Best Wireless HeadphonesSource: Daniel Bader / Android Central

Best Wireless Headphones Android Central 2020

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 feature good sound quality, long battery life, and are comfortable for long-term use β€” and their noise cancelation is second-to-none.

Best Overall: Sony WH-1000XM3

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

By far, the most significant feature of the XM3 is their class-leading active noise-canceling (ANC) performance. Not only does their ANC performance make traveling much easier by completely drowning out things such as planes and trains; the XM3 are excellent at blocking out higher-pitched sounds as well. The ANC you get out of the XM3 is legitimate, and can sometimes feel like you're in an empty room. The ANC works seamlessly with how comfortable the headphones are. No matter your head shape or size, the XM3 will more than likely feel super comfortable on your head and will be comfortable for hours (and we mean hours on end) without fatigue or discomfort.

In terms of sound quality, bass heads will rejoice. Their sound quality leans heavily on the bass giving them a ton of thump and rumble β€” so much so that the sound can sometimes be overbearing and muddy. The midrange and higher frequencies, unfortunately, get drowned out by the bass quite a bit. However, the XM3 feature a smartphone app for both Android and iOS that lets you adjust the way they sound with a basic 5-band equalizer and a very generic "clear bass" slider.

Battery life is excellent with up to 30 hours of wireless listening time on a single charge. They support fast-charging 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 charging, wired, or wireless. The XM3 disables all functions until you unplug the USB-C charging cable. This also means you can't plug them in with a USB-C to USB-C cable to your Android phone and use the USB-C connection for high quality, lag-free audio.

Pros:

  • Excellent battery life
  • Great comfort
  • Class-leading ANC performance
  • Great bass-boosted sound

Cons:

  • Can't charge and listen simultaneously
  • Lacks USB-C for audio

Best Overall

Sony WH-1000XM3

The ANC King, but excellent overall

Most over-ear headphones nowadays feature ANC. The XM3 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 ANC in the box; especially if you're looking for wireless over-ear headphones. The Plantronics Backbeat Pro 2 are our pick for the best value pair of headphones.

First things first: the sound quality produced by the Backbeat Pro 2 is exceptional, and bass heads will be happy. They feature an overemphasized bass that gives the Backbeat Pro 2 an overall bass-heavy sound signature. However, the bass isn't too boosted where everything else is drowned out.

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. When the battery is dead, you can charge them with the included Micro-USB cable.

Pros:

  • Long battery life
  • Great sound quality
  • Excellent comfort

Cons:

  • Micro-USB for charging

Value Pick

Plantronics Backbeat Pro 2

Great overall package for less

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

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. While that's great, the XFree Tune still charges over Micro-USB instead of the more modern USB-C connector, making them slightly more annoying to charge if you forgot their cable.

In terms of sound quality, the XFree Tune perform decently well. Both the bass and treble are elevated but the treble is clearly boosted more, making some tracks sound overly bright. This means that cymbals, some female vocals, and "P" and "S"'s from vocals can sound overly sharp and can cause some fatigue for some.

For comfort, the XFree Tune are excellent. In our testing, we were able to wear them 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:

  • Fun, bass and treble-heavy sound
  • 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 go swimming or shower with them on. But, if you drop them in a puddle by accident, or are doing an intense workout, the SoundBuds Slim should survive just fine.

Battery life wise, the SoundBuds Slim last up to 10 hours on a single charge and can be recharged using the included (but outdated) Micro-USB cable. Unfortunately, there's no fast charging here so charging from 0% to full battery will take around three hours.

The sound quality is decent here. The bass lacks thump and rumble but is very detailed. The treble is boosted a good amount meaning the earbuds can be overly sharp and piercing at times. However, this isn't always the case and how the song is mixed will affect how bad this might get.

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 of time. They come with various tip sizes in the box which should help with fit and overall comfort.

