Few sectors of consumer technology have grown more quickly in the last couple of years than that of truly wireless earphones.
At first ridiculed for looking strange, the sector is now packed for of high-quality options from Apple, Bose, Sony and more.
All of these options are truly wireless, meaning they sit in your ears but are not connected to each other. Most can be worn while exercising, while a few are better-suited to the gym than others, thanks to a more secure fit and sweat resistance.
Most also let you talk to your voice assistant of choice, and all come with carry cases which charge the earphones when placed inside. Some of these cases offer wireless charging, some don't, and in the case of Apple's AirPods, you can pay a premium to add wireless charging.
As well as sound quality and features, the most important aspects to look for in a pair of wireless earphones are comfort and a good fit. You will want to buy a pair which stay securely in your ears, but which remain comfortable for several hours of use. Next up we suggest you look at battery life, both for the earphones themselves and for how many hours of extra charge the case provides.
Other important features include active noise cancelling, and if the earphones offer any fitness-tracking options, like an integrated heart rate monitor.
Apple AirPods Pro
The newest product in this list, the AirPods Pro, are sold alongside Apple's regular AirPods, with the main difference between the two is the Pro version offers active noise cancelling. They also have silicon tips for a tighter fit, which makes for better sound and fewer distractions from your surroundings.
The noise cancelling works surprisingly well and the smart Transparency Mode can be switched on to hear your environment more clearly, for when you need to speak to someone. They aren't cheap, and while they work with Android handsets, iPhone users will get the most out of them. Apple claims the battery life will last 4.5 hours with noise cancelling switched on, plus a further 24 hours when using the charge case.
AirPods work with Android phones (and most Bluetooth devices), but some features, like Transparency Mode, are missing, so non-iPhone users might want to look elsewhere.
Available in black and white, these earphones by Sony are widely regarded as having some of the best active noise cancelling of any earphones. They come with three sizes of silicone ear tips to help you find the perfect fit, and their charging case has a USB-C connection.
There are touch controls on the side of ear earphone for adjust music and calling up the Google Assistant, and the noise cancelling automatically adjusts based on your environment. Battery life is said to last six hours with noise cancelling switched on (or eight when switched off), plus an extra 24 from the charge case.
Sony WF-1000XM3 Industry Leading Noise Canceling Truly Wireless Earbuds, Silver
Beats Powerbeats Pro
The Powerbeats Pro by Apple-owned Beats feature a design which goes into your ear but also wraps around it for an extra secure fit. These earphones are designed for use in the gym or while running, and their larger size means a bigger battery than most and a run time of nine hours, plus an extra 24 from the charging case.
They are available in four different colors — black, ivory, moss and navy — and they are sweat and water resistant, so can be worn in the gym or while it's raining. There are play/pause buttons, but also volume control, which is something most wireless earphones don't include. These earphones do not offer active noise cancelling, where anti-noise is played to create silence instead, they offer passive noise cancelling by blocking out sounds with a secure fit.
Powerbeats Pro - Totally Wireless Earphones - Black
Amazon Echo Buds 2
The second-generation Echo Buds are priced from just $100Amazon
Two years on from the launch of Amazon's original Echo Buds, the second-generation Alexa-powered earphones arrived in April 2021. Their design remains similar to before, but they are a helpful 20 percent smaller and feature improved active noise cancelling. They also feature a new vented design that should help to reduce ear pressure. They come with four sets of tips to help you find the perfect fit, and there are also two sizes of optional wing included in the box.
These earphones have an IPX4 water and sweat resistance rating, so they should be safe to use while exercising and when running in the rain. Amazon says it has made improvements to call quality, while total battery life has been increased from 13 to 15 hours when topped up using the charge case. The ear buds on their own last five hours at a time.
Amazon is keeping the price low, with the 2021 model costing $120, or wireless wireless charging can be added to the charge case for $140. But, for a limited time only after the May 13 launch, the Echo Buds will be priced at just $100, or $120 with wireless charging.
Bose QuietComfort Earbuds
Bose QuietComfort EarbudsBose
Bose is an industry veteran when it comes to audio products, and while its noise-cancelling headphones have littered airplane cabins for years, the company also sells wireless earbuds from the same QuietComfort product line. These Bluetooth 5.1-equipped earphones boast 11 levels of active noise cancelling and a transparency mode to more easily hear your surroundings.
Three sets of ear tips are included to help find the perfect fit, and there's an IPX4 water resistance rating to help fight off sweat and light rain. Battery life is a claimed six hours for the earbuds themselves, and up to an extra 12 hours when using the charge case. Speaking of the case, it can be wirelessly charged using any Qi-certified charging pad.
