The best wireless earbuds of 2021 combine stellar audio performance and Bluetooth connectivity with compact and often good-looking designs. They're so good in fact, that many on this list can give some of the best wired earbuds a run for their money.
The latest earphones we've tested are the Oppo Enco X, which impressed with their direct sound and comfy fit - though they were let down by their lack of iOS support. There's also a new entry at our top spot of the best wireless earbuds, the NuraLoop headphones.
In other wireless earbuds news, we're expecting the Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro to be announced imminently, with a rumored release date of January 14.
There are lots of reasons why you might want to grab a pair of the best wireless earbuds. This design is perfect for all kinds of scenarios: the gym, commuting, or relaxing outside on a sunny day. All of the best Bluetooth earbuds are designed to stay put in your ears, as well as to bring you high-quality sound. What's more, they're usually cheaper than over-ear wireless headphones, some of which might offer better audio performance but aren't half as convenient.
This guide will cover two different kinds of wireless earbuds on the market today; true wireless earbuds and neckbud-style Bluetooth earphones. The former have no cables whatsoever, while wireless neckbuds retain a single cable that connects each earbud – this is usually worn around the neck.
With such a huge amount of choice, it can be difficult to find the best wireless earbuds for you. That's why this guide includes the best wireless earbuds for every budget, every situation, and in every form factor. First up – the best true wireless earbuds you can buy today.
One of the first mainstream, and therefore super popular, pairs of true wireless earbuds were the Apple AirPods – but now there are far better options out there, including the AirPods Pro and the Sony WF-1000XM3. So, before you buy a pair of old-school 'Pods, check out our selection of the best true wireless earbuds and AirPods-alternatives you can buy in 2021.
[Update: There are lots of cool true wireless earbuds coming out of CES 2021, including the JBL Tour Pro+, the Mobvoi Earbuds Gesture, the Edifier TWS NB Pro, and the Anker Soundcore Liberty Air Pro 2.
Plus, we're expecting to see the rumored Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro on January 14, with the new buds rumored to be launching alongside the Galaxy S21. Check out our guide on how to watch the Samsung Unpacked event for the latest from the South Korean tech giant.]
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True wireless earbuds
Considering it's still rare to get noise-cancellation in 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.
The Sony WF-1000X manage to offer a level of noise-cancellation that's very good for a pair of earbuds – it won't offer the same isolation as a pair of over-ear cans, but if you're after a sleek form factor then the compromise is well worth it.
There may be a few minor problems with these wireless earbuds, but we think Sony has knocked the ball out of the park with the WF-1000XM3; not only are these hands down the best-looking true wireless earbuds out there, but they combine serious noise cancelling tech with fist-pumping musicality.
Read more: Sony WF-1000XM3 review
Sennheiser has pretty much knocked it out of the park with these wireless earbuds, offering great noise cancellation alongside smart looks and stunning sound.
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 beating the Sony WF-1000XM3.
Read more: Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2 review
Cambridge Audio is known for its high-end audio equipment, but until now, hasn’t ventured into the world of true wireless earbuds. Enter the Cambridge Audio Melomania 1s: with an outstanding 45 hours of battery life, they combine the brand’s award-winning engineering with the convenience of truly wireless listening.
For a pair of wireless earbuds, the sound quality offered by the Cambridge Audio Melomania 1s is sensational. In fact, they rival some of the best over-ear headphones, which is all but unheard of for buds of this size.
They may not have the noise cancellation technology offered by the Sony WF-1000XM3 Wireless Earbuds, but they are $100 (around £80) cheaper – and have a superior battery life.
They certainly outperform the popular Apple AirPods, in all respects apart from the lack of wireless charging case. This is a small price to pay for that exceptional audio quality, though, and we think they represent much better value for money, too.
Read more: Cambridge Audio Melomania 1 review
[Update: We've spent some time getting to know the latest Cambridge Audio wireless earbuds. The Cambridge Audio Melomania Touch come with a 50-hour battery life, upgraded audio, and a new app to boot – and so far, we're impressed. Stay tuned for our full review in the next week.]
You may not have heard of up-and-coming audio brand Lypertek yet, but expect to hear a lot from it soon – its Lypertek Tevi true wireless earbuds are among the best we’ve tried, especially given the low price tag.
