The best wireless earbuds are comfortable, sound great, and have long-lasting battery life. These tiny headphones from companies like Jabra, Samsung, Sennheiser, Sony and others are almost as important as the phones we have in our pockets, and the market has become crowded over the years with options. We've reviewed a sizeable number of models available, and rated the absolute leaders of the pack, helping you find the best fit and value for your ears and budget. Our buyer's guide will help you navigate this space and find the pair that suits your needs and tastes the best, no matter what you like listening to.

The best wireless earbuds, at a glance

  1. Jabra Elite 75tA sleek, comfortable fit with complementing solid sound, long battery life, and a decent set of features anyone can appreciate.
  2. Samsung Galaxy Buds PlusA major improvement in battery life, comfortable fit, and app support make these an excellent choice.
  3. Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2These earbuds will serenade your ears like no others can on this list, but you pay for the privilege.
  4. Aukey EP-N5For a far more affordable price than AirPods, Aukey offers arguably better sound and noise cancelation.
  5. Sony WF-1000XM3Sony does a stellar job of blocking out background noise to let you escape into the content playing through your ears.
  6. Google Pixel Buds (2020)They come in clever colors, but also sound nice and integrate well with all Android phones and tablets.
  7. Jaybird VistaTreat them right and these earbuds will be with you for every workout and run you go on, playing nicely along the way.
  8. Apple AirPods ProApple takes care of its own by putting out a pair of wireless earbuds worthy of iPhone and iPad users.
  9. Samsung Galaxy Buds LiveSamsung's "beans" take a different design approach, and your ears will thank you.
  10. Anker Soundcore Liberty 2 ProRather than try to stand out for one feature alone, Anker manages to make these earbuds work well across the board.
  11. Creative Outlier AirWhen these fit the right pair of ears, it's hard to find a pair that can sound better for less money.
  12. Anker Soundcore Liberty NeoMaking it through a sweaty workout shouldn't be a problem while wearing these affordable earbuds.

What are the best wireless earbuds you can buy today?

Which wireless earbuds, like any pair of headphones, are right for you is subjective in a few key ways. They have to fit right, feel comfortable over longer periods, and produce sound that's pleasing 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.

Topping our list for the best wireless earbuds are the Jabra Elite 75t because they strike the right notes where it counts. We're talking excellent sound quality, improved fit, battery life, and accessibility — and all at a pretty reasonable price. If sound really matters — and money is no object — the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2 are so good they could rival many over-ear headphones with their clarity. It won't matter what genre you like most, and with improved battery life to boot, these are premium earbuds worth a look.

The Sony WF-1000XM3 are the best when noise cancelation is a priority, but they don't skimp out on sound quality, either. They are among the best available if great audio is on your must-have feature list. Google's Pixel Buds (2020) play nice with any Android phone or tablet, and you'll probably find them to be among the most comfortable to wear for long periods. The Samsung Galaxy Buds+ are solid value for what they bring to the table, but even the tightest budget can find something within reach in this list.

Here's our detailed list of the best wireless earbuds you can buy.

Jabra Elite 75tSource: Daniel Bader / Android Central

1. Jabra Elite 75t

Best Wireless Earbuds Overall

Bottom line: Jabra has been at this for the last few years, but the Elite 75t address some previous shortcomings, particularly related to size and battery life, and come out as the wireless earbuds to beat. They maintain an excellent audio soundstage, with an equalizer in Jabra's Sound+ app to customize the profile further to your liking. They hit all the right marks, earning our recommendation as the best wireless earbuds you can buy right now.

Water resistance: ✔️ (IP55) | Bud battery life: 7.5 hours | Charging case battery life: 20.5 hours | Charging case size: Small | Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.0 | Digital assistant support: Alexa, Google Assistant, Siri | Supported audio codecs: SBC, AAC | Speaker size: 6mm drivers | Wireless charging: No | Other features: HearThrough, equalizer | Colors: Titanium black, gold beige, black

Pros:

  • Customizable sound
  • Long battery life
  • USB-C for charging
  • Water and dust resistance
  • Excellent comfort

Cons

  • Lacks wireless charging case
  • No active noise cancelation

The Jabra Elite 75t are the best wireless earbuds for most people primarily because they are so comfortable. Stick these in your ear, turn up the volume, and forget the world around you. Jabra is one of the most experienced hearing aid companies in the world, and it shows with these incredible and portable wireless earbuds.

