The 11 Best Wireless Earbuds to Buy in 2018

Never deal with tangled wires again

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It’s unsettling to think about how much time we waste trying to untangle knotted headphone cords — time that could be better spent working, working out, or doing literally anything else. But today, almost all headphone makers offer an alternative that might just redefine easy listening: Wireless earbuds. To help you pick the perfect pair, we hand-selected a list of our favorites, then had our testers take a few home to listen for themselves and jot down their most honest feedback.

Our Top Picks

Best Overall: Jaybird X3

4.2

The Jaybird X3 are a significant improvement over the previous X2 model – so much so that they earn the top spot on our Best Wireless Earbuds list. While they are technically considered sports headphones (they have a hydrophobic nano-coating to wick away moisture), they are comfortable enough to use for everyday listening. The design features silicone ear fins that attach to your ear to keep them secure. The battery life is also praiseworthy: You’ll get around eight hours of music playtime.

The X3 are powered by 6mm drivers, which produce great sound and a bold bass. Better yet, you can download Jaybird's MySound App for Android or iOS to fine-tune sound to your personal preferences. The remote on the cord is easy to navigate with just three buttons, and you can pair two X3s to the same device. All in all, the X3 provide the perfect combination of quality and comfort.

Best for Sports: Bose SoundSport

4.6

For many athletes, music helps power you through a difficult set or go that extra mile. Good sound is important, but perhaps even more crucial is the fit because no one wants to be fiddling with their earbuds in the middle of a workout. The sweat-proof Bose SoundSport wireless headphones, which come in three sizes, have StayHear+ eartips with soft silicon fins for a loose yet secure fit. And while fit can be extremely personal, reviewers on Amazon widely agree that comfortability is what makes the Bose SoundSport so great. Note that the looser fit will allow ambient sound to sneak in, but that’s OK for runners and bikers who need to be aware of their surroundings.

As for the sound, you’ll get solid performance with decent bass and pretty decent mid-range. Battery life is rated around six hours, which should get you about a week of workouts between charges. Plus with easy Bluetooth and NFC pairing guided by voice prompts, you can leave the hard work to your workout.

Want to take a look at some other options? See our guide to the best exercise headphones.​

Best Value: SENSO Bluetooth Headphones

3.4

When buying budget headphones, you’ll undoubtedly have to make some sacrifices, but when it comes to the best value headphones, everything you want should be packaged up for the best price possible. That’s exactly what you get with SENSO’s earbuds. The headphones are solidly built and simply designed, but still comfortable to wear. And they certainly don’t skimp on sound quality. With a frequency response of 20-22 kHz, the earbuds deliver true Hi-Fi sound complete with clear treble and booming bass. You’ll get a solid eight hours of battery life to last you a full day of listening, whether you’re commuting, exercising or rocking out.

Best Budget: Anker SoundBuds Slim+

4.2

If you’re not familiar with Anker products, you should be. While the company isn’t yet known for being the best of the best, its products are certainly consistent. Its SoundBuds have a hooked design that sits above your ear, guaranteeing a more secure and comfortable fit. They come with a variety of sizes and shapes for almost every ear. The rubber material also means they are water resistant (IPX5) and weighing just 5.6 ounces, they are light enough to forget you’re wearing. Inside are 6mm drivers that deliver solid bass.

As with any budget item, there are downsides. For the SoundBuds, it’s the fact that the battery only lasts about seven hours. For commuters and athletes that might not be a problem, but if you’re a marathon music listener, you might want to think twice. Still wary about buying a budget product? Anker offers a 18-month warranty plus easy-to-reach customer support.

Best for iPhones: Apple AirPods

When Apple introduced its iPhone 7, the world fawned over how thin it was. That’s in part because Apple removed the headphone jack altogether. In place of the once iconic white Apple earbuds, the company rolled out wireless AirPods.

The AirPods are driven by a custom-designed Apple W1 chip and have brilliant software integration. Right when you take them out of the box for the first time, a pop-up appears on your phone asking if you want to sync them. On top of that, Siri plays ​a main role in managing your controls. They produce solid sound and have a superb dual mic set-up with powerful noise cancellation technology. The battery lasts for about 5 hours and they charge up quickly when in their case; just 15 minutes of charging gives you 3 hours of listening time. In fact, the case can charge the AirPods for a total of 24 hours (that's in addition to the 5 hours the AirPods hold themselves). For solid Apple integration, AirPods are the way to go.

