Best Wireless HeadphonesSource: Daniel Bader / Android Central

Best Wireless Headphones Android Central 2019

Wireless Bluetooth headphones have become increasingly popular over the last several years. The best wireless headphones have support for great, high-fidelity sound. That's why the Sony WH-1000XM3 are our best overall pick. They have excellent sound quality, battery life, and are comfortable for long-term use — and their noise cancelation is second-to-none.

Buying an awesome pair of wireless headphones can be expensive, but it doesn't have to be, especially during this time of year. Black Friday will be here before you know it, and with the annual shopping season comes heaps of discounts on all sorts of tech products. We're on the lookout for all of the best deals on wireless headphones, and as we find them, they'll be added below for you to see.

Best Overall: Sony WH-1000XM3

Side profile of Sony WH-1000XM3Source: Daniel Bader / Android Central

By far, the most significant feature of the XM3s is their class-leading active noise canceling (ANC). Not only does it make traveling much easier by completely drowning out things such as planes and trains; they're excellent at blocking out higher-pitched sounds as well. The ANC you get out of the XM3 are legitimate, and it sometimes feels like you're in an empty room.

In terms of sound quality, bass heads will rejoice here. The sound quality of the XM3s lean heavily on the bass giving it a ton of thump and rumble. So much so that it can often sound overbearing and muddy. The mid-range is relatively neutral, and the treble region is recessed heavily giving the XM3 an overall warm and dark sound signature. Those who don't like a ton of bass should avoid these.

Bluetooth codec support here is excellent. The XM3s support everything from SBC, AAC, aptX, aptX-HD, and LDAC. The only codec that's missing is aptX-LL, which would get you ridiculously low latency over a Bluetooth connection. However, it's understandable that it isn't there because the XM3s have to do a ton of post-processing for the ANC.

Battery life is excellent with up to 30 hours of wireless listening time on a single charge. They even have fast-charging capability over USB-C that will get you five hours of listening in a 10-minute charge, which is impressive. One downside to the XM3 when it comes to charging is that you can't use them while wired or wireless. The XM3s will disable all functions until you unplug the USB-C cable.

Pros:

  • Excellent battery life
  • Class-leading ANC performance
  • Supports most Bluetooth audio codecs
  • Great bass-boosted sound

Cons:

  • No charging and listening at the same time
  • No aptX-LL

Best Overall

Sony WH-1000XM3

The ANC King, but excellent overall

Most over-ear headphones nowadays feature ANC. The XM3s do everything well: ANC, battery life, sound quality, and reliability.

Value Pick: Plantronics Backbeat Pro 2

Coffee shop lifestyle image of Backbeat Pro 2 from PlantronicsSource: Plantronics

Most, if not all, modern over-ear headphones nowadays come with active noise cancelation (ANC) in the box; especially if you're looking for wireless over-ear headphones. The Plantronics Backbeat Pro 2 is our pick for the best overall pair of headphones.

First things first: the sound quality on the Backbeat Pro 2 are exceptional, and bass heads will be happy. They feature an overemphasized bass that gives the Backbeat Pro 2 an overall bass-heavy sound signature. Both the mid-range and the treble are neutral with almost zero overemphasis on either region.

In terms of Bluetooth audio codecs, the Backbeat Pro 2 perform excellently. While they don't support the AAC codec, they do have support for SBC, aptX, and aptX-LL. With aptX-LL, you'll get ultra-low latency for a Bluetooth headphone with latency somewhere between 30-40ms. In comparison, most other Bluetooth codecs have latency around 100-150ms.

Comfort-wise, the Plantronics Backbeat Pro 2 are super comfortable and shouldn't give you much trouble when it comes to comfort. This is important as they feature up to 24 hours of battery on a single charge. And when the battery is dead, you can charge the Backbeat Pro 2 over its Micro-USB port.

Pros:

  • 24-hour battery life
  • Great sound quality
  • Support for aptX and aptX LL Bluetooth audio codecs

Cons:

  • Micro-USB for charging

Value Pick

Plantronics Backbeat Pro 2

Great sound, comfort, and battery life

The Backbeat Pro 2 from Plantronics has a lot going for it. Great sound, battery life, comfort, and support for aptX-LL.

Best Budget Headphones: Tribit XFree Tune

Tribit XFree Tune around the neckSource: Tribit Audio

If you're looking for ridiculously long battery life, the Tribit XFree Tune are the right headphones for you. They last up to 40 hours on a single charge which will get most people through the week without needing to recharge.