But comfort means nothing if they sound bad, and Jabra's aced that test, too. They feature a bass-heavy but enjoyable sound signature that can be easily adjusted in the excellent Sound+ app available for Android and iPhone. The Elite 75t also have a wide soundstage, a smooth mid-range, and treble frequencies that won't hurt your ears, even during piercing high notes.

As for battery life, you get around seven hours per charge, which is outstanding for a pair of true wireless earbuds, and the included case nets two and a half additional charges for an overall total over around 28 hours. The case itself is charged via USB-C, and does so quickly. The lid opens and closes with a satisfying snap, too, and you may find yourself fidgeting with it from time to time.

The Elite 75t are also IP55 water and dust resistant, which means they'll have little issue with sweat, rain, snow, or other water-absorbing activities. If you do want a little extra protection, the Elite Active 75t are always an option, though you do pay more for the protection.

These earbuds are also incredible for making calls — 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.

The Elite 75t aren't perfect, though. You can only use the right earbud if you want to listen in mono mode, and the case lacks wireless charging, though Jabra plans to offer an optional wireless charging case in the future. The earbuds also lack active noise cancelation, a feature you'll find on some of the other options on this list. For us, given the excellent passive noise cancelation, this isn't a problem, but keep it in mind when you're researching.

Otherwise, though, these are our favorite earbuds around.

Best Wireless Earbuds: Jabra Elite 75t

The Jabra Elite 75t are by far the best wireless earbuds when it comes to sound quality, battery life, comfort, and portability.


Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus 2020Source: Daniel Bader / Android Central

2. Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus

Best Value Earbuds

Bottom line: Samsung knocked it out the park with its true wireless sequel. The Galaxy Buds+ feature fuller sound, a nicer design, much better call quality, and incredible battery life, all at a good price.

Water resistance: ✔️ (IPX2) | Bud battery life: 11 hours | Charging case battery life: 22 hours | Charging case size: Small | Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.0 | Digital assistant support: Bixby, Google Assistant, Siri | Supported audio codecs: SBC, AAC | Speaker size: 6mm drivers | Wireless charging: ✔️ (Qi) | Other features: Ambient sound, equalizer | Colors: Black, white, red, blue, deep blue

Pros:

  • Long battery life
  • Great sound
  • USB-C and wireless charging
  • Spotify features are great
  • Customizable gestures

Cons:

  • Glossy case gets messy
  • Poor call quality compared to the competition

Samsung's Galaxy Buds+ take the best features from the original Galaxy Buds and improve them in almost every way. The real focus here was to take the popular ease-of-use and comfort of the originals and improve the fundamentals: sound quality, call quality, and battery life, and Samsung has largely succeeded.

They start at a slightly higher price point than their predecessor, but the Galaxy Buds+ deliver with the extras. They boast an impressive 10 hours of battery life per charge, with another full charge in the case. The glossy case, available in four colors — black, red, white, and blue — charges quickly via USB-C or Qi, and the Tic-Tac shape makes it easy to slip into a pocket. Seriously, having a pair of earbuds last 10 hours on a charge is life-changing. Plus, each one can be used independently if you're a podcast addict like we are, so that doubles the uptime.

The earbuds' side gestures can be a bit sensitive, but they're very useful and can be easily configured inside Samsung's excellent Android or iOS app. Samsung decided to partner with Spotify to make it easy to begin playing a playlist without taking out your phone — and while that sounds gimmicky, I've benefited from that feature more times than I can count. And while the sound improvements aren't massive over the originals, the addition of a second speaker adds robustness to the low-end and clarity to the mid-range.

Samsung's also spent some time improving call quality with a second external microphone to cancel out additional noise. There's definitely still some room for improvement, but Samsung worked on call quality a lot and it shows — in our testing, people on the other end of the line told us we sounded clear and loud.

The Galaxy Buds+ are an incredible sequel to a good but imperfect original. They're also among the best value in wireless earbuds today, backed up by Samsung's excellent ease-of-use. If you're a Samsung user, these pair instantly with your phone, and if you're running another Android phone, or even an iPhone, setup is just a couple of taps away.

Best Value: Samsung Galaxy Buds+

The Samsung Galaxy Buds+ feature excellent battery life and sound, convenience features, and a wireless charging case.


