shopping on a budget. Aside from its price, the standout feature of the Life P3 is its IPX7 rating, which is as high of a water-resistance rating as you're likely going to get. It also has a familiar AirPods Pro-esque fit and charges via USB-C.
Best Wireless Earbuds for Everything Else
Apple AirPods (3rd-Generation)
Released: October 2021
Apple's 3rd-generation AirPods are the mid-tier wireless earbuds between the company's high-end AirPods Pro and entry-level AirPods. They share a similar design and sound to the AirPods Pro aside from the silicon ear tips (so they don't fit in your ears quite as well), and they support spatial audio (with Dolby Atmos) and have a wireless charging case. The big tradeoff is that they lack active noise-cancellation and transparency modes. Unlike the entry-level AirPods, these new models are safe working out thanks to their IPX4 water- and sweat-resistant rating.
To learn more, read our review of the AirPods 3.
Nothing Ear (2)
Released: March 2023
Nothing's first pair of wireless earbuds were pretty excellent, and the second-generation models build on that same foundation. The Ear (2) have improved sound that's significantly more customizable; the app lets you adjust the EQ in myriad ways and even create a custom sound profile for yourself. They have improved new on-stem playback controls, support for Bluetooth multi-point (so you can simultaneously connect two devices), better battery life and a slightly more rugged design. As for design, they have the exact same translucent design (thanks to a collaboration with Teenage Engineering) that makes them look completely different from most other wireless earbuds. The only real catch is that, at $150, their noise-canceling and transparency modes, as well as their sound quality, aren't as good as more premium options out there.
To learn more, read our review of the Nothing Ear (2).
Sony LinkBuds S
Released: May 2022
The LinkBuds S are essentially more affordable versions of Sony's flagship WF-1000XM4. They have most of the same features, including noise-cancellation and transparency modes and support for LDAC (Sony's codec for streaming high-resolution audio tracks over Bluetooth) — just don't expect them to deliver these features at quite the same level as Sony's more expensive earbuds.
To learn more, read our review of the Sony LinkBuds S.
Released: February 2022
The Sony LinkBuds are unique wireless earbuds because of their size (tiny) and their innovative design — there's a physical hole in the middle of each wireless earbud. The idea is that it's like an always-on transparency mode, so you can hear your music while also the world around you. They lack the noise-cancellation or premium sound quality of Sony's other more expensive wireless earbuds, but they do work with the same companion app and have a lot of customizable settings. They're available now in either white or black.
To learn more, read our review of the Sony LinkBuds.
Nothing Ear (Stick)
Released: October 2022
The Nothing Ear (Stick) are the company's second pair of wireless earbuds and, at $99, they're positioned as a more budget-friendly version of the Nothing Ear (2), which cost $149. The Ear (Stick) earbuds sacrifice some of the sound quality and the active noise-cancellation of the Ear (2), but they keep the transparent design and have arguably the coolest charging case in all of wireless earbuds. It's shaped like a lipstick tube and twists open and close, magnetically snapping into place, and it's just fun (and a little addicting to play with).
To learn more, read our review of the Nothing Ear (Stick).
Poly Voyager Free 60+ UC
Released: March 2023
The Poly Voyager Free 60+ UC are high-end noise-canceling wireless earbuds with a built-in touchscreen that can be used for various things, including playback and volume controls. They come with some pretty unique features that few other wireless earbuds have. For example, the charging case comes with a removable USB Bluetooth transmitter that you can use to quickly connect the wireless earbuds to your computer. The case also doubles as a Bluetooth transmitter, so when used with the included USB-C-to-3.5mm cable, you can use the wireless earbuds with an in-flight entertainment system or another analog source. They are certified for video conferencing apps like Microsoft Teams and Zoom — and at $330, they're on the pricier end of the spectrum.
To learn more, read our review of the Poly Voyager Free 60+ UC.
