Unfortunately, these earbuds come with a proprietary charging cradle that’s a bit restrictive, since it means you can’t just borrow a friend’s micro-USB cable if you leave yours at home. They also can’t connect to two devices simultaneously like the regular Jaybird Tarah Wireless can. That said, they’re still a solid upgrade on the regular model, especially in terms of battery life. They’re well-rounded wireless in-ears that are not only the best wireless earbuds for running that we’ve reviewed so far, but they're also versatile enough for more casual use.
The best wireless earbuds for iPhone that we've tested so far are the Apple AirPods Pro. Apple’s newest iteration on what is now an almost iconic design brings some minor design changes and improvements over their predecessors. As you may recall, the last AirPods were earbuds, which sat outside of the ear canal. But on the Pro, Apple transformed them into in-ears, requiring a deeper insertion. That said, they’re not so deep as to be uncomfortable. This does help with passive isolation and Apple has succeeded in what they set out to do. The noise isolation on these earbuds are great, with an overall attenuation of -23db. The overall sound profile is also different, as Apple opted for a closed-back design this time around. Lacking a bit of bass, they have a fairly neutral sound but lean more towards the brighter side.
Meanwhile, all of the features that Apple fans have come to rely on like Siri connectivity, intuitive touch controls, and accelerometers that recognize when the buds are in or out of your ears to pause and play sound automatically, are all preserved. Battery life is unchanged at 5 hours of music streaming per charge — a number that is less impressive now than it once was — but you get a wireless charging case that would normally cost you $50 more than the price of a regular set of AirPods.
All of that is in addition to the two-year warranty against manufacturing defects, plus water, sweat, and dust damage. With its IP55 rating (for more, see our video on water resistance ratings), the Sesh can take rain, sweat, and the dust kicked up from a desert-canyon hike. For occasional gym sessions, the Sesh will work just fine, especially if the earbuds fit your ears securely. That said, we worry that especially high-impact workouts will slowly cause the Sesh earbuds to begin to wiggle loose from your ear, and the sealed design isn’t ideal for outdoor running safety. For regular workout earbuds, we prefer one of our gym headphones or running headphones picks.
The trade-off is that most wire-free earphones have inferior battery life compared with tethered models, forcing you to pop them in their charging case fairly often. Their small size also means on-earphone controls are generally limited, and their price is usually significantly more than similar tethered wireless earphones. Our reviews go into greater detail about these benefits and limitations, and highlight how certain models are starting to overcome these growing pains.
Additionally, the 75t offers dual-device Bluetooth connection, which means you can be connected to your phone and laptop simultaneously. So if you are listening to music streamed from your laptop and you want to answer a call, you don’t need to manually switch the Bluetooth connection from the laptop to the phone as you do with many other earbuds like the AirPods or the Powerbeats Pro. You can just answer the call, and the Jabra set will automatically swap the audio. And if you take the earbuds out of your ears, your music automatically pauses.
Speaking of the controls, the two earbuds have identical physical buttons: one volume button and one large multifunction button that handles play, pause, track toggling, call answering, and digital-assistant activation. Both buttons are easy to find by feel and comfortable to press. This stands in contrast to the experience with many other true wireless earbuds, which have buttons that click loudly or shove the earbud painfully into your ear canal when you depress them. Either Powerbeats Pro earbud will function alone if you prefer to use a single earbud like a traditional headset for calls or to better hear your surroundings.
Our panel evaluated each pair’s sound quality, ease of use, fit, and comfort and then ranked their top three picks. I then took those favorites and tested the microphones over phone calls in both quiet and noisy areas via a voice-recorder app. I checked the Bluetooth signal reliability by wandering a good distance away from my phone, putting it in a pocket or bag, walking outside, and going several rooms away. And, of course, we tested battery life to make sure that the actual use time lined up with each manufacturer’s claim. Once we had a sense of how each set of headphones performed, we took price and extra features into account and then chose our final winners.
The active noise cancellation is decent, but it’s not adjustable at all and may cause “eardrum suck” for some people (you can read more about this phenomenon in our best noise-cancelling headphones guide). Because of the vented earbud design, the Pro earbuds don’t provide much noise isolation without the ANC activated, but they still produce some mild occlusion effect. With battery life of four and a half hours, they won’t last a cross-country flight or a full workday without a charging break. The Pro earbuds are water resistant, but the design is far less secure for high-impact activities than that of the Powerbeats Pro and less durable than that of the IP55-rated Jabra Elite 75t. While we like that Apple did away with the tap-based controls, the squeeze controls are fiddly (we often play/paused when we wanted to skip tracks) and still lack volume controls (which both the Jabra Elite 75t and Powerbeats Pro have).
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.
Otherwise, Plantronics delivers on better-than-average sound quality with a pair of 5.8mm drivers that make the BackBeat Pro 5100 perfectly acceptable for music. Their tap controls are backed by the BackBeats app that grants cool functionality like one- or two-tap access to playlists, EQ settings, and handy stopwatch and time functions. Couple those last two goodies with IP54 water resistance and 6.5 hours of battery (plus an extra 13 hours from the case), and they can even pull double duty as your workout buddies.
The 10-hour battery life is the best of any true wireless earbuds right now, and their charging case can replenish them more than five times before needing to be plugged-in. It’s such a big battery, JLab even encourages you to use it to top up your other devices with it. They come with seven sets of ear tips (including a foam set) that should give everyone a comfortable fit, and their robust ear hooks — though not especially stylish — will keep the Epic Air Sport from going anywhere without you.
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.
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.
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. Battery life depends on device settings, environment, usage, and many other factors.
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.
You'll notice that most of our top picks today are completely wireless! Once part of an expensive and questionable sub-category of products, today’s best wire-free buds have evolved to deliver great sound, a reliable device connection, and enough battery life to meet the demands of most users. Most importantly, they're also priced competitively, making them more attainable than ever before.
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.
Active noise cancellation uses outward-facing microphones to pick up and analyze noise, which then gets canceled out by circuitry that generates an inverse wave in the headphones. It was previously an expensive, cumbersome technology that couldn't be found on wireless headphones, but that changed a few years ago with advances in battery life and circuit miniaturization. You'll pay a premium for headphones with active noise cancellation, but it's a handy feature if you just want to tune out everything around you besides your music. For more, check out the best noise-cancelling headphones.
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 Powerbeats Pro earbuds are sweat and water resistant, so they can go from work to the gym, as well as handle a little rain. However, they aren’t IP-certified, so we’d still say that anyone who sweats profusely or who does outdoor sports frequently should stick with our workout pick, which has an IP56 rating and a two-year warranty against water and sweat damage. The Powerbeats Pro comes with a one-year warranty, but Beats isn’t specific about sweat-damage coverage, so we’d exercise caution (pun intended).
You can charge your AirPods Pro in their wireless charging case with a Qi-certified charger. While the case is charging wirelessly, you can tap the status light to see the charge status. A green light means that the case—and AirPods, if they're inside—is charged more than 80 percent. You can also plug the case in to an Apple Lightning to USB cable—either USB-C or USB A.
If you’re an Android user, and especially a Samsung Galaxy owner, you’ll want to check out the Galaxy Buds. They’ll work with any Android phone and even iPhones, mind you, but Samsung users get an easier pairing process (just open the case while it’s near your phone) and a proprietary high-quality audio codec. Even without those perks, the Galaxy Buds are impressive at their affordable price point. Samsung tapped AKG’s sound expertise to tune the drivers with a balanced sound profile. They won’t replace a pair of studio monitors, but our reviewers say the Galaxy Buds will produce a pleasant result that you can further tweak using EQ presets in the companion app.