One of the biggest concerns I hear from folks wanting to try true wireless earbuds is the fear of losing one bud. It’s a valid point: Most of the time, when you lose one earbud, you’re forced to buy an entirely new pair or pay a hefty-enough replacement price that you may as well buy a new set. Skullcandy’s Fearless Use Promise addresses this concern by saying that, if you lose or break your earbuds or case, you can return what’s left, and the company will ship you a brand-new set for the price of the broken or missing part. For the Sesh, an earbud sets you back $15 and the case is $20. It’s not exactly free, but it does help to relieve the anxiety of possibly spending $60 several times a year if you’re prone to misplacing things.

Testing conducted by Apple in February 2019 using preproduction AirPods (2nd generation), Charging Case, and Wireless Charging Case units and software paired with iPhone Xs Max units and prerelease software. The playlist consisted of 358 unique audio tracks purchased from the iTunes Store (256-Kbps AAC encoding). Volume was set to 50%. Testing consisted of full AirPods battery discharge while playing audio until the first AirPod stopped playback. The drained AirPods were charged to 100 percent, then audio playback was resumed until the first AirPod stopped playback. This cycle was repeated until both the AirPods and charging case were fully discharged. Battery life depends on device settings, environment, usage, and many other factors.


If there's one complication many models share in the operation department, it's that it's easy to accidentally pause music, skip a track, or summon a voice assistant when you merely meant to take an earpiece out or adjust it slightly. There's not a lot of real estate on most of the earpieces we've tested, and thus much of the outer panel area is devoted to housing controls.
The Sennheiser Momentum battery life now seems laughable at just four hours, but seeing as they were rookies in a then-infantile market, it’s understandable. You also only get an extra eight hours from a case that’s bulky, but fashionable. That said, the earbuds themselves don’t stick out much, and they can handle a little sweat and rain if you’re wearing them out on a run.
1More Stylish True Wireless: This pair is a solid choice for those who have smaller ear canals or who have difficulty keeping earbuds in place. The multiple wing and tip options combined with a lightweight chassis make the Stylish True Wireless more comfortable to wear long-term than similarly priced competitors. At six and a half hours, the battery life is solid, too. After this pair’s release, 1More added the ability to control volume with the buttons, but you’ll need to update the firmware to take advantage. In our tests, the sound leaned toward being bass-heavy and blurry on male vocals; if not for that, we may have named this pair as a pick.

One place that will let you walk right in and stick their product in your ear: Apple. You can try on AirPods inside an Apple Store — the older all-plastic AirPod model or the newer AirPod Pros, for which you can also test the three sizes of silicone tips. Apple cleans the units throughout the day, regularly taking a handful to wipe down with alcohol after one test.

There is a marked difference between our Editors' Choices in the true wireless category, and a typical tether-together wireless pair. You can get a good wireless (but not true wireless) set of earphones for $40. You can expect to spend at least twice as much for true wireless. The base price for most true wireless options thus far has been around $100, with the very best options costing as much as $200 or even $300, and some very strong budget contenders coming in around $50. This is not a cheap category, but it's gone past the early adopter premium if you know where to look. To get the most out of your purchase, check out 6 Ways You're Using Your Headphones Wrong.
Stereo headphones have been around since before the first Sony Walkman, and that's roughly how long we've put up with tangled wires while listening to music on the go. That's long enough, if you ask us. Fortunately, this is where wireless headphones come in. They're convenient for any situation where you don't want to deal with dangling cables—especially at the gym. And now that many phone makers are ditching the headphone jack, wireless headphones are a good way to ensure compatibility with just about any new device.
The Ylife ST-BE18 clearly sport that ultra-affordable look. They’re not at all ugly, though, and the build is simple and effective. You also shouldn’t have much of an issue finding a comfortable fit thanks to their light weight and interchangeable silicon tips. Past discounts drove the Ylife ST-BE18’s cost down as low as $35, which is an easy decision considering everything they have.
Sennheiser certainly took its time getting into the true wireless market, but if you’ve got a hefty spending budget, you’ll find it was well worth the wait. The Momentum True Wireless offer impressive features like transparency mode to pipe in the sound around you, IPX4 splash-proofing (though we wish they were fully waterproof at this price), and most importantly, audio performance that outdoes everything we’ve heard in the segment.
The best wireless noise cancelling earbuds that we’ve tested so far are the Bose QuietControl 30. If you’re looking for more comfortable earbuds with great isolation, they're a great choice. They have great active noise cancelling, reproduce audio fairly well, and have a comfortable earbud fit. Like most in-ears, they have little sound leakage, which makes them a decent choice for use at the office. Their neckband design ensures your music is always at arm's reach.
True wireless earbuds have become increasingly popular because of how light and unobtrusive they feel. As such, many manufacturers are now focusing their attention on releasing new earbuds in this style, which is why all of our best earbuds are true wireless. However, if you prefer a connected-earbud style, we recommend some traditional Bluetooth earbuds in the Other wireless earbuds we like section.
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If there's one complication many models share in the operation department, it's that it's easy to accidentally pause music, skip a track, or summon a voice assistant when you merely meant to take an earpiece out or adjust it slightly. There's not a lot of real estate on most of the earpieces we've tested, and thus much of the outer panel area is devoted to housing controls.
When life has a chokehold on your wallet, the Ylife ST-BE18 can get you to true wireless paradise for less than $50. This is a robust package for that amount, with desirables like IPX5 water resistance and a case that provides 18 charges for their five-hour battery life. You think you’d sacrifice some sound quality at this level, but the 6mm drivers are a hit with buyers. Some have complained they sound a little flat out of the box, but a quick tap of the earbuds to adjust your EQ helps tremendously. Calls should also sound crisp with the noise-canceling microphones.

