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Best Bluetooth headphones 2021: Cut wires and prices with these Black Friday deals

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Bid farewell to pesky audio cables with the best Bluetooth headphones you can buy in 2021

The best Bluetooth headphones have surged in popularity over the past few years. People are ditching wired headphones in favour of their wireless counterparts and you'll be hard pushed to find a manufacturer that doesn't include at least one pair of Bluetooth headphones in its product lineup.

Advancements in Bluetooth technology have coincided with many smartphone manufacturers deciding to remove 3.5mm headphone ports from their devices, completely changing the way we consume audio both at home and further afield.

There's a pair of Bluetooth headphones out there for everyone no matter their style preference - you can take your pick from in-ear, on-ear or over-ear designs - but with so many features and factors to consider, selecting the best Bluetooth headphones to meet your needs isn't always straightforward. Here we'll explain what to look out for before you buy, and recommend some of our favourite Bluetooth headphones in every form factor and at a wide range of prices to suit any budget.

Below, you'll find a list of our favourites across four categories: over-ear, on-ear, true wireless earbuds and in-ear earphones. We've also included links that'll let you jump straight to a specific category so you can check out the other entries if you already know which style of Bluetooth headphones you're after.

If you're not sure which style best suits your requirements, our video and written buying guides will run you through the pros and cons of each, in addition to explaining why you'd choose wireless headphones ahead of their wired counterparts.


Black Friday deals on the best Bluetooth headphones

Over-ear

On-ear

True wireless earbuds

  • Sony WF-1000XM4: Was £249; now £199
  • Apple AirPods Pro with MagSafe charging: Was £239; now £185
  • 1More PistonBuds: Was £40; now £26
  • Cambridge Melomania 1 Plus: Was £100; now £90
  • Google Pixel Buds A-Series: Was £100; now £80

Bone conduction


Best Bluetooth headphones: At a glance

Best over-ear Bluetooth headphones

Best true wireless Bluetooth headphones

Best on-ear Bluetooth headphones

Best Bluetooth earphones


How to pick the best Bluetooth headphones for you

There are a lot of different things to consider when buying a pair of Bluetooth headphones. To help you decided which pair are right for you, we've put together a handy video guide arming you with all the information you need to make an informed purchase. If you'd rather read rather than watch, the written guide below covers all the information included in the video.

What are the advantages of Bluetooth headphones?

There are a couple of practical benefits to removing the wired connection from headphones. You'll never have to untangle a knotted cable, which can be a real nuisance, and there's nothing to catch or snag on your clothes while you're enjoying your audio.

It also means you don't have to be in the same room as your output device - as long as you're within Bluetooth range you'll be able to continue listening at your leisure. These factors make for a far more user-friendly experience, particularly if you're using your Bluetooth headphones while out and about or exercising.

Because wireless headphones can typically be paired with more than one device, they enable you to quickly switch between outputs. It's not a huge time saver, but not having to unplug your headphones from one device and into another makes your life that little bit easier.

Are there any disadvantages to Bluetooth headphones?

Unlike wired headphones, Bluetooth headphones are battery-powered and therefore require charging. The battery life of Bluetooth headphones varies depending on the style - on- and over-ear headphones typically have longer battery life than in-ear headphones as they are larger and can fit in bigger batteries. True wireless earbuds boost their battery life with the inclusion of a portable charging case they're stored in while not in use.

The other disadvantages of wireless headphones relate to Bluetooth connectivity. In busy areas such as train stations, you may find experience audio dropouts or stuttering. This is becoming less of an issue with every new Bluetooth version though, so isn't something you should worry about too much. Similarly, wired headphones can deliver superior audio quality via their cabling, but improvements to Bluetooth technology and the advent of advanced Bluetooth codecs are helping close the gap.

What type of Bluetooth headphones should I buy?

If convenience is your number-one priority, a set of in-ear Bluetooth headphones is your best option. There are two main forms of in-ear headphones - earphones, which have earpieces connected by thin wiring or a thicker neckband, and true wireless earbuds, which are completely wire-free.

