The best true wireless earbuds of 2021 boast some of the most advanced audio technology around today. This means they’re just as good as almost any pair of wired earbuds on the market. Some of the earbuds in this list could possibly even rival our selection of the best over-ear headphones – and given these are all sans-wires, that’s really saying something.
True wireless earbuds news
The latest earbuds that we’ve tried out are the Bowers & Wilkins PI7, which blew us away with their incredible audio performance.
In other true wireless earbuds news, we’re hearing the first reports of the Sony WF-1000XM4, the follow up to the best wireless earbuds of 2021. Meanwhile, Apple AirPods 3 and AirPods Pro 2 rumors continue to circulate.
True wireless earbuds used to be a risky bet until fairly recently, due to limitations with Bluetooth and wireless music streaming. However, there’s never been a better time to cut the cord. In the guide below we’ve selected the best pairs of true wireless buds to help you choose the right pair for your budget and your needs.
In case you need a refresher, here’s what true wireless earbuds are all about. Most importantly, they have no cable at all to connect to your phone or any other device. However, what sets them apart from wireless earbuds is there’s no cable to connect each bud to the other either. What this does is makes true wireless earbuds extremely convenient, as well as flexible for a whole range of environments and uses. But there’s one big downside: you need to be extra careful not to lose one.
The best true wireless earbuds of 2021 in the list below are all high-end – and most have a price tag to match, though there’s a growing market of budget wireless earbuds that prove you don’t have to break the bank in the quest for excellent audio.
Each pair in this guide comes with a whole bunch of impressive features built-in, including active noise cancellation, hands-free voice control, and support for Hi-Res Audio codecs. Of course, if you’re just after stellar sound quality, we recommend you check out models like the Bowers & Wilkins PI7, Grado GT220 and the Cambridge Audio Melomania 1, which are there to cater to your inner audiophile.
One of the first mainstream pairs of true wireless earbuds that went truly mainstream were the Apple AirPods, which were launched back in 2016. However, things have moved on since then, and Apple’s earbuds were given their own update in 2019. These days there are far better options out there, including the noise-cancelling AirPods Pro. 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 2021.
Our top true wireless earbuds
The Sony WF-1000XM3 are the best true wireless earbuds you can buy in 2021, 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
[Update: We’ve been hearing rumors that the Sony WF-1000XM4 will launch imminently – and they could swipe the top spot of the best true wireless earbuds from their predecessors.]
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
[Update: Check out our Cambridge Audio Melomania Touch review, where we get up close and personal with the latest buds from the audio brand. While they deliver on sound quality and battery life, their flakey touch controls and temperamental connectivity means they haven’t landed a spot on this list.
The brand has also recently announced the Cambridge Audio Melomania 1+. They look to enhance the feature set of its predecessors, by adding customizable EQ settings, app control to check battery level (and to locate your earbuds should you lose them), and an “innovative” High Performance Mode. Some quality-of-life upgrades are also present, including USB-C fast charging and a variety of memory foam ear tips.]
Formerly known as the Lypertek Tevi, the Lypertek PurePlay Z3 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 PurePlay Z3, 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: If you’re looking for something a little cheaper, check out our Lypertek SoundFree S20 review. These excellent budget-friendly buds deliver great sound, a long battery life, and a comfy fit without breaking the bank.]
On paper, the GT220 seem to have their work cut out. $259 / £250 / AU$365 for small, humdrum-looking true wireless in-ears with no active noise-cancelling and no control app.
But, by performing with absolute confidence and assurance, they stand head and shoulders above the majority of true wireless earbuds on the market today. They extract every shred of information from digital files of your favorite music and deliver it with such authority, and in such a complete and coherent manner, that it sounds fresh even if you’ve heard it a thousand times before.
Read more: Grado GT220 review
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 the best true wireless earbuds for you.
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
The fact that the Bowers & Wilkins PI7, with their sky-high price-tag, a control app that’s more style than substance, an incomplete suite of touch controls, and humdrum active noise-cancelling and battery life, must sound incredible to come this close to a five-star review.
That’s because they offer a truly enjoyable listening experience, and with a charging case that doubles as an audio retransmitter, they’re a genuinely unique pair of wireless earbuds.
Read more: Bowers & Wilkins PI7 review
It’s Bose’s second attempt at a set of true wireless headphones, and the QuietComfort Earbuds are leaps and bounds better than the older SoundSport Free. Not only is the design a lot better, but the noise cancellation is also exemplary. Sound quality is also really very good – albeit a touch less bassy as compared to Sony – with superb clarity. They’re incredibly comfortable and well balanced too, despite their bulky form factor.
