The best wireless earbuds of 2021 sound great, feel comfortable, and can even give wired earbuds a run for their money.
It's normal to assume that the best wireless earbuds aren't as good as the best headphones but Bluetooth development and other audio technology has improved the sound of earbuds remarkably, so you no longer have to choose between sound quality and portable convenience.
Now you can choose between old fashioned so-called neckbuds and the new normal which is completely cordless or true wireless buds. Here is our list of the best Bluetooth buds you can buy in 2021 but check back monthly so see what new pairs we have added to our list of top performers.
Best true wireless earbuds, at a glance
- Sony WF-1000XM3 True Wireless
- Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2
- Jabra Elite 65t
- Apple AirPods Pro
- 1More Colorbuds
- Samsung Galaxy Buds+
- Beats Powerbeats Pro
- B&O Beoplay E8 Wireless
- 1More Stylish E1026BT True Wireless
- Skullcandy Sesh
Considering it's still rare to get noise-cancellation in wired earbuds at all, the fact that Sony has managed to pack it into a pair that are not only wireless, but true wireless is very impressive indeed.
While models like the AirPods Pro have tried to replicate this, Sony is still top of the true wireless table.
That's because the Sony WF-1000XM3 manage to offer a level of noise-cancellation that's exceedingly good for a pair of earbuds – they won't offer the same isolation as a pair of over-ear headphones, but it's a worthy trade off for that sleeker form.
Sony has really knocked the ball out of the park with the WF-1000XM3. Not only are these hands down the best-looking true wireless earbuds on the market, but they also combine serious noise-cancelling tech with fist-pumping musicality. If you don’t want the inconvenience of carrying full-size cans around, they’re a persuasive alternative.
Battery life is above average, and that compact charging case is pretty slick too. Constantly improving, a recent update has brought volume control to the buds themselves, as well as support for Amazon Alexa. We reckon the true wireless jungle has found a new king.
These earbuds might be getting even better in the near future, too; on March 5, the earbuds briefly appeared on the Qualcomm website, suggesting that the Sony WF-1000XM3 could be about to get aptX HD support – and therefore, support for Hi-Res Audio.
Read more: Sony WF-1000XM3 review
[Update: We've tested the latest Sony earbuds; the Sony WF-SP800N are a sweat-resistant pair of true wireless earbuds that have both active noise cancellation and support for Sony's spatial audio format, 360 Reality Audio. Could one pair of earbuds please both workout enthusiasts and audiophiles? It certainly looks that way.]
The sound quality, battery life, and design of the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2 are truly brilliant – and they're a really good alternative to the Sony WF-1000XM3, particularly if you prefer a more flashy design to adorn your ears.
We did find that those with smaller ears sometimes find them a little uncomfortable, however, and their high price just stops them from taking the top spot of this round up.
Otherwise? Sennheiser has pretty much knocked it out of the park with these buds, offering great noise cancellation alongside smart looks and stunning sound.
Read more: Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2 review
The Jabra Elite 75t improve upon their predecessors, the Jabra Elite 65t, in just about every way – except for tonal balance.
The headphones and charging case are much smaller, battery life makes an immense jump, catching up to the competition, and the customization features we enjoyed in the 65t remain.
While they don't have the best sound quality and they lacks active noise cancellation, neither stops the Jabre Elite 75t from being a solid pair of true wireless earbuds to use, especially if you make frequent calls with your headphones on.
Read the full review: Jabra Elite 75t review
Apple has launched its new true wireless earbuds, bringing active noise cancellation, a (finally) much better fit, and an improved design, in a bid to lure more iPhone users into the true wireless fold.
However, at $249 / £249 / AU$399, they’re pretty pricey too, and as such can’t be called the very best wireless headphones out there.
That said, if you’re an iPhone user looking for some well-fitting earbuds with strong sound quality, you could do a lot worse than the new AirPods - the redesign means they’re far less likely to fall out, and the additional microphones provide strong noise-cancelling (particularly when commuting), as well as a useful Transparency mode, which really does let the outside world in.
The sound quality of the AirPods Pro has certainly improved since the previous iteration – there’s a notable emphasis on vocals and bass, meaning these earbuds are better for pop fans than those that enjoy a more natural presentation that lends itself to classical music or more orchestral sounds.
