On the downside, their default sound lacks a little bass. Since their companion app is only available on Android, iOS users who are fans of bass may be a bit disappointed. They also don’t have onboard storage like the Samsung Gear IconX Truly Wireless, which are harder to find, and are only rated IPX2 for minimal water resistance. That said, the Galaxy Buds feel better-built and have far superior battery life. If they suit your needs, they’re fairly versatile truly wireless headphones that are worth considering.
Amazon Echo Buds: These earbuds will appeal to folks who primarily rely on the Amazon ecosystem. When they’re connected to your phone, the Echo Buds’ always-listening Alexa function makes them an Echo device you can wear. But unlike other Alexa-enabled devices we’ve tested in the past, the Echo Buds avoid duplicating voice requests when you’re near other Echo devices. They’re also solid earbuds: Their size is small and they’re comfortable to wear, the sound quality is good, the controls are easy to use, and the price is reasonable. You can use each bud independently, and music pauses automatically when you remove one or both earbuds. They get a respectable five hours of battery life when fully charged, and the case provides an additional 15 hours of playback. The downsides are that you must leave the Alexa app open on your phone for Alexa to function, and the earbuds lack physical volume controls. The Bose noise reduction will diminish the low hum of an air conditioner or plane, but it isn’t as powerful as the noise cancellation you get with the Bose 700 headphones on the highest setting. (We’d say it’s about half as effective, which might be good news for those who are prone to “eardrum suck.”)
AirPods Pro are sweat and water resistant for non-water sports and exercise. AirPods Pro were tested under controlled laboratory conditions, and have a rating of IPX4 under IEC standard 60529. Sweat and water resistance are not permanent conditions and resistance might decrease as a result of normal wear. Do not attempt to charge wet AirPods Pro; refer to https://support.apple.com/kb/HT210711 for cleaning and drying instructions. The charging case is not sweat or water resistant.
Testing conducted by Apple in October 2019 using preproduction AirPods Pro with Wireless Charging Case and software paired with iPhone 11 Pro 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% and Active Noise Cancellation was enabled. Testing consisted of full AirPods Pro battery discharge while playing audio until the first AirPod Pro stopped playback. The drained AirPods Pro were charged to 100 percent, then audio playback was resumed until the first AirPod Pro stopped playback. This cycle was repeated until both the AirPods Pro and charging case were fully discharged. Battery life depends on device settings, environment, usage, and many other factors.
B&O had a lot of good ideas for the Beoplay E8, but the execution on all of them was off. The touch controls and transparency mode didn’t work well for us, and none of the EQ settings made the sound quality fantastic. At best, we got metallic, sibilant highs and a shallow soundstage that didn’t come close to what we expect from a $300 set of headphones. The Motion version costs $350 and has the same sound but adds water resistance and stabilizer wings.
On the downside, like most budget headphones, they don’t have any power-saving features, so you’ll need to remember to turn them off when not in use or else their battery will continue to drain. They also don’t have a companion app, so your EQ options are more limited. Though their ear-hook design ensures a stable fit, they don’t have the most sweat-proof design, so athletes may want to consider the similar yet more sweat-resistant Anker SoundCore Spirit X Wireless. Overall, they're the best Bluetooth earbuds we've tested in the budget category.
Bose’s QuietControl 30 offers excellent noise cancellation and is clearly built to last, but if noise reduction isn’t your top priority, you’ll likely be better served by other options. In our tests, the sound quality was good but a little dull. You can’t use a cord to listen, so if you fly a lot and use in-flight entertainment, you’re out of luck.
Beats includes four sizes of silicone ear tips, so most people will be able to get a good seal. However, the tip material is rather thin, so it tends to crinkle in the ear canal when you first put in the earbuds or adjust them. These also aren’t the most isolating of the earbuds we’ve tested, so you should keep an eye on the volume level when commuting by train; you may also want to select another pair of headphones for in-flight use, such as the 1More Dual Driver BT ANC In-Ear Headphones.
Students appreciate the convenience offered by wireless headphones. Research your essay or fill out your study guide without being confined to your computer chair, or listen to some tunes and relax in your bed after a busy day of class. Call friends and family members back home without dealing with excess cords, or catch up on local happenings by listening to online news.
Although the Cambridge Audio Melomania 1 pair sounded good and came with a neat optional silicone carry sleeve for the charging case, we had difficulty getting the tips to seal, and the control buttons clicked loudly in our ears when we pressed them. The Melomania 1 also produced a noticeable latency delay that made watching videos on a device less enjoyable.
App-based customizations let control what the touch-sensitive surfaces on the earbuds do — changing volume or skipping tracks can both be assigned to the side you prefer. You can adjust equalization, find your headphones, and even pipe in sound from the outside world — which is especially useful during outdoor workouts or unfamiliar trips on public transit. Such an assortment of useful features makes Samsung’s Buds your everyday listening pal.
The Aukey EP-T16S offers a tiny case, tiny earbuds, and tiny tips—too tiny for medium or large ear canals to get a seal. In our tests, when they fit properly, the EP-T16S pair produced a ton of bass that could overwhelm male vocals in hip-hop and electronic music, and highs that sounded mildly harsh. Despite their size, we don’t recommend these earbuds for diminutive ears because we’ve found that small ears need more than just small tips to hold the earbuds in place securely and comfortably (usually a wing or hook helps).
Anker uses graphene drivers here, which it says deliver a purer sound. You miss out on active noise cancelation, so they’re not ideal for noisy plane rides and such, but there’s a dual microphone array in each earpiece for improved call clarity. Intuitive touch controls allow you to answer calls, pause and skip tracks, and summon your favorite virtual assistant. The battery inside can go for up to five hours, and you’ll add up to 15 hours more thanks to their charging case.