The best wireless earbuds of 2021 deliver a combination of reliable Bluetooth connectivity, unbeatable audio performances, and comfortable, compact designs.
Wireless earbuds news
They’re so good, in fact, that many on this list can give some of the best wired earbuds a run for their money.
Whether you’re looking for wireless earbuds you can wear during exercise or a noise-cancelling pair that can block out the world around you, we’ve got you covered with our round up of the very best models you can buy today.
What’s more, the best Bluetooth earbuds are often cheaper than over-ear headphones, so they’re a great option for anyone on a strict budget – though over-ear headphones are still usually superior when it comes to pure audio fidelity.
This guide covers the two main categories of wireless earphones that you’ll find on the market today; true wireless earbuds and neckbud-style Bluetooth earphones. The former have no cables whatsoever, while wireless neckbuds retain a single cable connecting each earbud together.
One of the most popular pairs of true wireless earbuds are the Apple AirPods, which were launched back in 2016 and received an upgrade in 2019. However, there are far better options out there, including noise-cancelling earbuds like the AirPods Pro and our top pick, the new Sony WF-1000XM4.
Neckbud-style wireless earphones are still worth considering in 2021, too. After all, the cable that’s usually worn around the back of your neck gives you a little extra security if you’re worried about losing a bud down the drain (yeah, it happens).
With so many different models and styles to choose from, it can be difficult to find the best wireless earbuds for you. That’s why this guide includes the Bluetooth earbuds for every budget, every situation, and in every form factor.
First up – the best true wireless earbuds you can buy today. If you’re only interested in neckbuds, just scroll down the page for our top picks, including the excellent NuraLoop headphones.
UPDATE: We’ve had an early hands-on with the Sennheiser CX True Wireless earbuds. We’ll add the buds to our guide below if we’re impressed after a proper test. But for now, we like them and think they pick up where the CX 400BT left off. What’s more, they’re cheaper than their predecessors, in spite of coming with a host of upgraded features that include a longer battery life and better connectivity.
True wireless earbuds
Sony is largely responsible for the rude health of the active noise-cancelling wireless earbuds market, and with the WF-1000XM4, the company has combined performance, ergonomics, and build quality more effectively than ever before.
Compared to their predecessors, the Sony WF-1000XM3, the new wireless earbuds offer enough quality-of-life features to make them worth upgrading to, even if they are more expensive.
While other wireless earbuds surpass the Sony WF-1000XM4 in particular areas – noise cancellation, for example – no other model comes close to offering such excellent quality across the board. That’s why the Sony WF-1000XM4 are hands-down the best wireless earbuds you can buy today.
Read more: Sony WF-1000XM4 review
For nearly two years, the Sony WF-1000XM3 were best true wireless earbuds you could buy – until they were usurped by the WF-1000XM4.
However, the Sony WF-1000XM3 are still worth considering, not least because you can usually find them discounted to around $170 / £150 / AU$200.
The Sony WF-1000XM3 still manage to offer a level of noise-cancellation that’s exceedingly good for a pair of earbuds, fist-pumping musicality, a sleek design, and a decent battery life.
Read more: Sony WF-1000XM3 review
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.
Meanwhile, Lypertek has announced the follow-up to the Lypertek PurePlay Z3, and in spite of a host of improvements, they won’t cost you any more than their predecessors.
The Lypertek PurePlay Z3 2.0 come with the latest Qualcomm QC3040 chipset, which allows for Bluetooth 5.2 connectivity, better quality connections, and aptX and AAC codecs. ]
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
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
The NuForce BE Sport4 wireless earbuds are that rare find: wireless earbuds that are good for basically all situations, whether you’re looking to take them out on a run or just wear them around town.
They’re ideal for exercise, although any urbanite will also find their lightweight functionality and impressive sound isolation highly appealing. If you want proof that Bluetooth earbuds can now compete with the best of them, look no further.
Read more: Optoma NuForce BE Sport4 review
The Bowers & Wilkins PI3 are the first neckband wireless earbuds for the company, and they’re a great start. Well-designed, comfy, and simple to use, they sound really good, too.
Thanks to dual drivers, these buds sound fantastic, with crisp highs, lively mids, and plenty of powerful bass. Look past the fairly unremarkable battery life and limited features, and you’ll be mostly very impressed by what these offer.
If the most important aspect of wireless earphones for you is the audio quality, these wireless earbuds from Sennheiser could be a fantastic choice.