In terms of sound quality, the XFree Tune perform decently well. The bass is elevated but isn't too overwhelming. The mid-range is neutral and smooth, and the treble has an emphasis, making some tracks sound overly bright. On the bright side, they do support the AAC audio codec which means you'll get higher-fidelity audio and lower latency versus only having the SBC codec.

For comfort, the XFree Tune are excellent. In our testing, we're able to wear these for hours on end without any issues. Ears stayed relatively cool, the headband wasn't pushing up against the head, and it didn't feel like the ear cups were squeezing the head at all.

Pros:

  • V-shaped, fun sound
  • AAC audio support
  • Super comfortable
  • Ridiculously long battery life

Cons:

  • Micro-USB for charging

Best Budget Headphones

Tribit XFree Tune

They last basically forever

You get excellent sound and great comfort for ridiculously long listening sessions at a low price.

Best Budget Earbuds: Anker SoundBuds Slim

Anker SoundBuds Slim laying on tableSource: Anker

The Anker SoundBuds Slim are a great set of earbuds for a stupidly low price. They feature IPX7 water resistance, which means you'll be covered in most scenarios. No, you can't just go swimming or shower with them on. But, if you drop them in a puddle by accident, or are doing some intense workout, the SoundBuds Slim should survive just fine.

Battery life wise, the SoundBuds Slim are good. They last up to 10 hours on a single charge and can be recharged using the included Micro-USB cable. Unfortunately, there's no fast charging here so to charge from 0% to full battery; you're looking at around three hours.

In terms of sound, they are decent. The low-bass, which mostly handles thump and rumble is non-existent, but it gets made up with the mid- and upper-bass boost. The mid-range has a modest boost giving leading vocals and instruments a bit of space to breathe. And the treble is a bit harsh and piercing, making these slightly tricky to listen to if you have sensitive ears.

Fortunately, that's made up in the comfort department. In our testing, we've noticed zero ear fatigue or pain when having them on for long periods. They come with various tip sizes and should cover most people's ears.

Pros:

  • Bluetooth 5.0
  • IPX7 water-resistant
  • Good battery life

Cons:

  • Micro-USB for charging
  • Decent sound quality

Best Budget Earbuds

Anker SoundBuds Slim

Cost-effective in-ear buds

The Anker SoundBuds Slim are great for those who workout. They're futureproofed and last about 10 hours on a charge.

Best Over-Ear: Sennheiser Momentum Wireless 3

Side profile of Sennheiser Momentum Wireless 3 headphone on the headSource: Sennheiser

Sennheiser is known for its stellar sound quality and the Momentum Wireless 3 don't disappoint. The low- and mid-bass are neutral and flat, while the upper-bass and entire mid-range is a bit recessed but flat. The treble itself is neutral and flat as well. Dynamic range is excellent, and soundstage is above average for an active noise canceling (ANC) headphone.

Speaking of, ANC performance on the Momentum Wireless 3 is superb. While it isn't as good as what you would find on the Sony WH-1000XM3, it's super close. The Momentum Wireless 3 are able to block out most low-end and midrange noise, struggling only in the treble region, which is typical of ANC headphones. They also feature an ambient sound mode, which allows you to hear the environment around you without taking off the headphone. Fortunately, the ambient sound mode of the Moment Wireless 3 are some of the best we've heard. It sounds very true to life, and in most cases feels like you don't have headphones on at all. If we had to rank the top three ANC headphones, the Sony WH-1000XM3 would be the top dog, with the Bose Noise Canceling Headphones 700 in second, and the Sennheiser Momentum Wireless 3 as a close third.

Battery life is below average for an ANC headphone coming at 17 hours of battery life. Ideally, you'd want 20+ hours of battery life on a single charge, especially at this price. Fortunately, they charge over USB-C and you can charge and listen at the same time. Unfortunately, the Momentum Wireless 3 do not support fast charging.

Comfort is excellent for the most part with the Momentum Wireless 3, with no issues with ear fatigue, heaviness on the crown, or pain. The ear cups and headband are super soft and comfortable; however, the ear cups do get warm after several hours of usage.

Pros:

  • Excellent sound quality
  • Great ANC performance
  • Superb ambient sounds mode that sounds natural
  • USB-C for charging

Cons:

  • Battery life could be better
  • Ear cups get warm after listening for a while

Best Over-Ear

Sennheiser Momentum Wireless 3

High-quality wireless sound

If you're looking for over-ear headphones with the absolute best sound, the Momentum Wireless 3 won't disappoint.

