Thanks to the introduction of the AirPods years ago, the wireless earbud market is extremely crowded making it hard to choose what pair to buy. Here we review and rank the best true wireless earbuds you can buy to help you find the right pair.
As well as the AirPods, there are great wireless earbuds from the likes of Sony, Bose and Samsung as well as brands you might not know so well like RHA and Cambridge Audio.
We’re focusing on what are known as ‘true wireless’ earbuds here – ie not ones that are attached to each other with a cable that hangs on your neck like the Google Pixel Buds or Huawei FreeLace Pro – aka neckbuds.
If you’re looking for general headphones then we have a dedicated chart for that which includes on- and over-ear headphones.
In terms of wireless earbuds, you’re going to have to spend a fair amount to get a decent pair. This is because there’s a lot of technology packed into tiny headphones. Since the category is still quite new, prices won’t come down for a while – the average price for a well-known brand is around £150/$150.
If your budget is tight, take a look at our recommendations for the best cheap true wireless earbuds although we may include pairs under £100/US$100 here.
Generally speaking, the earbuds from different manufacturers are very similar. The headphones connect to your phone (or other devices) and each other over Bluetooth and tend to have playback controls on at least one earbud.
Active noise cancelling (ANC) digitally cuts out the noise around you. Some of the buds here have it, but we also have a dedicated noise cancelling headphones chart which includes other styles.
Battery life varies for the earbuds but the carry case will handily charge them up, normally a few times over. Find out how we test audio.
Best true wireless earbuds 2021
Sony WF-1000XM4 – Best Overall
- Best in class ANC
- Amazing sound
- Strong battery life
- Smart features
If you can afford them and don’t have tiny ears, there’s really nothing to dislike about the WF-1000XM4. Sony has once again created an exceptional pair of wireless earbuds.
Along with solid battery life and quick charging, they offer the best active noise cancelling on a pair of earbuds we’ve tested. Not only does it do a great job of removing unwanted sound, it has unrivalled AI technology that can change the mode and level depending on where you are or what you’re doing.
There’s plenty more tech packed in, too, with Speak-to-Chat, DSEE Extreme upscaling, LDAC support for Hi-Res Audio Wireless as well as 360 Reality Audio spatial audio. And pretty much everything can be customised or switched off when needed.
Read our full Sony WF-1000XM4 review
RHA TrueConnect 2 – Best Build Quality
- Excellent build
- Reasonable price
- Strong battery life
- No ANC
- No foam tips like original
Now back with a second edition, RHA has made the TrueConnect 2 even better while somehow reducing the price.
Ok, they don’t come with foam tips anymore and they look the same but that’s forgivable considering that these earbuds can now last nine hours and a ridiculous total of 44 hours when you factor in the case – a 75% improvement – and already had top-notch build quality.
There’s still no noise cancelling but they’re cheaper and upgrades include better IP55 durability, excellent touch controls and a more refined sound quality.
Read our full RHA TrueConnect 2 review
Cambridge Melomania Touch – Best Battery Life
- Epic battery life
- Great sound
- User-friendly app
- Comfortable fit
- No ANC
- Slow switching modes
- Slightly awkward case
As long as noise cancelling isn’t a must-have feature, the Cambridge Melomania Touch are one of the best pairs of wireless earbuds you can get.
Not only are they affordable, but they are comfortable and have the best battery life around – able to last for a total of 50 hours if you switch them into low power mode. Even on high performance, they can still go for an impressive 44.
Longevity aside, the sound quality is excellent and you get a lot of control over the sound with a graphic EQ in the app which can also do various other useful things. You can still get the Melomania 1 if you want a bargain.
Read our full Cambridge Audio Melomania Touch review
Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro – Best for Samsung Users
- Cheaper than rivals
- Intellegent ANC
- Wireless charging
- Awkward touch controls
- Middling battery life
It’s taken a while but the Galaxy Buds have finally gone Pro and Samsung has really nailed it here.
They might not have the longest battery life around but this is a very well-rounded and premium package, ticking all the important boxes at a cheaper price than key rivals.
