If you're tired of having to awkwardly wrestle with a headphone cable whenever you take your phone our of your pocket then a pair of wireless headphones might be exactly what you need.
Whereas previously they were beset with poor battery life and ever poorer sound quality, modern wireless headphones do a good job at matching the sound quality of their wired counterparts.
And with increasing numbers of headphones ditching the headphone jack, switching to wireless is looking like an increasingly future-proof move.
Headphones, no strings attached
So what makes wireless headphones so special? And how do you determine the best wireless headphones from a whole bunch of wannabes?
Easy. You try dozens of wireless headphones and stack them against one another, mono a mono. (Well, stereo a stereo in this case.)
While these headphones are great for anyone looking to cut the cord from their music players, they're especially practical when you consider the growing amount of phones launching without a headphone jack such as the iPhone 7, HTC U Ultra and Moto Z. Most of these phones are shipping with adaptors to use your existing headphones, but if you want to charge your phone at the same time then wireless headphones are the way to go.
Looking to finally ditch the cord? Here are the top 10 wireless headphones, ordered by their price-to-performance ratio:
- Check out TechRadar's exhaustive guides to the to buy today including the , the and the .
- For some more specialist pairs, take a look at our guides to the and the .
- Looking for some headphones you can take in the pool? Check out our guide to the .
1. Bose QuietComfort 35
Premium headphones that include industry-leading noise-cancellation
Acoustic design: Closed | Weight: 0.68 pounds | Cable length: 3.94 feet | Frequency response: N/A | Drivers: N/A | Driver type: N/A | Sensitivity: N/A | Impedance: N/A | Battery life: 20+ hours | Wireless range: N/A | NFC: Yes
Sitting at the top our list is the Bose QC35. Bose has finally brought its fantastic noise-cancelling technology to a pair of wireless headphones and it's done so without any of the traditional drawbacks of wireless headphones. They sound great, and their battery life is long enough for all but the longest of flights.
At $349.95 (£289.95 / AU pricing tbc) the QC35s sit firmly at the premium end of the spectrum, but if you want the best noise-cancelling headphones available and the best wireless pair of cans, you can't get any better than this.
Read the full review: Bose QuietComfort 35
2. Sennheiser Momentum Wireless
Incredible audio fidelity backed by a serious price
Acoustic design: Closed | Weight: N/A | Cable length: 4.6 feet | Frequency response: 16-22,000Hz | Drivers: N/A | Driver type: Dynamic | Sensitivity: N/A | Impedance: 28 ohms | Battery life: 25+ hours | Wireless range: 30+ feet | NFC: Yes
Although they're a much better looking, and sounding, pair of headphones, the Sennheiser Momentum Wireless (not to be confused with the smaller, cheaper, Sennheiser Momentum On-Ear Wireless) are kept off the top spot of the list by their premium price point, which puts them out of reach of all but the most committed of music lovers.
But for those that can afford them, these are a no-holds-barred wireless headphones are oozing with positive qualities. They're comfortable, hard-working set of headphones that will likely last for years.
Read the full review: Sennheiser Momentum Wireless
3. Bowers & Wilkins P7 Wireless
The British behemoth's over-ears go wireless
Acoustic design: Closed | Weight: .71 pounds | Cable length: N/A | Frequency response: 10Hz - 20KHz | Drivers: 40mm | Driver type: Dynamic | Sensitivity: 111dB/V at 1KHz | Impedance: 22 ohms | Battery life: 17 hours | Wireless range: 30+ feet | NFC: Yes
The Bowers & Wilkins P7 Wireless headphones are a great pair of Bluetooth headphones for fans of bass-heavy music genres. Their sound is both robust and weighty for all genres, but especially so when it comes to EDM and hip hop.
Besides sounding great, the physical construction of the headphones is also excellent. The signature B&W look is no less pleasing here, and we're big fans of how the cable port is hidden from view by the magnetic earcups.
The sacrifice you're making with these headphones is noise-cancellation, which they lack. They're also surprisingly bulky which, though comfortable, might be offputting if you're hoping to use them on your commute.
Read the full review: Bowers & Wilkins P7 Wireless
4. Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2
These wireless noise-cancelling headphones are a traveler’s best friend
Acoustic design: Closed | Weight: 0.64 lbs (289g) | Cable length: N/A | Frequency response: N/A | Drivers: 40mm | Driver type: Dynamic | Sensitivity: N/A | Impedance: N/A | Battery life: 24 hours | Wireless range: 100 meters (330 feet) | NFC: No
If you're a frequent traveler you're probably all too familiar with headphones that can't hold a charge and can't block out sound, let alone sound very good. Let us introduce you to the Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2, one of the few headphones on the market that can do all of the above and cost less than half as much as one of the bigger names like Beats, Bose and Sony.
If we had to boil it down to its core, the BackBeat Pro 2 offers an excellent travel headphone with incredible battery life, supreme comfort, the ability to pair two device as once and, most importantly, good sound quality for the cost.
Read the full review: Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2
5. Sony MDR-1000X
Noise-cancelling headphones that care about Hi-Res Audio
Acoustic design: Closed | Weight: 275 grams | Frequency response: 4Hz - 40kHz | Drivers: 40mm | Driver type: Dynamic | Sensitivity: 103dB | Impedance: 46 Ohms | Battery life: 20 hours | Wireless range: 30 feet | NFC: Yes
The MDR-1000X are definitely the closest competitor to Bose's QuietComfort series we've ever had the pleasure of testing. Some high-end codecs (LDAC, AAC and aptX) help the 1000X sound even better than the QC35s, but ultimately the noise canceling is a bit less effective in Sony's pair of cans.