Best On-Ear: Skullcandy Grind

Using Skullcandy Grind outdoorsSource: Amazon

The Skullcandy Grind are a great set of on-ear headphones that won't break the bank. Its design is rather minimalist with only a Skullcandy logo on the outside, above the ear cup.

Battery life is excellent as well with up to 12 hours of battery life; they should last you throughout the day without issue. Unfortunately, there's no fast charging which means charging the Grind from dead will take approximately 3 hours to come to a full charge. You'll also get Micro-USB instead of USB-C when it comes to charging.

Fortunately, the sound signature is perfect. The bass is relatively neutral and smooth with no issues there. The mid-range has a slight boost in the upper-mids, which will give the Grind a slightly brighter sound. And this extends well into the treble as well, as the entire region is boosted ever so slightly.

In terms of comfort, the Grind more than does its job. Since it's an on-ear solution, you don't have to worry about your ears getting warm. The headband extends well and doesn't get in your way either.

Pros:

  • Battery life
  • Sound quality
  • Comfortable

Cons:

  • Micro-USB for charging

Best On-Ear

Skullcandy Grind

Comfortable on-ear headphones

If you were looking for a set of on-ear headphones that are super comfortable and have great sound, the Skullcandy Grind are worth looking at.

Best Neckbud: Bose QC30

Bose QC30 Wireless Headphones on the busSource: Bose

For those looking for neck earbuds, look no further than the Bose QC30. They offer the three most important things that people have come to love with neck buds. They're comfortable around your neck and stay firmly in place so that you don't have to worry about them falling from your neck. When it comes to the earbuds themselves, they're comfortable there as well. The QC30 comes with a few different bud sizes in the box so you can choose which fits you best.

In terms of phone calls, the QC30 are excellent. In our testing, we didn't have any issues with being able to hear people on the other end, nor did they have any issues hearing us. For the most part, the person on the other end says they didn't even know we were using earbuds at all. The sound quality is also excellent. The entire bass and mid-range sound is rather neutral. The treble is a little uneven and is slightly sibilant. It's not overbearing and is controlled quite well.

When it comes to controlling your earbuds, the QC30 work tremendously. They have physical controls that mimic the classic iPod controls. Single tap them to play/pause, double-tap to skip forward, triple tap to skip back, and tap and hold for your phone's assistant.

The only real downside here is that there's no support for higher quality Bluetooth codecs such as AAC or aptX. You'll only get SBC, which is fine but you'll get a considerable amount of latency when watching videos or playing games.

Pros:

  • Comfort
  • Call quality
  • Physical media controls

Cons:

  • No AAC/aptX Bluetooth codecs

Best Neckbud

Bose QC30

Comfy phone calls

They're on your neck all the time, ready to take phone calls. They're also decently great for music playback.

Best Truly Wireless: AirPods Pro

Close up shot of AirPods ProSource: Daniel Bader / Android Central

Apple essentially started the truly wireless revolution, and the AirPods are now the best selling wireless earbuds on the market. Now, with the introduction of AirPods Pro, Apple has made the best truly wireless earbud on the market.

Let's tackle the elephant in the room: sound quality. Just like previous AirPods, it's not going to blow your mind away. While the sound signature is vastly improved over the previous generation AirPods, it still has a long way to go. The bass is flat and smooth, but slightly recessed, and the midrange is also flat and smooth, but slightly enhanced and pushed forward. The treble, while neutral, will sound a bit dull and lacking in detail to most people.

Active noise cancelation (ANC) performance on the AirPods Pro is excellent. It compares favorably to the Sony WF-1000XM3, which is the only other truly wireless ANC earbud on the market. Both are equally as good, but the AirPods Pro's ANC is more consistent.

AirPods Pro also have decent battery life with 4.5 hours of listening time with ANC enabled, three hours when on a phone call, and five hours of listening time with ANC disabled. The included charging case gets you an additional 18-19 hours of listening time. The case itself is still impressively small and charges via Lightning (wired) and supports Qi wireless charging. Battery life is by far the "worst" thing about the AirPods Pro as many true wireless earbuds are now getting 6-10 hours of listening time before needing to recharge.

Comfort is excellent and this is mostly thanks to the proprietary snapping mechanism for the ear tip. Instead of having a plastic stem that protrudes, the ear tips on AirPods Pro snap right onto the bud itself. This means the portion that gets stuffed into your ear is purely the silicone ear tip.

Pros:

  • Excellent ANC performance
  • Great sound quality
  • Superb comfort
  • Wireless charging case

Cons:

  • Bud battery life is short
  • Lighting for charging

Best Truly Wireless

AirPods Pro

No wires, seriously

The AirPods Pro packs a ton of features while still being super convenient. The battery life is good, but could be better.

Best Noise Canceling: Bose Noise Canceling Headphones 700

Using Bose Noise Canceling Headphones 700s outdoorsSource: Bose

Being the successor to the Bose QC35 IIs, the Noise Canceling 700s do an outstanding job at canceling out noise. Not only do they do the standard blocking out low-end noise, the Noise Canceling 700s make improvements in the mid-range and treble. As with most ANC headphones, they still struggle with non-consistent noises such as talking. Where Bose takes it a step further with the Noise Canceling 700s is that these now offer up to 11 different steps of ANC that can be toggled within the app. This allows you to control the amount of ANC you want on a more intricate level.

In terms of sound quality, Bose has once again made significant improvements in this area. The overall sound is rather neutral, with the bass and mid-range being very natural and balanced. The treble, compared to the QC35 IIs, have been significantly reduced to lower the sibilance and fatigue you would hear with the QC35 IIs. Unfortunately, this means that the Noise Canceling 700s also lose quite a bit of brightness and airiness that the QC35 IIs had.

The Noise Canceling 700s and the QC35 Iis share a lot in common. For example, they both still have the great 20 hours of battery life, SBC and AAC Bluetooth audio codecs support, support for hands-free Alexa and Google Assistant, and are both super comfortable for long-term use.

The only real downside of the Noise Canceling 700s is that it doesn't have a folding design. This means that when you pack them away in your bag, the carrying case is quite large as it has to accommodate the entire un-folded design of the headphone. And they're expensive, so maybe wait until they get a discount.

Pros:

  • Battery life
  • AAC Bluetooth codec support
  • 11 levels of ANC
  • Support for hands-free Alexa and Google Assistant
  • Comfortable

Cons:

  • Non-foldable design
  • Expensive

Best Noise Canceling

Bose Noise Canceling Headphones 700

What? I can't hear you

You can't go wrong here. They sound great and have class-leading noise cancelation, but with this price, you can get better sound quality for less.

Best For Sport: JBL UA True Wireless Flash

Single JBL UA True Wireless Flash bud in-earSource: JBL

The JBL UA True Wireless Flash are fantastic for working out. First and foremost, they feature IPX7 water resistance, which means it'll be able to withstand sweat, rain, puddles, and practically anything else. Just don't swim with them in since they're not rated to take while swimming.

Sound quality is excellent as the UA True Wireless Flash have a near-neutral sound signature. The lower-treble is slightly recessed but otherwise the sound signature is rather neutral and flat. Dynamic range is excellent and soundstage isn't great but that's expected as most earbuds lack a great soundstage.

They're comfortable too and have no issues with ear fatigue or discomfort. The buds don't enter the ear canal at all, which is always a bonus as long as it doesn't compromise on sound quality. It uses a wing and bud combination, which helps with comfort and fit.

When it comes to battery life, the UA True Wireless Flash are decent. The buds get up to five hours of audio playback before you have to recharge. The charging case adds an additional 20 hours of listening, totaling 25 hours of battery life. Unfortunately, they charge over the aging Micro-USB connector instead of the more modern USB-C connector.

Pros:

  • Great battery life
  • Excellent comfort
  • Superb, near-neutral sound
  • IPX7 water resistant

Cons:

  • Micro-USB for charging

Best Sport

JBL UA True Wireless Flash

Fantastic workout buds

The UA True Wireless Flash feature IPX7 water resistance, excellent sound, and good battery life.

Bottom line

Bluetooth headphones will continue to evolve as more devices come out without a headphone jack. Smartphones were the first device to ditch the jack, and now tablets, and even some computers are removing them entirely.

Great wireless headphones should be comfortable, be out of your way, have excellent battery life, and sound great. That's why you should consider the Sony WH-1000XM3 when buying a pair of wireless headphones.

They're not cheap but the additional price gets you some of the best active noise cancelation in the business, along with incredible sound quality, USB-C charging, ultra-long comfort, and unmatched battery life — all in a package that can fold down really small for traveling.

