These days, when people discuss the top wireless earbuds, they are almost always referring to true-wireless earbuds, which eliminate the need for a connecting cable. Performance and battery life keep getting better with each new version of Bluetooth (we’re up to Bluetooth 5.3 now) and the updated Bluetooth audio chipsets that come with it.
There are wireless earbuds that come with ear tips and others, like the industry standard AirPods, that don’t. Those are the most comfortable option for listeners who prefer not to have their ears completely sealed off but yet want to hear ambient noise. Active noise cancellation, or noise canceling (with a double l), as Bose and Google call it, is now a common function on headphones. This capability was formerly only available on “noise-isolating” earbuds with silicone or foam ear tips. Both methods provide listenable results.
All the products I’ve researched or listened to extensively for this guide to the best wireless earbuds are ones I’ve personally used. While I do update my suggestions on a regular basis based on my testing of newly released models, the best true-wireless earbuds may be prohibitively expensive, but you can get surprisingly nice ones for $100 or less. If you’re looking for the top earphones of the year 2023, scroll down.
Top Earbuds of the Year 2023
Beats Fitness Pro
The Beats Fit Pro are identical in function to the AirPods Pro, but they are more attractive, secure in your ears, and comfortable to wear. They are great for Apple users, but also make a terrific workout headset and are now our favorite true-wireless earbuds overall due to a more generally compatible USB-C charging case and compatibility for Android through the Beats app. The Fit Pro has a wingtip design that keeps them in place during vigorous activities and provides some extra support for the inner ear without feeling intrusive or heavy.
Using AirPods with an iPhone or other Apple products unlocks their full potential, but if you’re using an Android smartphone, the Fit Pro is just as good as the AirPods Pro. The Fit Pro offers one of the longest battery lives of the Apple buds, lasting 7 hours straight with ANC on, and letting you spend approximately three days with typical on-and-off usage before needing to charge the case. Compared to the AirPods 3, which lasted for 6 hours and 10 minutes, and the AirPods Pro, which lasted for 5 hours, this is an improvement.
Apple AirPods Pro (1st generation)
Since their release, the second generation AirPods Pro have replaced the first generation AirPods Pro as our go-to recommendation for Apple devices. While the original AirPods were great, the newest version of AirPods Pro adds helpful touch controls, improves the sound quality, and revamps the case design. The Beats Fit Pro also does all of this, but with a sportier style and a more comfortable and secure fit.
Apple AirPods Pro 2
According to Apple, the new H2 processor in the second-generation AirPods Pro provides increased processing capability while using less electricity. The new microprocessor, in conjunction with the new low-distortion drivers, produces an enhanced listening experience with more clarity and depth. Apple claims that the new AirPods feature “double” the noise cancellation of the original AirPods Pro. With noise cancellation turned on, the new AirPods can play music for up to six hours on a single charge.
Plus, the case has a speaker that can play a sound using Find My to assist you track down your headphones if they go into hiding.
Although Apple has stopped making the first-generation AirPods Pro, you can still buy them at a steep discount for as long as supplies last. However, if you can afford it, you should upgrade to this latest model.
Third-generation Apple AirPods
Apple’s third iteration of its wireless earbuds, the AirPods 3, is a significant upgrade over its predecessor thanks to enhanced sound quality and the adoption of AirPods Pro features like Spatial Audio and Adaptive EQ. They have a battery life of six hours, which is much longer than that of any previous AirPods model. You may purchase them with a wired charging case, or for $10 more, you can get a wireless one. The Beats Fit Pro and the discounted AirPods Pro are our top picks, unless you have a strong aversion to having any kind of earbud seal in your ears, whether for safety or comfort.
The New Samsung Galaxy Buds2
In my opinion, the Samsung Buds2 (9/10, WIRED Recommends) are the best Android headphones currently available. Lighter and more comfortable than ordinary AirPods, with noise cancellation and longer battery life (five hours with noise canceling, seven and a half without) for around the same price. The Buds2 includes a dual-driver array for enhanced bass and a wireless charging case.
