What to Look For When Buying Wireless Earbuds

What to Look For When Buying Wireless Earbuds

If you’re on the hunt for your next (or first) pair of wireless buds, you may be in for quite a bit of work. With dozens of options to choose from, choice paralysis is only natural.

Some are great for running, others look stylish and some are perfect for blocking out exterior noises. Here is a guide to understanding what wireless earbuds are best for you.


The Bose Ultra Open buds clip onto your cartilage.

There are different kinds of wireless earbuds. In-ear ones go all the way inside your ear canal, while on-ear ones rest on it. Bone conduction buds, also known as running buds, usually rest outside your ears close to your cheekbone. Or they sometimes clip onto your cartilage like the Bose Ultra Open in the photo above.

The design you end up picking has to do with your personal preferences and lifestyle. If you’re specifically looking for running buds, bone conduction ones are a good option since they usually either go around your ear or clip onto them for a snugger fit. On-ear tips work much better for people like me with weird ears that don’t accept in-ear buds because they don’t keep popping out.


We praised the Apple AirPods Pro Gen 2 for their comfort.

This is an obvious one. You’re going to be wearing your buds all the time, so you want to make sure they offer a comfortable, snug fit. The same buds might be comfortable for others but not for you. Trying them out before you make the purchase is always a good idea. Make sure you test the different ear tip sizes in the box. The Apple AirPods Pro Gen 2 might be the most comfortable pair of buds you can buy right now, regardless of whether you have an iPhone.


Master & Dynamic MW09 buds provide 48 hours on a full charge.

The entire point of wireless earbuds is to last your entire day. Make sure your buds provide at least 30 hours on a full charge with the charging case combined. That should be enough to last you a week of daily listening. Master & Dynamic’s MW09 is one of the most long-lasting buds we’ve tested in a while, with a battery life of 48 hours.


Sony’s WF-1000XM5 buds.

Some earbuds are treble-heavy, while others are more inclined towards bass. This is a purely personal preference, so it’s a good idea to test them out and see what you lean more towards.

Also, make sure the soundstage offers depth and space so that the instruments don’t sound like they’re all clustered together. You should be able to hear the different layers and little details in a song. Sony’s WF-1000XM5 buds are one of the best-sounding wireless buds you can find.

It’s nice to have a companion app with an EQ curve that you can tweak your preferred sound on. An average consumer might not care about this a lot, but if you’re an audiophile, you might want to look out for this.

Water Resistance

The Cleer Arc II buds sport an IPX5 rating.

If you spend a lot of time working outside or working out, make sure your buds feature at least some water resistance, ideally IPX4 or more. The higher the last number is, the better. You can swim on an IPX8 earbud, and an IPX7 rating will be able to handle submersion in three feet of water for up to 30 minutes. IPX4 is good for light splashes or some sweat. My Cleer Arc II buds feature an IPX5 water and sweat rating, and, on some days, I would even brush my teeth or wash my face without taking them off; they’ve been holding up just fine.


Bose QuietComfort II buds with their silicone noise canceling tips.

ANC, or Active Noise Cancelation, silences the world around you so you can better focus on your music. I live right next to a playground that is always populated with dozens of kids under the age of 10, so this is a feature I absolutely can’t live without. If you don’t care much about noise canceling, you can skip this one altogether since ANC earbuds are usually more expensive. Bose’s QuietComfort II buds have the best ANC modes you can find on any wireless buds.


The Baseus Eli Sport 1 features a touch interface that handles everything.

Think about whether you’re more comfortable than tapping an interface or having actual, physical buttons to press, and make an informed decision based on that. But make sure to do your research on what kind of controls the bud hosts because that’s a big part of the UX. The Baseus Eli Sport 1 hosts a great touch interface that’s responsible for everything from playback to volume and calls.

OS Support

Google’s Pixel Buds Pro are a good choice for Android users.

This one’s not as crucial, but looking for earbuds that your phone’s OS works best with is a good idea. This is why Apple’s AirPods are often recommended as the best option for iOS users. Google’s Pixel Buds Pro is a good option for Android users. They offer Google-centric features like instant access to Google Assistant by just saying “Hey, Google” while paired to an Android device without having to push any buttons.

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