Our pick of the best wireless earbuds available for every budget
It’s amazing what the best wireless earbuds are capable of thanks to advancements in Bluetooth, noise-cancelling, microphone and audio driver technology.
Sound quality may still lag a little way behind premium wired headphones, but the gap is narrower than ever and wireless earbuds are significantly more portable and practical. Most audio manufacturers include at least one set of wireless earbuds in their lineups, meaning you’re spoilt for choice when it comes to picking a pair.
With a huge range of brands and models to choose from, selecting the best wireless earbuds for your needs can be a tricky task. That’s where we come in. We’re constantly testing and reviewing the latest headphones and this article will break down the very best wireless earbuds on the market.
For those of you that are new to the world of wireless earbuds, we’ve included a handy buying guide detailing all the things you should consider before splashing out on your first pair. If you decide that wireless earbuds aren’t for you, you may want to check out our pick of the best headphones or our more specific pages documenting the best Bluetooth headphones, best noise-cancelling headphones, best over-ear headphones and best cheap headphones.
Best wireless earbuds: At a glance
|Best overall||Sony WF-1000XM5 (~£259)||Check price at Amazon|
|Best for Apple users||Apple AirPods Pro 2 (~£219)||Check price at John Lewis|
|Best for noise cancellation||Bose QC Earbuds II (~£279)||Check price at John Lewis|
|Best for Galaxy users||Samsung Galaxy Buds2 Pro (~£219)||Check price at Amazon|
|Best affordable option||Sony WF-C500 (~£59)||Check price at John Lewis|
How to choose the best wireless earbuds for you
How much should I spend?
As a general rule of thumb, the more you invest, the better the audio quality will be. You can pick up a pair of reasonable buds for under £50 but if you want the very best wireless earbuds you can expect to pay upwards of £250. Cheaper earbuds typically omit advanced features including active noise cancellation, are unlikely to support higher resolution codecs and build quality won’t be as high.
Is it easy to get a good fit?
There are two distinct styles of true wireless earbuds. One-size-fits-all buds like the Apple AirPods give you no flexibility in terms of fit – their earpieces either sit snuggly in your ears or feel loose when worn. They’re the best choice if you want to leave your ear canals free but they provide little, if any, sound isolation.
A significant proportion of buds now favour the use of silicone tips, which seal off your ear canals and secure the buds in your ears far better. They also have the advantage of providing improved passive noise cancellation. Manufacturers typically provide a range of different-sized tips to help ensure you get the most comfortable and stable fit possible.
Should I worry about which audio codecs are supported?
Codecs determine how Bluetooth transmits information to your device. The SBC codec is pretty much universal across all devices and works just fine, though you’ll open up the possibility to listen to higher resolution audio with more advanced codecs such as AAC, which is favoured by Apple, or Qualcomm’s aptX, aptX HD or aptX Adaptive codecs. Bear in mind that your output device must also support the codec: iPhones don’t support aptX so even if you own the very best wireless earbuds money can buy, you won’t be able to make use of it.
Can I make and receive phone and video calls?
All of the best wireless earbuds come with built-in mics and can be used to make and take calls when connected via Bluetooth. They’re good at picking up your voice but won’t isolate it from ambient sound as well as your smartphone. The number of in-built mics and their quality varies from device to device so bear that in mind if you spend a lot of time on calls.
Can I use one earbud on its own?
Most earbuds have one master and one slave driver so, depending on the way the manufacturer has implemented it, you’ll be able to listen to your music through one of the said earbuds. Others operate independently of one another and therefore allow you to use either at any time you wish.
Any other important features to consider?
IP certification: The best wireless earbuds all come with an IP rating, which reflects their ability to resist dust and water/sweat. If you live in a wet country or plan on using your earbuds while exercising then you’ll want to pick a pair that offers protection against these external agents.
Active noise cancellation: We’re seeing more and more wireless earbuds incorporating active noise cancellation technology to reduce the impact of external sound on your audio. If you want the most immersive listening experience, ANC should be high on your priority list.
Battery life: Earbuds will always have a stated battery life, as will the case used to charge them. Between 15 and 20 hours of total listening time is around average, though your mileage will vary depending on the volume at which you play your audio. Having advanced features such as ANC active will also drain your battery faster.
