Your buying guide for the best wireless headphones in 2017
Being tied to a cable isn't what the modern consumer wants and with many smartphones not having a headphone jack, it might be essential. Whatever your reason for cutting the cord, here are some of the best wireless headphones you can buy.
It's never been a better time to buy some wireless headphones. There are more than even on the market, with all kinds of shapes and sizes on offer. The latest technology also means you're not making the same sacrifices on sound quality, either.
How much should I spend on wireless headphones?
These days, you can get wireless headphones at pretty much any price point. Headphone makers have realised that not everyone wants to shell out hundreds of pounds for huge cans so the technology is even found inside small in-ear headphones now.
We've rounded up the best wireless headphones from both our budget chart and high-end chart so you'll be able to find something to fit your budget. If you're out for a bargain, take a look at our pick of the best headphones deals.
Please bear in mind that there are countless pairs of wireless headphones on the market so we can't feature them all. These are the best of the ones we have reviewed.
What to look for in wireless headphones
The biggest reason to buy wireless headphones is convenience. Not having to run a cable through your clothes to your phone that ends up tugging all the time is so much nicer.
As mentioned earlier, phones don't always have headphone jacks now so you might need headphones to be wireless to avoid having to remember the pesky adapter. Also read: How to stop earphone cables getting tangled or twisted.
Some wireless headphones even come with NFC built-in to make it super easy to pair them with a smartphone – you don't need to do much more than tap them together. Apple doesn't allow the iPhone's NFC chip to be used for this, however.
There are downsides to wireless headphones, of course, starting with the fact that sound quality won't be as good compared to a wired pair at the same price point. Look for pairs that support aptX, an audio codec that provides better wireless performance.
Wireless technology requires power to work so that means a battery is going to make them heavier. This also means you'll need to remember to charge them up, but they will run out eventually. While some can last a whopping 20-30 hours, some can only manage around three hours.
Don't forget that using Bluetooth on your phone will use more battery power compared to plugging headphones in.
If your wireless headphones do run out of power then you'll want to revert to the trust old cable. Not all pairs offer this so check whether this is a feature; it's also handy if you want to use them with devices that don't have Bluetooth like the entertainment system on a plane.
For many, the pros will outweigh the cons when it comes to wireless headphones and we hope you find the right pair below. We'll be looking to expand the list as we review more pairs. If you're not sure wireless is the way to go, make sure you read our best headphones chart for other options.
Best wireless headphones reviews
- Reviewed on: 19 October 2017
The Bose QC35 II headphones fix many of the complaints with the first-generation headphones, including the lack of control over noise cancellation. The introduction of Google Assistant is interesting and may be of use to some Android users, but we can’t see it being the main reason for making the purchase – especially when the headphones are so comfortable and produce outstanding sound quality.
It’s not worth the upgrade for first-gen owners, but we’d recommend the Bose QC35 II headphones to anyone looking.
Read our Bose QC35 II headphones review.
- Reviewed on: 9 June 2016
Sony has done a great job of combining style, functionality and great sound quality into a pair of headphones which aren't too expensive for what you're getting. Most importantly, the wireless sound quality is excellent and we're impressed with the noise cancelling, too. Build quality is good for plastic and extra features such as NFC and easy to use controls add to the experience. These are a great choice for anyone looking for wireless over-ear headphones with noise cancelling and solid sound quality.
- Reviewed on: 6 July 2015
We said in our Series 2 review that some might find the £249 price a little hard to swallow, and it’s harder still to stump up £80 more for the removal of a cable. Yet, if you are specifically after wireless headphones, these are one of the best pairs we’ve tested.
Read our Bowers & Wilkins P5 Wireless review.
- Reviewed on: 10 November 2016
If you’re specifically after wireless headphones, the P7 Wireless are some of the best around. They’re not cheap, but they’re reliable, look great and – overall – sound great. They’ll suit those who like heavy bass, but don’t forget about the Bose QuietComfort 35, which may not sound quite as good, but has active noise cancelling and are £30 cheaper.
Read our B&W P7 Wireless review.
- Reviewed on: 29 August 2016
Audio-Technica has created a stylish and lightweight pair of on-ear headphones which won’t break the bank. Although we haven’t found them the most comfortable in the world, they have a lot to offer including NFC, good wireless performance and decent sound quality.
Read our Audio-Technica ATH-SR5BT review.
- Reviewed on: 8 July 2015
If you can afford the price, the Sennheiser Urbanite XL Wireless headphones provide great sound over Bluetooth, offering punchy bass without going over the top. There are handy features such as NFC, a smart touchpad for controls, and a microphone for calls. Some might find the build is a little on the plastic side, and these headphones are pretty bulky – but that's the street style that Sennheiser is aiming for.
Read our Sennheiser Urbanite XL Wireless review.
- Reviewed on: 14 July 2017
Audio-Technica's ATH-AR3BT headphones deliver a balanced soundscape and solid build at a reasonable price. With a mid-range price and a jack-of-all-trades listening experience, these should be a good fit for anyone with a broad range of music in mind.
Read our Audio-Technica ATH-AR3BT review.
- Reviewed on: 13 October 2017
The Jabra Elite Sport are fairly pricey but you get a lot for your money thanks to additional fitness features. Accurate heart rate monitoring and clever tracking combine to make these great for running and working out. Sound quality is decent, too, but if you’re not going to use the sporty features then look elsewhere.
Read our Jabra Elite Sport review.
- Reviewed on: 17 July 2017
The Urbanista Seattle headphones are hard to summarise. The design is simplistic and attractive and would be a hit with the fashion-conscious, but there are downsides too; namely comfort and temperamental touch-based media controls.
Luckily they perform much better in the audio department, providing pronounced bass without drowning out the mid-range, although the high-end could be a little clearer.
Read our Urbanista Seattle wireless review.
- Reviewed on: 10 October 2017
If you're after extremely comfortable wireless earbuds then you've come to the right place. Snugs personalised tips offer an unparalleled fit. Whether you can afford the custom moulded tips is another matter as it is a lot on top of the headphones themselves. Sound quality is good but marred by other issues such as a short battery life and connectivity issues. If you experience the latter then get a refund.
Read our Snugs True Wireless review.