Top 7 Best True Wireless Earbuds:

Say Goodbye to the Headphone Jack

Apple was the first phone maker to kill off the headphone jack, but they were far from the last. While the general public laughed at the time, now even Samsung has decided to ditch the ancient analog audio interface that’s served us for all our lives. If you want to use wired headphones with your new iPhone or iPad, you’ll have to use an adapter. If you have one of the new USB-C devices, you can get USB-C headphones as well. So you don’t necessarily have to give up your beloved wired headphones just because our friend Jack has left.

However, this is meant to be a transitional phase and in time we will all move to wireless headphones that transition smoothly from one device to the next. The coolest development in this regard is the advent of the “true” wireless bud, which is what you’ll be seeing here. Before that, let’s talk about what qualifies something as a “true” wireless bud in the first place.

What are “True” Wireless Earbuds?

This type of wireless headphones is a completely new category of product, which is why I have decided to review them separately from more traditional bluetooth headphones. If you head over to that page you’ll immediately realize the big difference between these two types of audio devices. That’s right, true wireless earbuds consist of two completely independent devices, one for each ear. Even the lightweight sports buds on my other review pages are connected to each other somehow, albeit by a single wire.

With these buds each piece has its own connection, battery, and hardware. Often each bud can work by itself as a mono headphone/earpiece. True wireless buds also usually come in a special case that contains a battery. When the buds are in the case, they charge wirelessly. The case itself is charged by plugging it in. That’s the short description of this new type of headphone – now we have to talk about what separates a good set from a bad one.

What I’m Looking for in a Good True Wireless Bud

Apple launched the true wireless category with their AirPods and, predictably, other companies have copied the design with a vengeance. That means there’s plenty of choice on the market and various different factors to consider when picking out which set is right for you.

First things first: price. The Apple AirPods set the bar here and debuted at around $150. If something costs significantly more, there has to be a compelling story in the specs to justify the price bump.

Battery life is very important as well. With these buds there are three components to this: how long you can use the buds in your ears before they have to go back into the case is part one. How long they take to charge up in the case is part two. Finally, how much juice the case itself holds is part three. Getting the right balance between these three numbers is a big part of what makes a given set of buds good or not.

I also like to see features such as water-resistance and multiple eartips to match different ear sizes. Noise cancellation is a big one too!

Finally, sound quality. No earbud is going to match a good over-ear set of headphones, but the bar is still pretty high these days. Strong bass and well-separated mids and highs are desirable. Of course, I will be relying on the general consensus among people who’ve bought and used each bud to make a judgment on this front. With that out of the way, let’s start with the product that kicked off this whole sound revolution.

Apple AirPods (Gen 2)

These are, in fact, the second generation of AirPods and the ones to get, since Apple fixed plenty of small issues that came with the first round of products.

The biggest improvement comes from the inclusion of the new Apple H1 chip. It improves the wireless connection immensely, making connections faster and reducing latency. AirPods are widely considered to be the least laggy true wireless buds on the market.

Simply opening the charging case instantly connects the buds, making for a very seamless experience overall. Speaking of the charging case, I’m not too keen on the lightning port here. It makes sense for people using iPhones and the older iPads, since they already have a charger, but everyone else is moving over to USB-C. It would have been better to include a converter to tide users over. Instead, you’ll still be lugging a lightning cable around long after all your Apple devices are USB-C.

The Airpods don’t have noise cancellation, but it would be moot since these sit loose in the ear without a seal. The general consensus is that this is good for people who go jogging and that the sound quality is acceptable, but at this price you can get other buds with better sound, a better seal, and active noise cancelling. Honestly, the AirPods shouldn’t be anyone’s first choice these days. Yes, the battery life is impressive and connections are quick, but as an overall package it’s not the best choice.

Apple Airpods Pro

The AirPods Pro is a pricey upgrade over the base product and, if you look at what they bring to the table, over the other Apple pods. You get a proper silicon tip seal with active noise cancelling. It has the same fast, low-lag connection hardware and provides a total of 24 hours of play time if you include the case battery.

It also has some pretty awesome technology, such as an equalizer that adapts to your specific ear canal acoustics. That is such an Apple touch! If you are going to buy Apple AirPods, the Pro models are the ones to get if you can stomach the price. However, products like the Galaxy Buds offer a very similar experience for significantly less money.

Xiaomi AirDots

Xiaomi has been referred to as the “Apple of China” and I have personally used lots of their hardware over the last few years. They offer affordable, yet pretty high-spec devices that ape much of what makes Apple design so good.

These AirDots are in direct competition with the basic AirPods, but cost WAY less. Seriously, I don’t know how Xiaomi has managed to make them this cheaply. The general consensus seems to be that these sound better than the base AirPods, even if just because they seal properly. You don’t get noise cancellation with these, though, which can be a problem since they aren’t open air like the AirPods.

These AirDots are perfect if your budget can’t stretch beyond the asking price. They are not a first choice, since there are compromises in battery life and performance, but I would consider these the cheapest true wireless buds anyone should buy. There are more expensive products that are worse, and the AirDots are, in fact, good in their own right.

Samsung Galaxy Buds

To me, these Galaxy Buds have been the true competitor to the AirPods from the moment they launched. The design is unique and more ergonomic than the base AirPods with which they compete on price. Sound is better than the base AirPods according to most people, battery life is more than good enough, and you get decent active noise cancellation.

The big problem is that the really good features such as ambient noise mixing and fine tuning of the audio only works via the Samsung App on Android phones. So iOS users are not getting the full product. In the past I would have said they are still worth getting over and above the base AirPods, but if you have the scratch to buy the Pro models, that’s the better set overall.

Sony WF-1000XM3 Buds

Sony has an astounding reputation in the audio world and has made some absolutely stonking headphones. Their noise cancelling, over-ear cans are widely considered to have the best active noise cancellation performance of any headphone. So I have high expectations of these buds that sport the same “XM” branding as the big phones.

Pricewise these are very close to base AirPods but, honestly, they look much nicer. I hate to say it, but Apple earbuds have always looked a little cheap, in contrast with most of what Apple makes and sells.

These feature the amazing QN1e noise cancellation chip and, really, no one has beat Sony at this game yet. You get six hours of battery life from the buds themselves; 10 minutes of charge is good for 90 minutes of playback. As with the Samsung buds, you can tune these using an app. Unlike the Samsung buds, you can get the app on iOS, which makes them the preferred choice over the base AirPods and the Samsung buds.

The sound quality seems to be audiophile approved as well, so I’m finding it hard to think of reasons not to buy these over the competition.

Sennheiser Momentum

It’s time for a little disclosure. I am a huge Sennheiser fan and have owned several of their headphones over the years. I’m especially fond of their budget cans, since there was always a quality to the audio that no one else could match for the money.

In the case of these babies, they are about 30% more expensive than base AirPods but still a little less expensive than AirPod Pros. The sound quality is reportedly exceptionally clear. At this point, comparing them with, for example, the Sony buds would be down to personal preference, but on paper there shouldn’t be much in it. You get ambient noise mixing as well. The overall battery life is only 12 hours, though. Four hours on the buds and eight more in the case. Not the best, but still more than most people need. If your main criterion is sound fidelity, these might be the right choice for you.