Aukey Ep N5 Outside CallSource: Ted Kritsonis / Android Central

3. Aukey EP-N5

Best Cheap AirPods Alternatives

$60 at Amazon

Bottom line: It's always nice to find something at a bargain that performs above expectations. That's the Aukey EP-N5, in a nutshell. They could easily be mistaken for AirPods clones, but the form factor is incidental. Sound quality is among the best you can find at this price, and with ANC onboard, the feature set isn't too shabby, either.

Water resistance: ✔️ (IPX5) | Bud battery life: 7 hours | Charging case battery life: 35 hours | Charging case size: Medium | Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.0 | Digital assistant support: Google Assistant, Siri | Supported audio codecs: SBC, AAC | Speaker size: 10mm drivers | Wireless charging: No | Other features: ANC | Colors: Black

Pros:

  • Good audio quality
  • ANC support
  • Lightweight build
  • Onboard controls
  • IPX5 water resistance
  • Great price

Cons

  • Random audio cutouts
  • Spotty voice assistant control
  • Touch controls can be sensitive
  • No official sweat proofing

Healthy skepticism is warranted for any product, regardless of whether it's expensive or cheap. The Aukey EP-N5 invite plenty of that because of what they offer on paper relative to the price. Yet, they handle such scrutiny with the kind of verve often associated with pricier models.

Not surprisingly, the 10mm drivers are tuned to skew further toward the low end to bring out more bass, and it ultimately works well because of two key factors. First, these have been engineered to be sufficiently louder than most at default volume, and second, the included ear tips (coupled with the angled drivers) provide a nice seal that allows the lows and mids to breathe.

What is a little surprising is that they include ANC support. It's a useful feature to have at anytime, but even better when it doesn't come at a premium. It won't be nearly as effective as that found in better models, like the Sony WF-1000XM3, but is good at drowning out consistent and steady background noise. It's higher-pitched sounds that pierce through the blockade.

With excellent call quality in most situations, plus solid battery life, the EP-N5 cover important bases along the way. However, that's not to say there aren't some concerns to go with them. The touch controls are too sensitive, which also affects how easy it is to trigger your phone's voice assistant. Plus, with no sweat proofing, it's hard to know how much they can withstand repeated rigorous workouts or runs.

Random cutouts do happen, though oddly, they may be more common when within range, rather than moving closer to out of range. Still, the benefits outweigh the flaws in the areas that matter, and without breaking the bank on top of it.

Best Cheap AirPods Alternative: Aukey EP-N5

Aukey makes the EP-N5 True Wireless Earbuds feel like so much more than what the AirPods are, and at a mere fraction of the price.

$60 at Amazon

Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2Source: Daniel Bader / Android Central

4. Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2

Best Sound Quality

Bottom line: Putting on a pair of Sennheiser headphones comes with a bigger set of expectations, and these should be no exception. The Momentum True Wireless 2 are the best sounding in this category for the simple fact they offer the best soundstage, belying their diminutive size. They also have much better battery life than their predecessors, and include superb noise cancelation.

Water resistance: ✔️ (IP55) | Bud battery life: 7 hours | Charging case battery life: 21 hours | Charging case size: Medium | Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.1 | Digital assistant support: Alexa, Google Assistant, Siri | Supported audio codecs: aptX, SBC, AAC | Speaker size: 7mm drivers | Wireless charging: No | Other features: ANC, Ambient mode, equalizer | Colors: Black, white

Pros:

  • Great comfort
  • Great audio quality
  • Excellent ANC performance
  • Improved battery life
  • Companion iOS and Android app

Cons

  • Onboard controls need work
  • No official sweat resistance
  • Expensive

Sennheiser got the sound part right with the first Momentum True Wireless, only to struggle in delivering adequate battery life. The Momentum TW2 do a much better job staying on for longer periods, and coupled with the excellent sound they pump out, it's hard to argue with them being the best for audio quality. Battery life is now up to seven hours per charge, with a total of 28 hours coming from the nifty charging case. It features USB-C for wired charging but lacks wireless charging, which is disappointing at this price.

Another big addition was including ANC support. While not necessarily the best in the business in that particular aspect, they are no slouches in keeping background noise to a minimum. The Momentum TW2 manage to punch above their relative weight in reducing ambient noise to a level that comes really close to the best ANC performance out there.

As for the sound, the bass-forward profile should acclimate well to any pair of ears. It has an elegant feel to it, matching the physical design. The bass is pronounced without feeling overbearing, even if it slightly overtakes the mids, while the high notes are clear, crisp and warm throughout. If the default profile doesn't work for you, Sennheiser's Smart Control app lets you use the onboard equalizer to customize how you want them to sound.

The earbuds themselves are larger than others on this list, so not every pair of ears will feel like a natural fit. Thankfully, that's not a big problem when considering how good they sound for their size, especially compared to on-ear or over-ear headphones.

Best Sound Quality: Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2

Sennheiser's penchant for excellent sound isn't hamstrung by smaller size, and the Momentum True Wireless 2 are audible proof.


Sony WF-1000XM3 case with lid open and right earbudSource: Daniel Bader / Android Central

5. Sony WF-1000XM3

Best Noise-Canceling Earbuds

Bottom line: They're a little big and bulky, but Sony still takes the crown for the best noise-canceling performance with its WF-1000XM3. It's actually a little surprising true wireless earbuds can sport something this good from a technical standpoint. You won't want to take them to the beach, but the next time you want to rock out, you'll love having these in your ears.

Water resistance: N/A | Bud battery life: 6 hours | Charging case battery life: 18 hours | Charging case size: Large | Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.0 | Digital assistant support: Google Assistant, Siri | Supported audio codecs: SBC, AAC | Speaker size: 6mm drivers | Wireless charging: No | Other features: ANC, Adaptive Sound Control, equalizer | Colors: Black, white

Pros

  • Great audio quality
  • Comfy fit with right seal
  • Excellent ANC performance
  • Solid battery life
  • Better onboard controls

Cons

  • No water resistance
  • Adaptive sound mode needs work
  • Case is on the larger side
  • Require more adjustment

Slowly but surely, ANC is finding its way into more true wireless earbuds out there, including at different price points, but the pair to beat are Sony's WF-1000XM3. This is why they're an easy choice for this list. While they won't win accolades for beauty, they are effective at doing what they're supposed to.

Rather than skew the default soundstage to push more bass, Sony preferred to keep it more neutral to start with, 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 throughout. That's not to say there's no bass at all, only that it doesn't necessarily fall under what's typical of Sony's headphones.

Battery life is excellent. You'll get up to six hours alone and an additional 18 hours with their charging case. For a pair of true wireless ANC earbuds, the WF-1000XM3 perform surprisingly excellent in this department. Of course, as with most ANC headphones, the WF-1000XM3 offer an ambient sound mode that reverses the ANC microphones to allow the outside world in, removing the need to remove 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 Adaptive Sound Control mode feels like a work in progress. Plus, with no official water or sweat resistance, taking them near water is risky. Light rain may be fine, but anything involving submersion should be out of the question.

Best Noise-Canceling: Sony WF-1000XM3

The WF-1000XM3 feature superb ANC performance that underpins excellent sound quality and good battery life.


Google Pixel Buds 2020Source: Andrew Martonik / Android Central

6. Google Pixel Buds (2020)

Best For Android Users

Bottom line: Google's reimagined Pixel Buds are not only a worthy successor, they are good enough to warrant completely forgetting about their predecessors. With an emphasis on comfort and control, they are the easiest pair to use with any Android phone, and hands-free Google Assistant is far more useful when you don't have to touch anything.

Water resistance: ✔️ (IPX4) | Bud battery life: 5 hours | Charging case battery life: 24 hours | Charging case size: Small | Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.0 | Digital assistant support: Google Assistant, Siri | Supported audio codecs: SBC, AAC | Speaker size: 12mm drivers | Wireless charging: ✔️ | Other features: Adaptive Sound mode, translation | Colors: Black, white, mint

Pros:

  • Wireless charging case & USB-C wired charging
  • Integration with Android and Google Assistant
  • Good sound
  • Fantastic media controls

Cons:

  • Lacks active noise cancelation
  • Battery life could be longer
  • Comfort might not be great for everyone
  • Bass could be better

It's hardly surprising the 2020 Pixel Buds work so well on Android, much like how the AirPods are great when paired with an iPhone. Open the case the first time and with one tap, they're paired 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. You can customize the touch gestures and a "find my buds" feature in case you misplace one or both.