Best Design: Beats BeatsX

While these neckband-style headphones are built by Beats, they are designed with help from Apple’s design and engineering teams. The neckband, or “Flex-Form cable” as Beats calls it, encases two wires made of nickel titanium alloy, which makes it malleable, durable and lightweight. The earbuds house 8mm drivers and are magnetized, so you can stick them together when not in use and wear them like a necklace. And like the Apple AirPods, the BeatsX feature a low-power W1 chip, which enables automatic pairing with iOS devices. You’ll get eight hours of battery life, and if you’re in need of a quick charge (via a Lightning cable), you can get two hours of playback in just five minutes, thanks to what Beats calls Fast Fuel (it's a branded way to say fast charging).

Interested in reading more reviews? Take a look at our selection of the best Beats headphones

Best Noise-Canceling: Bose QuietControl 30

Bose is known for its high-quality noise-cancelation headphones and its QuietControl 30 model only furthers its reputation. The neckband-style headphones rest like a horseshoe around your neck and the earbuds sit in your ear comfortably. The headphones are sweatproof, making them suitable for sports, though the design might bother some athletes.

True to its name, the QuietControl 30 let you adjust the noise-canceling feature. You can raise or lower it by clicking a button on the inline remote or using the Bose Connect app. You’ll likely want to keep it at the highest possible level, but if you’re running or biking, you might want to lower it to hear traffic and other surrounding sounds. Battery life is rated at an impressive 10 hours, but keep in mind that because it doesn’t have a wired option, it won’t work with in-flight entertainment and thus is not an ideal set for travelers.

Take a peek at some of the other best noise-canceling headphones you can buy.

Best for Phone Calls: Sennheiser HD1 Free Bluetooth Wireless Headphones

Whether you’re making a high-stakes sales call or are just dropping a quick line to your mom, the Sennheiser HD1 Free Bluetooth Wireless Headphones deliver crisp audio quality while still managing to look luxurious. Although the neckband style is admittedly not for everyone, the band of this pair is stitched up with a bold red string. A remote sits on the left side of the neckband, which lets you adjust volume, scan tracks and answer or reject phone calls. The discreet microphone offers high intelligibility, so every word you speak is clear. Dynamic drivers deliver a frequency range of 15Hz-22kHz and booming bass, and battery life tops out around six hours – not too shabby!

Best True Wireless: Bose SoundSport Free Wireless Headphones

Bose® - SoundSport® Free wireless headphones - Black
Courtesy of BestBuy.com

There are wireless headphones, and then there are the Bose SoundSport Free. With an exceptional Bluetooth connection that rarely drops, these truly wire-free earphones deliver unparalleled depth and clarity. And while they lack noise-cancelation since they don’t create a seal in your ear canal to block out surrounding sounds, that can be a good thing for athletes who need to be aware of their surroundings. Still, the SoundSport Free comfortably rest on the outer part of your ear canal, just like Apple’s AirPods, and they come with three sizes of StayHear+ sports tips to fit all ear sizes.

You’ll get roughly five hours of playtime on one charge, and its carrying case provides two additional charges. They’re pricey for sure, but if you’re of the camp that cringes at the AirPod design, the Bose SoundSport Free will provide flexibility tempered with subtly.

Still can't decide on what you want? Our round-up of the best true wireless earbuds can help you find what you're looking for.

Best for Hearing Protection: ISOtunes PRO Earplug Headphones

Unlike a typical pair of headphones, these ISOtunes were designed as earplugs first and foremost. Whether you're a contractor, woodworker, builder, etc. — if you work in a loud environment, then hearing protection should be a high priority. The ISOtunes PRO Earplug Headphones feature 27 dB noise cancelation which significantly reduces the effect of persistent, loud sound. You can even answer phone calls and rely on the noise cancelation to mute disruptions such as low-flying planes, lawn mowers, fans and vacuums.

The buds themselves are made from a custom-fit material that molds to the shape of your ear and the internal speakers feature ISOtunes's patented SafeMax Technology which allows users to play music at the maximum volume without damaging their hearing. For those who have physically demanding work environments, the ISOtunes Pro headphones have an IPX4 sweat- and water-resistant certification. The headphones are also compatible with Bluetooth-enabled devices and deliver 10 hours of playback or 240 hours on standby.

