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The best true wireless earbuds: these are the top AirPods-alternatives today

best true wireless earbuds
(Image credit: Steve May)

The best true wireless earbuds available to buy right now are packed full of the most advanced audio tech, which means they’re just as good as a pair of wired earbuds – some could possibly even rival the best over-ear headphones (and that’s really saying something).

Until recently, true wireless earbuds were a risky bet, but there's never been a better time to cut the cord. We’ve selected the best pairs of true wireless buds to help you choose the right pair for your needs and your budget. 

As a quick refresher, true wireless earbuds have no cable at all to connect to your phone or any other device – and, unlike wireless earbuds, there’s no cable to connect each bud to the other either. This makes true wireless buds extremely flexible and convenient – it also means you need to be careful you don’t lose one. 

The best true wireless earbuds of 2020 are high-end. They come with some impressive features built-in, like active noise cancellation and artificial intelligence for voice control – and, in the case of the recently-launched Google Pixel Buds, there’s real-time language translation too. 

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. 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 2020. 

What about Amazon Prime Day and Black Friday?
Black Friday and Cyber Monday are always great times to pick up true wireless earbuds at a discount – and this year is set to be no exception, especially as models like the AirPods Pro and the Sony WF-1000XM3 are a little older (and will hopefully soon be replaced by newer versions). And don't forget – we think Amazon Prime Day 2020 could be coming up in mid-October, giving you yet another chance to bag a deal. 

Whether you're waiting for Black Friday on November 27 or hoping to bag a bargain before then, we think AirPods deals are going to be huge this year. Check out the best Black Friday AirPods deals for the lowdown on what we're expecting and how to find the best discounts. 

Our top true wireless earbuds

Sony WF-1000XM3

(Image credit: Sony)

1. Sony WF-1000XM3 True Wireless Earbuds

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

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

Efficient noise-cancellation
Inconspicuous looks
Great fun to listen too
Not suitable for sports

The Sony WF-1000XM3 are the best true wireless earbuds you can buy in 2020, hands down.

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 its a worthy trade off for that sleeker form. 

Sony has really knocked the ball out of the park with the WF-1000XM3, with fist-pumping musicality and a sleek design.

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.

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

sennheiser momentum true wireless 2

(Image credit: Sennheiser)

2. Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2

Great-sounding and noise-cancelling

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

Incredible sound
Sleek design
Support for Hi-Res Audio
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 when it comes to true wireless earbuds.

We did find that those with smaller ears sometimes find them a little uncomfortable, however, and their high price just stops them from taking the top spot of this round up. 

Otherwise? Sennheiser has pretty much knocked it out of the park with these earbuds, offering great noise cancellation alongside smart looks and stunning sound. 

Read more: Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2 review

cambridge audio melomania 1

(Image credit: Cambridge Audio)

3. Cambridge Audio Melomania 1

Mind-blowing sound without the wires

Acoustic design: Closed | Weight: 9.2g | Frequency response: 20-20,000Hz | Drivers: 5.8mm | Driver type: Dome Type | Sensitivity: 9.8dB | Impedance: N/A | Battery life (on-board): 9 hours | Battery life (charging case): 36 hours | Wireless range: N/A | NFC: Yes

Outstanding audio quality
Good value for money
Comfortable design
Control buttons can be annoying to use

Cambridge Audio is known for its high-end audio equipment, but until last year, hadn’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 true wireless listening. 

For a pair of true wireless earbuds, the sound quality offered by the Cambridge Audio Melomania 1s is sensational. In fact, it rivals that of some of the best over-ear headphones.

They may not have the noise cancellation technology offered by the Sony WF-1000XM3 Wireless Earbuds, but they are $100 / £100 cheaper – and they have a superior battery life.

They certainly outperform the Apple AirPods (2019), 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, making them the best true wireless earbuds for audiophiles.

Read more: Cambridge Audio Melomania 1 review

lypertek tevi

(Image credit: Lypertek)

4. Lypertek Tevi

Incredible, affordable buds

Acoustic design: Closed | Weight: N/A | Frequency response: 20-20,000Hz | Drivers: 6mm | Driver type: Graphene | Sensitivity: N/A | Impedance: N/A | Battery life (on-board): 10 hours | Battery life (charging case): 70 hours | Wireless range: N/A | NFC: No

Incredible value
Neutral audiophile-like sound
Great battery life
Design is a bit plain

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 are among the best true wireless earbuds we’ve tried, especially given their low price tag ($130 / £99 / AU$185).

