Best phone headphones: 25 pairs tested

Best headphones for phones: 25 pairs tested
Top end earphones reviewed and rated

It's a minefield out there - what are you supposed to do when you pull your new phone out of the box and realise the headphones included just aren't up to scratch?

Actually, this scenario is less common than you might think, but when it comes to Apple products, you're going to want to know the best replacement iPhone earphones - as let's face it, the ones that come in the box are just laughably poor and leak sound to anyone within a kilometre.

But it's not as simple as choosing the best pair of headphones from a shelf in a shop - you've got to consider styles, shapes, sound quality, price and overall functionality before parting with your hard-earned cash these days.

So to that end, here's our fancy guide to reams of the latest headphones on the market to show you what you need. Whether it's cutting the wires, running a marathon or just spending a few hours in quiet audio contemplation, there should hopefully be something here for you.

Sports headphones

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We've all been guilty of it at some point - buying a high end portable music player and then not getting some decent headphones to make the most of it.

And with most phones now pumping out a decent audio experience, relying on the in-box buds is almost a crime giving the pathetic levels of sound exuded by most - you need the best iPhone headphones or the best Android headphones.

So if you've chosen from our list of the best mobile phones and found the phones that's right for you, think about investing a little more and getting a quality pair of earbuds or over-ear options to make the most out of your music or videos.

We've trawled through loads of different options and styles of headphones designed to be used with smartphones, so whether it be music or movies that you use your handset for check out our list of the best headphones for phones.

Jabra Sport

Price: £99

Jabra sports

One of the worst things about having headphones for sports is the fact most of them still come with wires. It's great then that Jabra has managed to do away with cables (apart from the one that links the two earphone heads together) with the Jabra Sport. It does this by hooking up to your handset through the magic of Bluetooth.

Built for use when running, the Jabra Sport range has been given ear hooks, but these are rather chunky. This is understandable given that they need to house the Bluetooth tech and also have an FM tuner built in, but it does mean that it will take you a while to hook them around your ears. It was lucky, then, that they were rather secure and didn't fall out mid-exercise – even when covered in sweat.

Surprisingly the sound was decent, even though it has been squeezed through a Bluetooth signal.

We did find that linking the earphones up (digitally) to our handset did take longer than expected but this was a one-off thing. Once your phone remembers the headphones, it takes seconds for them to match.


A decent stab at sports earphones, with the added bonus of being wireless. Although the Jabra Sport hooks are a tad too chunky, they sit great on the ear and can easily get you through prolonged exercise.

Philips SHQ3017

Price: £40


The issue of sports headphones is pretty easy for some people: if there's no hook, then the music dispensers will fall out of your ears at the earliest twinkling of perspiration.

So these SHQs should solve that, with the large, rubberised hook and pseudo-adjustable tips to sit easily in your ear.

However, while they'll never desert you on a run and are immune to degrading from sweat, they will let you down if your perspiration levels get too high, as the buds will slip form your canals and refuse to sit back in there.

The sound quality is tinny too - these are running headphones, and won't stand up to being used day to day, although the upgraded models with inline microphone do sound better than their original counterparts.


A decent pair of hook-style headphones will keep you in tunes and won't fall apart, but don't offer good enough levels of sound quality for the price.

Sennheiser PMX 680i

Price: £45


These loop-style headphones are a comfortable fit for both running and the gym, and the sweat-resistant nature of the materials used means they won't fall apart after a few months.

However, these options simply sit on top of the ear canals, and often in quite an uncomfortable manner - and if you start sweating profusely, the moisture can create a muffling seal between the audio and your ear.

The inbuilt volume control is handy but can get a bit bulky - make sure you clip it onto your clothes firmly before beginning.

The sound quality is fine - it needs to be up there with the best given the way these sit on the ears, and it just about passes, although you can forget about quality bass reproduction.


Great for those that want the loop style, and the inline remote is large enough so you'll always be heard through the panting, but these won't suit for use when you're heart rate is racing.

Sennheiser CX 680i

Price: £55


Similar to their neckband-shod brothers, the CX680i's offer up a partnership with Adidas and a day-glo yellow wire for a more 'sporty' look.

And again like their looped brother, the headphones pack a fairly meaty inline remote too, which you'll need to clip securely to clothing to avoid it flapping around when you're charging around the park - although the volume wheel is a really useful tool.

While we were initially sceptical of the EarFin, a small upwards hook that holds the headphones into the ear, we quickly fell in love with the twist lock system when no matter how hard we flapped our head around when running (yes, as ridiculous as it sounds... don't say we don't put ourselves out for our readers) they failed to come loose, while maintaining the comfort of buds.

The sound quality was impressive throughout, thanks to the well-fitting fin and in-ear design - it's nothing market leading, but thankfully not as tinny as most other sports headphones on the market and more than adequate.


Our favourite sports headphones on test - a decent audio experience coupled with well-fitting buds make them an easy choice, despite the price. However, the fins might not be as comfortable for everyone, so if you get the chance to try before you buy we suggest you do.

Klipsch S5i Rugged

Price: £80


Klipsch headphones might not be your first thought for sport options, but these buds perform much better than you'd expect, even at the higher price.

The large and easy-to-find inline remote has huge buttons for pausing or skipping tracks and controlling volume on iPhones, and the range of tips to choose from is impressively wide.

The fit is snug enough to not need extra hooks on a long run - they stay in the ear pretty well, although if you find yourself sweating profusely they can start to slide around a little. However, the angled design helps them sit in the ear well, giving a comfortable fit.

Sound quality is up there with the best for voice, offering crystal clarity and a decent range for audio too.


Perhaps not the most rugged-looking headphones, but if you're trying to up the quality of your exercise tunes these are worth a look.

Etymotics MC3

Price: £70 (plus £70 for custom tips)


These are the little brothers to the HF3's, and while not strictly sport headphones, we've decided to include them here for a couple of reasons.

1 - Etymotics has developed an application to monitor noise levels, meaning if a certain noise level (like a vehicle honking) is reached, the app will disable the music so you can deal with it... for instance, not getting run over.

2 - If you invest in some custom tips, then they'll stay in your ears without an issue even over a marathon - plus the seal is tight enough to block out sweat.

Sonically we could really hear the difference between these and the HF3's, as they buck the trend of a lot of the more expensive headphones to offer up a relatively bass-free experience. Not to the point of sounding tinny, but it does detract from the richness.


With a lower build quality than their higher-end brother's, the MC3's are a nice enough pair of headphones with a decent microphone that can be heard even when running.

However, for the price you might want to think about investing that extra £50 for the HF3's as the sonic difference is marked and the overall performance worth the extra cash.

Gareth Beavis
Formerly Global Editor in Chief

Gareth has been part of the consumer technology world in a career spanning three decades. He started life as a staff writer on the fledgling TechRadar, and has grown with the site (primarily as phones, tablets and wearables editor) until becoming Global Editor in Chief in 2018. Gareth has written over 4,000 articles for TechRadar, has contributed expert insight to a number of other publications, chaired panels on zeitgeist technologies, presented at the Gadget Show Live as well as representing the brand on TV and radio for multiple channels including Sky, BBC, ITV and Al-Jazeera. Passionate about fitness, he can bore anyone rigid about stress management, sleep tracking, heart rate variance as well as bemoaning something about the latest iPhone, Galaxy or OLED TV.