What should drive your decision on whether to buy the MDR-1000X is your music player – if you're a Sony Xperia owner, you'd be hard-pressed to find a pair of headphones that sound as good as these with noise canceling tech built-in. Even if you're not, Sony's wares are still worth a listen – and maybe a purchase – if you aren't too put out by its $400 (£330 or AU$700) price tag.
Read the full review: Sony MDR-1000X
6. Sennheiser PXC 550
Great sound marred by fiddly controls
Acoustic design: Closed | Weight: .5 pounds | Cable length: N/A | Frequency response: 17 - 23,000 Hz | Drivers: N/A | Driver type: N/A | Sensitivity: N/A | Impedance: Active 490 Ω / Passive 46 Ω | Battery life: 30 hours | Wireless range: 30+ feet | NFC: Yes
If you're a fan of Sennheiser's sound, but want noise-cancellation in addition to wireless operation then the PXC 550 headphones might be exactly what you're looking for. They might be pricey, but these headphones sound great.
The reason we haven't put them further up the list comes down to their controls. Although controlling the headphones with a series of swipes on the outside of the earcup feels futuristic, it's not much help when you want to quickly skip through multiple tracks, or set the volume at a specific level.
Outside of these issues, these are a great pair of headphones that tick (almost) all the boxes.
Read the full review: Sennheiser PXC 550
7. AKG N60NC Wireless
Wireless noise-cancellation from the mid-range master
Acoustic design: Closed | Weight: 199.4g | Cable length: N/A | Frequency response: 10-22,000Hz | Drivers: N/A | Driver type: N/A | Sensitivity: 111dB SPL/V@1kHz | Impedance: 32 ohms | Battery life: 15 hours | Wireless range: N/A | NFC: No
The AKG N60NC Wireless sound like a pair of headphones that should be much more expensive than they are.
At their mid-range price point the headphones offer fantastic value for money, with great sound quality and a level of noise-cancellation performance that's on a level with the much more premium entries on this list.
Our biggest issue with these headphones is the fact that they're on-ear rather than over-ear, meaning that we found that they got uncomfortable over longer periods.
Regardless, the benefit of this is that this is a fantastically compact pair of headphones, and if you're willing to make the trade-off then these are great for the price.
Read the full review: AKG N60NC Wireless
8. Optoma NuForce BE6i
Wireless in-ear headphones with (almost) no compromise
Acoustic design: Closed | Weight: 18 grams | Frequency response: 20Hz - 20kHz | Drivers: 10mm | Driver type: Dynamic | Sensitivity: 95dB +/-3dB | Impedance: 20 Ohms | Battery life: 8 hours | Wireless range: 98 feet | NFC: No
Continuing the trend that the original NuForce BE6 started, the Optoma Nuforce BE6i are a minor update to an already great pair of earbuds and remain one of our favorite in-ear wireless headphones for the price.
Offering good sound, build quality and battery life in its segment if you're looking for a pair of wireless in-ear headphones that can survive a strenuous work out, the these should be on the top of your list of headphones to try.
Read the full review: Optoma NuForce BE6i
9. Jaybird X3
Wireless in-ears perfect for everyday use and workouts alike
Acoustic design: Closed | Weight: 17.9 grams | Frequency response: 20Hz - 20kHz | Drivers: 6 mm | Driver type: Dynamic | Sensitivity: 96dB +/-3dB | Impedance: 16 Ohms | Battery life: 8 hours | Wireless range: N/A | NFC: N/A
The Jaybird X2 headphones were already great, and the X3s improve upon this format in many ways. They're smaller, have a longer battery life, and support a new app that allows you to tailor their sound to be exactly the way you want.
They're also sweat resistant, meaning that you don't need to worry about using them in the gym.
There are a couple of niggles that prevent them from being able to move slightly higher up the list. Their use of a proprietary charging dock is annoying when you want to quickly charge them away from home, and in this day and age their wireless connectivity should be that little bit better.
Niggles aside, these are a great pair of budget headphones that won't leave you disappointed.
Read the full review: Jaybird X3
10. Beats X
Good-sounding earbuds that can charge in five minutes
Acoustic design: N/A | Weight: N/A | Cable length: N/A | Frequency response: N/A | Drivers: N/A | Driver type: N/A | Sensitivity: N/A | Impedance: N/A | Battery life: 8 hours | Wireless range: N/A | NFC: No
The Beats X is a bold new product for what has quickly become a traditional headphone maker. Instead of sticking to bass-heavy workout earbuds or wildly expensive over-ears, the company has crafted a new pair of musically inclined in-ears for anyone already sick of losing their brand-new Apple AirPods.
It has a few problems of its own – including poor noise isolation and a lack of fidelity – but if you’re looking for a no-fuss pair of earbuds that charge in 5 minutes and don’t mind dropping some cash on them, the Beats X are for you.
The W1 chip also makes pairing and connecting these headphones a breeze.
Read the full review: Beats X
We're constantly reviewing new wireless headphones, but get in touch if there is a set that you'd like us to take a look at.