With USB-C charging, a well-balanced sound, lengthy battery life, and waterproofing, they tick every box you could ask for, from what are basically a pair of budget buds. 

The Lypertek Tevi, surprisingly, might just blow you away, punching well above their weight and rivaling buds from some of the biggest audio brands on the planet. 

Consider us pleasantly surprised.

Read more: Lypertek Tevi true wireless earbuds review

[Update: Lypertek has just announced its latest true wireless earbuds. While they're not as highly-specced as their slightly pricier siblings, the new Lypertek Levi don't skimp on things like battery life, design, and connectivity – of course, we'll need to test them for ourselves before we can say for sure, but they look pretty promising, and could be the best value true wireless earbuds of 2020.] 

soundmagic tws50

(Image credit: SoundMAGIC)

5. SoundMAGIC TWS50

Fantastic sound, fantastic price

Acoustic design: Closed | Weight: 4g | Frequency response: 20-20,000Hz | Drivers: 6mm | Driver type: Dynamic, neodymium | Sensitivity: 107 dB | Impedance: 20 ohms | Battery life (on-board): 7 hours | Battery life (charging case): 23 hours | Wireless range: 10m / 33ft | NFC: No

Light, compact, comfortable design
Open, detailed sound
Decent battery life
Slightly inhibited dynamics

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. 

Read more: SoundMAGIC TWS50 true wireless in-ear headphones review

klipsch t5

(Image credit: Klipsch)

6. Klipsch T5 True Wireless

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

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

Incredible build quality
Warm, detailed sound
Excellent battery life
Deep fit may be uncomfortable

The Klipsch T5 hold their own against the very best true wireless earbuds – 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 – not bad at all.

Read more: Klipsch T5 True Wireless review 

cheap AirPods Pro

(Image credit: Apple)

7. Apple AirPods Pro

The perfect earbuds... for Apple fans

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

Good noise cancellation
Better fit than AirPods (2019)
More expensive than better rivals
USB-C charging cable in box

Apple's noise-cancelling true wireless earbuds, the AirPods Pro, deliver a much better fit and an improved design compared to the original AirPods.

However, at $249 / £249 / AU$399, they’re pretty pricey too, and as such can’t be called the very best true wireless earbuds in terms of value for money – but they may be the best true wireless earbuds for Apple fans.

These snug-fitting earbuds offer a great sound, 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.

Apparently, there's a new AirPods model set to join the original buds and the newer Pros. The AirPods Pro Lite are rumored 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

[UPDATE: The Apple AirPods Pro now support Dolby Atmos spatial audio, bringing immersive 3D sound to your true wireless earbuds.

Announced at the company's WWDC 2020 keynote, the new feature works in 5.1, 7.1, and Dolby Atmos, which positions sound all around you within a virtual sphere. 

As well as allowing for clever virtual Dolby Atmos, the AirPods Pro will also be able to tracks the motion of your head and your device, to ensure that the audio always appear to originate from the correct position.

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.]

jabra elite 75t

(Image credit: Jabra)

8. Jabra Elite 75t

A worthy successor to the Elite 65t

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

7 hours on a single charge
Compact earbuds and case
App lets you customize EQ
Overwhelming, muddy bass

The Jabra Elite 75t true wireless earbuds 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 makes an immense jump, catching up to the competition, and the customization features we enjoyed in the 65t remain. 

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

beats powerbeats pro

(Image credit: Beats)

9. Beats PowerBeats Pro

Impressive-fitting workout ‘buds from Beats

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

Easy pairing with iOS
Immaculate fit
Case is fairly bulky
Limited noise isolation

The PowerBeats Pro true wireless Beats headphones 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 they're 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, office, or gym, these are what we’d wear.   

A new model may be on the cards, too – the Powerbeats Pro 2 are the rumored follow-up to these Beats true wireless earbuds.

