Bluetooth audio has come a long way in recent years, and the popularity of wireless headphones and true wireless earbuds has grown along with it. Improvements to audio quality, affordability, connection stability and design have meant that the Bluetooth earbuds has become all-but ubiquitous.
Regardless of whether you're interested in the increased range of motion you can achieve by cutting the cable or are turning to Bluetooth audio because your phone has ditched its 3.5mm audio jack, you're in luck! All the best consumer brands – Sony, Apple, Beats and more – are lending their weight to the cause so we can keep listening to top-notch audio, cable-free.
While the neckband-style wireless earphones have mostly had their time in the sun by this point, with the likes of the Sony WF-1000X series and Apple AirPods championing the surge in popularity that true wireless buds have seen (i.e. those without any cables whatsoever).
It can be tricky to choose a pair of wireless earbuds now that there's so much variety out there, but thankfully TechRadar has been painstakingly reviewing these earbuds over the years and has a solid idea of what's worth the dosh.
On this page, we'll take you through the best wireless, Bluetooth earphones on the market right now – both neckband and true wireless. We've split them into categories, depending on whether you're chasing battery life, noise-cancelling, or of course audio quality.
The best-sounding wireless earbuds
Fundamentally, headphones are designed to deliver sound to your ears, so it stands to reason you'll want the audio quality of your new buds to be top-notch. While they don't necessarily come cheap, the best-sounding wireless earbuds offer premium sound and (more often than not) a host of other included comforts and extras like noise-cancelling.
Sony has the monopoly with the active noise-cancelling wireless earbuds market and we're okay with that when looking at the Sony WF-1000XM4. They sound fantastic with full-bodied audio at every turn. As well as that, they're comfy to wear and they offer great call quality too. Noise cancellation could be a little better but when they sound this good, we'll forgive it.
Read more: Sony WF-1000XM4 review
NuraTrue earbuds can be tuned to your ears exactly with the accompanying app even analysing how well the buds fit into your ears. That impressive level of personalisation means outstanding audio performance that reveals every detail in what you listen to. On top of that is decent noise cancellation, IPX4 water resistance, plus fast charging and support for hi-res audio too.
Read more: NuraTrue review
The NuraLoop Headphones offer adaptive audio technology which automatically determines a listening profile for the user, giving them well-balanced and delightful sounds. They keep on giving too with active noise-cancelling, a social mode for when you need to listen, IPX3 rating for sweat proofing, and great battery life too. Rugged and capable of everything you might want to do, they're great all-rounders.
Read more: NuraLoop Headphones review
The Bang & Olufsen Beoplay E8 2.0 sound as good as they are beautiful with a carry case that looks like it's made for transporting jewelry. Battery life is a little poor but music will sound punchy when it needs to and remain full of detail, too. That's further helped by the B&O app which means you have plenty of control over how things sound.
Read more: Bang & Olufsen E8 2.0 review
The Sennheiser CX True Wireless offer a solidly reliable nine hours of battery life, which is a great start. At this price, they sound fantastic too with a wide soundstage, clear mids, detailed trebles, and powerful bass. Issues only really arise if you have smaller ears as they can be quite uncomfortable, but most users won't notice this.
Read more: Sennheiser CX True Wireless review
The Sony WF-XB700 show it's possible to buy Sony earbuds on a lower budget. They sound great too, offering a punchy, bass-heavy sound amongst a comfortable fit that works for all ears. An IPX4 rating, plus a solid 18-hour battery life, is helpful too. Just look out for a slightly unusual design that takes a little getting used to.
Read more: Sony WF-XB700 review
The Apple AirPods (3rd generation) represent a big step up from their predecessors in terms of audio performance, connectivity, and design.
Features like Spatial Audio support and Adaptive EQ set these buds apart from the competition, while a new, more subtle design brings force capacitive sensors to the true wireless earbuds.
Read more: Apple AirPods (3rd generation) review
Noise-cancelling wireless earbuds
The best noise-cancelling wireless earbuds create a barrier that blocks out unwanted sounds, such as people talking on the train or traffic noises nearby.