With USB-C charging, a well-balanced sound, lengthy battery life, and waterproofing, it ticks every box you could ask for, from what are basically a pair of budget wireless earbuds. The Lypertek Tevi, surprisingly, might just blow you away, punching well above their weight and rivaling the best wireless earbuds from some of the biggest audio brands on the planet.
Consider us pleasantly surprised.
Read more: Lypertek Tevi true wireless earbuds review
On paper, the GT220 seem to have their work cut out. $259 / £250 / AU$365 for small, humdrum-looking true wireless in-ears with no active noise-cancelling and no control app.
But, by performing with absolute confidence and assurance, they stand head and shoulders above the majority of true wireless earbuds on the market today. They extract every shred of information from digital files of your favorite music and deliver it with such authority, and in such a complete and coherent manner, that it sounds fresh even if you’ve heard it a thousand times before.
Read more: Grado GT220 review
With the TWS50, SoundMAGIC has hit the price/performance sweet-spot, thanks to these true wireless earbuds' fantastic price, comfortable design, great sound, and support for Bluetooth 5.0.
They offer a wide, spacious soundstage, with a good, well balanced presentation, alongside a decent battery life and comfy fit – in short, if you're looking for some cheap AirPod-alternatives, the SoundMAGIC TWS50 are well worth a look.
It’s Bose’s second attempt at a set of true wireless headphones, and the QuietComfort Earbuds are leaps and bounds better than the older SoundSport Free. Not only is the design a lot better, but the noise cancellation is also exemplary. Sound quality is also really very good – albeit a touch less bassy as compared to Sony – with superb clarity. They’re incredibly comfortable and well balanced too, despite their bulky form factor.
Read more: Bose QuietComfort Earbuds review
With their stellar sound and build quality, long-lasting battery life and what may be one of the coolest cases we've ever seen, we'd argue that the Klipsch T5s are easily among the best Bluetooth earbuds on the market right now..
Of course, you're buying a Klipsch product because it features the signature Klipsch sound, which is warm, detailed, and never harsh. Acoustic music is lush and detailed, and the detail extends to the highs as well, allowing the headphones to sing in the higher registers without ever being sibilant.
Battery life is rated at eight hours per charge with the case giving an additional 24 hours – that means these true wireless in-ear headphones will last you for a long haul flight, no problem.
Read more: Klipsch T5 True Wireless review
Apple's most recent true wireless earbuds bring 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 earbuds 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-canceling (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.
The Apple AirPods Pro have also been given a hefty firmware upgrade, which allows for Dolby Atmos spatial audio, bringing immersive 3D sound to your true wireless earbuds.
There's also a new auto-switching feature means that the AirPods can now "magically switch over between devices", detecting automatically which device you are using.
Read more: Apple AirPods Pro review
- Apple AirPods vs AirPods Pro: which buds are best?
While they don’t quite cut it like their predecessors the Jabra Elite Active 75t buds do owing to a slightly bulkier design, the Elite 85t deliver impressive performance thanks to some great audio quality, effective noise cancellation and decent battery life.
Audio has been vastly improved thanks to a new pair of 12mm in-built speakers, which are twice the size of those on the 75t buds and offer a wider and more well-balanced soundstage. This, alongside even deeper bass, adds more depth to your favorite tunes.
Read more: Jabra Elite 85t review
[Update: The Jabra Elite 75t now come with active noise cancellation thanks to a firmware update – which could make them a potential rival for the AirPods Pro, and a cheaper noise-cancelling alternative to the Elite 85t.]
The PowerBeats Pro true wireless Beats headphones are something special – they’re supremely comfortable, sound decent and seem to never, ever fall out.
That said, they are – in our opinion – Apple’s best true wireless earbuds to date thanks to small additions like the pressure-reducing micro-laser barometric venting hole, their longer battery life and their superior sound quality. If we had to choose between wearing these and the AirPods around the house or office, these are what we’d wear.
Read more: Beats PowerBeats Pro review
In terms of features, the Surface Earbuds cover off most - but not all - of what we’ve come to expect from a premium pair of true wireless in-ears: they have app-based adjustable EQs, aptX Bluetooth connectivity, and responsive touch controls. Plus they play impeccably nicely with virtually the entirety of Microsoft’s hardware and software ranges. They don’t have active noise-cancellation, though, and the way they fit means they let ambient sound leak in.
Sound is served up by relatively large full-range drivers. Of course, ‘relatively large’ could, in another life, be the Surface Earbuds’ official model name: a 25mm diameter is big by in-ear standards, 7.2g is heavy by in-ear standards and their charging case isn't exactly slim, either.
