These days, it’s challenging to find a lousy pair of wireless earphones. The market had come a long way since the early days of truly wireless earbuds when consumers had to put up with poor music quality and unpredictable performance to avoid dealing with wires. Things have changed dramatically since then. Companies like Sony, Apple, Samsung, and others produce their most remarkable earbuds yet, following several product generations of learned lessons.
If you’re prepared to pay a lot of money, you can get fantastic noise cancellation and sound quality in the premium tier of earbuds. However, those aren’t necessarily the most crucial criterion for everyone: perhaps you’re searching for the best fitness earbuds or a pair that can be used for Zoom calls as well as listening to your favorite music and podcasts. Tech companies increasingly use exclusive features and functionality to make their earphones work best with their products, so keep that in mind while you purchase.
1. SONY WF-1000XM4
Despite their high price, the Sony WF-1000XM4 wireless earbuds are the best overall wireless earbuds you can buy. They have excellent sound quality, which is warm and detailed, and top-notch active noise cancellation. With noise cancellation set on, their remarkable battery life can last up to eight hours of continuous listening, outlasting all of Sony’s top competitors.
The WF-1000XM4s are finished with beautiful rose gold embellishments in a quality matte black (or light gray). Most earbuds come with regular silicone ear tips, but Sony provides foam-style tips that expand in your ears to produce a good seal, which, when combined with the noise cancellation, does an excellent job of keeping the outside world at bay.
The 1000XM4s feature Sony’s LDAC codec for higher-quality music playback on Android phones. They’re up there with the best audio-focused premium earbuds like Sennheiser’s Momentum True Wireless 2 when used on other platforms, with far superior noise cancellation.
Only the lack of multipoint / two simultaneous Bluetooth connections keeps the 1000XM4 from becoming the ideal set of wireless earphones. They’re also a little bigger than some of the competition. You can’t do much better with their best-in-class combination of features (including goodies like 360 Reality Audio compatibility), increased voice call performance, and excellent battery life.
2. JABRA ELITE 3
Sometimes all you need are the basics, and that’s where Jabra’s Elite 3 earbuds manage to stand out from the pack of sub-$100 earbuds. Their sound emphasizes the bass, yet it still works to come across as well-balanced and with excellent clarity for this price range.
The earbuds can play for up to seven hours on a single charge, and the small case can contain three more batteries. The earbuds have large tactile buttons that are easy to use, and they are dust and water-resistant to IP55.
The Elite 3s don’t have the multipoint feature that Jabra is known for — that’s the most significant concession you make for the price — but, unlike previous models, either earbud may be used in mono mode on its own. They’re also exceptionally comfy to wear for lengthy periods. Although active noise suppression and wireless charging aren’t included (though Jabra does have a mediocre transparency mode), the Elite 3s operate admirably with a strong Bluetooth signal. They provide excellent value for money.
3. BOSE QUIETCOMFORT EARBUDS
When it comes to the effectiveness of active noise cancellation, Bose’s QuietComfort Earbuds are neck and neck with Sony’s — and maybe a little better. Like their major competitor, the QC Earbuds have a high-quality fit and finish.
With the Bose mobile app, you can choose the amount of noise cancellation suitable for you and your surroundings. Although their charging case is bulky, it does offer wireless charging. The QC Earbuds also handle voice calls better than most, which is a bonus in exchange for their hefty price tag.
4. FIT PRO BEATS
The Powerbeats Pro, the long-reigning champion of workout earphones, has finally been dethroned. And, appropriately, Beats’ latest earphones have surpassed them. The Beats Fit Pro replaces the Powerbeats’ ear hooks with a revolutionary wingtip design that keeps the headphones securely fastened in your ears even during the most strenuous workouts. As a result, these earbuds have a lot smaller physical aspect – and, thankfully, a much more manageable carrying bag. Because the earbuds magnetically attach to the case, you won’t have to worry about one or both buds failing to charge in the case, as was the situation with the Powerbeats Pro.
The Fit Pros, unlike the Powerbeats Pro, have active noise cancellation. In that regard, they’re on par with the AirPods Pro, so you’ll be able to work out without being distracted. When you want to be aware of your surroundings, the transparency mode on the AirPod Pros is also as natural-sounding and crisp.
Water-resistance is certified IPX4 on the earbuds. While not as durable as some other fitness-oriented buds, it should be enough to withstand sweat and outdoor runs in various circumstances. The Fit Pros include simple physical button controls. While they lack the Powerbeats Pro’s dedicated volume rocker, you can remap a long-press of each earbud to modify volume rather than toggle noise cancellation.
The Fit Pros include Apple-exclusive capabilities like dynamic head tracking for spatial audio, auto device switching, Find My integration, and more if you have an iPhone. Beats provide an app for Android users that allows you to alter settings and view the battery state of the earphones and case, among other things.
5. APPLE AIRPODS PRO
The AirPods Pro offers an enticing blend of complete noise cancellation, good-enough sound quality, and a variety of functions that make them the ideal complement to Apple’s other products for those invested in the company’s ecosystem. They’re also the only AirPods with various ear tip sizes for a customized fit.