We found that the Bang & Olufsen Beoplay E6 had decent bass but a sibilant high-frequency range that made harpsichord and piano sound tinny. Our panel didn’t find the stabilization wings to be comfortable. Although the earbuds are designed to connect together around your neck, the magnet in them isn’t strong enough to hold the E6 in place. The Motion version sounds the same but adds water resistance.
The Monoprice True Wireless Plus Earphones (38542) are fine but a bit overpriced for what they give you. We found that the controls caused the earbuds to push into our ears a bit, which made the multi-click controls annoying to use. Male vocals got somewhat veiled by the bloated bass, and high frequencies had a shushing quality rather than crispness, but the effect was not the worst we’d heard. Overall, this pair isn’t bad, but we’d like to see it cost under $50.
If it is important for you to have the AirPods’ easily recognizable white-stick design, either of the available models will work. (Apple has sold out of the AirPod Pro online until after the holidays, but some stores have them in stock.) The AirPod Pros look like little laser blasters or hair dryers outside the ear, but nothing revolutionary when worn. The AirPod aesthetic has a life of its own at this point. You can even buy an AirPod-esque “faux headphone ear piece” that doesn’t transmit music at all from online retailer Asos.

The RHA T20 Wireless comes with tiny little screw-on filters that allow you to change the sound. This was a neat idea for analog headphones, but with digital EQ available, it seems silly, especially when the filters are so easy to lose. All of the choices had some flaws in the sonic balance in our tests. And then there’s the build: The remote has a metal panel, so it is a little heavy and can tug on the cable. The earbuds are detachable, but when you pull them off, the connectors can stick and lead to the cable ripping loose.
If you want to make a statement, Microsoft’s Surface ear buds look like large white discs that are just one black dot away from being a googly eye. Google’s new Pixel Buds also have a strong Mentos vibe, but they refreshingly come in some fun colors. Both will be available next spring. For instant gratification, the Sony WF-1000XM3 buds look like retro versions of futuristic pills, available in beige or black. Samsung’s Galaxy Buds all have a fun subtle shimmer, as well as a bold yellow option that says, “I’m not afraid of a pop of color.”
If you have your heart set on true wireless earbuds and don’t want to pay $100 or more, we recommend the Skullcandy Sesh pair. These earbuds have a fun, bass-forward sound, a comfortable fit, water resistance, and easy-to-use controls—all for a typical price around $60. We also love that the pair comes with a two-year warranty and Skullcandy’s Fearless Use Promise, which means if you lose or break one earbud, you pay to replace only that part, and the company will ship you a completely new pair. The three-hour battery life per charge isn’t amazing, but you can get three more full charges from the included case, which is small enough to fit in a pocket.
The biggest advantage that the Powerbeats Pro has over the competition is its ability to connect quickly to Apple gear. (Beats is owned by Apple, in case you didn’t know.) Since these earbuds are equipped with the same H1 chip as the Apple AirPods, they pair with Apple devices nearly instantly. Simply open the case next to your iPhone, and an icon asking if you’d like to connect appears on the phone screen. Tap, and you’re good to go. If you are signed in to your iCloud account, the Powerbeats Pro also automatically appears in all of the Bluetooth menus on your various Apple devices, so you need to pair to only one device. You can also use these earbuds with non-Apple devices, but in that case you need to pair them to each device individually. Switching from one device to another is a process similar to that of other Bluetooth earbuds or headphones.

Great sound quality and a secure, comfortable fit are of utmost importance for wireless headphones you’ll use throughout the day. We noted which earbuds got the worst reviews from the pros and passed on those that had consistently poor reviews. Our panelists generally prefer the comfort and convenience of true wireless designs over the feel of collar-style wireless earbuds, and that’s reflected in our main picks. But fit is even more crucial with true wireless designs: If a true wireless earbud falls out while you’re on the go, it’s just one wrong bounce away from being gone for good.
When you take your AirPods out of the case, they're on and ready to use. When you put them in your ears, your AirPods automatically play the audio from your device. If you take an AirPod out, audio pauses. Take them both out and audio stops. If you're listening with one AirPod and you take it out, the AirPod pauses. If you put it back in your ear within 15 seconds, play resumes automatically.
The necessary solution that (nearly) all of these designs share in common is a charging case. Each case protects the earpieces when not in use, and charges them simultaneously. Most of the cases carry two extra full charges, so you can recharge your earphones on the go. It's not unlikely that this weak aspect of the true wireless realm will improve to the point that it will no longer be an issue.
If you don’t quite have AirPods money, Anker’s Soundcore Liberty Air let you fake the funk for a fraction of the cost. Don’t be mistaken, though — these budget earbuds pack quite a punch. The bass-heavy Soundcore Liberty Air even take after the AirPods design a bit with a golf tee of their own. Whether that’s enough to fool the informed is a toss-up, but regardless, you’re getting decent sound and features for your money.
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