Bluetooth Multipoint: This allows earbuds to remain connected to more than one source simultaneously and is particularly useful if you regularly switch between using your buds with your laptop, tablet and phone.
In-ear detection: Smarter earbuds can detect when you take them out of your ears and pause your audio automatically when you do so, resuming when they’re put back in. It’s a neat feature that’s fast becoming a staple inclusion for pricier headphones.
Voice assistant support: If you like to make use of Alexa, Google Assistant or Siri, you should ensure that your earbuds support your voice assistant of choice. Most do nowadays but it’s always worth checking!
Touch controls: Don’t want to have to dig your phone out of your pocket to skip a track? Well, you’re in luck, as many of the best wireless earbuds feature touch sensors that allow fingertip control of your music. Each company implements this slightly differently and you may find certain commands omitted so it’s important to ensure the wireless earbuds you like offer control over the features you use most frequently.
Companion apps: Many companies have downloadable applications designed to enhance the audio experience provided by their products. Each offers a different range of customisation options though the most common are the ability to remap touch controls and select between different EQ presets.
How we test the best wireless earbuds
Every pair of true wireless earbuds on this page has undergone rigorous testing by one of our audio specialists to ensure we’re providing buying advice you can trust.
Our keen-eared reviewers listen to a huge variety of musical genres from a range of sources during testing, including Spotify, Tidal and locally stored audio files. We’ll also put earbuds through their paces across whichever Bluetooth codecs they support using a compatible device and feed them high-resolution content if they have Hi-res capabilities.
Comfort is subjective, but rest assured that our reviewers have worn the buds being tested for hours at a time and in all manner of situations, be that in a quiet room at home, running in the gym or on a busy commute. This ensures we’re able to give an informed opinion on how comfortable they are to wear, how secure the fit is and how well they withstand rain and sweat.
Active noise cancellation is tested in various real-world scenarios that reflect common use cases such as tube journeys, walks through crowded urban areas and days in the office. We conduct side-by-side comparisons with similarly priced earbuds to assess performance and will always try out every feature a pair of buds has in its arsenal. These include microphone quality – tested during phone calls, conference calls over platforms like Google Meet and by recording voice clips – and the functionality of a companion app where available.
Other areas focussed on include EQ options – we listen to the same song numerous times with different effects applied – touch controls and battery life. In the case of the latter, we’ll typically provide figures stated by the manufacturer and assess their claims of in-ear battery life based on usage at around 50% volume.
The best wireless earbuds to buy in 2023
1. Sony WF-1000XM5: Best wireless earbuds overall
Price when reviewed: £259 | Check price at Amazon
While it may not be the revolutionary update to the WF series that some hoped for, this fifth-gen iteration of Sony’s flagship earbuds ticks just about every true wireless box. The earbuds are more compact than their predecessors, sound quality remains one of their great strengths and is elevated by a beefier bass response, while Adaptive Sound Control works as well as ever, adjusting noise cancellation on the fly to suit your environment.
That ANC falls short of the class-leading attenuation offered by the Bose QC Earbuds II and purists may prefer how the B&W PI7 S2 sound, but as an all-round package, the WF-1000XM5 still hold onto top spot in the true wireless realm. It’s worth noting that the last-generation WF-1000XM4 are still available to buy and cost less than £200, so are well worth considering if you’re looking to save yourself some cash.
Read our Sony WF-1000XM5 review for more details
Key specs– Built-in microphone and music control buttons: Yes; Weight: 5.9g per earbud, 39g charging case; Battery life: 24hrs; IP rating: IPX4
2. Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II: Best wireless earbuds for noise cancellation
Price when reviewed: £279 | Check price at John Lewis The Bose QC Earbuds II replace their predecessors as the most effective noise-cancelling earbuds we’ve tested. ANC functions on a ten-point scale ranging from Aware (0) to Quiet (10), and in Quiet mode, the buds reduce external noise better than any of their competitors. You can switch between these two modes using touch controls and can also create two presets of your own via the Bose Music app meaning you’ll be equipped with noise-cancelling settings to cover just about every eventuality.
Sound quality is highly impressive, too. The QC Earbuds II are a slightly warmer listen than the original QC Earbuds but this doesn’t upset the overall balance, with mids and treble packed with detail and articulated very cleanly. A far more compact and streamlined design further enhances their appeal over the first-gen model, though there’s still no wireless charging or spatial audio support, which is a shame.
Despite those minor grumbles, the QC Earbuds II are a superb pair of wireless earbuds, and class-leading when it comes to their ability to reduce the impact of external distractions.
Read our Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II review for more details
Key specs – Built-in microphone and music control buttons: Yes; Weight: 6.2g per earbud, 59.8g charging case; Battery life (total): 24hrs; IP rating: IPX4
3. Apple AirPods Pro 2: Best wireless earbuds for Apple users
Price when reviewed: £229 | Check price at John Lewis After the resounding success of the original AirPods Pro, Apple has released a sequel that features some truly meaningful upgrades. Active noise cancellation has been improved by “2x” according to the manufacturer and the results are extremely impressive. Unlike the standard AirPods, the Pro model uses silicone eartips for in-ear stability and passive noise isolation, and the earbuds are the most comfortable Apple has released to date.
Apple’s Spatial Audio is another headline feature, and there’s even an all-new Adaptive Transparency mode, which is highly effective. Pressure and touch-sensitive controls add another layer of usability, with a simple swipe of the earbuds stem now adjusting volume, while the buds’ battery life has been boosted to six hours of listening with ANC engaging. For those that own an iPhone, iPad or MacBook, the brilliant AirPods Pro 2 are the wireless earbuds to buy.
Read our Apple AirPods Pro 2 review for more details
Key specs – Built-in microphone and music control buttons: Yes; Weight: 5.4g per earbud, 50.8g charging case; Battery life: 30hrs; IP rating: IPX4
4. Sony WF-C500: Best-sounding earbuds under £60
Price when reviewed: £59 | Check price at John LewisSometimes budget buys can surprise you and the Sony WF-C500 do exactly that with sound quality that believes their very reasonable price tag. As well as rich, engaging audio, the WF-C500 offer support for Sony’s spatial audio format 360 Reality Audio, which is a rarity at this price point and increases immersion when listening to compatible content.
They do omit a couple of helpful features – active noise cancellation and control customisation – but access to an impactful graphic equaliser in the Sony Headphones Connect companion app allows you to tune audio to your tastes, which is very welcome. The WF-C500 will also prove a popular choice for those who aren’t fans of touch controls, as they use depressible buttons that take away any guesswork from controlling them.
Read our full Sony WF-C500 review for more details
Key specs – Built-in microphone and music control buttons: Yes; Weight: 5.4g per earbud, 35g charging case; Battery life (total): 20hrs; IP rating: IPX4
5. Oppo Enco Free 2: Best budget AirPods Pro alternative
Price when reviewed: £40 | Check price at AmazonProduced in collaboration with Danish Hi-Fi company Dynaudio, the Oppo Enco Free 2 deliver audio defined by well-articulated mids and detailed instrument separation. As well as offering four EQ profiles, Oppo includes a clever “personalised sound boost” function, which analyses your hearing and tweaks audio based on how well you pick up certain frequencies.
Touch controls are employed strategically to maximise functionality – adjusting volume, for instance, is achieved by sliding a finger up or down either earbud rather than using double or triple taps. Rounding out an impressive list of features are effective wear detection and active noise cancellation. The latter, in particular, is very good for the price and puts a significant dent in external sound.
Using ANC reduces in-ear battery life to just four hours, but aside from that lacklustre stamina, there’s very little to not like about these earbuds.
Read our Oppo Enco Free 2 review for more details
Key specs– Built-in microphone and music control buttons: Yes; Weight: 47.6g (case and buds); Battery life: 30hrs; IP rating: IPX5
6. Beats Fit Pro: Best wireless earbuds for exercise
Price when reviewed: £220 | Check price at John Lewis With wingtips to help hold them snugly in your ears, the Beats Fit Pro are our number one pick if you’re looking for true wireless earbuds to use while exercising. It’s not just a secure and comfortable fit that makes them a great pick for exercise, however. An IPX4 rating means they’ll withstand a sweaty gym session without any issues and the active noise cancellation on offer does a great job of reducing the impact of external distractions.