Apparently, there's a new AirPods model on the horizon to join the original buds and the newer Pros. The AirPods Pro Lite are rumored to be a new, cheaper variant of the company's popular true wireless earbuds, and they could be released this year.
Read more: Apple AirPods Pro review
1More always delivers excellent bang for buck: great sound and features for your money. The Colorbuds are a big step up on the original Stylish true wireless from last year. The fit is even more comfortable and secure than before, the buds weigh even less (a quite negligable 4g each) and the charge cradle is possibly the best size and shape we've ever used.
But the standout feature is the balanced armature drivers used in the Colourbuds which we think deliver a delightfully balanced and accurate sound that is still toe-tappingly exciting to listen to. True to their name they're now also available in a range of cool metallic shades.
Samsung's two previous true wireless offerings, the Icon X and the Galaxy Buds, fell short of expectations. While the sound was decent they suffered from connectivity issues and poor voice quality on calls. These upgraded buds are similar only in appearance, but has much better tech throughout.
They do look almost identical to the predecessor: a mid-sized bud with a snug fit thanks to the little wing which tucks into the folds of the ear. We found them extremely comfortable and secure. The audio setup is much improved, courtesy of Samsung subsidiary and audio specialist AKG. Its a dual driver design, does provide superior frequency separation and a good overall sound, but these could still use more bass.
Connectivity and voice issues seem to have been largely resolved and, together with the much improved sound and new iPhone compatibility, they earned a place on our list.
Read more: Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus
The new PowerBeats Pro true wireless Beats headphones aren't exactly the earbuds analysts have been predicting, sure, but they are something special – they’re supremely comfortable, sound decent and seem to never, ever fall out.
They might not be the best true wireless earbuds in Apple's audio arsenal now that the AirPods Pro are here, but they are Apple’s most premium play into the world of running headphones, and are the buds we'd recommend to most workout enthusiasts.
That's thanks to features like the pressure-reducing micro-laser barometric venting hole, their long battery life and good sound quality. If we had to choose between wearing these and the original AirPods around the house or office, these are what we’d wear.
[Update: A new model may be on the cards – the Powerbeats Pro 2 are the rumored follow-up to these Beats true wireless earbuds.]
Read more: Beats PowerBeats Pro review
Let’s get one thing out of the way – the B&O Beoplay E8 are some of the best-looking and most expensive wireless earphones you can buy at $350 / £300 (around AU$570).
Audio quality is undeniably excellent, and you can tweak the sound to your liking using the accompanying Beoplay app on Android and iOS.
Even without tinkering around with ToneTouch, the E8 2.0s sounds crisp and clear, with punchy bass frequencies. So, the Bang & Olufsen E8 2.0 truly wireless earphones look great and sound great, although the touch-sensitive buttons are a little too sensitive at times, and there's no active noise cancellation.
However, it's hard to not find these earphones appealing, and if you want your true wireless earbuds to look as good as they sound, they could be the perfect model for you.
Read more: B&O Beoplay E8 2.0 Wireless Earphones review
The 1More brand has already notched a couple of spots on our headphone lists, and this great-sounding budget-priced offering scores them another top spot.
Made entirely pf plastic they don't feel quite as classy as other products on this list, but that makes them much lighter and, together with their add-on silicon wings, much less likely to fly out as you whip your head around in the traffic, or in the kitchen. They use the aptX protocol to preserve your music quality over Bluetooth. And the audio performance punches well above its price, with decent soundstage and enough bass.
They're the best-priced true wireless buds we've tested that are still worth buying, so they crept on to our list.
Read more: 1More Stylish E1026BT True Wireless
The Sesh buds provide an excellent entry point for true wireless beginners, with a fairly comfortable and secure fit. Unlike most budget buds they feel quite robust like they could take a tumble. They sound decent at the price and come in a wide range of crazy colours with a reasonably pocketble carry case. Battery life is a meagre 3 hours although the case provides another 7 hours.
They're dust, sweat and splashproof to IP55 level, so they're usable for workouts. Sound quality is strongly skewed towards pop music with exaggerated highs and lows, but it's not an unpleasant mix for pop music lovers.
