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 2018
1. Bose QC35 II
- Reviewed on: 19 October 2017
The Bose QC35 II are the best all-round headphones you can get at the moment. 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: 13 November 2018
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: 23 November 2018
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.
6. Audeara A-01
- Reviewed on: 9 November 2018
Despite an understated design, the Audeara A-01 headphones stand out from the crowd.
As well as providing impressive active noise cancellation, the headphones boast a hearing test that, once complete, customises the output of the audio for your hearing range. You'll notice new tones and sounds in your favourite songs, and when combined with a 35-to-65-hour battery life, what’s not to like?
Read our Audeara A-01 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: 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: 26 April 2018
For under £100, the RHA MA650 earphones are impressive; though some may be put off by the neckband design, we think there are enough benefits (improved battery life, earbud security, etc) to make it worth inclusion. The range of eartips included shows that RHA goes the extra mile, and should cater to all ear shapes and sizes.
But it’s in the audio department that the MA650s really shine; audio is crisp, clear with a decent bass response, and the passive noise cancellation works impressively well too.
Read our RHA MA650 Wireless 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.