Sound quality is highly impressive, too. The Fit Pro have a weightier bass response than their stablemates the Studio Buds and there’s less harshness in the treble frequencies. Like most Beats headphones, the Fit Pro play particularly nicely with Apple devices. They house the company’s H1 chip and this enables a range of useful features, including shared listening with other Beats users, hands-free Siri and full spatial audio support.
Read our Beats Fit Pro review for more details
Key specs – Built-in microphone and music control buttons: Yes; Weight: 5.6g per earbud, 55.1g charging case; Battery life (total): 24hrs; IP rating: IPX4
7. Nothing Ear (2): Best wireless earbuds under £150
Price when reviewed: £123 | Check price at AmazonThe Nothing Ear (2) deal with the majority of the issues we had with the Ear (1) and deliver the best true wireless experience available in their price bracket. High-resolution audio is available if you own a phone that supports the LHDC 5.0 codec, but the buds sound fantastic no matter what you’re streaming over, due in no smart part to their ability to create a personalised sound profile based on the results of a hearing test. It works brilliantly well, elevating the default sound profile significantly.
Noise cancellation isn’t as effective as class-leading options from Bose and Sony but does the job, while a comfortable fit, eye-catching design, smartly implemented controls, wear detection, Bluetooth multipoint and wireless charging round out a potent package.
Read our Nothing Ear (2) review for more details
Key specs – Built-in microphone and music control buttons: Yes; Weight: 4.5g per earbud, 51.9g charging case; Battery life (total): 22.5hrs (ANC on); IP rating: IP54
8. Technics EAH-AZ80: Best wireless earbuds for call quality
Price when reviewed: £260 | Check price at Amazon
Meticulously tuned sound, robust connectivity and an extensive set of features help propel Technics’ flagship earbuds into a position where they can challenge heavyweight options from the likes of Sony and Bose. What really makes them stand out, however, is exceptional microphone performance. External noise is dampened effectively, and the user’s voice is clearly picked out from even the loudest of urban clamour, before being delivered with minimal distortion.
Elsewhere, the AZ80 – along with their AZ60M2 stablemates – are the first earbuds to support Bluetooth Multipoint across three devices, which is a big bonus if you find yourself frequently switching between input sources. Touch controls are well-implemented and customisable, while the engaging default audio tuning can also be easily altered via the accompanying Technics Audio Connect app.
Better noise cancellation can be found elsewhere, and some may find the fit a bit fiddly, but neither issue prevents the EAH-AZ80 getting a big thumbs up from us.
Read our Technics EAH-AZ80 review for more details
Key specs– Built-in microphone and music control buttons: Yes; Weight: 7g per earbud, 50g charging case; Battery life: 24hrs; IP rating: IPX4
9. Jabra Elite 8 Active: Best wireless earbuds for durability
Price when reviewed: £199 | Check price at Amazon The Jabra Elite 8 Active live up to their billing as “the world’s toughest earbuds” with an IP68 rating that certifies them both dust-tight and waterproof when submerged in 1.5m of water for up to 30 minutes. They’re protected against sweat corrosion and humidity too, and Jabra is so confident in their durability that it’s slapped a two-year warranty on them.
Beyond their hardy credentials, they offer excellent noise cancellation, solid sound quality (including support for Dolby Atmos Spatial audio), extensive battery life and one of the most comfortable fits around. Microphone clarity and a charging time of four hours are underwhelming but by striking a fine balance between robustness and performance, the Elite 8 Active aren’t only an appealing option for those living a lifestyle, but cater to more sedentary types as well.
Read our Jabra Elite 8 Active review for more details
Key specs – Built-in microphone and music control buttons: Yes; Weight: 5g per earbud, 46.4g charging case; Battery life (total): 32hrs; IP rating: IP68
9. Samsung Galaxy Buds2 Pro: Best wireless earbuds for Galaxy users
Price when reviewed: £209 | Check price at AmazonSamsung continues to improve its true wireless offering with every iteration of the Galaxy Buds and the Buds2 Pro are its most advanced option yet. Their design is smart, the buds are very comfortable to wear, while sound quality and noise cancellation are both better than Samsung has delivered in the past.