Google subsequently added newer features through firmware updates that included turning off the touch controls entirely — even by voice — and a Bass Boost toggle to add some extra focus on the low-end (they do need it). There's still no proper equalizer to customize the sound further, though — not that you would want to always keep the touch controls off, either. They are among the best and most consistent of any pair of earbuds we've tested to date.

The translation features, which are already quite good, got their own boost by adding Transcribe mode in helping Spanish, French, Italian, and German speakers to translate into English. The move, in turn, also improves how English speakers get translations from from those languages, too. Sharing Detection lets you share one of your earbuds with someone, where each of you can control volume individually. You might need to share a bud if it's an important phone call or you're both listening to the same podcast, for instance.

One of the biggest reasons to consider the Pixel Buds over anything else is how they integrate with Google Assistant. You can activate it via a touch gesture, or verbally by using the trigger word, hands-free. The charging case is smaller than most others, though you will need to keep it handy because the Pixels Buds aren't battery stalwarts. At least you get quick charging through USB-C and wireless charging convenience.

Best for Android Users: Google Pixel Buds (2020)

The Pixel Buds feature great integration with Android and Google Assistant, plus cool features that make them feel unique.


Jaybird Vista earbuds with open case in backgroundSource: Daniel Bader / Android Central

7. Jaybird Vista

Best For Workouts

Bottom line: Jaybird gives the Vista the kind of rugged treatment that makes them ideal for workouts and general activity. An IPX7 water resistance rating means they will take some playful punishment and still keep on playing the next day. What makes them work so well is the excellent sound, and a fantastic companion app that completely opens the floodgates to custom sound.

Water resistance: ✔️ (IPX7) | Bud battery life: 6 hours | Charging case battery life: 10 hours | Charging case size: Small | Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.0 | Digital assistant support: Google Assistant, Siri | Supported audio codecs: SBC | Speaker size: 6mm drivers | Wireless charging: No | Other features: Equalizer and EQ presets, carry strap for case | Colors: Black, gray, mineral blue

Pros

  • Bass-heavy sound
  • Comfortable fit
  • App-based EQ options
  • Rugged design with IPX7 resistance rating
  • Quick charge via USB-C

Cons

  • No auto-pause feature
  • No ambient sound mode
  • No wireless charging
  • Short battery life for case

When it comes to working out, the Jaybird Vista are the best option. You don't get any ANC support here, but the passive noise isolation is excellent. Nicely crafted with a design that should most ears, the tighter seal they can create makes a big difference in how well these can sound. Bass lovers will rejoice at the audible thump afforded by the default sound signature, though there is a lot more where that came from.

They sound great, and are sufficiently loud from the outset, giving you flexibility on how much you want to raise the volume without hurting your ears. Where things really get interesting is with the companion app, which also hosts an active community who create EQ presets that you can apply to the earbuds and alter how they sound. You will find something catering to every genre of music, as well as being able to modify or create your own. Save the ones you like most and switch between what works while working out, or what is best at work.

With an IPX7 rating, the level of water and sweat resistance is good enough to take the proverbial beating for every activity. You can't take them swimming, 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, and the louder default volume helps keep it closer to that ceiling. The case, while small and highly pocketable, only adds an extra 10 hours, which is very low by current standards, but at least you can quick charge them via USB-C. Forget wireless charging — that's not here, either.

Best For Workouts: Jaybird Vista

The Jaybird Vista are built tough enough for the active crowd, and neat custom sound options only add to the fun.


AirPods Pro in case with lid openSource: Daniel Bader / Android Central

8. AirPods Pro

Best For Apple Users

Bottom line: Apple made the AirPods Pro, of course, for Apple users and the feeling of exclusivity is obvious from the moment you first crack open the case. The Pro introduced ANC and a host of iOS-friendly features that make it perfect for anyone with an iPhone. It's a breeze to switch between Apple devices, except the pinch-based controls are what have us hooked.

Water resistance: ✔️ (IPX4) | Bud battery life: 5 hours | Charging case battery life: 24 hours | Charging case size: Small | Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.0 | Digital assistant support: Siri | Supported audio codecs: SBC, AAC | Speaker size: High-excursion Apple driver | Wireless charging: ✔️ | Other features: H1 chip, ANC, Transparency mode, Adaptive EQ | Colors: White

Pros:

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

Cons:

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

Despite being somewhat limited on Android (no auto-play/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, with more bass and mid-range than the regular AirPods 2 can squeak out. By focusing on the mids, it 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 do suffer a bit because of that, creating an uneven profile that may be more pronounced with certain 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 that have a plastic "stem" silicone ear tips attach to, the AirPods Pro attach have them 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 that it charges over the company's proprietary Lightning connector, whereas Android users certainly might. You could get around that, to some degree, by making use of the wireless charging support.

Best For Apple Users: AirPods Pro

Apple takes care of its users with the AirPods Pro by getting the fundamentals right on comfort, playback and ease of use.


Galaxy Buds LiveSource: Joe Maring / Android Central

9. Samsung Galaxy Buds Live

Most Comfortable Earbuds

Bottom line They may look like beans, but there's no maligning what Samsung pulled off here. The Galaxy Buds Live are earbuds without a driver or tip protruding into your ear canal, and the result is a not only a comfortable fit, but also an impressive sound profile. They work perfectly fine with non-Samsung devices, and are helped further by good app support to customize them your way.

Water resistance: ✔️ (IPX2) | Bud battery life: 8 hours | Charging case battery life: 29 hours | Charging case size: Small | Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.0 | Digital assistant support: Bixby, Google Assistant, Siri | Supported audio codecs: SBC, AAC, Scalable | Speaker size: 12mm drivers | Wireless charging: ✔️ (Qi) | Other features: ANC, Ambient sound, equalizer | Colors: Mystic black, mystic white, mystic bronze

Pros

  • One-size-fits-all design
  • Compact and well-built case
  • 12mm drivers kick out great audio
  • Long-lasting battery life
  • Extremely useful companion app
  • Supports Qi wireless charging

Cons

  • Touch controls can be finicky
  • ANC isn't the best out there
  • Certain features exclusive to Samsung phones

If you look at the Galaxy Buds Live and immediately feel skeptical about them conceptually, you can be forgiven for doing so. The design is unusual by any measure, but Samsung did it in an attempt to conform to as many ears as possible. That focus meant cutting off the driver from sticking into the ear and letting it rest over the ear canal instead. The lack of fatigue makes wearing them for longer periods easier to manage.

That one-size-fits-all approach could finally be the fit that smaller ears are looking for. While still subjective, given every pair of ears is different, it's evident fairly quickly after wearing these that there was some merit to Samsung's line of thinking. However, it was an odd choice to debut ANC support. Earbuds typically have some passive noise isolation to block out at least some of the ambient noise around you, and adding ANC helps take care of the rest. That's not really the case here because the more open design doesn't really passively isolate noise the same way.

To offset any loss in power or volume, the Buds Live have 12mm drivers aimed toward the ear canal. Since getting a good seal is entirely contingent on where they rest along the ear, the Buds Live are surprisingly resonant and sound great. The onboard touch controls are okay, though in need of some refinement to make them more reliable on the fly. The Galaxy Wearable app offers some custom presets for equalizer settings, along with learning the controls or using Ambient mode to bring in outside noise when necessary.

Like any pair of earbuds with ANC, battery life will depend on how much you use it. The Buds Live can go up to eight hours when it's off — six if always on. The charging case is small and elegant, but also a fingerprint magnet. At least it uses USB-C and supports wireless charging. The color options are familiar, save for the Mystic Bronze, which matches that of the Galaxy Note20 devices.

Most Comfortable: Samsung Galaxy Buds Live

Comfort is the name of the game, and they don't get much more comfortable than these excellent earbuds and their unique fit.


Soundcore Liberty 2 ProSource: Daniel Bader / Android Central

10. Anker Soundcore Liberty 2 Pro

Most Versatile Earbuds

Bottom line: There's more than one reason why Anker's Soundcore Liberty 2 Pro earbuds are on this list, and the biggest of them all is because they're one of the best we've heard to date. They're not the slimmest of options available, but they make up for that extra girth with solid performance and helpful features.

Water resistance: ✔️ (IPX4) | Bud battery life: 8 hours | Charging case battery life: 32 hours | Charging case size: Medium/Large | Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.0 | Digital assistant support: Google Assistant, Siri | Supported audio codecs: aptX, SBC, AAC | Speaker size: Astria Coaxial Acoustic Architecture | Wireless charging: ✔️ | Other features: HearID EQ, 4 microphones | Colors: Black, white

Pros:

  • Long battery life
  • Great sound quality
  • USB-C and Qi wireless charging
  • Very comfortable
  • Custom equalizer

Cons:

  • Poor microphone quality for calls
  • Case may be too large for some pockets
  • No ambient sensor

It's always nice to find a pair of earbuds that don't try too hard. That's very much the case with the Anker Soundcore Liberty 2 Pro, which focus largely on audio performance to offer what is a truly effective pair worthy of serious consideration. The bass and treble get equal opportunity in the sound signature, which does chip away at the mids, but the overall result is very resonant audio.

However, the larger size means the earbuds may not fit as snugly as others do. That affects how tight the seal is, which in turn, impacts the passive noise isolation. And without ANC support, getting the right fit is crucial to getting the most out of the impressive audio performance and feature set. Anker nicely added aptX in the codec list, and the companion app has the company's HearID equalizer to help adjust how you want the sound to feel.

While a bit larger, the comfort level should be fine for most ears. When the Liberty 2 pro feel right, they're easy to wear for longer periods, especially because there are so many silicone tips and wings to find the best combination. With that settled, there shouldn't be any real fatigue or discomfort afterward. What's puzzling is that, as good as audio playback is, phone calls aren't. There are four microphones to work with, yet we found calls were never up to par with others.

On the other hand, battery life does hit a sweet spot. The buds can go up to eight hours per charge, and the case adds another 24 hours on top of that. It charges via USB-C and even supports wireless charging on top of that. The case is on the bigger side, though, and may not be as pocketable as others are.

Most Versatile: Anker Soundcore Liberty 2 Pro

The Liberty 2 Pro have a lot to offer, starting with how good they sound and finding the right fit.


Creative Outlier AirSource: Creative

11. Creative Outlier Air

Great Sound Quality For Less

$50 at Amazon

Bottom line: A pair of budget wireless earbuds that actually sound good? Creative's Outlier Air earbuds were a pleasant surprise for us when we tested them. You lose out on some other features, and the case feels a bit cheap, but you'll forget about all that once you hear them.

Water resistance: ✔️ (IPX5) | Bud battery life: 10 hours | Charging case battery life: 30 hours | Charging case size: Large | Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.0 | Digital assistant support: Google Assistant, Siri | Supported audio codecs: aptX, SBC, AAC | Speaker size: 5.6mm drivers | Wireless charging: No | Other features: Dual Voice Calls | Colors: Black

Pros:

  • Long battery life
  • USB-C charging
  • Excellent sound quality
  • Good codec support

Cons:

  • Can be uncomfortable without right fit
  • Lacks companion app
  • Plastic build feels a bit cheap

Creative is often underrated as an audio brand, and the Outlier Air are an example of that. Rather than try and pack in various bells and whistles, the company's budget earbuds focus on sound quality, and the results are surprisingly impressive. They do lean toward a more bass-friendly soundstage, but it's not enough to drown out the rest of the spectrum. They will sound good in most circumstances.

However, that is almost entirely contingent on how well they fit. They've been designed with a larger body and smaller ear tip, which makes finding a good seal more challenging. The tips are also shallower, so the driver doesn't necessarily have to push further into the ear canal, though it does bring about the possibility that ambient noise comes in more than you might like.

FIt aside, battery life is one of the best you will find on any pair of earbuds. The Outlier Air can play up to 10 hours at default volume, and add another two full charges from the case. If you like the sound and they fit right, that kind of juice can come in really handy for longer listening periods.

The codec support shouldn't be overlooked, either. Including aptX means these earbuds can handle video content with a lower response time. They aren't aptX LL (Low Latency), so not exactly sharp enough for gaming, but should be decent when watching video on a phone or tablet.

Great Sound Quality for Less: Creative Outlier Air

The Outlier Air from Creative are a fantastic option for those who want to save money, as long as the ear tips fit your ears.

$50 at Amazon

Soundcore Liberty NeoSource: Anker

12. Anker Soundcore Liberty Neo

Best Value Workout Earbuds

Bottom line: It's not easy to find a pair of true wireless earbuds that offer a higher level of water and sweat resistance while also coming in at a very affordable price. The Soundcore Liberty Neo surpass expectations in how they sound, and are a worthy complement to any run or workout on a budget.