1More Stylish True Wireless In-Ear Headphones
These wireless earphones cost just under $1001More
Available in black, green, pink and gold, these wireless earphones by 1More are designed to stand out from the crowd. They are also more affordable than most, with a price around half that of their rivals. The earphones are said to last 6.5 hours on one charge, plus an extra 24 hours from the charge case.
They work with iPhones and Android handsets — as do all of the earphones featured in this article — and they give one-tap access to either Siri or the Google Assistant. There's no active noise cancelling, but once you get a good seal with the rubber ear tips, the loudest of sounds around you should be filtered out effectively.
Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2
Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2Sennheiser
Building on what was already an excellent pair of wireless earphones, the second-generation Momentum True Wireless by Sennheiser offer seven hours of battery life for the buds themselves, and 28 hours when using the charge case. These earphones have active noise cancelling and are also compatible with Hi-Res Audio for superior sound.
The new model is slightly more compact than its predecessor, in terms of both the earphones and the case, and are designed to be more comfortable too. New microphones mean call quality has also been improved, and there is IPX4 water and sweat resistance. Finally, there is support for your smartphone voice assistant of choice, whether it be Siri or Google Assistant.
Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless Bluetooth Earbuds with Fingertip Touch Control
Apple's regular wireless earphones, the standard AirPods lack the active noise cancelling of their Pro stablemates, but are cheaper — and significantly so if you stick to the Lightning cable-charged case instead of the wireless option. Sound quality is decent, but AirPods block very little sound from your surroundings.
These are undoubtedly the most popular wireless earphones on the market, but Android users might want to look elsewhere. They work fine with non-iPhones, but Android owners can get better value by shopping elsewhere.
Note: As of April 2021, it could be worth holding off on buying a pair of AirPods, as Apple is expected to announce a new model soon. Having leaked online, these could appear as soon as Apple's next launch event, scheduled for April 20.
Samsung Galaxy Buds
Samsung's first wireless earphones, the Galaxy Buds are a direct rival to Apple's AirPods, and do a pretty good job. Available in black, white and yellow, the Buds include a compact charge case which can be topped up by QI wireless charger or USB-C - something Apple could learn from. Battery life is six hours, plus a further seven using the case to recharge.
The Galaxy Buds initially suffered from intermittent Bluetooth connection issues, but these have now been ironed out. Add in the silicon tips for blocking out noise, and they are a pretty good package, especially for Samsung phone owners (although they work with other Androids and iPhones, too).
Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro
Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro earphoneSamsung
Much as how Apple expanded its AirPods range with the AirPods Pro in 2019, Samsung has more recently done just the same with the Galaxy Buds Pro. Available in black, white and violet, the Buds Pro have active noise cancelling with voice detection for automatically switching on the microphone so you can hear your environment when speaking.
IPX7 water resistance means you can exercise with them without concern and wear them in the rain. Samsung claims eight hours of battery life for the Buds and 28 hours when using the charge case, but this is with active noise cancelling switched off.
Vista wireless earphones by JaybirdJaybird
Offered in black, white and green, the Jaybird Vista earphones offer more advanced IPX7 waterproofing and provide six hours of use per charge, plus ten more hours via the charging case.
There's no active noise cancelling here, with the Vistas instead relying on a tight fit in your ear to create passive noise cancelling.
Designed primary for exercise, the Jaybird's have a secure fit and offer three different sizes of ear tips. As well as these tips, the Vista earphones also have rubber wing which tuck into your ear to hold them firmly in place. The case is charged via an included USB-C cable.
Jaybird Vista True Wireless Bluetooth Sport Waterproof Earbuds - Black
Jabra Elite Active 65t
Elite Active 65t wireless earphones by JabraJabra
A well-priced, fitness-focused earphone, the Elite Active 65t by Jabra is available in four colors with bronze or silver detailing, making their design stand out from the crowd.
Three sizes of ear tip are included in the box, and there is passive instead of active noise cancelling. Battery life is a claimed five hours, plus 15 more hours via the charging case, and there's one-touch access to your voice assistant of choice, whether it is Alexa, Siri or Google Assistant.
Like most wireless earphones, the Jabras have a sensor which automatically pauses your music when you remove one earphone from your ear, then starts the music again when you put it back in.
Jabra Elite Active 65t Earbuds - True Wireless Earbuds with Charging Case, Copper Blue - Bluetooth Earbuds with a Secure Fit and Superior Sound, Long Battery Life and More