Wireless vs true wireless
Wireless neckbuds vs true wireless: what's the difference?
True wireless earbuds have no cord whatsoever. Having two separate buds, one in each ear, is quickly becoming the new normal.
Wireless earbuds have been around since Bluetooth was invented. They have a cord connecting the left and right earbuds buds which usually lies on the back of neck, hence the more common name "neckbuds" to differentiate them from true wireless buds.
Best neckbuds, at a glance
- Bowers & Wilkins Pi3
- Sennheiser CX Sport
- 1More E1001BT Triple Driver
- Beats X
- Bose QuietControl 30
- Beats Powerbeats
- 1More E1020BT Spearhead
The Bowers & Wilkins PI3 are the first neckband wireless earbuds for the company, and they're a great start. Well-designed, comfy, and simple to use, they sound really good, too.
Thanks to dual drivers, these buds sound fantastic, with crisp highs, lively mids, and plenty of powerful bass. Look past the fairly unremarkable battery life and limited features, and you'll be mostly very impressed by what these offer.
Read the full review: Bowers & Wilkins PI3 Wireless Headphones review
If the most important aspect of wireless earphones for you is the audio quality, these wireless earbuds from Sennheiser could be a fantastic choice.
With a lively, bass-heavy presentation, and a comfortable fit, the Sennheiser CX Sport wireless earphones are ideal running headphones, and can really bolster your workout through sound quality alone.
They have a battery life of six hours, which means they'll last you all day, whether you're wearing them on your commute or taking them out for a jog.
The wired triple driver buds from 1More hit the ball out of the park, and the Bluetooth version attempts to do the same. Using the exact same configuration of two balanced armature drivers and a single full range driver these develop the same wide soundstage and detail across all audio frequencies, with decent bass thump that's rarely achieved on earbuds.
Aside from the rousing audio performance these also look and feel like a quality product finished in metal with a soft rubber neckband and decent size buttons that are easy to master. Battery life tops out at around 6 hours, which is below average, but fortunately these recharge using USB-C so you won't need any extra cables.
The 1More Triple Driver BT looks classy and delivers sound far better than its price suggests, making them the ideal choice for audiophiles on a budget.
Read more: 1MORE Triple Driver BT
Beats haven't always gotten the best rap when it comes to audio performance, but the Beats X is trying to set the record straight. The Beats X hence make up for their slightly bassy, confined sound with a rock solid connection and a pairing process that, on iOS devices at least, is as painless as it's possible to be.
If you’re shopping for a no-fuss pair of Bluetooth earbuds that charge in 5 minutes, work well with iOS and don’t mind spending a little extra money on them, the Beats X are for you.
Read the full review: Beats X review
Life is full of compromises, and it's no different with the Bose QuietControl 30. On the positive side you get a level of noise cancellation that comes close to what's offered by the brand's over-ear headphones, but the concession here is on sound fidelity, which just isn’t on the same level as that of other wireless earbuds we've tested.
There's also that neckband which adds an unfortunate level of bulk to what should otherwise be a slimline pair of headphones.
Read the full review: Bose QuietControl 30 review
The new Powerbeats are a thoughtful evolution of Beats' wireless workout earbuds. They're missing a few niceties like active noise-reduction and may potentially feel less comfortable than some competitors, but by and large they're a decent cheap alternative to Apple’s higher-end in-ear headphones.
After spending some time with them, it's clear that the new Beats Powerbeats is a significant upgrade on the company's wireless workout earbuds, offering a sound quality lifted directly from the Beats Powerbeats Pro, an IPX4 rating and Apple’s H1 Wireless Chip that can summon Siri with the sound of your voice.
What we don't like about them is that the fit can be tough to get right and even slightly uncomfortable when you wear them for an extended period.
Read the full review: Beats Powerbeats review
We rate the 1More gaming E1020BT Spearhead as something of a sleeper hit. For one thing, while they work perfectly well as a gaming headset, when used for playing music they easily outperformed every other pair of Bluetooth neckbuds in this price range, making them our mid-range champions.
Dual drivers are made of titanium and graphene and deliver a balanced but exciting sound with a lot of toe tapping quality. They are made entirely of plastic but, rather than feeling cheap, they actually feel fantastically light and comfortable for all day use.