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Best wireless earbuds 2022

best wireless earbuds
(Image credit: Marco Miranda / Android Central)

The best wireless earbuds need more than just great sound. We've reviewed a sizeable number of models available and rated the absolute leaders of the pack based on every important metric: comfort, battery life, noise cancellation, water resistance, phone and assistant integration, and so on. 

These tiny headphones are almost as important as the phones in our pockets. Our buyer's guide for the best wireless earbuds will help you find the pair that suits your needs and sounds the best, regardless of what you like listening to.

What are the best wireless earbuds you can buy today?

Like any pair of headphones, which earbuds or wireless headphones are fitting for you is subjective in a few key ways. They have to fit right, feel comfortable over more extended periods, and produce a pleasing sound to your ears. If audio fidelity is paramount for you, there are good options for that, just as there are options for being active or present great value without breaking the bank.

The best wireless earbuds strike the right notes where it counts. We're talking about excellent sound quality, excellent comfort, solid microphones, and accessibility — even better when they come at a reasonable price. 

It's also not just about sound, it can also be about what you don't hear, as active noise cancelation (ANC) becomes such an integral part of what makes good earbuds stand out. That's why it should come as no surprise that such a feature is so common among the best in the business. 

Whether money is no object or you're on a tight budget, there's a good chance you will find something within reach in this list.

Jabra Elite 7 Pro

(Image credit: Ted Kritsonis / Android Central)
Best wireless earbuds overall

Specifications

Water-resistance: IP57
Bud battery life: 8 hours
Case battery life: 30 hours
Case size: Small
Digital assistant: Google Assistant, Siri
Audio codecs: SBC, AAC
Speaker size: 6mm drivers
Wireless charging: Yes
Other features: ANC, HearThrough, equalizer

Reasons to buy

+
Excellent audio quality with solid ANC
+
Better fit and comfort
+
Outstanding call quality
+
Pretty good durability
+
Reliable button controls

Reasons to avoid

-
Custom ANC shouldn't be mandatory
-
Too few codecs

The Jabra Elite Active 75t are still available as one of the best value wireless earbuds you can wear right now, and they ultimately set the stage for what the Elite 7 Pro bring to the table. We certainly noticed that in our review of the Elite 7 Pro. As an experienced hearing aid company, Jabra has shown a consistent ability to find balance in how it approaches both comfort and sound. These earbuds feature a nicely balanced sound signature that you can easily adjust in the excellent Sound+ app available for Android and iOS. The Elite 7 Pro also share these design and functionality principles with the Elite 7 Active, delivering smooth mid-range and treble frequencies that won't hurt your ears, even during piercing high notes. It's just a shame it didn't add other Bluetooth codecs to round out a great audio package.

While there is good ANC, it's a bit annoying Jabra forces you to customize it to your ear before you can even use the feature. Good thing there's excellent passive noise isolation here, which helps further the cause, owing to the excellent build that makes these so comfortable to wear, even for more extended periods.

As for battery life, you get up to eight hours per charge, with ANC on. You can stretch that further if you leave it off. The included case nets three additional charges for an overall total of around 30 hours. The case itself charges via USB-C or Qi wireless charging, including a fast-charging option where plugging in for five minutes can get you up to 60 minutes of playback.

The Elite Active 7 Pro are also IP57 water and dust-resistant, which means they'll have little issue with sweat, rain, snow, or other water-absorbing activities. So they actually provide the same level of protection compared to the Elite 7 Active, except they don't have the same rubberized coating the Active pair does.

These earbuds are also incredible for making calls because of Jabra's MultiSensor Voice Technology. In our tests, the receiver on the other end told us it was among the clearest phone calls they'd ever heard from a pair of headphones. There's also an included "transparency" mode available at the tap of a button — did we mention there are physical controls here? — that pumps in sound from the outside world through one of the three included microphones. That makes it easier to talk to people or hear the outside world without removing the earbuds. Not to mention a handy mute button when you need a moment.

Jabra also finally addressed an omission from the start by updating the firmware in January 2022 to bring in multipoint support, letting you connect to two devices simultaneously. You can also use a single earbud in mono mode for those times you don't want to plug both ears.

Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro case open on top of Galaxy Z Fold 4

(Image credit: Andrew Myrick / Android Central)
Best balanced fit

Specifications

Water-resistance: IPX7
Bud battery life: 8 hours
Case battery life: 29 hours
Case size: Small
Digital assistant: Bixby, Google Assistant, Siri
Audio codecs: SBC, AAC
Speaker size: 10mm drivers
Wireless charging: Yes
Other features: ANC, HearThrough, 360 Audio, Voice Detect

Reasons to buy

+
Extremely comfortable
+
Improved ANC 
+
Perfect for Samsung’s ecosystem
+
Pretty rugged design
+
Good app support

Reasons to avoid

-
Lack true multipoint capabilities
-
So-so battery life
-
Finicky touch controls

When we reviewed the Samsung's Galaxy Buds 2 Pro, we found they took the best features from the previous Galaxy Buds Pro, making them stand out as one of the most comfortable we've tested. It's a distinction the company wanted from the start, yet it took several attempts to get to this level of respectability.

These mark an all-new design relative to their predecessors, shaving off enough from before to enable a snugger fit. Comfort reaches new heights, especially by Samsung standards when leaving these in your ears. It may feel like a different twist, only these earbuds accommodate extra tech inside in spite of a reduced size. 

They're small and nimble, packing in active noise cancelation (ANC) and crisp sound all at once. ANC is smarter and more precise this time around, muffling a wider range of frequencies. Call quality also remains excellent with some improved clarity to go with it.

They are also Samsung's first earbuds to support 24-bit hi-res audio in case you want to listen to another level in quality. Enhanced 360 is a renewed focus on spatial audio, including head tracking, to give your ears a surround sound effect. Voice Detect lowers the volume of the audio you're listening to and turns on Ambient once you start talking to make it easy to hear a conversation. The audio comes back when there are no voices for up to 10 seconds.

The one caution to handling these earbuds is the overly responsive touch controls, where accidental taps can often happen when adjusting them in your ears. At least they're pretty rugged with IPX7 protection. Certainly a better option that way when compared to the Galaxy Buds 2.

All of this comes at the expense of battery life, where you max out at up to five hours per charge when ANC is on — eight hours if you keep ANC off. The case gets you three extra charges, which you can charge via USB-C or wireless charging pads. A quick five-minute charge through USB can get you up to an hour of playback.

Sony WF-1000XM4

(Image credit: Ara Wagoner / Android Central)
Best upgrade pick

Specifications

Water-resistance: IPX4
Bud battery life: 8 hours
Case battery life: 24 hours
Case size: Medium
Assistant support: Google Assistant, Siri
Audio codecs: SBC, AAC, LDAC
Speaker size: 6mm drivers
Wireless charging: Qi
Other features: ANC, Ambient sound, equalizer, 360 Reality Audio

Reasons to buy

+
Outstanding ANC performance
+
Stellar sound quality
+
Amazing battery life
+
Wireless charging case with USB-C
+
LDAC and 360 Audio support
+
Solid app support

Reasons to avoid

-
Touch controls need work
-
Smaller ears may not feel comfy
-
Single-bud mode only in right buds

At this point, ANC has found its way into more true wireless earbuds, but they won't match the level attained here with the WF-1000XM4, which are world-class by comparison. Their predecessors, the WF-1000XM3, were among the best wireless earbuds available and can still hold their own, but when it comes to an upgrade, it's hard to top this pair. As we said in our Sony WF-1000XM4 review, they won't win accolades for beauty, but are very effective at doing what they're supposed to.

Sony didn't have to play too much with the existing sound profile, but did maintain a consistent design approach. Rather than skew the default sound stage to push more bass, Sony preferred to keep it more neutral, leaving plenty of room to customize it through the equalizer settings in the Headphones Connect app. That helps the mid-range breathe and come through with greater detail, while the highs maintain a warm signature. Of course, if you want bass, you can get it from the app, including through the Extra Bass feature.

