Best true wireless earbuds: the best truly wireless AirPod alternatives around

Best true wireless earbuds

Wires have their faults – they get tangled, get caught, and slap your neck while working out. That might be why you're looking for the best true wireless earbuds around, and we're here to help.

The days of wireless earbuds offering sound quality and design that's inferior to their wired counterparts are how firmly behind us, and you can now get a serious audio experience on the go without any wires.

The latest true wireless earbuds not only sound just as good as their wired equivalents, but they've become just as reliable thanks to major improvements in Bluetooth 4.0 and other wireless technologies.

True wireless headphones may be a bit more expensive, sure, but that additional upfront cost pays for the convenience of living cable-free. If you're ready to take the jump, read on for our picks.

[Update: With Black Friday coming up on November 23, it's worth holding off buying new true wireless headphones until then - make sure you bookmark our Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals page for real time discount news.]

True wireless vs wireless, what's the difference?

Before heading too far down the rabbit hole, it's worth pausing to consider the whole true wireless vs wireless discussion happening in the world of audio at the moment.

Wireless headphones, as a form factor have existed for some time now – basically since Bluetooth as a standard was invented. However, for years they went largely unrecognized by the audio community, because Bluetooth (despite being ultra-convenient) didn't a great job of transmitting music at high resolutions.

That changed with the advent of aptX – a codec that allowed for higher bitstreams at lower latency. Meanwhile, even as aptX was changing the game for the whole of the audio community, audio manufacturers were working on an entirely new form factor: True Wireless.

True Wireless has no cords whatsoever. While wireless allowed us to wear headphones a few feet away from our music players, True Wireless cut the cord between the earbuds out completely, offering a full range of motion. 

The jury is still out on whether they're called true wireless or truly wireless, but the idea is exactly the same – you won't find any cables to weigh these headphones down.

Ready to cut the cord? Here are the best true wireless earbuds available today.

What are the best true wireless headphones?

Jabra Elite 65t

Jabra Elite 65t

1. Jabra Elite 65t

One of the best true wireless headphones you can buy

Acoustic design: Closed | Weight: N/A | Cable length: N/A | Frequency response: N/A | Drivers: N/A | Driver type: Dynamic | Sensitivity: N/A | Impedance: N/A | Battery life (on-board): 2.5 hours | Battery life (charging case): 25 hours | Wireless range: 8m | NFC: No

Excellent battery life 
Balanced sound quality 
Limited eartip selection 
Limited water resistance 

If you want a pair of high quality truly wireless earbuds that aren’t the Apple AirPods, then the Jabra Elite 65t should be at the top of your list. 

After spending over a month with them, we came away impressed with the well-rounded package that Jabra managed to create: The earbuds offer a subtle, mature look and a reliable wireless connection, which isn’t always the case with truly wireless earbuds. Plus, they sound great compared to the competition. 

If you only have the budget for one of these, go for the Elite 65t. 

Read the full review: Jabra Elite 65t

Jabra Elite Sport True Wireless Earbuds

Jabra Elite Sport True Wireless Earbuds

2. Jabra Elite Sport True Wireless Earbuds

Great sound with fitness tracking to match

Acoustic design: Closed | Weight: N/A | Cable length: N/A | Frequency response: 20-20,000Hz | Drivers: N/A | Driver type: N/A | Sensitivity: N/A | Impedance: N/A | Battery life (on-board): 4.5 hours | Battery life (charging case): 13.5 hours | Wireless range: N/A | NFC: No

Great sport features
Excellent isolation
Very good sound quality
Fit may turn some off
Limited case recharges

If you're more the athletic type, the Jabra Elite Sport are currently the ultimate true wireless earphones for runners and other kinds of athletes. There’s a heart rate sensor on the right earpiece, letting it monitor your exertion level as you exercise. 

A Jabra companion app lets you track your exercise, and you can kick off a workout by pressing a button on one earpiece, and the heart rate tracker is more reliable than most wrist-worn models... as long as you fit the Elite Sport buds properly. 

