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Best true wireless earbuds in South Africa for 2021

best true wireless earbuds
(Image credit: Steve May)

The best true wireless earbuds are now advanced enough to sound just as good as a pair of wired earbuds. This means there's never been a better time to cut the cord. We're here to help you choose the best true wireless buds to match your needs, and your budget.

True wireless means there aren't any cables between two earbuds at all. There's no wire or neckband to contend with. Nothing to get caught on your zipper, tangled in your pocket and nothing to whack around your neck in the middle of a run, and also nothing to keep your earbuds together either. There are pros and cons to true wireless earbuds. 

If you haven't noticed, headphone cables are out of fashion. True wireless audio now sounds better than ever. That's because compression formats for Bluetooth 5 are more reliable, and anyway, many flagship smartphones are shipping without headphone jacks. 

The best true wireless earbuds of 2020 come with high-spec tech, like active noise cancellation and built-in artificial intelligence for voice control – and in the case of the  recently launched Google Pixel Buds, real-time language translation.

The original Apple AirPods were one of the first mainstream pair of true wireless earbuds. However, there are far better options out there in terms of audio quality, battery life, design, and crucially, price. These include the new AirPods Pro, which have made it onto this list, and could soon include the rumoured AirPods Pro Lite, AirPods 3, and the Powerbeats Pro 2. So, before you buy a pair of old-school 'Pods, check out our list of the best AirPod-alternatives you can buy in 2020. 

Our top true wireless earbuds

  1. Sony WF-1000XM3 True Wireless Earbuds
  2. Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2
  3. Klipsch T5 True Wireless
  4. Jabra Elite 65t
  5. Apple AirPods Pro
  6. Samsung Galaxy Buds+
  7. Beats Powerbeats Pro
  8. B&O Beoplay E8 Wireless Earphones
  9. Audio-Technica CKS5TW
  10. 1More Stylish E1026BT True Wireless  

Sony WF-1000XM3

(Image credit: Sony)

1. Sony WF-1000XM3 True Wireless Earbuds

Noise-cancelling true wireless headphones that made our dreams come true

Specifications
Acoustic design: Closed
Weight: 7g
Frequency response: 20-20,000Hz
Drivers: 6mm
Driver type: Dome Type
Sensitivity: N/A
Impedance: N/A
Battery life (on-board): 6 hours
Battery life (charging case): 18 hours
Wireless range: 30ft
NFC: Yes
Reasons to buy
+Efficient noise-cancellation+Inconspicuous looks+Great fun to listen too
Reasons to avoid
-Not suitable for sports

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.]

sennheiser momentum true wireless 2

(Image credit: Sennheiser)

2. Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2

Great-sounding and noise-cancelling

Specifications
Acoustic design: Closed
Weight: 6g
Frequency response: 5 - 21,000Hz
Drivers: 7mm
Driver type: Dynamic
Sensitivity: N/A
Impedance: N/A
Battery life (on-board): 7 hours
Battery life (charging case): 28 hours
Wireless range: 30ft
NFC: Yes
Reasons to buy
+Incredible sound+Sleek design+Support for Hi-Res Audio
Reasons to avoid
-More expensive than rivals

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 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

klipsch t5

(Image credit: Klipsch)

3. Klipsch T5 True Wireless

Audiophiles will love the Klipsch T5’s sound and build quality

Specifications
Acoustic design: Closed
Weight: N/A
Frequency response: 20-20,000Hz
Drivers: N/A
Driver type: N/A
Sensitivity: N/A
Impedance: N/A
Battery life (on-board): 8 hours
Battery life (charging case): 24 hours
Wireless range: N/A
NFC: No
Reasons to buy
+Incredible build quality+Warm, detailed sound+Excellent battery life
Reasons to avoid
-Deep fit may be uncomfortable

They're not cheap, but the T5 hold their own against the very best true wireless headphones – in fact, we'd argue that they're among the best models on the market right now. That's because they offer stellar sound, high build quality, long-lasting battery life, and one of the coolest cases we've ever seen.

