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 AirPods set the benchmark for wireless earbuds back in 2016, but the market has moved far beyond them now. Here are all the best options for 2021.

Apple AirPods Pro

Apple
Apple AirPods Pro
Apple amazon.com
$329.99

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.

Released: October 2019

Sony WF-1000XM4

Sony
Sony WF-1000XM4
Sony amazon.com
$278.00

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.

Released: June 2021

Bose QuietComfort Earbuds

Courtesy
Bose QuietComfort Earbuds
Bose bose.com
$279.00

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. The only real downside is that they're pretty expensive. They're also fairly big wireless earbuds.

Released: September 2020

Beats Fit Pro

Beats
Beats Fit Pro
amazon.com
$199.95

The Beats Fit Pro are 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 have 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.

Released: October 2021

Apple AirPods (3rd-Generation)

Apple
Apple AirPods (3rd generation)
apple.com
$179.00

Apple's 3rd-generation AirPods are the mid-tier wireless earbuds between the company's high-end AirPods Pro and entry-level AiPods. They share a similar design and sound to the AirPods Pro aside from the silicon eartips (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,

Released: October 2021

Jabra Elite 7 Pro

Jabra
Jabra Elite 7 Pro
amazon.com
$199.99

Jabra's wireless earbuds have been known for their excellent sound and call quality, and its latest flagship pair, the Elite 7 Pro, excel 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 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 brand/fit, the Jabra Elite 3 ($79) are a great budget alternative.

Released: September 2021

Master & Dynamic MW08

Master & Dynamic
Master & Dynamic MW08
Master & Dynamic masterdynamic.com
$299.00

The Master & Dynamic MW08 are 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.

Released: April 2021

Bowers & Wilkins PI7

Bowers & Wilkins
Bowers & Wilkins PI7
Bowers & Wilkins bhphotovideo.com
$399.00

The Bowers & Wilkins PI7 is the company's first pair of wireless earbuds — and they are as impressive as they are lavish. They're also 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 active noise-cancellation and support 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 or Nintendo Switch and listen to your wireless earbuds.

Released: April 2021


Beats Studio Buds

Beats
Beats Studio Buds
Beats amazon.com
$149.95

The Studio Buds are the Beats's first noise-canceling wireless earbuds. They don't have Apple's special H1 chip (Apple owns Beats, after all), but they still have many of the same features as the AirPods Pro, such as fast iPhone pairing and support for spatial audio and Dolby Atmos; they don't sync with your iCloud account, however, nor do they support multi-device pairing or audio sharing. The omission of the Apple's special H1 chip allows the Studio Buds to work really well with Android smartphones, too, as they support fast pairing and you can easily adjust noise-canceling and transparency modes in Bluetooth settings.

Released: June 2021


Ultimate Ears Fits

Ultimate Ears
Ultimate Ears Fits
Ultimate Ears
$199.00

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 eartip so that it perfectly fits your ears. he 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.

Released: October 2020

Bose Sport Earbuds

Bose
Bose Sport Earbuds
Bose bose.com
$149.00

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

Jaybird Vista 2

Jaybird
Jaybird Vista 2
Jaybird amazon.com
$143.99

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.)

Released: May 2021



Sennheiser Momentum TW 2

Courtesy
Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2
Sennheiser amazon.com
$299.95
$199.98 (33% off)

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 some of the best-sounding wireless earbuds you can buy.

Released: Early 2020

Apple AirPods

Apple
Apple AirPods (2nd-Gen)
Apple amazon.com
$159.00
$118.98 (25% off)

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.

Released: March 2019

Google Pixel Buds A-Series

Courtesy
Google Pixel Buds A-Series
bhphotovideo.com
$99.00

The Pixel Buds A-Series are a more affordable alternative to the company's existing Pixel Buds 2 (which Google is actually phasing out). 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.

Released: June 2021

Amazon Echo Buds (2nd-Gen)

Amazon
Amazon Echo Buds (2nd Gen)
$119.99

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: May 2021

Nothing Ear (1)

Nothing
Nothing Ear (1)
Nothing
$99.00

Nothing's first wireless earbuds are also one of the best you can buy — for under $100. They have premium features like active noise-cancellation and wireless charging, plus have translucent design (thanks to a collaboration with Teenage Engineering) so that they look like nothing else out there. The only real catch is that you have to remember the Ear (1) are budget wireless earbuds, and their noise-canceling and transparency modes, as well as their sound quality, are good but not great — so don't expect them to be better than AirPods Pro.

Released: August 2021

Sony WF-C500

Sony
Sony WF-C500
amazon.com
$98.00

The Sony WF-C500 are the company’s new pair of affordable wireless earbuds. They lack the same sound quality of the flagship WF-1000XM4 and don't have premium features like noise-cancellation and transparency modes, either. But they are compatible with the same companion app that lets you tweak the EQ settings, and they do support Sony's immersive 360 Reality Audio. Additionally, they charge via USB-C. Think of these as a great budget alternative to Apple’s AirPods.

Released: October 2021

Cambridge Audio Melomania 1+

Courtesy
Cambridge Audio Melomania 1+
amazon.com
$99.95

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 got into true wireless earbuds. But thankfully they did because they're some of the best sounding wireless earbuds you can buy. The Melomania 1+ are the company's third-generation wireless earbuds and they deliver some of the best audio quality you'll find in the near-$100 range.

Released: March 2021

Samsung Galaxy Buds Live

Samsung
Samsung Galaxy Buds Live
Samsung amazon.com
$169.99
$99.99 (41% off)

The Samsung Galaxy Buds Live 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).

Released: August 2020

Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro

Samsung
Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro
SAMSUNG amazon.com
$199.99

The Galaxy Buds Pro are different from the company's Galaxy Buds Live in a couple 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.

Released: January 2021

Beats Powerbeats Pro

Beats
Powerbeats Pro
Beats amazon.com
$249.95
$179.95 (28% off)

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. 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.

Released: May 2019