Battery life is excellent, with up to eight hours alone and an additional 24 hours with their charging case. Sony chiseled that case down 40% to make it a lot more portable, which is great considering how cumbersome the previous one tended to be. Along with ANC, the WF-1000XM4 have an ambient sound mode that also performs well. And then there's 360 Reality Audio for listening to content with a spatial effect. The LDAC codec allows you to listen to hi-res audio tracks through services that support them.

There's a lot to like about these earbuds, and though they are among the best noise-canceling pairs available, they aren't without some drawbacks. The fit may not be for everyone, and the Adaptive Sound Control mode still feels like a work in progress. And while the IPX4 rating does offer some water and sweat resistance, you will need to be careful not to submerge them in water and wipe them down after a run or workout to keep them clean.

Samsung Galaxy Buds 2

(Image credit: Daniel Bader / Android Central)
Best value

Specifications

Water-resistance: IPX2
Bud battery life: 7.5 hours
Case battery life: 29 hours
Case size: Small
Assistant support: Bixby, Google Assistant, Siri
Audio codecs: SBC, AAC, Scalable
Speaker size: 11.5mm drivers
Wireless charging: Yes
Other features: Active Noise Cancelation, Ambient Sound

Reasons to buy

+
Bold sound
+
Effective ANC
+
Very comfortable fit
+
Good battery life
+
Nice color options

Reasons to avoid

-
IPX2 rating isn't very durable
-
Microphones are so-so
-
Finicky controls

For Samsung, the Galaxy Buds 2 don't replace the Galaxy Buds Pro, but rather complement them by replacing the Galaxy Buds+. In doing so, the company engineered a worthy combination of performance and comfort that, while forcing some compromises, delivers a pretty solid experience once you put them on.

Shaving off 10% in size compared to the Galaxy Buds+ makes these earbuds feel more diminutive, making them more nimble once you place them in your ears. It makes for a nice balance, though you have to wear them, accepting that they don't really have water and sweat resistance. So don't get these if you plan to sweat a lot while working out.

The comfy fit pays immediate dividends because of the ability to create a tighter seal to retain as much of the audio as possible. These do sport different drivers from the Galaxy Buds Pro, yet the audio output doesn't always feel dramatically different, only adding to the value of what you get when you start listening to content. While there may be slightly more sibilance and subtle mids, the sound profile is clear and crisp. Use the Galaxy Wearable app, and you can use one of the six EQ presets to try and boost it further.

Bringing in ANC is excellent because it brought the Galaxy Buds 2 closer in feel and quality to the Galaxy Buds Pro. The latter does block out slightly more background noise, but our Galaxy Buds 2 review found it to be a surprisingly even race between the two. The onboard mics do okay with Ambient Sound, though the ones on the Buds Pro generally perform much better. That's also why phone calls on the Buds 2 are much better in quieter surroundings.

Battery life isn't as high as previous pairs, but you can still expect up to 7.5 hours with ANC off or five hours with it on, depending on volume levels. You get three extra charges from the case, topping it up via USB-C or wireless charging.

Close-up view of Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 3 in ear.

(Image credit: Ted Kritsonis / Android Central)
Best sound quality

Specifications

Water-resistance: IPX4
Bud battery life: 7 hours
Case battery life: 21 hours
Case size: Medium
Assistant support: Google Assistant, Siri
Audio codecs: aptX, aptX Adaptive, SBC, AAC
Speaker size: 7mm drivers
Wireless charging: Yes
Other features: ANC, Ambient mode, equalizer

Reasons to buy

+
Superb audio quality
+
More comfortable fit
+
Solid ANC and Transparency
+
Reliable touch controls
+
Excellent call quality
+
Good app support

Reasons to avoid

-
No multipoint — for now
-
More EQ features would be nice
-
Just OK battery life

Sennheiser got the sound part right with the previous two iterations of the Momentum True Wireless, and even figured out battery life with the Momentum True Wireless 2. Our review of the Momentum TW3 made it hard to deny these are the best for audio quality. 

Sennheiser has long preferred balance and resonance over thick bass and booming sound, and that's very much applicable to these earbuds. The bass doesn't feel overbearing, though you can ramp that up, if you want. It's more the mids and highs that stand out, delivering that same clear, crisp, and warm playback I always expect from the company's top end products. I do wish Sennheiser's Smart Control app had a more intricate equalizer — it's a little too basic — to customize the default sound profile, but at least you can save your own presets. 

