With the lack of headphone jacks on so many smartphones these days, it's no wonder wireless headphones are more popular than ever. In particular, wireless earbuds are all the rage and here we round-up the best.
We haven't reviewed the Apple AirPods (you can read our sister site's thoughts over on Macworld), so these are the best AirPods alternatives. They will, of course, work on iOS or Android so it doesn't matter where you're coming from.
If you're looking for general wireless headphones then we have a dedicated chart for that which includes on- and over-ear headphones.
Back to wireless earbuds and 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 very new, prices won't come down for a while – the average price for a well-known brand is £200.
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.
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.
Many will be pitched as fitness or sport headphones and while ones like the Bose SoundFree Sport are waterproof, rivals like the Jabra Elite Sport have more features like tracking and a heart rate monitor.
Please note that this is a round-up of the earbuds we've reviewed and we'll be adding more soon.
Best wireless earbuds 2018
- Reviewed on: 21 March 2018
Sony has almost nailed it with the WF-1000X. These wireless earbuds are small, light and comfortable while offering excellent sound quality. They also have noise cancelling which you won't find elsewhere.
We only have minor quibbles such as occasional drop outs and a below par case design. You'll only really need to go elsewhere, such as the Jabra Elite Sport, if you want fitness features rather than noise cancelling.
Read our Sony WF-1000X 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: 20 February 2018
Bose has done a pretty decent job at making its first wireless earbuds. They’re quite large but remain light and offer excellent sound quality which should be a priority for anyone. While they offer decent battery life and IPX4 waterproofing, they’re lacking in real sport features like tracking or a heart rate monitor so look to the Jabra Elite Sport if that’s important.
Read our Bose SoundSport Free review.
- Reviewed on: 26 April 2018
The Samsung Gear IconX are better than their bad name. They are best paired with an Android phone with the aptX Bluetooth codec, so check first. But like the Apple AirPods, these are a Samsung product and work best with Samsung Galaxy devices.
The integration with Samsung Health for workouts is possible on other Android phones but using Health and the Gear app on a Galaxy phone is what these buds are meant for, and work best with.
They lose out on a higher score because of this, the sometimes muddy sound, occasional dropouts and the fact they sound unacceptably bad on iPhone – though this is arguably Apple’s fault for not supporting aptX.
Read our Samsung Gear IconX (2018) 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.
6. Jaybird Run
- Reviewed on: 22 February 2018
The Jaybird Run headphones offer solid audio and simple, user-friendly controls - which is great when they actually work. Unfortunately, intermittent connection issues and charging case problems mar the experience, making them hard to recommend over similarly specced alternatives from other manufacturers.
Read our Jaybird Run review.