Read more: Bose QuietComfort Earbuds review
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
[Update: The Klipsch T5 II True Wireless offer the same excellent build quality as their predecessors, alongside a great bass response that’s ideal for electronic and pop music. However, sibilance in the trebles and the lack of noise cancellation means they can’t beat the likes of the Apple AirPods Pro and the Sony WF-1000XM3, and haven’t quite made it onto this list.]
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
The oblong design may throw you at first, but the Status Between Pro prove to be among the most comfortable true wireless earbuds we’ve ever used. And while the lack of noise cancellation is a shame, the overall audio quality is wonderful to listen to.
An unusual shape also has other unexpected benefits – the larger size allows for a more capacious battery, squeezing 12 hours into the the ear buds themselves and a further 36 hours in the charging case for a total of 48 hours playback. It also allows for an easy-to-squeeze physical playback control button on the top of each bud.
A lack of active noise cancellation is a shame, and the charging case can be a bit fiddly to slot the earbuds back into, but given the reasonable pricing, they’re small foibles in what are otherwise among the best true wireless earbuds you can buy.
Read more: Status Between Pro review
While they don’t quite cut it like their predecessors the Jabra Elite Active 75t buds do owing to a slightly bulkier design, the Elite 85t deliver impressive performance thanks to some great audio quality, effective noise cancellation and decent battery life.
Audio has been vastly improved thanks to a new pair of 12mm in-built speakers, which are twice the size of those on the 75t buds and offer a wider and more well-balanced soundstage. This, alongside even deeper bass, adds more depth to your favorite tunes.
Read the full review: Jabra Elite 85t review
[Update: The Jabra Elite 75t now have active noise cancellation thanks to a firmware update – which could make them a potential rival for the AirPods Pro, and a cheaper noise-cancelling alternative to the Elite 85t.]
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
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
On their own merits, the Earfun Air Pro buds are accomplished, but against the competition at this price point they shine. Amid a sea of similarly priced efforts on Amazon, they stand out thanks to their superior design and excellent audio chops, and show a high level of competence in almost all other areas. If it weren’t for slightly fiddly gesture controls and – in our experience at least – a slightly uncomfortable fit, these would immediately earn our wholehearted recommendation.
As it stands, these wireless earbuds are an excellent choice for most, offering a blend of useful features and strong performance that should make them popular with commuters in particular.
Read more: Earfun Air Pro review
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 customized in the app); and they can be operated using Google Assistant or Siri.
Read more: Sennheiser CX 400BT review
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.
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.
If one of the main reasons you need a new pair of headphones is to work out or run, then you might want to consider the sport-friendly alternatives to the E8 2.0s, which are called the Bang & Olufsen Beoplay E8 Sport. They’re a pair of stylish buds that deliver bright sound and are designed to get sweaty with.
Read more: B&O Beoplay E8 2.0 Wireless Earphones review
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’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
The latest true wireless buds from Samsung are a big step up from the Samsung Galaxy Buds Live. These new Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro offer better sound and microphone quality with multipoint pairing and spatial audio support.
It’s worth nothing that they don’t offer the same level of noise cancellation as over-ear headphones or the sound quality of some of the other high-end earbuds on this list, but for their price they offer just enough of both to be competitive and deserving of a place on our best wireless earbuds list.
Read more: Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro review
All about the AirPods
What about the Apple AirPods?
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 – and a new auto-switching feature makes it easier to swap between iOS devices. However, 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
True wireless explained
True wireless vs wireless: what’s the difference?
Which headphones style is best for you?
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
- Sony WF-1000XM3 True Wireless Earbuds
- Cambridge Audio Melomania 1
- Lypertek PurePlay Z3 (Tevi)
- Grado GT220
- Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2
- Bowers & Wilkins PI7
- Bose QuietComfort Earbuds
- Klipsch T5 True Wireless
- Apple AirPods Pro
- Status Between Pro
- Jabra Elite 85t
- Beats Powerbeats Pro
- Microsoft Surface Earbuds
- Earfun Air Pro
- Sennheiser CX 400BT
- Jaybird Vista
- B&O Beoplay E8 2.0 Wireless Earphones
- Audio-Technica ATH-CKS5TW
- Sony WF-SP800N
- Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro