Update, 1/31/23: Wireless earbuds selection has been updated for 2023. AirPods Pro were updated to 2nd generation, Elite Active 75t were replaced with JBL Reflect Flow Pros, and SoundPEATS T3 have been added.
No market has moved faster in the 2020s than the true wireless earbud scene. They’ve gotten smaller, more portable, longer battery life, and have more features than ever before. Sound quality has also gotten significantly better. But with so many on the market, you might be wondering: Which are the best for me?
What to Look for in True Wireless Earbuds
Regardless of what your budget is, there are a few things you should take into consideration before buying a new pair of earbuds. These are each important and can affect your overall listening experience:
- Price and Value: No two pairs of earbuds are alike in their design and feature set. You can snag a cheap pair for $15 and sure, they’ll technically work, but they won’t sound great or last long. Aiming for at least mid-range true wireless earbuds, or even a more premium pair, will net you a more comfortable and durable design. That way, you can have a quality listening experience whether you’ve got on a podcast, movie, or your favorite playlist.
- Audio Quality: The best true wireless earbuds make great-sounding audio a priority. They pack excellent hardware and well-thought-out software that, together, create a full and balanced sound, with crystal clear highs, robust mids, and powerful lows. In fact, if they’re good enough, you’ll put away your over-ear headphones and never look back. Bonus points if they have a companion mobile app with an equalizer.
- Fit and Design: Good earbuds should sit comfortably in your ear, create a good seal, and not hurt you or feel like they might fall out if you move around too much. The best buds typically come with extra tips in different sizes, too, so you can swap out the defaults for a better fit. Of course, it’s also nice when the earbuds are small and don’t stick out from your ear too much, and when they have a modern, stylish design.
- Battery Life: No one wants tech that’s gonna die on them in the middle of the day, so make sure you choose earbuds with plenty of battery. We recommend options with at least five hours, and that come with a case that’ll tack on at least another 20 hours. Some cases even offer wireless charging or a fast-charge feature that’ll give you a little extra juice (like another hour) in just 15 minutes.
- Extra Features: Audio quality and a comfy fit are great, but some fun extras are also nice to have. The best true wireless earbuds have active noise cancellation (ANC) that’ll block unwanted background noise and some variation of transparency mode for when you want to hear what’s going on around you without removing the buds. We also love buds that let you connect to multiple devices simultaneously so you can switch between the audio on your smartphone and your desktop seamlessly.
Best Overall: Jabra Elite 85t
- ✓ Excellent sound quality
- ✓ Good, comfortable fit
- ✓ Incredible ANC
- ✓ Great battery life and wireless charging
- ✓ Bluetooth multipoint
- ✗ SideTone could sound more natural
- ✗ Only right bud works solo
- ✗ IP rating downgrade
The Jabra Elite 85t is an easy choice for our best overall pick. Why? They pack outstanding sound quality with 12mm drivers, a comfortable fit, top-notch active noise cancelation, and stellar battery life. Oh—and they’re reasonably priced to boot. The buds check all of the boxes while managing a modern, stylish look.
While we wish their IP rating was higher (it’s IPX4, which is only resistant to a quick splash and not anything more substantial), and that SideTone made the user’s voice sound a little more natural, it’s really hard to complain about the Elite 85ts. And did we mention they can last up to 31 hours on a single charge? Because that’s awesome. Their fast-charging feature lets you get another hour in just 15 minutes. Overall, they sound and look great, and have all the features we need and want. What’s not to like?
Jabra Elite 85t
Jabra's Elite 85t earbuds have outstanding sound, stylish design, a comfy fit, and terrific battery life.
Best Budget: Skullcandy Dime
- ✓ Super affordable
- ✓ Solid audio quality
- ✓ Convenient touch buttons
- ✗ Battery life is underwhelming
- ✗ No ANC
- ✗ Cheap-feeling case
- ✗ Uncomfortable during long use
Looking for a high-quality pair of buds that won’t break the bank? The Skullcandy Dime is the pair for you. For the cost of a movie ticket and some snacks, you’ll get rock-solid audio, a stylish and quality design, and access to Google Assistant and Siri for those who want it. The buds are available in four neat color combinations, too: Dark Blue/Green, Dark Grey, Light Grey/Blue, and True Black.
Because of the low price point here, however, the Dime doesn’t offer you many features. For one, the battery trails behind the other options; you’ll get a total of just 12 hours. The case lacks a premium feel as well, plus the earbuds lack ANC and aren’t the most comfortable to wear during long sessions. But, if you’re looking for the best possible sound on the cheap, these are the buds to beat.
These affordable buds have solid audio quality and a stylish design for their price point.
Best Value: SoundPEATS T3
- ✓ Terrific sound and controls
- ✓ Lightweight and comfortable
- ✓ Strong Bluetooth connection
- ✗ Lacks an app and EQ
- ✗ No auto-pause
- ✗ Lackluster case battery
While they’re not as cheap as the Skull candy earbuds, the SoundPEATS T3 buds are an outstanding value. They produce balanced, powerful sound, come equipped with nearly all the controls you need, are comfortable and lightweight, pair easily, and maintain a strong connection. Plus, their noise-canceling technology is outstanding, considering how much you pay for them.