Google Pixel Buds A-Series
Released: June 2021
The Pixel Buds A-Series is a more affordable alternative to the company's now antiquated Pixel Buds 2. They are exactly the same in almost every way, but Google has cut some of the "luxury" features, like wireless charging and swipe controls, in order to keep the cost down. That said, these are some of the best wireless earbuds you can buy for less than $100.
Amazon Echo Buds (2nd-Gen)
Released: May 2021
Amazon’s second-generation wireless earbuds improve on the first-gen models in basically every way. Amazon made them smaller and lighter so that they're significantly more comfortable to wear; plus they come with silicone earbuds and wing tips, in case you want to wear them while running. They deliver significantly better sound quality and noise cancellation. And they also charge via USB-C instead of micro-USB. For the price, you can't really beat them. The only decision you'll have to make, other than if you want them in white or black, is if you want to spend an extra $20 for a charging case that wireless charges.
Released: April 2023
The Sony WF-C700N is the company's most affordable pair of noise-canceling wireless earbuds. They have a similar fit (albeit are slightly smaller) as the more entry-level WF-C500N. They are compatible with Sony's Headphones Connect app, which allows you to tweak various audio settings and controls. However, they've been upgraded with decent noise-canceling abilities and support for 360 Reality Audio tracks. They lack support for LDAC audio files like Sony's higher-end wireless earbuds and, obviously, can't deliver the same level of audio quality and noise cancellation. Additionally, they charge via USB-C. Think of these as a great budget alternative to Apple’s AirPods.
To learn more, read our guide to Sony headphones and wireless earbuds.
Apple AirPods (2nd-Generation)
Released: March 2019
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.
To learn more, read our review of the AirPods 2.
New and Upcoming Releases
Our recommendations are based on real-world testing. Here's a snapshot of new and unreleased earbuds our testers are considering for future updates to this guide
Amazon Echo Buds (3rd-Gen): Announced in May 2023, these are Amazon's most affordable wireless earbuds to date. They have a new stem-shaped design (like the original AirPods) and lack premium features like active noise-cancellation and wireless charging. They cost $50.
Jabra Elite 4: Announced in March 2023, the Jabra Elite 4 wireless earbuds aim to deliver premium features at a sub-$100 price. The Elite 4 support active noise-cancellation and Bluetooth multipoint, and they have an IP55 water-resistance rating. Available in several different colors. They cost $99.
JBL Tour Pro 2: Announced at CES 2023, these are unique wireless earbuds because they have a 1.45-inch touchscreen integrated in its charging case. This display will allow you to adjust the volume of your music, switch between tracks and switch between listening modes; it'll also show you push notifications from your smartphone. The earbuds themselves have active noise-cancellation and support spatial audio. Expected to be released in Spring 2023.
Beyerdynamic Free Byrd: The German hi-fi brand recently announced its first-ever pair of wireless earbuds. The Free Byrd promise excellent sound quality and, uniquely, will be able to optimize sound specifically for your ears (thanks to an in-app administered hearing test. The Free Byrd supports other premium features such as active noise-cancellation and transparency modes, as well as a case that supports wireless charging. They cost $249.
UE Drops: As of late July 2022, Ultimate Ears announced a new high-end pair of wireless earbuds called the UE Drops. They are unique because they are custom-molded to your ears — and thus are designed to create the perfect fit — plus they promise far superior sound quality and more features compared to the company's 2020-released UE Fits. They cost $449.
Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro: Released in mid-2022, Samsung's Galaxy Buds 2 Pros are the company's new high-end noise-canceling wireless earbuds that are poised to rival Apple's AirPods Pro and the Sony WF-1000XM4. The 15 percent smaller than their 2021-released predecessors, the Galaxy Buds. They also support higher-resolution (24-bit) and more immersive (including Dolby Atmos) audio, have improved mics and cost $280.
Google Pixel Buds Pro: Announced last summer, the Pixel Buds Pro is Google's first pair of noise-canceling wireless earbuds. They also promise improved sound quality compared to the Pixel Buds A-Series. They cost $199 and are available in several different colors.