Given their lightweight design, in-ear headphones are typically the best choice for running and other forms of exercise. They're also very easily transported, which makes them a great choice for general day-to-day use. The downsides are that they're generally less comfortable to wear for longer periods of time and they have less battery life than on- and over-ear headphones.

For many, on-ear and over-ear headphones are preferable both in terms of comfort and sound. These headphones feature earcups that create a seal over your ears or rest on top of them. The larger size of the headphones allows them to contain bigger speaker drivers for increased sonic output and more substantial batteries meaning you can listen for longer without having to charge them.

How much should I spend on Bluetooth headphones?

Unsurprisingly, the more you pay, the more features you'll get and the better quality your Bluetooth headphones will be. That's not to say you should necessarily avoid cheaper pairs - you can surprisingly good Bluetooth headphones for as little as £30 if you just want a basic, decent-sounding option.

A mid-range pair of Bluetooth headphones will set you back somewhere in the region of £100 to £150, and it's in that price bracket that you'll find a more extensive range of features, which we'll go into more detail about below.

Anything over £200 and you can expect top-notch audio and build quality in addition to a full suite of features. Headphones in this price bracket tend to be made by the industry's big hitters such as Sony, Apple and Sennheiser.

What features should I look out for when buying Bluetooth headphones?

Active noise cancellation: ANC helps reduce the impact of external sound on your audio using clever microphone technology. We're starting to see its inclusion in cheaper Bluetooth headphones but you're after the best noise-cancelling headphones around, prepare to pay upwards of £100.

Waterproofing: Headphones' water-resistance is reflected by their IP rating. Look for an IPX4 rating or above if you plan to use your headphones while exercising or want peace of mind while using them outside.

Multipoint pairing: This allows simultaneous Bluetooth connection to multiple devices, which is useful in numerous situations. Not all that many Bluetooth headphones support it, though.

Voice assistant support: If you like to use Siri, Google or Alexa a lot then you'll want Bluetooth headphones that support the use of voice assistants. Some wireless headphones only support a specific assistant so make sure you check the headphone you like work with your assistant of choice.


The best Bluetooth headphones to buy in 2021 (Over-ear)

1. Sony WH-1000XM4: The best over-ear Bluetooth headphones, bar none

Price: £350 | Buy now from Amazon

If you’re looking for a pair of Bluetooth headphones that excel in just about every area, then look no further than the Sony WH-1000XM4. Sonically, they’re superb, delivering a well-balanced audio profile with top-notch detail across the frequency spectrum and ample bass. The built-in noise cancellation is the most effective of any headphones we’ve tested and extremely intelligent, too, adapting to your actions and learning from your environment. A lightweight design makes the WH-1000XM4 supremely comfortable to wear throughout the day and a whole host of well-thought-out features contribute towards a wonderful user experience.

Their only real weaknesses are a lack of water resistance and average call quality but they're both easily overlooked when everything else about the Sony WH-1000XM4 is so good.

Read our Sony WH-1000XM4 review for more details

Key specs – Headphone type: Over-ear; Built-in microphone and music control buttons: Yes; Plug type: 3.5mm jack; Weight: 254g; Cable length: 1.2m; Stated battery life: ANC on - 30 hours, ANC off - 38 hours


2. Philips PH805: The best over-ear Bluetooth headphones under £100

Price: £75 | Buy now from Amazon

The Philips PH805 wireless active noise-cancelling headphones blew us away when we reviewed them. They're a cheaper alternative to ANC heavy hitters such as Sony’s WH-1000XM4s and deliver impressive noise cancellation, a comfortable fit and great audio quality.

Not everyone like touch controls, but the PH805’s implementation of them is simple and effective, allowing the wearer to switch between its three modes and control volume with ease. Throw in Bluetooth 5.0 compatibility, a light-yet-durable carrying case and a battery life of up to 25 hours with ANC switched on and you’ve got a fantastic pair of headphones at an affordable price.

Read our Philips PH805 review for more details

Key specs - Headphone type: Over-ear; Built-in microphone and music control buttons: Yes; Plug type: 3.5mm jack (optional); Weight: 280g; Cable length: 1.3m; Stated battery life: ANC on - 25 hours, ANC off - 30 hours


3. Bose QuietComfort 35 II: Excellent noise-cancelling technology

Price: £270 | Buy now from Amazon

Bose is synonymous with active noise-cancelling headphones and with good reason. The company's noise-cancelling technology is renowned as one of the best-in-class, though, narrowly beaten by Sony's WH-1000XM4 above. However, don't let that discourage you – the QC35 Series II are still among the very best Bluetooth headphones on the market: they're supremely comfortable, have a dedicated Google Assistant button that answers your every beck and call and a fun sound signature with an adaptable EQ that adjusts itself to the headphones' volume. These are worth keeping on your shortlist.

Read our Bose QuietComfort 35 II review for more details

Key specs – Headphone type: Over-ear; Built-in microphone and music control buttons: Yes; Plug type: 3.5mm jack; Weight: 310g; Cable length: 1.5m; Stated battery life: 20 hours

4. Nuraphone: Innovative Bluetooth headphones that adapt to your hearing

Price: £349 | Buy now from Amazon

Combining the best of in-ear and over-the-ear headphones with technology that can tell how sensitive your ears are to various sound frequencies, the Nuraphones are among the best headphones we've listened to in their price bracket. As well as sounding great, the Nuraphone does pretty much everything you'd want from a pair of headphones costing over £300.

They have active noise cancellation, allow you to connect wirelessly via Bluetooth aptX, have exceptionally good battery life and build quality – and they also let you hook up via digital or analogue cable. The Nuraphone is among the most innovative and best-sounding pair of headphones money can buy.

Read our Nuraphone review for more details

Key specsHeadphone type: Over/in-ear; Built-in microphone and music control buttons: Yes; Plug type: Proprietary to Lightning, USB Type-C or 3.5mm analogue; Weight: 329g; Cable length: 1.2m; Stated battery life: 20 hours


Also worth considering:


The best Bluetooth headphones to buy in 2021 (True wireless earbuds)

5. Sony WF-1000XM4: The best wireless earbuds overall

Price: £250 | Buy now from Amazon

As an all-round true wireless earbuds package, the Sony WF-1000XM4 can't be beaten. Their noise-cancellation is smart and effective, sound quality is excellent and the buds are smaller and more aesthetically appealing than their predecessor the WF-1000XM3.

They also come with an all-important IPX4 rating for water resistance, so are a solid choice for exercise both at the gym and outdoors, while the range of customisation options with the Sony Headphones Connect app is extensive. You can personalise touch controls, create custom EQs and have the earbuds switch sound and noise-cancelling profiles on your location and what you're doing.

Other earbuds may do certain things better than the WF-1000XM4 - the Bose QC Earbuds are more effective at reducing the impact of external sound, for instance - but no earbuds get quite as much right as Sony's most recent in-ear offering.

Read our Sony WF-1000XM4 review for more details

Key specs – Headphone type: True wireless earbuds; Built-in microphone and music control buttons: Yes; Plug type: N/A; Weight: 6g per earbud, 41g charging case; Cable length: N/A; Stated battery life: ANC on - 8 hours (earbuds), 24 hours (including charging case)


6. Apple AirPods Pro: The best wireless earbuds for Apple users

Price: £189 | Buy now from Amazon

Apple’s AirPods Pro are a significant upgrade on their predecessor – indeed, they’re best Apple earphones yet. With impressive Active Noise Cancelling technology and a well-balanced sound, these earbuds can compete with the best on the market.

Thanks to their lightweight design and snug fit, they’re suitable for exercise and incredibly comfortable, and they’ll even recommend the right size of silicone tips for your ear. AirPods Pro are an expensive choice, but thanks to their ANC and superior sound quality, they’re worth paying extra for.

Read our Apple AirPods Pro review for more details

Key specs– Headphone type: True wireless earbuds; Built-in microphone and music control buttons: Yes; Plug type: N/A; ANC: Yes; Weight: 5.4g per earbud, 45.6g charging case; Cable length: N/A; Stated battery life: ANC on - 4 ½ hours (earbuds), 19 hours (including charging case)


7. 1MORE PistonBuds: The best wireless earbuds under £50

Price: £40 | Buy now from Amazon

With responsive touch controls, IPX4 water-resistance and a comfortable, secure fit, the PistonBuds are our pick of the huge number of affordable earbuds on the market. They sit extremely snuggly in your ears and offer decent passive noise cancellation, while sound quality is solid, with the 7mm dynamic drivers delivering plenty of bass and reasonable vocal clarity given the price.

Battery life is roughly 20 hours at moderate volume, which is respectable, while the four built-in microphones do an effective job at picking up and communicating your voice while on phone calls. If you're looking for an entry point into the world of true wireless earbuds, the PistonBuds are our recommended place to start.

Key specs – Headphone type: True wireless earbuds; Built-in microphone and music control buttons: Yes; Plug type: N/A; Weight: 4.2g per earbud, 36g charging case; Cable length: N/A; Stated battery life: 4 hours (earbuds), 20 hours (including charging case)


8. Bowers & Wilkins PI7: The best wireless earbuds for sound quality

Price: £350 | Buy now from Amazon

These earbuds from esteemed UK audio manufacturer Bowers & Wilkins may cost more than many of the best over-ear headphones around but there's no denying they're the real deal.

Their audio quality is the best we've ever heard from a pair of wireless earbuds - thrown any genre of music at them and they'll deliver beautifully balanced sound characterised by rich bass tones and silky smooth vocals. An IP54 rating for dust and water resistance means they're great for use in the gym, the buds themselves are extremely stylish and we found them very comfortable to wear, too.

On top of all that, the B&W PI7's charging case can be used as a Bluetooth transmitter to broadcast audio from non-Bluetooth sources. It's a feature no other earbuds on the market offer and one that helps elevate the PI7 to the very top of the true wireless earbuds pile.

Read our Bowers & Wilkins PI7 review for more details

Key specs– Headphone type: True wireless earbuds; Built-in microphone and music control buttons: Yes; Plug type: N/A; ANC: Yes; Weight: 5g per earbud, 50g charging case; Cable length: N/A; Stated battery life: ANC on - 4 hours (earbuds), 20 hours (including charging case)


9. Cambridge Melomania 1 Plus: The best-sounding earbuds for around £100

Price: £100 | Buy now from Amazon

If you've got £100 to spend and don't require features such as active noise cancellation and wear detection, the Cambridge Melomania 1 Plus are the buds to buy. They're the best-sounding true wireless earbuds in their price range, thanks largely to their inclusion of a High Performance mode that delivers a wide soundstage, robust bass reproduction and oodles of detail.

Their audio is also highly customisable, with the Melomania companion app providing the option to create your own EQs as well as offering some nicely tuned presets. Unlike many earbuds on the market, the Melomania 1 Plus use physical buttons rather than touch controls and these work very effectively. They cover all the key headphones commands, including volume controls, which is always a bonus.

Despite coming with a large selection of foam and silicone eartips, we didn't find the Melomania 1 Plus as comfortable as some of the competition. However, your mileage will vary in the fit department and it's a small blip on an otherwise very impressive card.

Key specs– Headphone type: True wireless earbuds; Built-in microphone and music control buttons: Yes; Plug type: N/A; ANC: No; Weight: 5g per earbud, 50g charging case; Cable length: N/A; Stated battery life: High Performance mode - seven hours (earbuds), 35 hours (including charging case) Low Power mode - nine hours (earbuds), 45 hours (including charging case)


Also worth considering:


The best Bluetooth headphones to buy in 2021 (On-ear)

10. Beats Solo Pro: The best Beats yet

Price: £199 | Buy now from Amazon

Apple subsidiary Beats is famously stylish, and the Beats Solo Pro are no exception. These Beats are more than just a pretty face, though: they’re easy to use and fully compatible with your iPhone/iPad, with incredible battery life and exceptional noise-cancelling tech to boot.