ANC is very good at blocking out a lot of background noise, though it won't quite match what Sony, Bose, and Apple can offer with their earbuds. The Ambient mode is excellent, bringing in enough of the background to hear what you need to hear, particularly when talking to someone. The onboard controls are pretty reliable, helping cycle through ANC and Ambient with relative ease. Try out Sound Zones, where these features can kick in based on where you're located.

It's also worth pointing out that these are smaller and more comfortable compared to the previous two versions. Sennheiser shaved down just enough to make a difference, possibly even for those with smaller ears who found the other two a little too cumbersome.

Battery life hasn't changed much, with up to seven hours per charge with ANC off (maybe six with it on), plus another three full charges coming from the case. That case is not only a little slimmer, but also finally supports wireless charging. 

Bose QuietComfort Noise-Cancelling Earbuds

(Image credit: Bose)

Bose QuietComfort Noise-Cancelling Earbuds

Best noise-canceling

Specifications

Water-resistance: IPX4
Bud battery life: 6 hours
Case battery life: 18 hours
Case size: Large
Assistant support: Google Assistant, Siri
Audio codecs: SBC, AAC
Speaker size: 6mm drivers
Wireless charging: Qi
Other features: ANC (adjustable with 11 levels)

Reasons to buy

+
Superb sound quality
+
Outstanding ANC performance
+
Solid ambient mode
+
Comfortable fit
+
Wireless charging case

Reasons to avoid

-
Larger by comparison
-
Case is much bigger
-
App needs an EQ
-
Pricey

ANC is slowly but surely finding its way into more true wireless earbuds, including at different price points, but the pair to beat is now the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds. The Sony's WF-1000XM4 are the toughest competitors in this arena, yet Bose has something good enough to compete. They're an easy choice for this list, even if they won't win accolades for beauty. They're still effective at doing what they're supposed to.

Bose chose to keep the sound profile neutral, avoiding any significant bumps toward the bass. That helps the mid-range breathe and come through with greater detail, while the highs maintain a warm signature. The bass is less thick than you might expect, but it's not necessarily missing. The only issue is: There's no way to customize it because Bose's app doesn't have an EQ to tune the sound — a thoughtless omission in this price range.

Battery life is pretty good, though it varies when ANC is on. You're more likely to get just above five hours when it is and an additional 18 hours with the charging case. For a pair of true wireless ANC earbuds, the QC Earbuds are a cut above the WF-1000XM3, making them elite in this particular category. As with most ANC headphones, the QC Earbuds have an ambient sound mode that reverses the ANC microphones to allow the outside world in, removing the need to take off your earbuds if you'd like to hear what's going on around you.

There's a lot to like about these earbuds, and though they are the best noise-canceling pair available, they aren't without some drawbacks. The fit may not be for everyone, and the case will not be as easy to pocket as others are. There's also the price, which is expensive by any true wireless standard, so you have to really want the best ANC available.

Holding the Google Pixel Buds Pro.

(Image credit: Ted Kritsonis / Android Central)
Best for Android users

Specifications

Water-resistance: IPX4
Bud battery life: 7 hours
Case battery life: 20 hours
Case size: Small
Assistant support: Google Assistant, Siri
Audio codecs: SBC, AAC
Speaker size: 11mm drivers
Wireless charging: Qi
Other features: Adaptive Sound algorithms, translation

Reasons to buy

+
Good, clear sound
+
Integration with Android and Google Assistant
+
Excellent ANC performance
+
Great fit and comfort
+
Reliable media controls
+
Wireless charging

Reasons to avoid

-
Could use more bass
-
Needs a custom EQ
-
Battery life could be longer with ANC
-
More ear tip sizes would be nice

It took a while for Google to turn "Pro" with its earbuds, but the Pixel Buds Pro showed they've got something to offer in our review. New tuning gives these buds a clearer sound that skews more favorably to the mids and highs, taking something away from the bass. If  you're big into hip-hop or house music, you might want to find another pair to bop your head to.