The AirPods Pro includes a tiny casing that can charge wirelessly. It’s as simple as holding the open case near your iPhone to get them to work. The earbuds are small and comfortable to wear in most ears. Their force sensor pinch controls are simple to master, and their voice call quality is among the most delicate wireless earbuds. Their ANC isn’t as good as Bose or Sony’s, but it’s good enough to silence your surroundings, and the transparency mode almost makes you forget you’re wearing earphones.
The AirPods distinguish themselves with Apple-only capabilities, including head tracking for spatial music, automatic pairing with all of your Apple iCloud devices, auto device switching, and extended Find My support, among others. They also support audio sharing, and you can use the AirPods for private listening if you have an Apple TV and need to keep things quiet in the living room or bedroom. In terms of sound quality and battery life, the AirPods Pro is quite typical, but their deep integration with Apple’s ecosystem is reason enough to give them serious consideration.
6. SAMSUNG GALAXY BUDS 2
There’s no reason to spend more money on the Galaxy Buds Pro when the Galaxy Buds 2 are so fantastic. They have a compact, unobtrusive design that won’t protrude from your ears like other buds. They are more comfortable than the company’s Pro buds over long periods. The Buds 2 also generate a balanced, bright sound that is very similar to the Pros’ sound profile.
If there’s a drawback, it’s the IPX2 water resistance, making them unsuitable for exercises or getting caught in the rain. The Buds Pro features an IPX7 rating, which means they’re less likely to become wet.
7. ONEPLUS BUDS PRO
Since the first OnePlus Buds release, the OnePlus has come a long way. The OnePlus Buds Pro is the company’s most polished earbuds to date, with a sleek stemmed design that rivals Apple’s AirPods Pro in terms of comfort. There’s no disputing that they are AirPod knockoffs, but their noise canceling is marginally better than Apple’s, and there’s decent transparency setting to go with it.
The controls are nearly identical to the AirPods Pro squeeze motions, but OnePlus outlasts Apple in terms of durability, with an IP55 rating for dust and water resistance. Most earbuds that cost the same $150 as the OnePlus Buds Pro perform better on voice calls. You also get wireless charging in the case for that amount. When it comes to calls, the OnePlus Buds Pro is among the best on the market, with crisp voice reproduction and excellent background noise cancellation, ensuring that others can hear you.
8. APPLE AIRPODS (THIRD GENERATION)
Apple’s third-generation AirPods feature shorter stems than the original model. However, even though their microphones are now further away from your lips, they still work admirably on calls — and there are more significant enhancements in sound quality and fit/comfort that make upgrading to the so-called AirPods 3 desirable.
Apple has also incorporated additional features previously only available on the AirPods Pro, like head tracking spatial audio and deeper Find My integration to help you find your misplaced buds. Furthermore, the case is now compatible with Apple’s MagSafe wireless charging method. Because the AirPods are still one-size-fits-all hard plastic, you’ll want to try them on before purchase to make sure they’re the correct fit for your ears. But, if they are, these are by far Apple’s best standard AirPods to date.
9. SAMSUNG GALAXY BUDS PRO
Okay, so there’s one good reason to acquire the Galaxy Buds “Pro” rather than the Galaxy Buds 2: they’re great at handling voice calls. If you’re taking a call outside, the Galaxy Buds Pro hardware features a windshield chamber to avoid distortion and unpleasant wind noise. And you’ll find out that it genuinely works.
The Galaxy Buds Pro has slightly stronger noise cancellation than the Buds 2. They come with extra features, including 360 audio and a speech detect feature that lowers the volume and enables transparency if you start talking to someone close.
10. RAZER HAMMERHEAD TRUE WIRELESS (2021)
The Hammerhead True Wireless earbuds have a decent sound quality and active noise cancellation for the price. But it’s likely that the low latency gaming option, which reduces response time to 60ms, is just as crucial to mobile gamers.
There’s also the Chroma. Unlike the first-generation Hammerhead True Wireless, these earbuds contain fully adjustable RGB lights on each one. It’s a striking effect; however, it depletes battery life slightly. Razer’s mobile app for the earbuds can control remapping and extensive EQ adjustments. The Hammerhead True Wireless earbuds are average in terms of battery life and transparency mode, but if you’re a fan of Razer gear, you can now flaunt it at the coffee shop while playing your favorite mobile games.
11. NOTHING EAR 1
The initial earbuds from Nothing offer a unique design, even if they can be a little buggier than we’d like, and their noise cancellation isn’t the best. Compared to earbuds from more established companies, the Ear 1 earbuds will stand out due to their semi-translucent design and unusual charging case. And at $99, you won’t have to break the bank to have that extra style — and perhaps the lower price will make it easier to overlook the areas where Nothing’s first set of earbuds fell short.
12. UE FITS
They take 60 seconds to conform to the shape of your ears. That’s about all there is to say about why the UE Fits outperform all other wireless earbuds when it comes to getting the perfect fit. You won’t get any better unless you go to an audiologist and get bespoke IEMs built.
However, the Fits are only worthwhile if you have trouble keeping regular earbuds in your ears. If you’ve tried everything else (even memory foam tips), these are probably worth a shot. The molding experience is unlike anything you’ll get from other earbuds, as the tips warm up in your ears while they change their shape.
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