The sound quality of these Beats is also exemplary. The mids and treble of songs shine through with excellent detail and the bass is punchy without ever being overbearing. These are headphones that are as comfortable blaring the finer aspects of a full orchestra as they are pumping the bassy swagger of Beats co-founder Dr Dre’s production.

Read our Beats Solo Pro review for more details

Key specs – Headphone type: On-ear; Built-in microphone and music control buttons: Yes; Plug type: N/A; Weight: 267g; Cable length: 1.5m; Stated battery life: ANC on - 22 hours, ANC off - 40 hours


11. Marshall Major IV: The best on-ear Bluetooth headphones for battery life

Price: £129 | Buy now from Amazon

The Marshall Major IV offer unrivalled battery life in their class, with 80 hours of audio playback on a single charge. They're no one-trick pony though, and deliver mids and treble wonderfully well, which makes listening to guitar-dominated genres such as rock and indie especially engaging. They look striking, too, with a textured black vinyl headband and Marshall's instantly recognisable logo embossed on the outside of each earpad. Though their bass reproduction can't match that of the Beats Solo Pro above, this ultra-portable pair of headphones are the ideal choice for those seeking both stamina and style.

Read our Marshall Major IV review for details

Key specs – Headphone type: On-ear; Built-in microphone and music control buttons: Yes; Plug type: N/A; Weight: 165g; Cable length: 1.5m; Stated battery life: 80 hours


12. Jabra Elite 45h: The best on-ear Bluetooth headphones under £100

Price: £90 | Buy now from Amazon

The packaging of the Jabra Elite 45h states they’re engineered to be the best-in-class on-ear wireless headphones, which is a pretty bold claim. They are up there though, particularly when it comes to battery life. The Elite 45h can be used for up to 50 hours without needing a charge: more than double that of many of the other headphones on this list. They’re comfortable too, with soft memory foam ear cushions sitting unobtrusively on your ears and a lightweight frame that feels almost non-existent on your head.

Sonically, the Elite 45h’s 40mm drivers are capable of delivering some serious sound: maximum volume is ear-splittingly loud so you’ll want to be careful on public transport as there’s significant sound leakage as a result of the on-ear design. Overall audio quality is impressive with vocals and trebles especially well-articulated and there are a range of customisation options in the Jabra Sound+ app. These include the ability to create your own EQ, choose from six presets or have Jabra create a personalised sound profile for you. The latter option, which Jabra calls MySound, didn’t sound that different to the default profile during our testing but both proved thoroughly enjoyable listens.

Key specs – Headphone type: On-ear; Built-in microphone and music control buttons: Yes; Plug type: N/A; Weight: 160g; Cable length: N/A; Stated battery life: 50 hours


Also worth considering:


The best Bluetooth headphones to buy in 2021 (Earphones)

13. Creative Outlier One V2: The best budget Bluetooth earphones

Price: £25 | Buy now from Amazon

The Creative Outlier One V2 are a superb pair of budget in-ear headphones. Their lightweight design and secure fit make them great for physical activity and IPX5 certification means you can sweat it out in the gym or run in the rain without worrying about them getting damaged.

There's an in-line remote that allows you to take calls, adjust volume, skip tracks and activate Siri or Google Assistant voice controls and you'll get up to nine-and-a-half hours of playback per charge. Unlike their similarly-priced sibling, the Creative Outlier One Plus, the Outlier One V2 don't have a built-in MP3 player but they do come with a few useful accessories, including a carrying pouch three pairs of eartips and two stabiliser gels. Their earbuds are also magnetic, so when they're not in your ears they clip together, which proves handy in all manner of situations.

Key specs – Headphone type: In-ear; Built-in microphone and music control buttons: Yes; Plug type: N/A; Weight: 15g; Cable length: N/A; Stated battery life: 9 ½ hours


14. NuraLoop: The best Bluetooth earphones overall

Price: £199 | Buy now from Amazon

Nura’s innovative sound technology listens to the tiny sonic emissions from your ears when they hear audio and judges how sensitive you are to different frequencies. This information is then used to create a unique EQ, resulting in a wonderful, personalised audio experience.

