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 X to the Pixel 2 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 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 headphones fix many of the complaints with the first-generation headphones, including the lack of control over noise cancellation. The introduction of Google Assistant is interesting and may be of use to some Android users, but we can’t see it being the main reason for making the purchase – especially when the headphones are so comfortable and produce outstanding sound quality.
It’s not worth the upgrade for first-gen owners, but we’d recommend the Bose QC35 II headphones to anyone looking. The Bowers & Wilkins PX might sound better but these are the best all-round wireless headphones money can buy.
Read our Bose QC35 II review.
- Reviewed on: 27 October 2017
For its first attempt at noise cancelling headphones Bowers & Wilkins has done an amazing job. By incorporating elements of the outstanding P9 Signature headphones in a compact and portable design, the PX are the best sounding wireless headphones we’ve ever heard. As usual build quality is luxurious, although they’re not the most comfortable around. Battery life is decent, smart sensors are handy and noise cancelling is great so there’s little to complain about here.
Read our Bowers & Wilkins PX review.
- 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: 15 November 2017
We were a bit suspicious about the claims made by Nura and its technology but the Nuraphones offer incredible personal sound that has to be heard to be believed. Not only that, but the dual-driver setup means bass is out of this world and - crucially - controllable to your liking.
Handy touch buttons, good battery life, aptX HD and support for a range of connections all add to the appeal.
The downside is that they're not all that comfortable, which detracts from the experience: they're not ideal for longer listening sessions or listening on the move.
Read our Nuraphone review.
- Reviewed on: 9 June 2016
Sony has done a great job of combining style, functionality and great sound quality into a pair of headphones which aren't too expensive for what you're getting. Most importantly, the wireless sound quality is excellent and we're impressed with the noise cancelling, too. Build quality is good for plastic and extra features such as NFC and easy to use controls add to the experience. These are a great choice for anyone looking for wireless over-ear headphones with noise cancelling and solid sound quality.
- Reviewed on: 6 July 2015
Some might find the £329 price a little hard to swallow, but look around and you can find these for much cheaper than the RRP. If you are specifically after wireless headphones, these are one of the best pairs we’ve tested.
Read our Bowers & Wilkins P5 Wireless 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: 14 July 2017
Audio-Technica's ATH-AR3BT headphones deliver a balanced soundscape and solid build at a reasonable price. With a mid-range price and a jack-of-all-trades listening experience, these should be a good fit for anyone with a broad range of music in mind.
Read our Audio-Technica ATH-AR3BT 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.