Featuring the signature Klipsch sound, these buds sound warm, clear, and never harsh. Acoustic music is lush and detailed, with that clarity extending 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 providing an additional 24 hours – these are true wireless earbuds that can last you an entire flight from New York to San Francisco (or wherever your next trip takes you). 

Read more: Klipsch T5 True Wireless review 

jabra elite 75t

(Image credit: Jabra)

4. Jabra Elite 75t

A worthy successor to the Elite 65t

Specifications
Acoustic design: Closed
Weight: 5.5g
Frequency response: 20-20,000 Hz
Drivers: 6mm
Driver type: N/A
Sensitivity: N/A
Impedance: N/A
Battery life (on-board): 7.5 hours
Battery life (charging case): 20 hours
Wireless range: 33ft
NFC: No
Reasons to buy
+7 hours on a single charge+Compact earbuds and case+App lets you customize EQ
Reasons to avoid
-Overwhelming, muddy bass

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 takes an immense jump, catching up to the competition, and the customisation features we enjoyed in the 65t remain. 

While they don't have the best sound quality and lack 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

cheap AirPods Pro

(Image credit: Apple)

5. Apple AirPods Pro

The perfect earbuds... for Apple fans

Specifications
Acoustic design: Closed
Weight: 5.4g
Frequency response: 20-20,000Hz
Drivers: N/A
Driver type: Dynamic
Sensitivity: N/A
Impedance: N/A
Battery life (on-board): Up to 5 hours
Battery life (charging case): 24 hours
Wireless range: N/A
NFC: Yes
Reasons to buy
+Good noise cancellation+Better fit than AirPods (2019)
Reasons to avoid
-More expensive than better rivals-USB-C charging cable in box

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 rumoured 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

Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus in black

Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus (Image credit: Samsung)

6. Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus

Third time is the trick

Specifications
Acoustic design: Closed
Weight: N/A
Frequency response: N/A
Drivers: 6mm
Driver type: Dome Type
Sensitivity: N/A
Impedance: N/A
Battery life (on-board): 11 hours
Battery life (charging case): 22 hours
Wireless range: N/A
NFC: Yes
Reasons to buy
+Dual-driver design+11 hour built-in battery life+iOS compatible
Reasons to avoid
-Limited audio codec support-Only IPX2 splash resistant-No noise cancellation

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 have 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. It's a dual driver design, which 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

beats powerbeats pro

(Image credit: Beats)

7. Beats PowerBeats Pro

Impressive-fitting workout ‘buds from Beats

Specifications
Acoustic design: Closed
Weight: N/A
Frequency response: 20-20,000Hz
Drivers: N/A
Driver type: N/A
Sensitivity: N/A
Impedance: N/A
Battery life (on-board): 9 hours
Battery life (charging case): 16 hours
Wireless range: N/A
NFC: No
Reasons to buy
+Easy pairing with iOS+Immaculate fit
Reasons to avoid
-Case is fairly bulky-Limited noise isolation

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 rumoured follow-up to these Beats true wireless earbuds.]

Read more: Beats PowerBeats Pro review

bang & olufsen Beoplay E8 Wireless Earphones

(Image credit: Bang & Olufsen)

8. B&O Beoplay E8 2.0 Wireless Earphones

Pricey wireless earbuds that sound absolutely wonderful

Specifications
Acoustic design: Closed
Weight: 13g (combined)
Frequency response: 20-20,000Hz
Drivers: 5.7mm
Driver type: Electro-dynamic
Sensitivity: N/A
Impedance: N/A
Battery life (on-board): 4 hours
Battery life (charging case): 8 hours
Wireless range: 100ft
NFC: Yes
Reasons to buy
+Good audio quality +Exceptional design +Easy to setup 
Reasons to avoid
-Can feel a bit snug 

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.