How to find the best Black Friday deals on wireless headphones

Everyone deserves to have a solid pair of wireless headphones, but if you've never purchased a pair before, you may be lost on where to start your shopping. Thankfully, we have a few tips to make your buying decision a little easier. Above all else, you'll need to decide what style of headphones you want — in-ear, on-ear, or over-ear. Each one has a unique style/fit, meaning one isn't necessarily better than the other. Once you've decided which of these is right for you, there are three other features that you should be thinking about. These include sound quality, noise cancelation, and battery life. Some headphones will kick out more bass, while others are more balanced. Most headphones will block out sound to some degree with the way they rest on your head, but others have a feature called "active noise cancellation" that uses microphones to actively block out ambient sound. Lastly, battery life is pretty self-explanatory. The longer the battery life headphones have, the longer they last before needing to be charged up.

Black Friday is always home for savings on all sorts of tech goodies, and wireless headphones often see some of the best discounts. Big name brands, such as Bose, Sony, and JBL tend to offer really exciting deals, so it's worth keeping a close eye on them to see what this year has to offer. However, that doesn't mean you should ignore what other companies may do. It's entirely possible that Anker, Tribit, or another company comes out and surprises us with mega savings on their best headphones. Anything could happen during Black Friday, and that's what makes this time of year so exciting.

As those deals show their face, we'll get them added to this list as soon as we can to ensure you know what's hot and what's not. After you find the perfect pair of wireless headphones for you or a loved one, check out the other Black Friday guides here on Android Central for even more savings on everything else on your wishlist.

How to choose the best wireless headphones

Sennheiser Momentum Wireless 3 side profileSource: Sennheiser

There are three things to look out for when buying headphones: sound quality, battery life, and comfort. Obviously you won't enjoy your purchase if you can't hear what you want to listen to for as long as you want.

Sound Quality

Sound quality should be your top priority for potential headphone buyers. It doesn't matter if they're super comfortable or look pretty if they sound terrible.

Unsurprisingly, the Bose NCH 700s and the Sennheiser Momentum Wireless 3 are our two top picks. Both of them provide excellent sound in their own regard, on top of having excellent ANC performance.

The Skullcandy Grind takes our third spot for having a near-neutral sound signature that is smooth overall, with a slight hint of brightness thanks to a slight boost in the upper-mids.

Best wireless headphones, ranked by sound quality

  1. Bose Noise Canceling Headphones 700
  2. Sennheiser Momentum Wireless 3
  3. Skullcandy Grind
  4. JBL UA True Wireless Flash
  5. Plantronics Backbeat Pro 2

Comfort

Comfort can sometimes be overlooked by some headphone manufacturers. Some manufacturers have a better track record for comfort than others.

Our top three picks are the Sony WH-1000XM3, Bose NCH 700s, and the AirPods Pro. All three headphones are active noise canceling (ANC) headphones and that's no surprise. Usually, when it comes to ANC, the number one objective is comfort as many will be taking these on long trips.

However, ANC headphones don't typically have the greatest sound quality, so be wary of that.

Best wireless headphones, ranked by comfort

  1. Sony WH-1000XM3
  2. Bose Noise Canceling Headphones 700
  3. AirPods Pro
  4. JBL UA True Wireless Flash
  5. Anker SoundBuds Slim

Battery Life

Battery life is super important when it comes to wireless headphones, especially when certain manufacturers restrict you from listening to your headphones while charging. You'll want to look for USB-C to make sure you futureproof your device, and for truly wireless earbuds, wireless charging is an added bonus.

All five of these headphones have at least 20 hours of battery life, which should be more than enough to cover at least one full work day or a long flight without needing to recharge.

The Tribit XFree Tune takes the number one spot with a whopping 40 hours of battery life on a single charge. This is followed up by the Sony WH-1000XM3, which net you up to 30 hours of battery life on a single charge, and the Plantronics Backbeat Pro 2, which get you 24 hours.

Best wireless headphones, ranked by battery life

  1. Tribit XFree Tune
  2. Sony WH-1000XM3
  3. Plantronics Backbeat Pro 2
  4. Bose Noise Canceling Headphones 700
  5. JBL UA True Wireless Flash

Credits — The team that worked on this guide

Peter Cao loves his headphones. He constantly cycles through and tests many headphones throughout the year. In his downtime, he likes to listen and analyze to music with said headphones.

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