Apple has set yet another tech industry trend, this time for wireless earbuds thanks to the AirPods. Now you can choose from countless pairs offering the same thing, but in various different form factors and prices with different features.
The choice is overwhelming but we've reviewed and ranked the best wireless earbuds you can buy from the likes of Sony, Apple, RHA, Samsung and more.
We're focusing on what are known as 'true wireless' earbuds here – ie not ones that are attached to each other with a cable that hangs on your neck like the Google Pixel Buds or Huawei FreeLace Pro - aka neckbuds.
If you're looking for general wireless headphones then we have a dedicated chart for that which includes on- and over-ear headphones.
In terms of wireless earbuds, you're going to have to spend a fair amount to get a decent pair. This is because there's a lot of technology packed into tiny headphones. Since the category is still quite new, prices won't come down for a while – the average price for a well-known brand is £150/$150.
If your budget is tight, take a look at our recommendations for the best cheap true wireless earbuds although we've included a couple of pairs here under £100. Make sure you check out our best headphone deals article for the top bargains right now.
Generally speaking, the earbuds from different manufacturers are very similar. The headphones connect to your phone (or other devices) and each other over Bluetooth and tend to have playback controls on at least one earbud.
Active noise cancelling (ANC) digitally cuts out the noise around you. It's still quite rare but we do have a few pairs here with the feature. Otherwise, we have a dedicated noise cancelling headphones chart.
You'll get a few hours of battery life (there's not much space for the battery) and the carry case will handily charge them up, normally a few times over. Find out how we test audio.
Best true wireless earbuds 2020
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1. Cambridge Melomania 1 - Best Overall
At their affordable price compared to the big name rivals out there, the Cambridge Audio Melomania 1 wireless earbuds should be lacking in a few areas but they're really not.
They might not have the most striking design but they're lightweight and comfortable. The buttons can handle a whole range of functions once you learn the system, too.
More importantly, there's excellent battery life on offer here combined with top sound quality so what more could you want? Perhaps noise cancelling but rarely at this price.
Read our full Cambridge Audio Melomania 1 review
2. RHA TrueConnect 2 - Best Build Quality
Now back with a second edition, RHA has made the TrueConnect 2 even better while somehow reducing the price.
Ok, they don't come with foam tips anymore and they look the same but that's forgivable considering that these earbuds can now last nine hours and a ridiculous total of 44 hours when you factor in the case - a 75% improvement - and already had top-notch build quality.
There's still no noise cancelling but they're cheaper and upgrades include better IP55 durability, excellent touch controls and a more refined sound quality.
Read our full RHA TrueConnect 2 review
3. Sony WF-1000XM3 - Best Noise Cancelling
Improving upon the original WF-1000X earbuds, the new model has been redesigned and improved.
The charging case is a little bulky, but the total run-time of 24 hours is good, although others can go a lot longer if overall battery life is important.
Amazing noise cancelling is the main lure here as well as the ability to tweak everything, including the touch key functions, in the companion app and use Siri or Google Assistant hands-free.
Read our full Sony WF-1000XM3 review
4. Samsung Galaxy Buds+ - Best Battery Life
In a sense, the Galaxy Buds+ don’t add much to the originals. The same design, similar sound, and a couple of software tweaks. Active noise-cancelling might have been a nice addition, but that would be a big ask at this price.
That’s all burying the lede though because the real sell here is the battery life on the buds. 11 hours’ playtime is basically the best around, and we’ve never worried less about battery life on any wireless headphones.
We could find small things to complain about - the glossy case, slightly fiddly touch controls, the lack of aptX audio codec support - but ultimately the Galaxy Buds+ are great. And thanks to the inclusion of iOS app support, now they’re great no matter what phone you use them with.
Read our full Samsung Galaxy Buds+ review
5. Bose QC Earbuds - Best Noise Cancelling Control
Granted, they look a bit dated with a bulky design but a surprisingly lightweight and secure fit means that doesn't matter as much as it could. The touch control system is unusual but certainly not bad and automatic play/pause makes up for it somewhat.
If you're ok with the style, then Bose has made one of the best pairs of true wireless earbuds you can buy - if you can afford them, of course. Battery life is a little behind Sony but it's decent enough with a total of 18 hours.
Importantly, sound quality is excellent and active noise cancelling is the best in class with 11 levels of control - you can even set three favourite levels for different situations.
Read our full Bose QC Earbuds review
6. Apple AirPods Pro - Best for iPhone
AirPods have always been good, but the Pro model makes them great. Apple has done this by improving the design and therefore fit and comfort for starters.
They're also very fuss-free thanks to easy pairing, plus automatic pause and off. Then there's the way they maintain a solid connection and have decent active noise cancelling, which is still a feature quite rare on wireless earbuds.
While we welcome these improvements and new features, they're expensive and really should offer better sound quality at this price. Look to the regular AirPods if you need something cheaper.
Read our full AirPods Pro review
7. Libratone Track Air+ - Most Versatile
They have arrived a bit later than the competition but Libratone has managed to create a very tempting pair of true wireless earbuds thanks to a nice balance of price, features and sound quality.
Importantly, the Track Air+ offer noise-cancelling which is very rare for this type of headphone, and at a lower price than Sony. Build and audio performance are good but look to RHA and Cambridge Audio if noise-cancelling isn't a must.
The app could do with a couple of improvements but overall we're pretty impressed.
Read our full Libratone Track Air+ review
8. Huawei Freebuds 3i - Best Budget ANC
If you want noise cancelling on a budget then the Freebuds 3i are the wireless earbuds to get.
Not only are they among the cheapest earbuds with ANC you can buy, they offer a closed design complete with ear tips resulting in a more comfortable fit and better noise isolation compare to the open Freebuds 3.
However, there's a fairly big downside here and that's poor battery life - especially with ANC switched on so they won't be good if you want long listening sessions.
Read our full Huawei FreeBuds 3i review
9. Creative Outlier Air - Best Budget
You can easily spend more than double the price of the Outlier Air on true wireless earbuds.
But for most people, there’s little point: Creative’s headphones sound good and have great battery life.
They’re not the most compact, and the carry case is probably larger than most, but overall, the Outlier Air is an excellent buy.
Read our full Creative Outlier Air review
10. Samsung Galaxy Buds Live - Best for Comfort
The oddest looking earbuds we've ever seen but don't judge them too quickly. Much to our surprise, the Buds Live are actually super comfortable and stable with their bean-like shape.
Note that these are an alternative to the Buds+, not a replacement, and offer good quality audio along with the active noise cancelling tech Samsung has omitted until now.
The open fit means that the ANC isn't as effect as rivals and we're not keen on the touch controls either.
Read our full Samsung Galaxy Buds Live review