Pros:

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

Cons:

  • Micro-USB for charging
  • Treble can be piercing and sharp at times

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 their stellar sound quality and the Momentum Wireless 3 are no exception. The sound signature could be described as smooth and balanced all around with a minor bump in the bass. Even with the slightly boosted bass, the sound is pretty non-offensive.

ANC performance on the Momentum Wireless 3 is superb. While they aren't as good as what you would find on the Sony WH-1000XM3, the ANC performance is super close. The Momentum Wireless 3 can block out most low-end and midrange noise, only struggling to block out higher-pitched noises, 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 your headphones. Fortunately, the ambient sound mode is 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 a set of ANC headphones coming in 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 don't support fast charging.

Comfort is excellent for the most part with the Momentum Wireless 3. In our testing, we've had no issues with ear fatigue, heaviness on the crown, or general pain. The ear cups and headband are super soft and comfortable; however, the earpads do get warm after several hours of usage. This means that you may need to take a break every few hours to let both the ear pads and your ears breathe and cool off.

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: Beats Solo Pro

Beats Solo Pro headphonesSource: Lory Gil / iMore

While many will skip on-ear headphones entirely, they still do a few key things great. For example, they offer a great combination of portability and sound quality, especially if you need to hear what's going on around you. Enter the Beats Solo Pro, some of the best on-ear headphones on the market.

First, let's talk about sound quality. While Beats has a reputation of bass-heavy sound to the point where everything else gets drowned out, the Solo Pro are a major departure. The bass is still boosted, but the boost has been toned down quite a bit. The midrange and treble are balanced overall and blend well with the boosted bass. Even if you're not a huge bass fan, the Solo Pro will produce a satisfying sound.

For battery life, the Solo Pro perform excellent. The headphones can net you 22 hours of listening time with ANC enabled, and nearly double that (40 hours) with ANC disabled. ANC performance on the Solo Pro is decent. The on-ear design prevents the headphones from getting a complete seal, and the ANC can only do so much to help. It gets the job done, but don't expect it to compete with other ANC headphones on the market. The Solo Pro can block out most low-end noise but struggles quite a bit when it comes to everything else.

In terms of comfort, the Solo Pro are also decent. The headband has a good amount of adjustment, however, they may not fit those who have bigger heads. The ear cups also have a strong clamping force, which means that they will force themselves onto your head more than other headphones might. This can cause major discomfort on the ears, especially over longer periods of time. Those with smaller heads and ears should have no issues with the Solo Pro.

Pros:

  • Long battery life
  • Great sound quality
  • Good ANC performance
  • On-ear design great for portability

Cons:

  • Lighting for charging
  • Not the best ANC on the market
  • Comfort could be better, especially for larger heads

Best On-Ear

Beats Solo Pro

Awesome-sounding on-ear headphones

The Solo Pro are fantastic on-ear headphones that feature great sound, long battery life, and good ANC.

Best True Wireless Earbuds: Jabra Elite 75t

Jabra Elite 75t in the sunSource: Daniel Bader / Android Central

The Jabra Elite 75t bring a lot to the table with only a few downsides. For one, they sound great. The bass sounds "boomy" and may sound overwhelming to some. They're a tad treble boosted as well, which means that things such as high pitched female vocals, cymbals, "P" and "S" sounds may sound piercing. Fortunately, the earbuds feature a smartphone app on both Android and iOS that allows you to customize their sound signature with a fairly basic equalizer.

They're comfortable, too, and come with multiple ear tip sizes in the box to help with comfort, fit, and stability. From our experience, it's unlikely that you'll feel any sort of discomfort or fatigue, even after long listening sessions. In terms of battery, you likely won't get the advertised 7.5 hours as we found in our testing, but the case includes an extra three charges.

There are still a couple of downsides. First and foremost, the left earbud can't be used on its own. This is thanks to how the earbuds fundamentally work. The right earbud handles the communication to your device and relays all that information back to the left earbud. This also means that if you ever lose the right earbud, the left one effectively becomes a paperweight. The second downside is that the charging case doesn't support wireless charging in any form. Not a huge deal in the grand scheme of things but is a nice to have, especially considering most other great true wireless earbuds feature it.