Unfortunately, the accompanying app is Android-only, so iPhone users can’t adjust the equalization, track down a misplaced earbud with a ping, perform Samsung’s fit test, or interact with Samsung’s Bixby speech assistant (no biggie). It’s also important to note that these headphones have caused ear inflammation for some users. If you encounter this, which I did not, please send the buds back right away.
Buds Pro Samsung Galaxy
These are the best of friends for every Samsung phone owner who wants to maximize their device’s potential. While the Pixel Buds Pro’s multi-device compatibility is a nice perk, the Galaxy Buds2 Pro’s pair of dual dynamic drivers produce hyper-clean hi-fi and earn a 9/10 recommendation from WIRED.
With an IPX7 certification and a wonderfully comfortable fit, these headphones are especially great for working out. They will keep playing for five hours on a single charge with the noise canceling feature engaged. If you have a newer Samsung smartphone, you can also take use of the “pro” features like spatial audio and 24-bit sound. The best part? The wireless charging case is a cute shade of purple and is tiny enough to fit in most back pockets.
True Wireless 2 Sennheiser Momentum
These headphones provide fantastic studio-quality sound, but they are a major pain to use. We nearly gave up trying to set up the touch-sensitive controls since we wanted to activate noise cancellation on the left earbud and “Play”/”Pause” on the right. Some users may not be able to overlook the high price tag given how long it took for the earphones to respond to their orders. Once everything was in place, however, they really shone. The Sennheisers are very comfortable and remain in your ears no matter how far you run, with ear tips ranging in size from XS to L for a customized fit.
With Active Noise Cancellation turned on, the phone lasts for a respectable seven hours, and you also receive four more charges in the carrying case, for a total of 28 additional listening hours. (With the noise canceling feature off, you get nine hours of battery life.) First and foremost, the quality of the sound was excellent. On the music we tried them with, not even crackling snares were able to overpower the passionate voices. The earbuds did not have the gritty hardness of cheaper headphones, creating a pleasant balance between the singing and the lively percussion.
Methods of Evaluation
I spent several hours looking at hundreds of different wireless earphones before settling on my recommendations for this guide. After narrowing down the most promising options across many price points, I dove headfirst into rigorous, first-hand testing.
I used the earphones on my daily commute, in the office, and throughout my workouts for at least a week to come up with this list. Using the following criteria, I ranked the earbuds:
Communication and audio quality
Comfortable movement throughout a range of tasks. During my trials, I generally kept the volume at roughly half.
Superior Comfort and Construction
We tested the fit, comfort, and retention mechanisms (such as wings or hooks) of each set of earbuds by using them on a daily basis, while traveling, and at the gym. We also used any manufacturer-provided fitting software and tried out the included eartips and attachments to ensure a wide enough selection was available to accommodate a wide range of users.
Then we also examined each set of headphones closely to see whether they were well-assembled and if the materials were of high quality. We compared case materials and workmanship, as well as the folding size of each model.
Noise Reduction via Electronic Means
We tested how well the ANC software and hardware of several headphones muffled ambient noise. We set up two different noisy environments for testing: jogging on a treadmill with a loud TV nearby, and sitting next to a running washing machine. This part also needed extensive comparison across devices to determine which headphones were reducing sound the most and throughout what frequency range.
We put each model through its paces to see how well it handled music, phone calls, loudness, Bluetooth connectivity, and special functions like noise cancellation and transparency modes. Our evaluation of the software’s ease of use, customization options, and general practicality in everyday life was just as thorough as that of the primary app.
We tested each set of headphones by connecting them to a variety of iOS, Android, and Windows devices and analyzing their compatibility, range, latency, and ease of pairing, switching, and reconnecting.
We utilized a lengthy playlist to test battery life, and after fully charging the headphones, we listened to each pair until they died, both with and without active noise cancellation (ANC). To gain a feel for how many days of real-world usage they might sustain, we incorporated them into our daily routines, charging them to capacity and then using them for work and commuting till fatigue. We ran the battery down to zero and then tested the quick-charge functions to see whether we could achieve the advertised battery life.
We looked at the scope, duration, and availability of service plans and extended warranties for each product we considered.
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