If you regularly commute or live somewhere noisy they're a great way of fending off the world so you can focus on music or podcasts instead. While wireless earbuds aren't generally as effective as noise-cancelling headphones, the technology has come a long way so you can still enjoy hiding from the world with these.
The Bose QuietComfort Earbuds are perfect if you want to block out the world, offering the best in-class ANC you can imagine. With a rich and clear sound, you can lose yourself to the exceptional sound quality and rediscover your favorite music. Just look out for a bulky charging case that doesn't offer the best battery life. Other than that, these are brilliant buds, with a really comfortable fit too.
Read more: Bose QuietComfort Earbuds review
The Apple AirPods Pro are the best option for Apple owners thanks to being so quick to set up. They also offer reliable noise cancellation features that work well to hide the world from you when needed. Adaptive EQ means that music sounds powerful and detailed as and when needed, tweaking to accommodate your ear shape. The Apple AirPods Pro are more expensive than their rivals but they have that 'just works' factor that makes them so attractive.
Read more: Apple AirPods Pro review
Fantastic all-rounders that also offer reliable noise cancellation, the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2 do a good job of blocking out the bulk of environmental noises. A wide soundstage and plenty of crisp detail mean they sound exceptional too, but bear in mind that smaller ears may find the fit a tad uncomfortable. Support for aptX is always welcome allowing you to stream hi-res audio easily.
Read more: Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2 review
The Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro don't offer the same level of noise cancellation as more expensive models, but they're competitively priced and have useful features such as IPX7 waterproofing and simple-to-use touch controls. A little awkward in your ears, the sound quality can be a tad flat but they block out environmental noise fairly well nonetheless.
Read more: Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro review
Remarkably well priced for Sony earbuds, the Sony WF-SP800N work well enough for noise cancellation, with water resistance and sweatproofing making them ideal for the gym. They can be a bit bass-heavy to listen to but if you're on a budget, these will do the job while still providing you with some respectable enough noise cancellation.
Read more: Sony WF-SP800N review
The Sony WF-100XM3 sound fantastic and offer class-leading noise-cancellation providing you don't go near a flight. Yup, they're no good on planes, but that's a small concession to make. Elsewhere, they sound fantastic while still leading the pack with useful features too, including app support and a Quick Attention mode for when you do need to listen out for something. Shame about the lack of aptX HD support.
Read more: Sony WF-1000XM3 review
Longest battery life
If you often forget to recharge your devices, the longest battery life is going to be important to you. Typically, wireless earbuds offer two different battery lives. There's how long one charge for the earbuds last and then there's how much charge you can get from the charging cases.
The latter is much longer as you can recharge the earbuds multiple times from the charging case but, of course, you can't use them during this time. We've looked at both types of battery life to eke out some extra hours for you.
A little bulky at times, the Jabra Elite 85t offer clear and natural-sound with deep and booming bass if that's your sort of thing. With a balanced soundstage, it should suit most needs. There's only five hours of charge with ANC but that increases to over seven without and the charging case extends it to 25 hours which is pretty decent. A 15-minute quick charge function helps to cement the Jabra Elite 85t as a good pick.
Read more: Jabra Elite 85t review
The Audio-Technica ATH-CKS5TW are some of the oldest earbuds here but with a massive 15 hours of charge and an extra 30 hours from the charging case, you'll be delighted by the battery life. They sound good too with bass being the focus and highly welcome. The fit can be a bit awkward at times and minimal IPX2 waterproofing isn't ideal but that battery life is amazing.
Read more: Audio-Technica ATH-CKS5TW review
15 hours of charge immediately endears you towards the Beats Powerbeats and you'll be delighted to not need to recharge so often. Their curved stem design takes a bit of getting used to in order to get the right fit for you but they're certainly secure once you get there. Expect a respectable sound and performance elsewhere.
Read more: Beats Powerbeats review
Wireless earbuds for working out
When looking for wireless earbuds for working out, you need to make sure they fit well so there's no chance of them slipping out while you're lifting or running. In some cases, ear fins can help out here but they're not essential if you find the right snug fit.