Despite these big numbers, though, the Surface Earbuds prove comfortable and secure in situ, for hours on end. The ‘twist-to-fit’ arrangement keeps them nicely steady, even during mild exercise.
Overall, the Surface Earbuds are a very welcome addition to the ever-increasing list of worthwhile true wireless in-ears, and while their distinctive looks won’t be for everyone, they deliver in the only two areas that count: functionality and sound quality.
Read more: Microsoft Surface Earbuds review
Having established its credentials as a high-end true wireless earbud front-runner with two generations of its Momentum True Wireless, Sennheiser’s now turned its attention to the less rarefied area where Apple, Microsoft, Sony and all the rest duke it out. At £169 / $199 / AU$299, the CX400BT are pitched right into the thick of the action.
Happily, the CX400BT are specified to compete. They have aptX Bluetooth connectivity, with SBC and AAC codecs catered for too; they have app-based EQ adjustment; they have responsive touch-controls (which can be customised in the app); and they can be operated using Google Assistant or Siri.
Read more: Sennheiser CX 400BT review
The Jaybird Vista earbuds are some of the best true wireless headphones out there – and it's not hard to see why. With a sleek, compact design, and features squarely aimed at real and budding athletes – with the ability to appeal to the less committed fitness nuts among us too.
Coming off the back of the Jaybird Run True – and waterproof Run XTs – the Jaybird Vista earbuds are highly compact fitness earbuds with the water and sweat resistance to deal with all levels of indoor and outdoor workouts. As true wireless earbuds, too, you won't find any cables getting in your way.
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.
If the top reason you're looking for a new pair of headphones is that you want to use them when you work out or run, you might want to consider the sport-friendly alternatives to the E8 2.0s, the Bang & Olufsen Beoplay E8 Sport. This pair of stylish buds delivers bright sound and they're specially designed to get sweaty with.
Read more: B&O Beoplay E8 2.0 Wireless Earphones review
With a promising battery life and well-managed bass enhancement over Audio-Technica’s usual neutral sound, the Audio-Technica ATH-CKS5TW true wireless earbuds have a lot going for them.
They've one of the most complete and well-rounded sound profiles we've seen from true-wireless earbuds, and that's despite the claimed bass enhancement. It's a very enjoyable sound that they make.
However, they are let down a bit by their fit – mileage will vary of course depending on your preferred bud style and the size of your ears, but all will find the fiddly case fit will annoy over time. Still, the quality audio here may be a worthy trade-off.
Read more: Audio-Technica ATH-CKS5TW review
Sony's latest true wireless earbuds, the Sony WF-SP800N, are a triple-threat. They’re IP55-rated to be sweatproof and dustproof with a high degree of water resistance, but they’re also pretty good for commuters because they have active noise cancellation built in – which is rare for a workout pair of earbuds – and work well for demanding music lovers thanks to their support for Sony’s new spatial audio format, 360 Reality Audio.
They can be a little uncomfortable to wear for long periods of time, however, and the bass is bit muddy for our liking – still, these Bluetooth earbuds are well worth a look.
Read more: Sony WF-SP800N review
NuraLoop boils down the essence of the company's first product, the Nuraphone, into a much more compact, rugged, and affordable package, and doesn't lose much in the process.
The star of the show is its adaptive audio technology, which automatically determines a listening profile for the user and feeds them well-balanced, lush sound as a result.
On top of this, features like active noise-cancelling, social mode, an IPX3 rating, Immersion mode, a great battery life, and the ability to attach an analog cable for 3.5mm headphone jacks makes this pair of wireless earbuds truly shine.
Read more: NuraLoop headphones review
The NuForce BE Sport4 wireless earbuds are that rare find: wireless earbuds that are good for basically all situations, whether you're looking to take them out on a run or just wear them around town.
They're ideal for exercise, although any urbanite will also find their lightweight functionality and impressive sound isolation highly appealing. If you want proof that Bluetooth earbuds can now compete with the best of them, look no further.
Read more: Optoma NuForce BE Sport4 review
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.
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 Bluetooth earbuds 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.
OnePlus is most known for its “flagship killer” phones like the OnePlus 7 and OnePlus 7 Pro,, but the company also makes headphones – the best example of which are the company’s excellent Bullets Wireless 2, which offer an incredible value in the neck-bud headphone category.