From a design and functionality standpoint, the Pixel Buds Pro bear many similarities to the previous pairs that came before them. As before, they're tailor-made for Android just as AirPods sync so well with iOS. Open the case the first time, and with one tap, your Pixel Buds will pair to most modern Android phones.

Unless you're using a Pixel device, where the settings are within the phone's system settings, you can download the companion app during setup on other Android handsets to access some of the extras available. Finally, that includes ANC, and it couldn't come soon enough, given how good it is on these earbuds. They do a solid job blocking out background noise, putting Google on the map for such a key feature.

Touch controls are reliable, and Google Assistant is a mere wake up call away. The translation features are also very much intact, which is a cool way to bridge a language barrier when you can. 

A sound test can determine which ear tips you should wear, but don't be surprised if you need to cannibalize a pair from other earbuds, like extra-large or extra-small sizes, to get the perfect fit. Whatever works for you will quickly show you how comfortable they are to keep on over longer stretches. 

Beats Studio Buds

(Image credit: Daniel Bader / Android Central)

Beats Studio Buds

Most comfortable

Specifications

Water-resistance: IPX4
Bud battery life: 8 hours
Case battery life: 24 hours
Case size: Medium
Assistant support: Google Assistant, Siri
Audio codecs: SBC, AAC
Speaker size: 8.2mm drivers
Wireless charging: No
Other features: Hands-free Siri, equalizer

Reasons to buy

+
Better than typical Beats sound
+
Super comfortable fit
+
Hands-free Siri access
+
Works well with Android
+
Decent app support
+
Fast charging

Reasons to avoid

-
No H1 or W1 chip for Apple users
-
No auto play and pause
-
No wireless charging

Beats has made wireless earbuds before, but there is something different about the Studio Buds. For starters, they are positively diminutive compared to anything else bearing the brand's logo. They're small enough to rival even the smallest pairs on any list. That sometimes comes with cautions affecting performance and output, yet somehow these little buds pack a real punch.

It begins and ends with comfort because the tighter seal helps augment the solid audio they're capable of. The brand's propensity and obsession with bass isn't so prominent here, as Studio Buds engineers clearly had a different template in mind when they developed these earbuds. The sound stage is balanced, where you can easily tell that the highs and mids got a little more attention this time around.

Unlike past Beats earbuds, these are tailored to Android users. You get quick pairing, which is always nice, and an app to customize things further. The Beats app still isn't as deep as other competitors, though you have an equalizer to try getting more out of them and listening modes to change things up whenever the mood strikes. You won't get excellent ANC performance out of them, so the passive isolation from a tight seal looms even larger in the broader sense.

Hands-free Siri is all good on iOS devices, but what about Android? You won't necessarily get Google Assistant as easily, but it's also not hard to wake it up. Call quality is passable, whereas battery life also teeters between good and mediocre. With ANC on, you can get up to five hours per charge, or eight hours if you turn it off, based on default volume. The case has no wireless charging, except if you manage to plug in, only five minutes of charging can get you up to 60 minutes of playback.

Jaybird Vista 2

(Image credit: Ted Kritsonis / Android Central)
Most rugged

Specifications

Water-resistance: IP68
Bud battery life: 8 hours
Case battery life: 24 hours
Case size: Medium
Assistant support: Google Assistant, Siri
Audio codecs: SBC, AAC
Speaker size: 6mm drivers
Wireless charging: Qi
Other features: ANC, Ambient sound, equalizer

Reasons to buy

+
Good audio quality
+
Audio customization abounds
+
Comfortable fit and rugged design
+
Decent ANC and ambient modes
+
Improved battery life
+
Case is trackable and water-resistant

Reasons to avoid

-
Still just as bulky as before
-
aptX support would've been great

When it comes to durability relative to audio performance, the Jaybird Vista 2 earn their keep among the best wireless earbuds. Jaybird added ANC support, which comes with excellent passive noise isolation to give the effect an extra bump. There isn't a massive difference in size or design from its predecessor, aside from some aesthetic touches here or there. Our Jaybird Vista 2 review highlighted how they have a nicely crafted design that fits most ears, while the tighter seal they can create makes a big difference in how well these earbuds sound. Bass lovers will rejoice at the audible thump afforded by the default sound signature, though there's a lot more where that came from.

