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 XS to the Pixel 3 not having a headphone jack, going wireless 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 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 now.
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.
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 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. Of course, if you have a phone without a headphone jack this won't be much use.
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.
Wireless headphones come in various options including over-ear and on-ear. Since they're becoming so popular, we've rounded up wireless earbuds in a separate list - however, the best ones are featured here.
Best wireless headphones 2019
- Reviewed on: 15 July 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 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.
2. 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: 23 July 2019
Simply put, the RHA TrueConnect are the best 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.
- 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: 21 March 2018
Sony has almost made the perfect pair of wireless earbuds with the WF-1000X.
These truly wireless earphones are comfortable because they're lightweight and small. Add in excellent sound quality and noise cancelling and we can hear you reaching for that buy button.
Some drop outs and a slightly odd case design are small downsides and rivals like the Jabra Elite Sport are a better choice if you're looking for a pair specifically for workouts and fitness.
Read our Sony WF-1000X 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.
- Reviewed on: 9 August 2019
The Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 are almost perfect - but the few irritations that are there, combined with a price jump relative to the competition - stop them from being a clear-cut winner in the noise-cancelling arms race.
The noise cancellation and audio quality is essentially on a par with Sony’s best, while improved design and noise cancellation on your own microphone audio are little touches that improve the experience.
Unfortunately, an unreliable app, glitchy Bluetooth, and fiddly touch controls detract from the experience. When you can leave the headphones be and just listen, they’re mostly phenomenal, but every time you have to step in to interact with them the little irritations creep in.
- 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.
- Reviewed on: 1 May 2019
Some of the claims made by Nura and its technology are a bit suspect (we've been left disappointed in the past by similar claims) but the Nuraphones offer astonishing personalised sound. You really need to hear it to believe it.
If you can get past the strange probe-like design, which a lot of people wont, then these headphone sound incredible. Partly due to the innovative dual-driver setup, which means unique sounding bass. Other benefits include aptX, good battery life and a number of options for connectivity.
The G2 software update now means they have noise cancelling and other improvements which makes them more attractive.
Read our Nuraphone review.