Water resistance: ✔️ (IPX7) | Bud battery life: 5 hours | Charging case battery life: 15 hours | Charging case size: Medium | Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.0 | Digital assistant support: Google Assistant, Siri | Supported audio codecs: SBC, AAC | Speaker size: 6mm drivers | Wireless charging: No | Other features: BassUp | Colors: Black

Pros:

  • 20 hours of battery life with case
  • Really good sound for the price
  • IPX7 water resistance
  • Good comfort
  • Affordable price

Cons:

  • Can feel and appear bulky
  • Case feels cheap
  • Call quality is underwhelming
  • Outdated Micro-USB charging

Anker continues to serve notice with its Soundcore lineup, and by updating the Liberty Neo in 2019, it managed to put out a pair of wireless earbuds that undercut almost every competitor offering the same functionality. While you do sacrifice some things to get this close to zero dollars, you end up getting a few key elements that got these a spot on this list.

For starters, the sound coming out of these is astoundingly good, especially considering what they're supposed to be used for. They do prioritize bass, which is why the lows sound so obvious from the first time you put them on. Don't expect the warmest sound, overall, but that won't matter if you are looking for a fuller sound, especially during an activity. Call quality is so-so, though you may not care as much if you don't intend to do much talking while wearing these.

There may not be any ANC on board, but the fit could be tight enough to get very good passive isolation. Anker includes extra ear tips in the box to help with that, and given these are a little bulky when in your ears, the tip could be a huge factor in how comfortable and resonant they are. They're resilient, too, and so long as you wipe them down after sweating in them, water and sweat shouldn't pose a problem.

Battery life is decent in that you can get through most workouts or runs without having to worry about losing power. The case is a little on the bigger side, but our gripe is with having to keep a Micro-USB cable handy. USB-C would've been far more convenient.

Best Value Workout: Anker Soundcore Liberty Neo

The Soundcore Liberty Neo is a real bargain when you want to go fully cord-free on a run or during a workout.

Bottom line

Wireless earbuds have grown more popular over the last few years, and the variety has grown with them, making it an important 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 most people, the Jabra Elite 75t are going to be the best option. They strike the right balance in the areas that really matter, like size, sound, battery life and supporting features. They're small enough to fit comfortably in most ears, and come with a more active-focused variant, should you need extra protection. Sound quality is among the best available, call quality is superb, the battery lasts, and the Sound+ app has features worth trying.

They do lack active noise cancelation, but their passive isolation is more than just a consolation — it actually works well. Plus, there are physical buttons on the side, saving you from messing with gestures while working out or running.

Jabra hit a home run with these among the best wireless earbuds. They may not come in first place in every single category, but it's hard to argue with 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" in the sense 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. This method hasn't always been reliable, with audio hiccups and cuts happening because of it. 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 its own 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 many of the same features wireless earbuds have. They can include onboard controls for playback, or even active noise cancelation (ANC) and voice assistants. There are models with higher water and sweat resistance, as well as 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 places more of an emphasis on the connection between the two earbuds 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 also makes true wireless earbuds easier to run or work out with. 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 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 cases use. Not every manufacturer approximates a shelf life, but with regular usage, you may find your earbuds don't last as long after two years. Wireless earbuds aren't impervious to these issues themselves, 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 really impact audio quality, so having that onboard doesn't mean they will sound better than a pair using version 4.2. Updated Bluetooth protocols will impact things, the way version 5.0 improves range and battery efficiency, for instance.

That additional 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 going to show with audio quality. Other times, they might.

What are the best codecs for wireless earbuds?

For Android devices, Qualcomm's aptX, aptX LL and aptX HD codecs are generally better than SBC (subband codec), which is the standard codec all Bluetooth audio devices support. The main reason why is because aptX has more bandwidth than SBC does, which can postively affect audio quality. There is also aptX Adaptive, which automatically adjusts the bitrate in real-time to maintain smooth playback and reduce connection drops.

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

Credits — The team that worked on this guide

Ted Kritsonis loves taking photos when the opportunity arises, be it on a camera or smartphone. Beyond sports and world history, you can find him tinkering with gadgets or enjoying a cigar.

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