Jaybird's companion app makes things interesting because it hosts an active community of fellow users who create EQ presets you can apply to the Vista 2. You will find something catering to every genre of music, and you can modify or create your own. Save the ones you like most and switch between what works while working out or what is best for work.

With an IP66 rating, water and sweat resistance are good enough to take the proverbial beating for every activity. Swimming is probably taking it too far, but you can certainly run in the rain or not worry about some splashing. Make sure to clean and wipe them after exposure, and they should feel good as new each time.

Battery life is decent at up to six hours with ANC on (eight hours when off), and the louder default volume helps keep it closer to that ceiling. The case has its own IP54 rating and is trackable through the Jaybird app. That's all on top of the extra 16 hours in battery life, giving the earbuds two additional full charges. You can also quick charge them via USB-C or lay them down on a wireless charging pad.

Apple AirPods Pro

(Image credit: Daniel Bader / Android Central)
Best for Apple users

Specifications

Water-resistance: IPX4
Bud battery life: 5 hours
Case battery life: 24 hours
Case size: Small
Assistant support: Siri
Audio codecs: SBC, AAC
Speaker size: High-excursion Apple driver
Wireless charging: Qi
Other features: H1 chip, ANC, Transparency mode, Adaptive EQ

Reasons to buy

+
Excellent noise cancelation
+
Transparency mode works very well
+
Super comfortable design
+
Playback gestures are great
+
Compact, high-quality charging case

Reasons to avoid

-
So-so battery life
-
No customization on Android
-
Lightning for charging
-
Expensive

Despite being somewhat limited on Android (no autoplay/pause, Google Assistant, or customization), the AirPods Pro join the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2 and Sony WF-1000XM3 at the top of the heap for ANC true wireless earbuds. The AirPods Pro benefit from stellar ANC performance, and while they won't beat out the others at the top, they do come close to almost everything else on the market.

Sound quality is solid with the AirPods Pro, as we noted in our review, with more bass and mid-range than the regular AirPods 2 can squeak out. Focusing on the mids creates the illusion that sound is moving closer to you, and that's because instruments and vocals are often in that part of the spectrum. The highs suffer a bit, creating an uneven profile that may be more pronounced with specific genres.

They're smartly designed to aid in a comfortable fit, and we can attest to how good they are in that regard. Unlike other earbuds with plastic "stem" silicone ear tips, the AirPods Pro attach directly to the bud's speaker. That makes the tip more malleable to mold itself into the shape of your ear.

Battery life is hardly anything to get excited about, unfortunately. They can theoretically hit 4.5 hours of playback with ANC on — five hours with ANC off — but that also depends on volume level. The saving grace lies with the charging case that can offer around 20 hours of additional listening time. Apple users won't mind charging over its proprietary Lightning connector, whereas Android users certainly might. You could get around that, to some degree, by making use of the wireless charging support.

Anker Soundcore Liberty Air 2 Pro

(Image credit: Daniel Bader / Android Central)
Most versatile earbuds

Specifications

Water-resistance: IPX4
Bud battery life: 7 hours
Case battery life: 26 hours
Case size: Medium
Assistant support: Google Assistant, Siri
Audio codecs: SBC, AAC
Speaker size: 11mm PureNote driver
Wireless charging: Yes
Other features: HearID EQ, 6 microphones

Reasons to buy

+
Great sound quality
+
Excellent battery life
+
USB-C and Qi wireless charging
+
Extremely comfortable
+
Custom equalizer

Reasons to avoid

-
Lacks aptX codec
-
Touch controls are finicky
-
Not the best for sweaty workouts

It's always nice to find a pair of earbuds that don't try too hard. That proved to be very much the case in our Anker Soundcore Liberty Air 2 Pro review, where a primary focus on audio performance offered what is a truly effective pair worthy of serious consideration. The bass and mids get equal opportunity in the sound signature, which does chip away at the highs, but the overall result is very resonant audio despite the lack of aptX codec support.