The Buds Pro are comfortable and have excellent Intelligent ANC, sound quality and come with wireless charging and IPX7 protection.
About the only downsides are that some features are limited to Samsung phones and the touch controls can be a little fiddly, but then most are.
Read our full Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro review
Apple AirPods Pro – Best for iPhone
- User friendly
- Solid ANC
- Secure fit
- Sub-par battery life
- Better sound quality elsewhere
AirPods have always been good, but the Pro model makes them great. Apple has done this by improving the design and therefore fit and comfort for starters.
They’re also very fuss-free thanks to easy pairing, plus automatic pause and off. Then there’s the way they maintain a solid connection and have decent active noise cancelling, which is still a feature quite rare on wireless earbuds.
While we welcome these improvements and new features, they’re expensive and really should offer better sound quality at this price. Look to the regular AirPods if you need something cheaper.
Read our full AirPods Pro review
NuraTrue – Best Personalised Sound
- Incredible personal sound
- Secure fit
- Touch controls
- Average ANC
- No fast charging
They might lack fast charging and don’t have the best noise cancelling but Nura stands out in the earbud market for its unique personalised audio technology. It’s just as impressive as previous prodcuts, but now packed into tiny earbuds.
You need to hear it to believe it and there are other things to like about the NuraTrue beyond mesmerising sound. They have useful touch controls and a compact, secure fit making them suitable for running and exercising.
They’re also cheaper than some of the big names and you can still get the NuraLoop for a little less if a neckbud design is suitable.
Read our full NuraTrue review
Bose QC Earbuds – Best App
- Excellent ANC
- Useful app
- Solid sound
- Bulky design
- Middling battery life
Granted, they look a bit dated with a bulky design but a surprisingly lightweight and secure fit means that doesn’t matter as much as it could. The touch control system is unusual but certainly not bad and automatic play/pause makes up for it somewhat.
If you’re ok with the style, then Bose has made one of the best pairs of true wireless earbuds you can buy – if you can afford them, of course. Battery life is a little behind Sony but it’s decent enough with a total of 18 hours.
Importantly, sound quality is excellent and active noise cancelling has 11 levels of control – you can even set three favourite levels for different situations.
Read our full Bose QC Earbuds review
Anker Soundcore Life A2 NC – Best Budget ANC
- Very affordable
- Hybrid ANC
- Great battery life
- Plasticky case
- No ear detection
- No ANC auto-switching
If you don’t have hundreds to spend, you can still get a decent pair of wireless earbuds with noise cancelling.
The Soundcore Life A2 NC will leave you with decent change from 100 notes and have hybrid ANC, although they can’t auto-switch between modes. Still, performance is good along with solid bass and great battery life.
Other sacrifices to achieve the low price include a cheap case, no ear detection but overall you’re unlikely to be disappointed with what are a great value pair of earbuds.
Read our full Anker Soundcore Life A2 NC review
Samsung Galaxy Buds Live – Best for Comfort
- Very comfortable
- Good sound
- Cheaper than rivals
- Limited ANC
- Poor touch controls
The oddest looking earbuds we’ve ever seen but don’t judge them too quickly. Much to our surprise, the Buds Live are actually super comfortable and stable with their bean-like shape.
Note that these are an alternative to the Buds+, not a replacement, and offer good quality audio along with the active noise cancelling tech Samsung has omitted until now.
The open fit means that the ANC isn’t as effect as rivals and we’re not keen on the touch controls either.
Read our full Samsung Galaxy Buds Live review
Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2 – ANC and EQ
- Great sound quality
- Solid battery life
- Useful touch controls
Sporting a smaller design than the first-gen Momentum True Wireless, the second-gen wireless earbuds are minimalist, compact and comfortable to wear. The touch controls may seem complex at first, but customisation via the app for iOS and Android means you can adjust to your liking.
The fabric-covered charging case certainly looks different from the competition, but the downside is that it’s also much larger. Improved battery life is the upside here.
Of course, it’s audio quality that’s most important, and it’s an area where the True Momentum Wireless 2 buds shine – and that’s further enhanced by a fully customisable EQ. There’s also ANC, although it’s not as good compared to rivals here.
Read our full Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2 review
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