The Jabra Elite Sport don't perch in your ears, they fill them rather like a custom molded earphone. As a result, sound isolation is excellent and the fit is very secure. 

To sweeten the deal, Jabra recently updated the Elite Sport to boost stamina to a better-than-average four-and-a-half hours per charge – more than enough to get you through your weekly workouts – before hanging up the towel. 

Read the full review: Jabra Elite Sport

Optoma NuForce BE Free5

Optoma NuForce BE Free5

3. Optoma NuForce BE Free5

Great entry-level truly wireless earbuds with a couple of issues

Acoustic design: Closed | Weight: N/A | Cable length: N/A | Frequency response: 20-20,000Hz | Drivers: N/A | Driver type: N/A | Sensitivity: N/A | Impedance: N/A | Battery life (on-board): 4.5 hours | Battery life (charging case): 13.5 hours | Wireless range: N/A | NFC: No

Polished design
Comfortable
Good sound and isolation
Mushy buttons
Annoying controls

The NuForce BE Free5 wireless earbuds show just how accessible truly wireless headphones are today. For around $100 (about £75, AU$134) they feature a more polished design than the more expensive BE Free8, and even sound better to boot. However, we found the left earbud would drop out briefly more than we’d like, and we hope NuForce can address this issue.   

The connection dropouts combined with the frustrating controls keep it from claiming the top spot on our list, but the BE Free5 offer undeniable value in the truly wireless headphone market. 

Read the full review: Optoma NuForce BE Free5

Sony WF-SP700N

Sony WF-SP700N

4. Sony WF-SP700N Noise-Cancelling Earbuds

Sony's second-gen true wireless earbuds offer noise-cancellation for cheap

Acoustic design: Closed | Weight: N/A | Cable length: N/A | Frequency response: 20-20,000Hz | Drivers: N/A | Driver type: N/A | Sensitivity: N/A | Impedance: N/A | Battery life (on-board): 4.5 hours | Battery life (charging case): 13.5 hours | Wireless range: N/A | NFC: No

Comfortable fit
Sweat-resistant
Clarity could be better
Poor noise-cancellation

Sony’s first pair of true wireless headphones, the Sony WF-1000X, were divisive. Some thought they didn’t offer enough bass. Others said they had too much. Some said they cut out or unpaired periodically. Others simply never had that problem. Criticisms came hard and fast from all corners of the internet and the only reasonable conclusion one could make after sifting through all of the noise was that Sony’s headphones just couldn’t please everyone.

Now, Sony’s second-generation true-wireless headphones – the Sony WF-SP700N – are here to try it again. These true wireless headphones are better tuned for the low-end and they’re stable in almost every situation. They still offer very modest active noise-cancellation tech and a sweat-resistant PX4 rating, and the new charging case is aesthetically pleasing if not radically different in functionality from before. 

Read the full review: Sony WF-SP700N

Optoma NuForce BE Free8

Optoma NuForce BE Free8

5. Optoma NuForce BE Free8

Basic-but-good truly wireless headphones

Acoustic design: Closed | Weight: N/A | Cable length: N/A | Frequency response: 20-20,000Hz | Drivers: N/A | Driver type: N/A | Sensitivity: N/A | Impedance: N/A | Battery life (on-board): 4 hours | Battery life (charging case): 16 hours | Wireless range: N/A | NFC: No

Good sound quality
Excellent noise isolation
16-hour battery life
Audio stutters periodically
Cheap-feeling build

Nothing about the Optoma NuForce BE Free8 stands out but that’s actually a good thing. Its understated design flies under the radar, sound quality is good and battery life is excellent. A single charge will yield four hours of music playback, but the changing case can charge the earbuds three times, giving a total of 16 hours of playback before the headphones and case need charging. 

Sound quality is slightly warm and soft, but works well for a variety of music. Audiophiles won’t be pleased but for most people, the NuForce BE Free8 will do the job. Its excellent noise isolation also make these great for commuters. 

For the money, the Optoma NuForce BE Free8 are an excellent value in the truly wireless headphone segment. These headphones do the basics so well they’re easy to recommend for those who want to try truly wireless earbuds. 