There’s support for 360 Audio with head tracking if you own one of Samsung’s more recent Galaxy smartphones and Galaxy phone owners will also benefit from the use of Samsung’s new Seamless Hi-Fi codec, which can stream 24-bit audio over Bluetooth. Other Galaxy-specific features include Bixby voice wake-up and quick switching between devices you’re logged into your Samsung account on.
Such features make the Buds2 Pro our number-one choice if you’re already invested in the Galaxy ecosystem but if you don’t fall into that category, you’ll find better value elsewhere on this list.
Read our Samsung Galaxy Buds2 Pro review for more details
Key specs – Built-in microphone and music control buttons: Yes; Weight: 5.5g per earbud, 43g charging case; Battery life (total): 18hrs; IP rating: IPX7
10. Sony WF-C700N: Best wireless earbuds under £100
Price when reviewed: £90 | Check price at Amazon
Despite being significantly cheaper than Sony’s flagship WF-1000XM5, the WF-C700N offer a lot of the same functionality. Crucially, they support Adaptive Sound Control via the Sony Headphones Connect app, which lets you manually adjust the active noise cancellation settings or have the buds adjust it automatically depending on where you are and what you’re doing.
Both the ANC and audio quality are a step down from the XM5, but the WF-C700N are standout performers in their price bracket. There’s plenty of detail in their presentation and they’re balanced in such a way that they never become fatiguing to listen to. Touch control customisation, comfortable fit and impactful EQ options are other key strengths and help cement the WF-C700N as our top pick under a ton.
Read our Sony WF-C700N review for more details
Key specs– Built-in microphone and music control buttons: Yes; Weight: 5.9g per earbud, 39g charging case; Battery life: 24hrs; IP rating: IPX4
11. Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 3: Sennheiser’s best wireless earbuds yet
Price when reviewed: £185 | Check price at ArgosThe Momentum True Wireless 2 sat on this list for quite some time but have now been surpassed by the third-gen model, which sports a new design. That design may divide opinion – it’s certainly less premium than that of the Momentum True Wireless 2 – but it’s also more ergonomic and the fit, though fiddly at times, is very comfortable.
Active noise cancellation is more effective than it was on the Momentum True Wireless 3’s predecessor and Sennheiser has introduced a clever new feature whereby you can have the buds switch noise-cancelling and sound modes when you move between certain locations. Sound quality – always a strong point of Sennheiser headphones – is excellent and there are a number of ways of tweaking it via the revamped Smart Control companion app.
They don’t beat the Bose QC Earbuds for ANC or the Sony WF-1000XM4 for smarts and sound quality, but the Momentum True Wireless 3 are right up there with the best wireless earbuds on the market.
Read our Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 3 review for more details
Key specs – Built-in microphone and music control buttons: Yes; Weight: 6.5g per earbud, 67g charging case; Battery life (total): 28hrs; IP rating: IPX4
12. Huawei FreeBuds Pro 2: Best mid-range wireless earbuds
Price when reviewed: £120 | Check price at AmazonThe FreeBuds Pro 2 are a worthy successor to an already excellent pair of true wireless earbuds. Audio is dynamic and detailed, underpinned by a rich bass response, and the buds come with an IP54 rating which provides peace of mind while using them in the gym or outside.
Noise cancellation is their strongest suit, however. There are four settings – Cosy, General, Ultra and Dynamic – with the first three functioning as low, medium and high noise cancelling, while the fourth adjusts ANC based on the level of environmental sound. Dynamic mode was effective during testing, switching modes quickly and delivering some of the best noise cancellation available for this kind of money.
With ANC on you’re looking at roughly four and a half hours of in-ear battery life, which is below average, but despite this, the FreeBuds Pro 2 remain a great-sounding choice with plenty of well-implemented features.
Read our Huawei FreeBuds Pro 2 review for more details
Key specs – Built-in microphone and music control buttons: Yes; Weight: 6.1g per earbud, 52g charging case; Battery life (total): 30hrs (ANC off); IP rating: IP54
13. Apple AirPods 3: Best open-fit wireless earbuds
Price when reviewed: £179 | Check price at Amazon A list of the best wireless earbuds wouldn’t be complete without the Apple AirPods – buds that have helped transform the wireless audio market. Launched alongside the iPhone 7, the original AirPods brought Apple’s line of wearable tech to prominence and heralded the steady decline of smartphones featuring a 3.5mm audio jack. This third-generation version is Apple’s best yet, vastly improving sound quality while adding support for Spatial Audio and refining the buds’ design.