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

Audio-Technica ATH-CKS5TW

(Image credit: Audio-Technica)

9. Audio-Technica ATH-CKS5TW

Big on bass, big on battery life

Specifications
Acoustic design: closed
Weight: 8g
Frequency response: 5Hz - 40kHz
Drivers: 10mm
Driver type: Dynamic
Sensitivity: 110 dB
Impedance: 16 ohms
Battery life: 45 hours (with case)
wireless range: N/A
NFC: N/A
Reasons to buy
+Sound great+Long battery life
Reasons to avoid
-Weighty-Fiddly case

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

(Image credit: Flipkart)

10. 1More Stylish E1026BT True Wireless

The best budget true wireless buds worth buying

Specifications
Acoustic design: Closed
Weight: 53g
Frequency response: N/A
Drivers: N/A
Driver type: Dome Type
Sensitivity: N/A
Impedance: 16 O
Battery life (on-board): 6.5 hours
Battery life (charging case): 24 hours
Wireless range: 10m
NFC: Yes
Reasons to buy
+Great sound+Light and compact+Low price
Reasons to avoid
-Feels cheap-Tricky fit

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 of 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 traffic, or 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  

All about the AirPods

What about the Apple AirPods?

apple airpods

(Image credit: Apple)

Apple AirPods (2019)

The ones to beat

Specifications
Acoustic design: Open-back
Weight: 4g (38g with case)
Driver type: Dynamic **Battery life (on-board):** 5 hours
Battery life (charging case): 20 hours
Wireless range: 10m
NFC: No
Reasons to buy
+Faster pairing+Wireless charging
Reasons to avoid
-Wireless charging case costs extra-Audio hasn't improved

2019 was a big year for the Apple AirPods; in March last year, the true wireless earbuds were given an upgrade to give us the new AirPods, and most recently, Apple announced the Apple AirPods Pro

The second generation Apple AirPods, the AirPods (2019), aren't a huge improvement on their predecessors, but they still sport some cool features, that may make them worth buying if you're an iPhone user in particular. 

They still feature the iconic design of the original AirPods (a good or bad thing depending on your point of view), and sound quality hasn't changed at all – it's lively, but not on par with the best true wireless earbuds in this guide. The bulk of the upgrade comes from the new H1 headphone chip, which improves connectivity and battery life, and allows for a new ‘Hey Siri’ voice activation feature.

The AirPods (2019) also come with an optional wireless charging case means you can use a Qi-compatible charging mat to power the case, rather than sticking a cable into the Lightning charging port at the bottom of the case. 

Like their predecessors, they are super easy to pair, but they are very much optimised for using with iPhones. The best true wireless earbuds give you more flexibility when it comes to your device of choice, and can offer superior sound quality – as well as sleeker designs. 

There’s also no getting away from the fact that these are an expensive pair of headphones, and for that kind of money we think you can find better products elsewhere – especially if you're looking to pair with anything other than an iPhone. 

Read more Apple AirPods (2019) review

[Update: We're expecting a new generation of Apple's iconic buds; the AirPods 3 are rumored to launch in 2020, alongside the AirPods Pro Lite and the over-ear AirPods Studio.]

True wireless explained

True wireless vs wireless: what's the difference?

Wireless headphones are traditional over-ear or on-ear headphones without the wire – the two earcups are connected by a headband. To learn more, head to our round up of the best wireless headphones.

Wireless earbuds – the focus of this guide – 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. Check out the best wireless earbuds for more.

True wireless earbuds - the focus of this guide – 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. 

Best true wireless earbuds at a glance

  1. Sony WF-1000XM3 True Wireless Earbuds
  2. Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2
  3. Klipsch T5 True Wireless
  4. Jabra Elite 65t
  5. Apple AirPods Pro
  6. Samsung Galaxy Buds+
  7. Beats Powerbeats Pro
  8. B&O Beoplay E8 Wireless Earphones
  9. Audio-Technica CKS5TW
  10. 1More Stylish E1026BT True Wireless  

True wireless earbud deals