The Best Wireless Headphones You Can Buy Right Now

The Best Wireless Headphones You Can Buy Right Now
At Gizmodo, we independently select and write about stuff we love and think you'll like too. We have affiliate and advertising partnerships, which means we may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page. BTW – prices are accurate and items in stock at the time of posting.

Once an expensive convenience reserved only for premium headphones, completely wire-free options are now the norm. If you haven’t already, now’s a great time to upgrade, because the headphone jack is disappearing from more and more devices, and it’s not ever coming back. How you plan to use your headphones will determine which option is best for you, and we’ll help you find the model that best suits your needs.

Whether you’re looking for an amazing listening experience for your music, a way to shut out the world around you for some peace and quiet, or a much-needed distraction while out for a long run, there’s a pair of wireless headphones for every preference, need, and budget.

The Best Noise-Canceling Headphones

Best Noise-Canceling Headphones apple

Who Are You?

You spend a lot of time on aeroplanes, working in coffee shops and open-plan offices, or commuting to and from work on noisy public transit. You’re after a little more peace and quiet and a way to enjoy your music or podcasts while you feel like you’re in your own little world.

Our Pick: Apple AirPods Max ($899)

Apple’s over-ear headphones are polarizing. The $899 AirPods Max are extremely expensive compared to the competition. And the design is a little weird—the earcups are heavy, and the smart case, which puts the headphones into an ultra-low-power mode, exposes the headband and earcups to the elements. But the audio and integration with your Apple devices are so good that those drawbacks fly out the window. The ANC is just as good if not better than Sony’s latest, and built-in sensors enable dynamic head-tracking for a feature Apple calls Spatial Audio. That enables you to listen to Dolby Atmos content as if it were coming in via a surround-sound system. It’s pretty incredible. The AirPods Max can also seamlessly switch between your Apple devices, and they know where sound is coming from even if you’re using both. If you have the cash, these are worth the splurge.

Also Consider

A lot of the benefits and features of the AirPods Max are exclusive to devices in the Apple ecosystem. If you’re looking for a headphone alternative that’s more device-agnostic while providing equally excellent noise-cancelling performance and functionality, the Sony WH-1000XM4 continue to impress.

The WH-1000XM4s are also lighter than the AirPods Max, can connect to two devices at the same time and will automatically switch to the one that needs your attention most, and they offer an ambient sound-boosting mode that will switch on whenever you start talking, so you can enjoy a conversation without having to take them off. At $395, Sony’s latest and greatest are also over $500 cheaper than Apple’s wireless headphones.

If you’d rather go with the company that’s been doing noise-cancelling headphones longer than anyone, the Bose 700 remain a solid choice with a stylish design and excellent ANC performance. You won’t be getting quite the same sound quality as you do with Sony and Apple’s offerings, but given they’re now almost three years old, they’ve seen a price drop to around $450.

The Best Noise-Canceling Earbuds

Best Noise-Canceling earbuds sony

Who Are You?

You spend a lot of time on planes, working in coffee shops and open-plan offices, or commuting to and from work on noisy public transit, but don’t want to have to carry a big set of over-ear headphones everywhere you go, and definitely don’t want to have to wear them most of the day. You’re looking for a less conspicuous way to shush the world, and a noise-cancelling device you can easily slip into a pocket.

Our Pick: Sony WF-1000XM4 Truly Wireless Earbuds ($449.95)

Sony was the first company to introduce genuinely effective active noise cancellation on wireless earbuds that were truly devoid of wires, and the company’s recent WF-1000XM4s continue to prove that no one does tiny ANC earbuds as effectively as Sony. Thanks to the inclusion of memory foam ear tips instead of silicone, the earbuds do an astoundingly good job at blocking and eliminating unwanted sounds, while also improving how well the Sony WF-1000XM4s actually stay in your ears.

Also Consider

If there’s one thing that Sony struggles with, it’s making tiny ANC earbuds. The WF-1000XM4s aren’t monstrous, but the $479 Master & Dynamic MW08 True Wireless Earbuds are a close second to Sony’s latest and greatest.

The noise cancellation on the MW08s is equally impressive, while the buds are smaller and feel much more comfortable in the ear, despite including 11-millimetre drivers that make your music sound even better than Sony’s do. They also offer a staggering 42 hours of battery life when paired with their charging case, while Sony’s top out at around 24 hours instead.

If you’re all in on Apple, the $399 AirPods Pro, despite being almost three years old at this point, remain an excellent option for noise-cancelling buds. Pairing them to your iOS devices is effortless, they’re lightweight and comfortable to wear, and you still won’t find a smaller and more pocket-friendly charging case. Alternatively, if you’re invested in Samsung’s Galaxy ecosystem or have an Android phone, the $299 Galaxy Buds Pro are very much a worthy rival to Apple’s AirPods Pro, boasting active noise cancellation, an ambient noise mode, and a compact design for $100 less.

The $299 Jabra Elite 85t are also an excellent option, and while not cheap, are our most affordable recommendation that still offers effective ANC, an adjustable EQ, multi-device connectivity, and a very natural-sounding transparency mode.

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The Best Budget Earbuds

best budget earbuds beats

Who Are You?

You’re excited to rid yourself of the inconvenient tether between your headphones and mobile device, but without breaking the bank on a tiny pair of electronics that can be easily lost.