Noise cancelling is excellent and the earhooks provide a stable and secure fit; we had no issues at all with them moving during vigorous exercise. Touch controls are implemented simply and can be customised through the Nura app, which also allows you to boost the bass courtesy of Immersion Mode.

You can even use them wired by attaching the included analogue cable to a metal connector built-in to the NuraLoop’s wiring, making them versatile in addition to sonically superb.

Read our NuraLoop review for details

Key specs – Headphone type: Over-ear; Built-in microphone and music control buttons: Yes; Plug type: 3.5mm jack (via a magnetic connector); Weight: 27g; Cable length: 1.3m; Stated battery life: 16 hours


15. Beats Powerbeats: The best Bluetooth earphones for in-ear stability

Price: £130 | Buy now from Amazon

The Powerbeats range has been around for a decade now and this iteration takes the best parts of its predecessors and wraps them up into one neat and affordable package. Beats' signature earhook design makes them extremely stable for use at the gym or while running and the company's big, bassy sound signature is there for all to hear.

With sweat- and water-resistance, battery life of up to 15 hours and in-built Siri voice assistant functionality, which can be activated at the touch of a button, the Powerbeats cater perfectly for those seeking a pair of headphones to accompany their workout.

Read our Beats Powerbeats review for details

Key specs – Headphone type: In-ear; Built-in microphone and music control buttons: Yes; Plug type: N/A; Weight: 27g; Cable length: N/A; Stated battery life: 15 hours


Also worth considering:


The best bone conduction Bluetooth headphones to buy in 2021

16. AfterShokz Aeropex: The best bone conduction headphones, bar none

Price: £150 | Buy now from Amazon

If you'd rather not have your ears enveloped or pressurised by cushions and don't want eartips wedged into your ear canals, then bone conduction headphones are the way to go. Rather than transmit audio by emitting sound waves into your ears, they rest on your cheekbones and transmit audio via tiny vibrations. This allows you to remain completely aware of your surroundings while listening to audio content, which is particularly useful for runners and cyclists.

AfterShokz' Aeropex are the best of the bone conduction bunch, delivering an ultra-lightweight design that's flexible enough to fit any size or shape of head. The company's latest Premium Pitch 2+ technology reduces the vibrations you'll feel while wearing the Aeropex while enhancing the dynamic range of bass response, making for a fuller, richer reproduction of low-end sound.

The Aeropex are IP67 rated for water and sweat resistance so can withstand any workout or weather conditions and they're currently the only headphones on the market that can be used in official road races in England due to their open-ear design.

Key specs – Headphone type: Bone conduction; Built-in microphone and music control buttons: Yes; Plug type: N/A; Weight: 26g; Cable length: N/A; Stated battery life: 8 hours


17. AfterShokz OpenMove: Best entry-level bone conduction headphones

Price: £80 | Buy now from Amazon

AfterShokz is the market leader in the bone conduction headphones industry and the OpenMove are its most affordable pair. They cost roughly half the price of the Aeropex and unsurprisingly, make some concessions to reach that lower price point. Their earhooks are crafted from polycarbonate rather than rubber-coated titanium and are slightly less flexible as a result, which affects their fit somewhat, while their IP rating and battery life are inferior too, too.

Their IP55 rating is still more than good enough for most situations but you'll want to avoid submerging them in water as they're not completely waterproof like their more expensive stablemates. Battery life clocks in at up to six hours of audio playback and there are three EQ modes available, one of which - vocal booster - isn't found on the company's pricier models and works particularly well for podcasts and audiobooks.

If you've got the budget for the Aeropex we recommend going for them, but the OpenMove are a solid entry point into the world of bone conduction audio if you're wanting to see whether the technology is right for you.

Read our AfterShokz OpenMove review for details

Key specs – Headphone type: Bone conduction; Built-in microphone and music control buttons: Yes; Weight: 29g; Cable length: N/A; Stated battery life: 6 hours