Anker also addressed fit and comfort in ways that make these among the most comfortable earbuds to wear, as we found out through our testing. With nine different tips in the box, the odds are good you'll find your comfort zone, which affects how tight the seal is for better passive noise isolation. That matters for getting even more out of the onboard ANC, which comes in four modes, and performs more admirably than you might expect compared to the best options. The companion app has the company's HearID equalizer to help adjust how you want the sound to feel.

It helps that Anker also addressed call quality, significantly improving it to the point where clarity is paramount in each conversation. Part of the reason is that there are six microphones instead of four, and they do a better job of picking up your voice. Unfortunately, touch controls don't always work as advertised, whether for audio playback or phone calls, so it's something the company will have to address with a firmware update.

On the other hand, battery life does hit the proper levels for the price. The buds can go up to seven hours per charge with ANC off (six hours with ANC on), and the case adds another 26 hours. It charges via USB-C and also supports wireless charging.

Razer Hammerhead True Wireless Pro

(Image credit: Russell Holly / Android Central)
Best for gaming

Specifications

Water-resistance: IPX4
Bud battery life: 4 hours
Case battery life: 16 hours
Case size: Medium
Assistant support: Google Assistant, Siri
Speaker size: 10mm drivers
Wireless charging: Qi
Other features: EQ and Gaming mode, THX certification

Reasons to buy

+
Fabulous audio quality
+
ANC support
+
Low latency for gaming
+
Extra ear tips
+
Good app support

Reasons to avoid

-
Mediocre battery life
-
Clunky button controls
-
No spatial audio

With these earbuds, Razer makes mobile gaming worth doing without worrying about wires or cables. In our review of the Hammerhead True Wireless Pro, we found them to be nicely crafted with a design that should fit most ears, with a tighter seal that makes a big difference in the passive isolation, which works well with the onboard ANC. There's ample bass with steady balance for the rest of the audio spectrum and more where that came from.

Razer includes six silicone ear tips and an extra pair of Comply Foam tips. You will find a pair of tips fitting your ears well enough to keep the bass from leaking out, as we discovered in our review of the product. The ANC does the rest of the work to block out background ambient noise, with a helping hand available through Razer's app's equalizer to tweak the sound further. The Gaming Mode steps in for the 60ms low latency when it's time to play a game on your phone or tablet.

The THX certification adds more to everything you watch and is worth using when gaming and movies or TV shows. So it's just a bummer that Razer didn't also give the Hammerhead Pro an update to the spatial audio feature in its over-ear headphones. It is theoretically possible to do it through a firmware update, but it hasn't happened yet.

It's also too bad the company couldn't stretch out more than four hours of bud battery life, especially when cheaper earbuds often beat that. Unfortunately, the case is limited to only two extra charges, so you will need to charge these more often. Luckily, you can do that by either plugging in via USB-C or placing it on a Qi wireless charging pad.

Hear me out

Wireless earbuds have grown more popular over the last few years, and the variety has grown with them, making them an essential audio category. Choosing the right pair is easier than it may seem because so many vendors are getting in on the action, and price points now vary so widely.

For many, the Jabra Elite 7 Pro will be the best option. They strike the right balance in the areas that really matter, like size, sound, durability, and supporting features. They're small enough to fit comfortably in most ears and are ruggedized enough to withstand water and sweat should you need extra protection. Sound quality is among the best available, call quality is outstanding, and the Sound+ app has features worth trying.

Equipped with good ANC, plus unique features to cater to call quality, there's a lot to work with. They provide excellent passive isolation with the proper seal to listen to everything without worrying about the background. You also have physical control buttons that avoid false positives when you press them.

Jabra scored a real winner with these among the best wireless earbuds. They may not come in first place in every category, but it's hard to argue how consistently great they are to use.

How do true wireless earbuds differ from regular wireless earbuds?

In simple terms, true wireless earbuds function without cables and cords. Regular wireless earbuds are "wireless" because they don't connect to the device playing the audio, but do have a cable connecting the two earbuds. In that case, the Bluetooth connection from a smartphone connects to one earbud, which then relays that connection to the other earbud through the cable.