Best Battery Life: Endive Activate BX Waterproof Bluetooth Earbuds

On average, a good set of wireless earbuds offer about 8 hours of playtime between charges. Endive's Activate BX Earbuds boast 10 hours of uninterrupted playtime (or ten days on standby), which is one of the longest battery lives on the market. The Activate BX earbuds were made for athletes, so their design is tailored for durability and comfort. The earpieces come in three different sizes and are constructed from a lightweight, formfitting material that fits securely in your ear. The buds feature an IPX5 rating — meaning they are sweat-proof and rain resistant. The earbuds also offer a strong wireless connection with a range of 33 feet, making it ideal for laps around the track.

Tested by

How We Tested

Our reviewers spent 176 hours testing four of the most popular pairs of wireless earbuds on the market. To get the most thorough results possible, they tried them in all types of scenarios: walking on the street, working out, hanging out at home, and more. We asked them to consider the most important features when using these earbuds and we've outlined them here so that you, too, know what to look for when shopping.

What to Look for in Wireless Earbuds

Design - The designs of wireless earbuds vary greatly. The most common type is the neckband-style earphones, which run the wire behind the nape of your neck. But “true” wireless headphones, which have no wires whatsoever, have also hit the market recently. However, all earbuds sit in your ear canal, making them more convenient for exercising — not to mention safer by letting in some ambient noise.

Sound quality - If sound quality is your top priority, you’ll want to pay attention to the internal drivers. The driver’s diameter is measured in millimeters and it’s generally thought that the larger the driver, the louder the sound it’s capable of producing. Earphone drivers measure between 8mm and 15mm.

Battery life - While wireless earbuds have many advantages over their wired counterparts, the downside is that they have a limited battery life. A solid pair will last you around five to eight hours on a single charge. Plus, they generally charge pretty quickly, and sometimes the case even doubles as a battery pack.

Test Results: Jaybird X3 (Best Overall)

4.2

What We Like

  • Multiple bud and wing options for comfort

  • Great sound quality

  • Strong battery

What We Don't Like

  • Cumbersome charger

  • Could be louder

With its app and strong Bluetooth connection, one of our testers never had any of the connection issues that plague some wireless headphones. The eight-hour battery life also helped one of our reviewers avoid having to recharge during a full day of work and errands. However, one person did have a little trouble with the charger itself: “It was a little difficult to figure out how to get the charger aligned with the headphones,” she said. “It felt like I was snapping it in incorrectly, but I was able to figure it out after a few tries.” One tester also wished these earbuds were a little louder.

Test Results: Bose SoundSport (Best for Sports)

4.6

What We Like

  • High-quality bass

  • Solid battery life

  • Comfortable fit

What We Don't Like

  • Expensive

  • Small power button can be hard to find

Superior sound quality was the hallmark of these headphones, according to our testers. “Bose has a great reputation for sound quality,” one reviewer said, “and these earbuds live up to the reputation.” An added bonus? Our testers found that this pair had better-quality bass sound, specifically, than other earbuds. In terms of drawbacks, one reviewer thought that the power button on the earbuds was small and tough to find.

Test Results: SENSO Bluetooth Headphones (Best Value)

3.4

What We Like

  • Noise-canceling

  • Decent sound quality

  • Good battery

What We Don't Like

  • Awkward fit

  • Hard to open charging port

Our testers found that these headphones’ promised battery life of seven hours held true. They also thought that the noise-canceling feature worked well, and that the Bluetooth connected to — and remembered — other devices easily. One reviewer reported that the sound quality could have been a bit clearer, and was disappointed that the headphones fit her ears a bit awkwardly and tended to fall out.

Test Results: Anker SoundBuds Slim+ (Best Budget)

4.2

What We Like

  • Easy to use

  • Quick charging

  • Completely hands-free

What We Don't Like

  • Distant sound quality

  • Difficulty connecting at first

Although one of our reviewers felt that the sound quality of these headphones could have been better, she was “super impressed” with them, overall, as her first pair of Bluetooth earbuds. A quick charge time was also a definite plus: One of our testers reported it took just 20 minutes to get to a full battery. Our testers also loved the carrying case that came included: “It made it super easy to transport and keep the headphones in when I wasn't using them,” one said.