With a lively, bass-heavy presentation, and a comfortable fit, the Sennheiser CX Sport Bluetooth earbuds can really bolster your workout through sound quality alone.
They have a battery life of six hours, which means they’ll last you all day, whether you’re wearing them on your commute or taking them out for a jog.
The SoundMagic E11BTs are an extremely capable pair of wireless in-ear earphones, and given their low price, it really is difficult to fault them – the audio quality is fantastic and they look very elegant.
They’re comfortable to wear thanks to ergonomically designed eartips and a flat neckband that won’t irritate you while running or working out – and with an IPX4 rating, they should withstand sweaty sessions.
Read more: SoundMAGIC E11BT
The Jaybird Tarah Pro headphones are wireless sport headphones for the endurance runners, athletes and fitness nuts out there. With a neck cable to keep the earbuds together, they aren’t quite ‘true wireless’, but will be practical for those concerned about dropping and losing a costly earbud in the heat of a race or training session.
As the first in Jaybird’s new ‘Pro’ range of Bluetooth earbuds and aimed at offering higher quality audio and materials, the Tarah Pro will suit anyone not willing to sacrifice audio quality in harsher outdoor conditions or indoor workouts and who don’t mind spending a bit more to get a premium product.
Read more: Jaybird Tarah Pro review
Now committed to a yearly refresh of the popular mid-range model, the Jaybird X4 manage to outdo both the previous Jaybird X2 and Jaybird X3 wireless Bluetooth earphones, with an upgraded IPX7 water-resistance rating. Whether you’re sweating buckets or running doggedly through the rain, the X4 will be able to cope with it.
The Jaybird X4s also manage to keep the series’ surprisingly good sound. These earphones are certainly fitness first, but that doesn’t mean the other things people look for in a pair of earphones – you know, like music – have fallen by the wayside.
Jaybird’s excellent app also provides easy EQ customization as well as the ability to make your own sound profile, with various ear tip sizes to boot. A great all round choice for runner who don’t want to skimp on sound – or be wary of the weather.
Alternatively if you’re after an even more premium experience, the Jaybird Tarah Pro earbuds offer higher-quality audio and materials for a somewhat higher $159 £139 / AU$229 price tag.
Although we’re still big fans of the Jaybird X4 headphones, take a look at the Jaybird Vista true headphones further down the list – they’re our top pick if you’re in the market for a pair of true wireless earbuds.
Read more: Jaybird X4 review
Beats haven’t always gotten the best rap when it comes to audio performance, but the Beats X is trying to set the record straight. The Beats X hence make up for their slightly bassy, confined sound with a rock solid connection and a pairing process that, on iOS devices at least, is as painless as it’s possible to be.
If you’re shopping for a no-fuss pair of Bluetooth earbuds that charge in 5 minutes, work well with iOS and don’t mind spending a little extra money on them, the Beats X are for you.
Read more: Beats X review
The latest Powerbeats are a thoughtful evolution of Beats’ wireless workout earbuds. They’re missing a few niceties like active noise-reduction and may potentially feel less comfortable than some competitors, but by and large they’re a decent cheap alternative to Apple’s higher-end in-ear headphones.
After spending some time with them, it’s clear that the new Beats Powerbeats is a significant upgrade on the company’s wireless workout earbuds, offering a sound quality lifted directly from the Beats Powerbeats Pro, an IPX4 rating and Apple’s H1 Wireless Chip that can summon Siri with the sound of your voice.
What we don’t like about them is that the fit can be tough to get right and even slightly uncomfortable when you wear them for an extended period.
Read more: Beats Powerbeats 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 AED 500. 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?
Which headphones style is best for you?
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.
Best wireless earbuds, at a glance:
True wireless earbuds
- Sony WF-1000XM4 Wireless Earbuds
- Sony WF-1000XM3 True Wireless Earbuds
- Cambridge Audio Melomania 1 Plus
- Lypertek Tevi
- Grado GT220
- Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2
- Bowers & Wilkins PI7
- Bose QuietComfort Earbuds
- Klipsch T5 True Wireless
- Apple AirPods Pro
- Beats Studio Buds
- 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
- NuraLoop headphones
- Optoma NuForce BE Sport4
- Bowers & Wilkins Pi3
- Sennheiser CX Sport
- OnePlus Bullets Wireless 2
- SoundMAGIC E11 BT
- Jaybird Tarah Pro
- Jaybird X4
- Beats X
- Beats Powerbeats