However, there are a couple of downsides to these less-expensive wireless earbuds. For example, they don’t have a companion app or an equalizer to customize your listening experience, they lack an auto-pause function, and the battery case leaves a little to be desired. However, those omissions can be forgiven, considering how much else you get with these wireless earbuds.
SoundPEATS T3 Wireless Earbuds Active Noise Cancelling Bluetooth 5.2 Headphones in-Ear ANC Earphones with Transparency Mode, Sound+ AI ENC Tech for Clear Calls, Touch Control, Immersive Stereo Sound
If you want to spend just a few extra bucks, you can upgrade to the SoundPEATS T3 for some top-tier features.
Best Premium Buds: Sony WF-1000XM4
- ✓ Unbeatable audio quality
- ✓ The best ANC out there
- ✓ Adjustable Ambient Mode
- ✗ Expensive
- ✗ Finicky touch controls
- ✗ Only three foam tip options
No list of earbuds would be complete without the spectacular Sony WF-1000XM4. These buds have seriously great audio that blows every other option here out of the water. So if price is no issue, just stop reading and go pick these up right now. Seriously, you’ll thank me.
The XM4s are slightly bigger than others, but it’s forgivable because they sound so damn good. They also don’t sound so good … as in, their ANC is the best out there and you won’t hear anything you don’t want to once you turn it on. Perhaps their only downsides are their fussy touch controls and their foam tips, which aren’t for everyone. But honestly, any nitpicks are overshadowed by how wonderful they are otherwise.
Sony's XM4 earbuds are an audiophile's delight, and are worth every dollar.
Best for Athletes: JBL Reflect Flow Pro+
- ✓ Noise-canceling with ambient mode
- ✓ Long-lasting battery
- ✓ IP68 waterproof rated
- ✗ Could be lighter
Enjoying your favorite tunes, podcasts, and audiobooks is a great way to get through your workout. For athletes, we recommend the JBL Reflect Flow Pro+. They come equipped with everything you need to survive with you while you pound the pavement, lift weights, or cycle down the road, including active noise canceling with Smart Ambient mode so you can block out the outside world. Additionally, they’re IP68 waterproof rated, so you can go jogging without worrying about the rain. And relatively light at just 14 grams, even though that’s not the lightest you could hope for.
Plus, you can sync these headphones with the JBL Headphone app, allowing you to customize exactly what you hear and how loud you hear it. Plus, with their 10-hour battery life, you’ll never have to worry about running out of power during your workout. Plus, a fully charged battery case ensures up to 30 hours of playback before you need to recharge. And with four differently sized Powerfins, you can be sure that these wireless earbuds will fit your ears and not fall out while you’re in the exercise zone.
JBL Reflect Flow Pro+
Athletes can get their workout in without missing their favorite music or podcast episode.
Best for Apple Users: AirPods Pro
- ✓ Good, intuitive controls
- ✓ Noise Cancelling and Transparency mode are both great
- ✓ Streamlined case with wireless charging
- ✗ Pricey
- ✗ Not great for Android and Windows
- ✗ Only comes in one color (white)
If you’re already entrenched in Apple’s ever-expanding universe, you can’t go wrong with the AirPods Pro. They’re easy to connect with any of your Apple devices and boast quality active noise canceling, Transparency Mode, and interchangeable tips. The case supports wireless charging, which is convenient, and the buds’ controls are intuitive and easy to use.
They are pricey (comparable with our best overall pick) but still below that premium level despite packing some pretty premium features. You can take advantage of the Ear Fit Tip Test to find the right size tips for your ears, and once you do, you’ll be ready to enjoy their wonderful sound quality Our only complaints? They’re not a great choice for Windows and Android users, and they only come in white.
Apple AirPods Pro (2nd Gen)
Love Apple, there's no better true wireless earbuds for you than the AirPods Pro 2nd Generation.
Best for Android Users: Google Pixel Buds A-Series
- ✓ Extremely comfortable
- ✓ Good sound quality for the money
- ✓ Spatial vents are the real deal
- ✗ No ANC or transparency
- ✗ No wireless charging
If you’re using an Android phone (and especially a Google Pixel), the Pixel Buds A-Series are a match made in heaven. Though the buds lack many premium features, they get a lot right and are an absolutely solid choice at this low price point. We do wish they had ANC and a transparency option, however.
The Pixel Buds absolutely nail the design and fit, keeping their size small and using a built-in stabilizer arc that ensures a stable fit. The spatial vents on these are also terrific and eliminate that annoying “clogged” feeling some earbuds cause. And with their damn decent sound, the Pixel Buds are a nice and relatively affordable pick for dedicated Android users.
Google Pixel Buds A-Series
These earbuds offer decent sound and a super comfy fit for the price, but lack a few creature comforts.