Alongside that, a high IPX rating is also useful meaning you can worry less about sweat, rain, and even dipping your head in the pool in some cases. You want a robust pair of wireless earbuds that can keep up with your active lifestyle.
A snug fit that means you won't have to worry about these earbuds falling out while you work out, the Powerbeats Pro are immediately appealing. They sound genuinely fun too, no matter what you're listening to which should help enliven you. The only real downside here is they're only IPX4 rated and they're not brilliant at isolating noise.
Read more: Beats Powerbeats Pro review
The Sennheiser CX Sport are fairly bass heavy but that works for the gym or when hitting the track. Using a neckbud-style design means you won't have to worry about losing an earbud and they feel suitably snug in your ears. Being so bright, they're good in dim conditions too and their splash proof rating is fine for sweaty days but not so much the shower. A battery life of six hours isn't great, but it's not terrible either.
Read more: Sennheiser CX Sport review
The Beats Studio Buds lacks Apple's all-important H1 wireless chip but it does provide great sound quality despite that. Comfortable to wear, they feel suitably snug in your ears meaning you won't have to worry about them falling out. Taking calls with them is fairly poor but for pure workouts, you can't go wrong here.
Read more: Beats Studio Buds review
The Bose SoundSport Wireless offer a somewhat loose fit for some ears despite their wing tips, but they're built to survive a few knocks which is useful. Their ambient noise isolation is a little ropey meaning these are best to use indoors rather than taking in nature, but we love how they sound and appreciate the balance going on.
The Jaybird Tarah Pro are robustly designed with endurance runners in mind that don't want to deal with any hassle. They're not quite true wireless earbuds due to their rope cabling but that's what keeps them so snug and secure. An IPX7 rating means you won't have to worry about rain or snow, or even a brief swim. They sound good too and reassuringly natural so there are no compromises made here.
Read more: Jaybird Tarah Pro review
Cheap wireless earbuds
Cheap wireless earbuds don't have to be poor quality. We've found a selection of the best cheap wireless earbuds that still sound pretty good given their low price tag – although you shouldn't expect them to compete with those that cost hundreds.
If you only plan on occasionally using wireless earbuds, it makes sense to stick with cheap ones rather than go all-in. However, if you're looking for an investment that will last you a long time, you'll need to increase your budget.
The Lypertek SoundFree S20 offer quite a lot for the money, sounding fairly strong and bass-heavy. Even better, they have an impressive battery life, thanks to a charging case that offers an extra 40 hours on top of the standard eight hours from the earbuds. There's no active noise cancellation, but there is an ambient sound mode that lets you hear your surroundings. Ultimately, it's a worthy sacrifice at this price.
Read more: Lypertek SoundFree S20 review
Another pair of cheap wireless earbuds that keep the features flowing if not the high-end music quality, the EarFun Air are still worth your time. With Bluetooth 5 support, they achieve up to 35 hours of playtime with the charging case, and quick charging is very much the order of the day here. Sound could be a little sharper but other than that, these are appealingly budget-friendly.
The EarFun Air Pro can have a slightly awkward fit depending on your ears, but stick with them. By doing so, you get to enjoy active noise cancellation on a tight budget and the sound itself is pretty good too. 32 hours of battery life helps out here with a single charge offering a respectable nine hours of listening time. That only dips to seven with ANC switched on, which is pretty good going.
Read more: EarFun Air Pro review
How to choose the best wireless earbuds
With so many wireless earbuds to pick from, how do you know which are right for you?
Obviously, price is a huge factor. You can get a good pair of wireless earbuds for under AU$150. but often you do get what you pay for in terms of connectivity, build and noise cancellation.
Next up is form. Do you intend to workout with your earbuds? In which case you'll need a design that'll stay put, like the Beats Powerbeats. Or maybe small and minimal is what you're after, so opt for a pair of discrete true wireless buds, like the Jabra Elite 85t.
But the biggest consideration is whether you should go wireless, which means there isn't a cable from your phone to your buds. Or true wireless, which is totally wire-free. Let's take a look at the differences, pros and cons of these types of buds.
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.