They’re contoured to snugly fit the shape of your ears and fit better than ever, while the incorporation of force sensor controls located on the stems makes it a breeze to execute commands. Battery life of the buds clocks in at up to six hours of audio playback, with the charging case taking total playtime to around 30 hours, which is ample. As we’ve come to expect from previous iterations, the AirPods integrate seamlessly into the Apple ecosystem, pairing instantly with iPads and iPhones and offering hands-free support for the company’s Siri voice assistant.
If you want don’t want your ear canals filled while listening to music, the Apple AirPods 3 are simply the best wireless earbuds around, particularly if you own an iPhone.
Read our Apple AirPods 3 review for more details
Key specs– Built-in microphone and music control buttons: Yes; Weight: 4.2g per earbud, 40g charging case; Battery life: 30hrs; IP rating: IPX4
14. House of Marley Redemption ANC 2: Best eco-friendly wireless earbuds
Price when reviewed: £150 | Check price at AmazonWhile sustainable earbuds may sound like a contradiction in terms, none try harder to earn their eco credentials than the House of Marley Redemption ANC 2. Crafted with sustainable materials, including bamboo, recycled plastics and wood composite, the Redemption ANC 2 are kinder to the environment than most and look uniquely stylish, too.
The Redemption ANC 2 are also excellent earbuds in their own right. The audio quality is spectacular, with deep, resonant bass and a dynamic, articulate midrange. If something doesn’t quite hit the right notes for you, the Marley app offers a ten-band graphic equaliser, allowing you to create and save your own tuning or pick from one of the eight presets.
Battery life is middling, and the codec support is limited to just SBC, but aside from these small issues, the House of Marley Redemption ANC 2 are well-rounded and great-sounding earbuds that are kinder to the planet than most.
Read our House of Marley Redemption ANC 2 review for more details
Key specs – Built-in microphone and music control buttons: Yes; Weight: 5g per earbud, 45g charging case; Battery life (total): 24hrs; IP rating: IPX5
15. Beats Studio Buds: Best-value Beats earbuds
Price when reviewed: £159 | Check price at Amazon The Beats Studio Buds have no business being as cheap as they are. The slim, lightweight design makes them a comfortable fit that won’t fall out, the audio quality is some of the best we’ve seen at this price point, and an IPX4 rating marks them safe from splashes – perfect for a trip to the gym or a walk in the rain. Even the active noise cancellation, while admittedly not quite on par with the most premium earbuds, is solid enough to drown out the din of your daily commute.
While they’re easily some of the best-value wireless earbuds that Android users can buy, those who predominantly use Apple products may want to look a little closer. The lack of Apple’s H1 chip means that features like auto-pairing across all your devices or shared listening aren’t included here, so if that’s important to you, you’re better off opting for AirPods.
Read our Beats Studio Buds review for more details
Key specs– Built-in microphone and music control buttons: Yes; Weight: 5g per earbud, 48g charging case; Battery life: 24hrs; IP rating: IPX4
16. JBL Tune Flex: The most versatile earbuds under £100
Price when reviewed: £69 | Check price at AmazonWhen buying wireless earbuds, you typically have to choose between those that leave your ear canals open or those that use silicone eartips to seal them off. These innovatively designed buds from JBL do both: by default they’re open-fit, but pop on a pair of the included tips and you’ve got yourself headphones equipped to block out external noise.
Their ability in the latter department is aided by the inclusion of active noise cancellation, of which there are six levels, an IPX4 rating certifies them water resistant and a fleshed-out companion app lets you customise your experience to a pleasing degree. On the audio front, the Tune Flex offer a warm, engaging sound signature that lends itself well to mainstream pop music, while call quality is another of their strong suits.
Though they can’t be described as class-leading in any one area, these uniquely versatile wireless earbuds more than justify their asking price.
Read our JBL Tune Flex review for more details
Key specs– Built-in microphone and music control buttons: Yes; Weight: 4.8g per earbud, 39g charging case; Battery life: 32hrs; IP rating: IPX4