Untangling your favorite earbuds can be a nuisance. Plus, as more and more phones ditch the headphone jack, an increasing number of us want to ditch the dongle and jump into the world of wireless headphones.
When it comes to true wireless earbuds (i.e., those with no cables at all), the marketplace has its fair share of poorly functioning products. Whether it’s short battery life, poor sound, or shoddy connection, there are many true wireless buds that don’t make the grade, and tethered Bluetooth headphones give you much more bang for your buck. But if you’re ready to leave the wires — all the wires — behind for a set of completely wireless earbuds, these are the best true wireless earbuds available right now.
At a glance
Samsung Galaxy Buds
The best true wireless earbuds
Why you should buy them: Extreme comfort, long battery life, sweatproof performance.
Who they’re for: People who want affordable, comfortable, and great-sounding wireless earbuds.
Why we picked the Samsung Galaxy Buds:
With a compact, ergonomic fit, wireless charging case, and six hours of listening time on the go, Samsung’s Galaxy Buds offer listeners the cutting edge in terms of both tech and design.
The headphones are designed for go-anywhere, do-anything performance, with built-in earfins and IPX2 sweatproofing that allow them to be a companion during rainy walks and sweaty workouts alike.
App-based customizations allow you to 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 best part? The Galaxy Buds cost significantly less than models from Apple and Jabra, making them an absolute no-brainer when it comes to choosing the best true wireless headphones you can buy.
Our full Samsung Galaxy Buds review
The best for iOS
Why you should buy them: They’re reliable, ultra-functional, and they sound good enough to be a smart upgrade from Apple’s wired EarPods.
Who they’re for: Apple devotees, and those who like to wander from their phone.
Why we chose the Apple AirPods:
Apple’s iconic white earbuds have long been the bane of Apple-wielding audiophiles. The one-size-fits-some tubes are often tough to get correctly seated in your ears, and the sound quality is middling at best. But unlike Google’s tethered Pixel Buds, with the AirPods, Apple has delivered a solid upgrade worthy of consideration.
While the sound is still fairly muddy, the AirPods boast better audio chops than their wired counterparts, and they also pack in several useful features that work consistently (a rarity in the true wireless universe). Fans of Apple will appreciate Siri connectivity, intuitive touch controls, and accelerometers that recognize when the buds are in or out, and pause and play automatically. They offer a solid 5 hours of music streaming per charge (still among the best in their class over a year after their release), and even boast an extended range of around 100 feet without obstructions.
The AirPods also come with a well-engineered charging case for 24 hours of total playback time on the go, and they work well for making or receiving phone calls (the ‘buds work independently, so you can take calls while letting one bud charge). If you don’t mind the golf-tee look — and if you can get them to fit — Apple’s AirPods are worth a good look.
Our full Apple AirPods review
The best AirPod Alternative
Why you should buy them: The same looks and battery life as AirPods, but with added sweatproofing.
Who they’re for: People who want the same look as AirPods, but better performance.
Why we chose the RHA TrueConnect:
If you’re set on the golf tee-like design offered by Apple’s AirPods, but find yourself in need of more life-proof performance (and better isolation from the outside world), RHA’s TrueConnect are the best AirPod alternative you’ll find.
With a sleek matte black finish, included foam and silicone eartips, and an IPX5 waterproof rating, the TrueConnect offer more understated looks, better passive noise isolation, and workout performance than Apple’s model, making them the perfect addition to your portable listening arsenal.
Battery life is an industry-standard five hours, with the included charging case offering 20 hours of reserve juice on the go. They also have a very useful quick charging feature, which allows you to use the case’s USB-C port to charge the headphones to 50 percent battery life in just fifteen minutes.
Put simply, there are very few true wireless headphones that perform nearly as well as the RHA TrueConnect, and if you’re after AirPod-like looks but better overall performance, these are just the ticket.
Our full RHA TrueConnect review
Jabra Elite Active 65t
The best for athletes
Why you should buy them: Solid sound, long battery life, and sweatproof performance.
Who they’re for: Listeners who want comfortable wireless autonomy, great usability, and good sound.
Why we picked the Jabra Elite Active 65t:
Jabra’s Elite 65t Active look like tiny versions of the Bluetooth headsets that once helped define the brand, but don’t be fooled by the design throwback: They’re legit. With five hours of battery life, an IP56 waterproof rating, and a myriad of useful app-based features, the 65t are the best workout headphones you can buy.
Three sets of silicone tips and a very ergonomic design all but guarantee a perfect seal in your ears, serving up a comfortable fit with excellent passive noise isolation. Sound comes through clear and detailed, with punchy bass and a surprisingly agile treble register.
Five hours of battery life per charge puts them among the best on the market, and a charging case adds two extra charges on the go. In addition, the company’s Sound+ app allows you to adjust equalization and pick whether or not you want to use your phone’s built-in smart assistant (Siri on iOS, Google Assistant on Android) or Amazon Alexa. Like Apple’s AirPods, the headphones automatically play and pause music when you remove them from your ears, but go even further, piping in adjustable ambient sound — great for hearing announcements on the train or that angry driver behind you while biking.
Speaking of biking — or of sweating in general — the IP56 rating means that you won’t have to worry about damaging your buds with sweat or moderate amounts of dust. Simply rinse them off after a particularly hard workout, and you’re good to go.
A great feature set, comfortable fit, and good sound signature are all great assets, but the main reason to buy the Jabra Elite Active 65t is that they just work. That’s still fairly rare in this segment, and when combined with the tech, it makes these among the best true wireless headphones available right now.
Our full Jabra Elite Active 65t review
Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless
The best sound
Why you should buy them: You’re looking for incredible sound and modern features, and you’re willing to pay for them.
Who they’re for: Those who want that great Sennheiser sound in a fully wireless package.
Why we chose the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless:
Sennheiser certainly took its time getting into the true wireless market, but if you’ve got a hefty spending budget, you’ll find it was well worth the wait. The Momentum True Wireless offers impressive features like transparency mode to pipe in the sound around you, IPX4 splash-proofing (though we wish they were fully waterproof at this price), and most importantly, audio performance that outdoes everything we’ve heard in the segment.
Sennheiser accomplishes this with a mix of great sonic engineering and crystal clear wireless transmission, including Bluetooth 5.0 and aptX for high-quality sound transference. The one issue we have with the Momentum (apart from the price) is the battery life of just four hours per charge, which falls below most of our favorites on this list, and the charging case only tacks on an extra eight hours — far below what you’ll get from Apple’s AirPods and some other top choices.
That said, if you’re after a set of true wireless headphones that’s a step above the rest in terms of brilliant, detailed sound, these are currently the headphones to beat.
The best for everyday audio enhancement
Why you should buy them: You’re looking to enhance or modify the sounds of the world around you, and jam out while you do it.
Who they’re for: Those who are hard of hearing, or who have other specific live-audio needs.
Why we chose the Nuheara IQbuds:
Nuheara’s IQbuds will play your favorite tunes, of course, but their primary purpose is to help those who are hard of hearing control ambient sound and boost speech, augmenting their sonic environment.
The Nuheara do an excellent job of separating words from background noise, turning difficult hearing situations into easy listening environments — all with the help of an extremely in-depth (but surprisingly intuitive) app. And unlike some competitors in the “wearable” genre, they also boast decent battery life, coming in at around 3.5 hours of music playback per charge with augmentation engaged.
The IQbuds are also some of the most comfortable true wireless earbuds we have tested thus far, making them perfect for longer listening endeavors in the real world. Audio performance is relatively impressive, too, and best of all, they work very efficiently, offering listeners a stable connection.
Our full Nuheara IQbuds review