In terms of audio quality, they boast a lively sonic presentation and an accurate-feeling soundstage, although bass-heads may want to look elsewhere for headphones that pack a bassier punch.
They're comfortable to wear too, but it's just a shame that they don't have a waterproof rating and the inline remote is so fiddly, because otherwise they could make a decent pair of running headphones.
They may be $30 more expensive than their predecessors, but the improved battery life and sound quality makes up for that; it also makes it worth upgrading if you have the originals and are due a new pair of wireless earbuds.
Read more: OnePlus Bullets Wireless 2 review
The SoundMagic E11BTs are an extremely capable pair of wireless in-ear earphones, and given their low price, it really is difficult to fault them – the audio quality is fantastic and they look very elegant.
They're comfortable to wear thanks to ergonomically designed eartips and a flat neckband that won’t irritate you while running or working out – and with an IPX4 rating, they should withstand sweaty sessions.
Read more: SoundMAGIC E11BT
The Jaybird Tarah Pro headphones are wireless sport headphones for the endurance runners, athletes and fitness nuts out there. With a neck cable to keep the earbuds together, they aren’t quite ‘true wireless’, but will be practical for those concerned about dropping and losing a costly earbud in the heat of a race or training session.
As the first in Jaybird’s new ‘Pro’ range of Bluetooth earbuds and aimed at offering higher quality audio and materials, the Tarah Pro will suit anyone not willing to sacrifice audio quality in harsher outdoor conditions or indoor workouts and who don't mind spending a bit more to get a premium product.
Read more: Jaybird Tarah Pro review
Now committed to a yearly refresh of the popular mid-range model, the Jaybird X4 manage to outdo both the previous Jaybird X2 and Jaybird X3 wireless Bluetooth earphones, with an upgraded IPX7 water-resistance rating. Whether you're sweating buckets or running doggedly through the rain, the X4 will be able to cope with it.
The Jaybird X4s also manage to keep the series' surprisingly good sound. These earphones are certainly fitness first, but that doesn't mean the other things people look for in a pair of earphones – you know, like music – have fallen by the wayside.
Jaybird's excellent app also provides easy EQ customization as well as the ability to make your own sound profile, with various ear tip sizes to boot. A great all round choice for runner who don't want to skimp on sound – or be wary of the weather.
Alternatively if you're after an even more premium experience, the Jaybird Tarah Pro earbuds offer higher-quality audio and materials for a somewhat higher $159 £139 / AU$229 price tag.
Although we're still big fans of the Jaybird X4 headphones, take a look at the Jaybird Vista true headphones further down the list – they're our top pick if you're in the market for a pair of true wireless earbuds.
Read more: Jaybird X4 review
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 more: Beats X review
The latest 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 more: Beats Powerbeats review
Wireless vs true wireless
Wireless vs true wireless: what's the difference?
Wireless earbuds have existed for a while now, basically since Bluetooth was invented. Though battery-powered and not physically connected to your phone, they have a cord connecting both buds – and sometimes a band around the neck too.
True wireless earbuds have no cord whatsoever. While wireless allows us to wear headphones a few feet away from our music players, True Wireless cuts the cord between the earbuds, giving us true freedom. If you're looking to go full wireless, we also have a round-up of the best true wireless headphones, but you'll find our top picks here, too.
Wireless headphones are traditional over-ear or on-ear headphones without the wire – the two earcups are connected by a headband. Check out the best wireless headphones for more.
Best wireless earbuds, at a glance:
True wireless earbuds
- Sony WF-1000XM3 True Wireless Earbuds
- Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2
- Cambridge Audio Melomania 1
- Lypertek Tevi
- Grado GT220
- SoundMAGIC TWS50
- Bose QuietComfort Earbuds
- Klipsch T5 True Wireless
- Apple AirPods Pro
- Jabra Elite 85t
- Beats Powerbeats Pro
- Microsoft Surface Earbuds
- Sennheiser CX 400BT
- Jaybird Vista
- B&O Beoplay E8 2.0 Wireless Earphones
- Audio-Technica ATH-CKS5TW
- Sony WF-SP800N
- NuraLoop headphones
- Optoma NuForce BE Sport4
- Bowers & Wilkins Pi3
- Sennheiser CX Sport
- OnePlus Bullets Wireless 2
- SoundMAGIC E11 BT
- Jaybird Tarah Pro
- Jaybird X4
- Beats X
- Beats Powerbeats