True wireless earbuds perform the same function, albeit wirelessly. So, in effect, you have something like a daisy chain, where the phone pairs with one earbud (usually the right one) and then relays that connection to the left. Unfortunately, this method hasn't always been reliable, with audio hiccups and cuts happening. Bluetooth 5.0 has helped improve that, whereas some true wireless earbuds will connect both sides to the phone.

What are the advantages of true wireless earbuds?

The most immediate advantage is that you're not dealing with any wires. No chance of cables tangling or accidentally breaking. You have two separate earbuds in a case that charges them on its own. The case has a battery you can charge, meaning that you don't always have to plug it in to charge the earbuds themselves.

Some cases support wireless charging to add more convenience. Most also have USB-C ports for wired charging, some of which also include fast charging.

Despite their smaller size, true wireless earbuds are often equipped with the same wireless earbuds' features. For example, they can include onboard controls for playback or even active noise cancelation (ANC) and voice assistants. In addition, there are models with higher water and sweat resistance and those more focused on increased audio fidelity.

What are the disadvantages of true wireless earbuds?

With no cables connecting the two earbuds, there is always the risk of losing one of them. Moreover, the lack of a cable connecting the two earbuds emphasizes the connection between the two buds themselves. While this has improved, there is a chance that one side's audio may drop out — brief as it may be.

Not having cables makes true wireless earbuds easier to use on a run or during a workout. Comfort and fit are always considerations under those circumstances, but you should also be careful to use them with the right protection in place. That means at least an IPX4 rating or better if you want enough durability for workouts.

The constant charging cycles also take their toll on the lithium batteries' true wireless earbuds and their case use. Not every manufacturer approximates a shelf life, but you may find your earbuds don't last as long after two years with regular usage. Wireless earbuds aren't impervious to these issues, but since they're not cradled in a charging case, the batteries don't go through as many cycles.

Does it matter what Bluetooth version my earbuds have?

Yes, but not always for the reasons you might think. For example, Bluetooth 5.0 doesn't impact audio quality, so having that onboard doesn't mean they will sound better than a pair using version 4.2. On the other hand, updated Bluetooth protocols will impact things, how version 5.0 improves range and battery efficiency, for instance.

That other range could make it easier to walk around at home wearing your earbuds listening to music while the phone isn't near you. Usually, major updates to the Bluetooth protocol add higher data transfer speeds, but the benefits aren't always shown with audio quality. Other times, they might.

Still, generally speaking, most of the best wireless earbuds these days have more advanced Bluetooth connectivity.

What are the best codecs for wireless earbuds?

For Android devices, Qualcomm's aptX, aptX LL, aptX Adaptive, aptX HD, aptX Lossless codecs are generally better than SBC (subband codec), which is the standard codec all Bluetooth audio devices support. The main reason is that aptX has more bandwidth than SBC, which can positively affect audio quality. In addition, AptX Adaptive also automatically adjusts the bit rate in real-time to maintain smooth playback and reduce connection drops.

AAC (Advanced Audio Codec) is also standard and is YouTube's preferred codec. While iPhone users benefit from it, it hasn't been as efficient on Android phones. Samsung has its proprietary codec it calls Scalable, first introduced in the Galaxy Buds. Its purpose is to be adaptive, so the bit rate and connection don't impact what you listen to. It's exclusive to Samsung's earbuds, so not adopted by other brands the way Sony's LDAC is. It also has a variable bit rate, though it's not widely adopted yet.

What are the best wireless earbuds for Android?

By and large, any pair of wireless earbuds will work with Android phones and tablets. Sometimes, you may lose certain features or functionality based on what a brand sets aside for its own ecosystem. That's why Apple's AirPods will pair faster and more seamlessly with iOS devices than they would with Android. It's also why Samsung earbuds may have certain exclusive features that only work with its own products.

Apple doesn't support Qualcomm's aptX codec, whereas Android devices generally do. The flexibility of that codec helps some earbuds do more with Android than they might on iOS. One example of that would be how aptX Adaptive includes the low latency mode so beneficial to syncing audio with video while playing games or watching a show or movie. 

Even if a pair of wireless earbuds don't support aptX, it doesn't negate their abilities or performance. It matters how the earbuds were tuned to begin with, and it's always a bonus when they have an app they can connect with to let you adjust sound and controls.