Read the full review: Optoma NuForce BE Free8

Sony WF-1000X True Wireless Earbuds

Sony WF-1000X True Wireless Earbuds

6. Sony WF-1000X True Wireless Earbuds

Noise-cancellation in a tiny form-factor

Acoustic design: Closed | Weight: 70g | Cable length: N/A | Frequency response: 20-20,000Hz | Drivers: 6mm | Driver type: Dome Type | Sensitivity: N/A | Impedance: N/A | Battery life (on-board): 3 hours | Battery life (charging case): 6 hours | Wireless range: 30ft | NFC: Yes

Noise-cancellation works well
Rich, full sound
A little bulky
No volume control on earbuds

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. 

The Sony WF-1000X manage to offer a level of noise-cancellation that's very good for a pair of earbuds – it won't offer the same isolation as a pair of over-ear cans, but if you're after a sleek form factor then the compromise is worth it. 

Beyond the noise-cancellation the earbuds continue to impress. Battery life is an acceptable three hours (acceptable for true wireless that is), with a further six provided by the charging case, and sound quality is rich and full.

Our only real reservation with the headphones is an occasional spotty connection between the two earbuds themselves (which rarely lasts for as much as a full second), and a lack of volume controls on the earbuds themselves (instead your options are limited to playing, pausing, and skipping your music).

Still, if you're after noise-cancellation and decent sound quality with your earbuds, then the WF-1000X are the way to go. 

Read the full review: Sony WF-1000X

B&O Beoplay E8 Wireless Earphones

B&O Beoplay E8 Wireless Earphones

7. B&O Beoplay E8 Wireless Earphones

Pricey wireless earbuds that sound absolutely wonderful

Acoustic design: Closed | Weight: 13g (combined) | Cable length: N/A | 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 one of the nicest-looking and most expensive wireless earphones you can buy. 

At $299 (£259, AU$449, AED 1,199) you can throw in a bit more cash and splurge for one of our favorite noise-cancelling headphones, the Bose QuietComfort 35 $349 (£259, AU$499, AED 1,449), which give you better battery life and a richer sound. But if you’re looking for a something to take to the gym and have the cash to burn, then the Beoplay E8 might be just what you’re looking for.   

While you won't find noise-cancellation here, you will find a longer-lasting battery life of around four hours alongside Bluetooth 4.2. The E8 come with a stylish carrying case, 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 sounds crisp and clear. Bass feedback will depend on how snug you’re wearing the E8s, but was acceptable for earphones of this size. If you’re able to look past the price point, then then Beoplay E8 is a great investment. It’s super compact, offers great audio, and looks great – what more could you ask for?  

Read the full review: B&O Beoplay E8 Wireless Earphones

Onkyo W800BT True Wireless Earbuds

Onkyo W800BT True Wireless Earbuds

8. Onkyo W800BT True Wireless Earbuds

Great sound quality in a small package

Acoustic design: Closed | Weight: 7.5g | Cable length: N/A | Frequency response: 6Hz - 22kHz | Drivers: 8.6mm high power driver | Driver type: Dynamic | Sensitivity: 107dB/mW | Impedance: 16ohms | Battery life (on-board): 3 hours | Battery life (charging case): 15 hours | Wireless range: 10m | NFC: No

Standard-setting sound
Faulty Bluetooth performance
A bit bulbous
Charging case could be smaller 

One of the earliest true wireless sets of earphones is still among the best. The Onkyo W800BT arrived to demonstrate these kind of earphones could sound much better than AirPods, and they continue to flatten most of the competition for sound quality.

Richer, wider and with much better stereo separation and ‘air’ than most, these are a truly satisfying listen. The cohesiveness and detail of the mid-range also hugely outclasses most other earphones of this kind. What else did you expect from Onkyo?

The only snags are that their wireless performance is not perfect, especially when you compare them to newer, cheaper models, its battery life of three hours per charge is only worth a shrug, and the charger case isn’t as neat as some. 

Still, if sound quality matters most, then they're winners regardless.

Check out our videos below for a roundup of the best headphones available.