Our Pick: Beats Flex ($99.95)

If you want a pair of earbuds that aren’t exactly wireless—either because you don’t want to spend the money or because you prefer a pair that offers more stability for your workouts—then Apple’s Beats brand has a near-perfect pair. The Beats Flex is lightweight with solid audio quality for the price, plus the seamless iPhone integration we’ve come to expect from Beats earbuds.

Also Consider

If you’re looking for capable active noise-cancelling earbuds on a budget, the $199.95 Beats Studio Buds delivers another seamless iOS pairing experience, with the added bonus of equally excellent compatibility with Android devices.

The Beats Studio Buds are also small—much smaller than the Powerbeats Pro—and offer a comfortable fit without sacrificing battery life or noise-cancelling capabilities which often require undesirable added bulk to accommodate additional microphones in each ear. At $169 (or $199 with a highly recommended wireless charging case) the Amazon Echo Buds (Gen 2) offer solid active noise-cancelling at the cheapest price point yet, with an unobtrusive design and easy access to the Alexa smart assistant.

Apple’s $219 AirPods remain a solid option if you’re completely bought into the Apple hardware ecosystem. But if you want to spend the absolute bare minimum on a pair of truly wireless earbuds that won’t punish your ears, the $69.95 Skullcandy Dime earbuds deliver very decent sound given the price—just don’t expect much else. There’s no active noise cancellation, and the built-in mic quality is not great, so keep that in mind if making calls is important to you.

And while their battery life could be better, Google’s Pixel Buds Series-A for those in the Android camp deliver great value for the money, a super simple design, and are some of the most comfortable earbuds we’ve ever tested—all for just $159.

The Best Fitness Earbuds

best fitness earbuds jabra

Who Are You?

You like going to the gym, where you tend to sweat—and sweat tends not to agree with electronics. What to do?

Our Pick: Jabra Elite Active 75t ($249)

The sweat-resistant model of the last-gen version of Jabra’s all-around amazing wireless earbuds are now cheaper than ever, and with a software upgrade, they even offer a digital version of active noise cancellation that is almost as good as the one offered by the ANC Elite 85t. They also fit better than the 85t do, and have a higher IPX rating to withstand sweat and water while you work out. Jabra’s HearThrough feature lets you filter in ambient noise on the go, which you can toggle on in Jabra’s app or by pressing the left earbud while you run. With a customizable equalizer that lets you personalize the audio to your preferences, Jabra’s workout earbuds are the best you can buy.

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Also Consider

The $349.95 Powerbeats Pro sports a unique design compared to most Bluetooth earbuds, with ear hooks that ensure the buds stay put while doing high-impact exercise. The fit is definitely comfortable, but you won’t get a tight seal, which means there’s no noise cancellation (if that’s important to you). The charging case is also absolutely ginormous—good luck fitting it in any type of pocket. But with Apple’s H1 chip making iOS integration seamless, and the sound and stable fit making intense workouts easier to get through, Powerbeats Pro is A+.

For a more durable alternative, the Jaybird Vista 2 is a solid option for klutzes and outdoors enthusiasts alike. In our testing, the Vista 2 survived a cat, sweaty workouts, and a thunderstorm thanks to its IP68 rating and military-grade materials. Just don’t expect crystal clear audio quality. It’ll do for workouts but its ANC isn’t quite up to par as other buds.

The Best Fitness Headphones

best fitness headphones skullcandy

 Who Are You?

You need music to help you power through a workout, and headphones that can survive an onslaught of sweat, but you struggle to keep tiny earbuds actually in your ears while you’re pounding the pavement and want headphones that will securely stay clamped onto your head.

Our Pick: Skullcandy Crusher Evo ($329.95)

The Skullcandy Crusher Evo wasn’t only the most comfortable headphones we tested when trying to find the best workout headphones, they also boasted the longest battery life, pumping out tunes for an impressive 40 hours before needing a charge. They also featured the best design amongst the headphones we tested, with an easy to reach power button, and volume buttons that were easy to distinguish while doubling as playback shortcuts, even while bouncing around during a jog or a run.

How has this list changed? Read back through our update history:

22/03/22: Completed a full revamp of the best wireless headphones list with a number of updated picks and info.

3/15/19: Added the Samsung Galaxy buds to “Also consider” for truly wireless earbuds.

8/20/19: Added the Jaybird Vista wireless earbuds as “The best athletic earbuds” and added “Buying Forecast for Winter/Spring 2019.”

11/25/19: Added the Jabra Elite 68 T as “Best truly wireless earbuds” and added the PowerBeats Pro to “The best athletic earbuds.” Added the Sennheiser Momentum Wireless to “The most superb sound” and added the Bowers & Wilkins PX7 and PX5 to “Also consider” for best sound. Updated “Buying Forecast for Winter 2019.”

4/2/20: Added Jabra’s Elite Active 68 T as “The best athletic earbuds,” Powerbeats 4 as “The best not quite wireless earbuds,” and Samsung’s Galaxy Buds+ to “The best wireless earbuds.” We also updated the 2020 buying forecast.

8/7/20: Added Sony’s WH-1000XM4 as “The best noise-cancelling headphones” and updated the buying forecast for spring 2020.

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At Gizmodo, we independently select and write about stuff we love and think you'll like too. We have affiliate and advertising partnerships, which means we may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page. BTW – prices are accurate and items in stock at the time of posting.