Your buying guide for the best wireless headphones in 2018
Being tied to a cable isn't what the modern consumer wants, and with phones from the iPhone 11 to the Pixel 4 not having a headphone jack, going wireless might be essential.
It's never been a better time to buy some wireless headphones. There are more than ever 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 that you used to 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.
We've rounded up the best wireless headphones from both our budget chart and high-end chart (some of which appear here) 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.
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 - though, again, this isn't supported on iPhones so you'll want something like AAC instead.
Wireless technology requires power to work so that means a battery, which is going to make them heavier. This also means you'll need to remember to charge them up. While some wireless headphones can last a whopping 20-30 hours, some can only manage around three hours.
Don't forget that using Bluetooth on your phone will also use more of your phone's battery power than plugging headphones in.
If your wireless headphones do run out of power then you'll want to revert to the trusty old wire. 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 or a Nintendo Switch - though gadgets like the RHA Wireless Flight Adapter will let you connect to wired sources without the pesky wires.
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 2019
- Reviewed on: 29 November 2019
Aside from slightly fiddly touch controls, there’s really very little to complain about from Sony's WH-1000XM3 - except maybe the awkward name. The noise cancellation is still absolutely unmatched, and it’s backed up by audio that’s almost as good.
Sony has merely tinkered with the rest of the design, rather than transforming it, keeping the understated aesthetic that’s served it so well so far, and despite the tighter fit than previous models these are still plenty comfortable for long-term listening.
Throw in reliable Bluetooth connections, 30-hour battery life, and (joy of joys) USB-C charging, and these are basically the best wireless headphones around right now.
Read our Sony WH-1000XM3 review.
- Reviewed on: 22 August 2019
At they're 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 not at this price.
Read our Cambridge Audio Melomania 1 review.
- Reviewed on: 23 July 2019
Simply put, the RHA TrueConnect are one of the best pairs of wireless earbuds we've tested.
Although they don't have active noise cancelling like the Sony WF-1000X, the comfortable and efficient seal provides excellent noise isolation instead. This means they're cheaper and don't suffer from dropouts either.
Add in a whopping 25 hours battery life via the charging case, IPX5 splash resistance and top-notch audio quality and this is the pair to beat.
Read our RHA TrueConnect review.
4. Bose QC35 II
- Reviewed on: 19 October 2017
The Bose QC35 II are still among the best all-round headphones you can get at the moment, even now that Bose has followed up with the Noise Cancelling Headphones 700. Offering stylish design, sound quality, usability and features.
Although Google Assistant is the main new addition, there's many more reasons why they QC35 II are great. They're oh so comfortable and last a really long time which is a good start. Then there's the almost unrivalled noise cancelling combined with excellent sound quality.
What more could you want?
Read our Bose QC35 II review.
- Reviewed on: 25 July 2019
Aside from lacking Bluetooth 5.0 and AAC support, there's not really much to complain about when it comes to RHA's T20 Wireless in-ear headphones. They're a strong upgrade on the T20i headphones, offering a blend of wireless and wired support alongside incredible-sounding audio further enhanced by the inclusion of custom tuning filters that emphasise bass and treble.
The 12-hour battery life isn't the longest we've ever seen from a pair of neckbuds, but when the battery does die, you can switch to a good old-fashioned wired connection which, as well as not requiring power, actually bumps the sound quality into high-res territory with a frequency range of 16-40,000Hz.
Whether you're an audiophile or just someone looking for a great pair of neckbuds, you won't be disappointed with the RHA T20 Wireless headphones.
Read our RHA T20 Wireless review.
- Reviewed on: 4 November 2019
You might not find the latest version of Bluetooth or smart on/off tech like other neckbuds on the market, but the 1More Triple-Driver BT headphones excel in the audio department - and that's all that really matters, right?
The patented drivers produce booming bass that doesn't affect the clarity of the mid- or high-end, offering a balanced audio experience perfect for a range of music. It's more tailored towards iOS users with AAC codec support admittedly, but Android users will still get a decent audio experience.
Read our 1More Triple-Driver BT headphones review.
- Reviewed on: 27 October 2017
Bowers & Wilkins has done an amazing job at its first pair of noise cancelling headphones. The design and slightly more complicated user experience means that Bose's rival will be a better option for most people.
However, the PX are a top choice with better build quality and seriously good sound, incorporating some tech from the P9 Signature. Battery life is also good and we like the smart sensors, too.
As long as they're not too bulky for you, we doubt you'll be disappointed.
Read our Bowers & Wilkins PX review.
- Reviewed on: 14 May 2019
Top-notch sound at an affordable price, the T5 Ultraconnect offers more than you might expect including support for aptX and AAC.
There's also Bluetooth 5 for a reliable connection and changeable tuning filters for tailoring the sound.
Read our Rock Jaw T5 Ultraconnect review.
9. Grado GW100
- Reviewed on: 13 November 2019
If you love the idea of Grado's open-back headphones but can’t countenance a wire in the year of Lord 2019, the Grado GW100 are exactly what you’re looking for. They have all the strengths - and weaknesses - of Grado’s core lineup, but cut the cord.
What you shouldn’t do is believe the company’s marketing line that these have somehow squared the circle of delivering open-back sound without the leakage. There’s less leaking than before, but still: everyone near you will hear your music, and you will hear everything else around you.
For better or worse then, these are Grados. Use them at home and you’ll love the expansive, open soundscape, but try to take them out and you won’t.
Read our Grado GW100 review.
- Reviewed on: 12 February 2019
We do really like like Surface Headphones, even if we would prefer another colour or two instead of grey.
If you want comfortable headphones then these are definitely going to tick that box. There are other useful features like touch controls, automatic playback sensing, hands-free calls and really satisfying adjustment dials.
They sound pretty good, too, but they just don't reach the same heights as key rivals that are priced the same.
Read our Microsoft Surface Headphones review.