Read more: Beats PowerBeats Pro review

microsoft surface earbuds

(Image credit: Microsoft)

10. Microsoft Surface Earbuds

Anything Apple can do, Microsoft can do slightly differently

Acoustic design: Closed | Weight: 7.2g | Frequency response: 20-20,000Hz | Drivers: 13.6mm | Driver type: N/A | Sensitivity: N/A | Impedance: N/A | Battery life (on-board): 8 hours | Battery life (charging case): 16 hours | Wireless range: 10m / 33ft | NFC: Yes

Eloquent, detailed sound
Comfortable, secure fit
Design is... distinctive
Battery life isn't class-leading

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

earbuds

(Image credit: Sennheiser)

11. Sennheiser CX 400BT True Wireless

‘Affordable’ Sennheisers have Apple AirPods firmly in their sights

Acoustic design: Closed | Weight: 5.6g | Frequency response: 5-21,000Hz | Drivers: 7mm | Driver type: Dynamic | Sensitivity: N/A | Impedance: N/A | Battery life (on-board): 8 hours | Battery life (charging case): 16 hours | Wireless range: 10m / 33ft | NFC: Yes

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

true wireless earbuds

(Image credit: Jaybird)

12. Jaybird Vista

Near-perfect fitness earbuds

Acoustic design: Closed | Weight: 6g | Frequency response: 20-20,000Hz | Drivers: 6mm | Driver type: N/A | Sensitivity: 103dB | Impedance: 23 Ohm | Battery life (on-board): 6 hours | Battery life (charging case): 10 hours | Wireless range: N/A | NFC: N/A

Instant connection
Premium sound
IPX7 water resistance
Limited battery life

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.

bang & olufsen Beoplay E8 Wireless Earphones

(Image credit: Bang & Olufsen)

13. B&O Beoplay E8 2.0 Wireless Earphones

Pricey wireless earbuds that sound absolutely wonderful

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

Good audio quality 
Exceptional design 
Easy to setup 
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 true 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. There's no noise cancellation, though, which may expect from true wireless earbuds at this price.

Read more: B&O Beoplay E8 2.0 Wireless Earphones review

Audio-Technica ATH-CKS5TW

(Image credit: Audio-Technica)

14. Audio-Technica ATH-CKS5TW

Big on bass, big on battery life

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

Sound great
Long battery life
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 sport one of the most complete and well-rounded sound profiles we've seen from true wireless earbuds, although they are let down a little 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 wf-sp800n

(Image credit: Sony)

15. Sony WF-SP800N

Spatial audio and noise-cancelling smarts

Acoustic design: closed | Weight: 9.3g | Frequency response: N/A | Drivers: N/A | Driver type: Dynamic | Sensitivity: N/A | Impedance: N/A | Battery life: 18 hours (with case) | wireless range: N/A | NFC: N/A

Basic noise cancellation
Water-resistant and sweatproof
Support for 360 Reality Audio
Tight in the ear

Sony's latest true wireless earbuds, the Sony WF-SP800N, are a triple-threat. They’re IP55-rated to be sweatproof and dustproof, 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 true wireless earbuds are well worth a look.

Read more: Sony WF-SP800N review

All about the AirPods

What about the Apple AirPods?

apple airpods

(Image credit: Apple)

Apple AirPods (2019)

The ones to beat

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

Faster pairing
Wireless charging
Wireless charging case costs extra
Audio hasn't improved

In March 2019, Apple upgraded its popular true wireless earbuds, the Apple AirPods.

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 in the bottom of the case. 

Like their predecessors, they are super easy to pair, but they are very much optimized 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 that 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: The 2019 AirPods are getting a firmware upgrade that should make it easier for you to switch between different devices while listening. 

A new auto-switching feature means that the AirPods can now "magically switch over between devices", detecting automatically which device you are using.

For example, if you've just finished listening to a podcast on your phone, you can pick up your iPad to watch a TV shows and the AirPods will connect to the tablet automatically. It's a nifty feature, and yet another way AirPods are tailor-made for the Apple ecosystem.]

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 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. Cambridge Audio Melomania 1
  4. Lypertek Tevi 
  5. SoundMAGIC TWS50
  6. Klipsch T5 True Wireless
  7. Apple AirPods Pro
  8. Jabra Elite 75t
  9. Beats Powerbeats Pro
  10. Microsoft Surface Earbuds
  11. Sennheiser CX 400BT
  12. Jaybird Vista
  13. B&O Beoplay E8 2.0 Wireless Earphones
  14. Audio-Technica ATH-CKS5TW
  15. Sony WF-SP800N

True wireless earbud deals