Pros:

  • USB-C charging
  • Good battery life
  • Superb, customizable sound
  • Excellent comfort

Cons:

  • Lacks wireless charging case
  • Only right earbud works independently

Best True Wireless Earbuds

Jabra Elite 75t

No cords

The Jabra Elite 75t are super comfortable, sound great, and feature long battery life.

Best Neckbuds: 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 neckbuds. 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 sound is very smooth overall with a bump in the treble. While this can make the earbuds sound slightly more spacious, it can also make them fatiguing across the board.

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.

One major downside with the QC30 is latency. While this isn't a big issue when listening to music or taking a phone call, it can be a problem if you're watching live TV or playing games with them.

Pros:

  • Great comfort
  • Superb call quality
  • Physical media controls

Cons:

  • High latency
  • Expensive

Best Neckbud

Bose QC30

Comfy phone calls

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

Best Noise-Canceling True Wireless: AirPods Pro

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

Apple essentially started the true wireless revolution, and the AirPods are the best selling wireless earbuds on the market. Now, with the introduction of AirPods Pro, Apple is aiming to have the best true wireless earbuds 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 their sound signature is vastly improved over the previous generation AirPods, they still have a long way to go. The sound signature overall is pretty great with a slight boost in the midrange, pushing most vocals and instruments such as guitars, horns, and pianos forward.

Active noise-cancelation (ANC) performance on the AirPods Pro is excellent. They compare favorably to the Sony WF-1000XM3 and Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2, which are the AirPods Pro's biggest competitors. All there sets of earbuds are equally as good, but the AirPods Pro's ANC is slightly more consistent.

AirPods Pro also have decent battery life with four and a half 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 be put back in the case 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 and has an easier time adjusting to your ear.

Pros:

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

Cons:

  • Buds battery life is short
  • Lightning for wired charging

Best Noise-Canceling True Wireless

AirPods Pro

No wires, seriously

The AirPods Pro pack a ton of features while still being super convenient. Their 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 II, the Noise Canceling 700 do an outstanding job canceling out noise. Not only do they block out low-end noise, but the Noise Canceling 700 also make improvements in the midrange and treble. As with most ANC headphones, the NCH 700 still struggle with non-consistent noises such as talking. Where Bose takes it a step further with the Noise Canceling 700 is that they now offer up to 11 different steps of ANC that can be toggled within the companion smartphone 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. They sound very balanced overall, although the treble is still boosted a decent amount. Fortunately, the treble isn't pushed too forward where they sound fatiguing or piercing to the ear.

The Noise Canceling 700 and the QC35 II share a lot in common. For example, they both get 20 hours of battery life, support for hands-free Alexa and Google Assistant, and are super comfortable to wear for long-term use.

The only real downside here is that the Noise Canceling 700 don't feature a folding design. This means that their carrying case is quite large as it has to accommodate the entire un-folded set of headphones.

Pros:

  • Good battery life
  • Support for 11 levels of ANC
  • Support for hands-free Alexa and Google Assistant
  • Excellent comfort

Cons:

  • Non-foldable design
  • Expensive

Best Noise-Canceling

Bose Noise Canceling Headphones 700

What? I can't hear you

The NCH 700 sound great, with good battery life and superb ANC performance.

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 they'll be able to withstand sweat, rain, puddles, and practically anything else. Just don't swim with them since they're not rated for swimming.

Sound quality is excellent with a very smooth and balanced across the board. There is some small elevations in the sound but most people won't hear them.

They're comfortable and we've experienced 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. The earbuds feature 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. They also don't feature wireless charging of any sort. Not a dealbreaker but true wireless earbuds in this price range typically include either USB-C or wireless charging.

Pros:

  • Great battery life
  • Excellent comfort
  • Superb sound
  • IPX7 water resistance

Cons:

  • Micro-USB for charging
  • Lacks wireless charging case

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

Everyone deserves to have a solid pair of wireless headphones, but it may be difficult to know where to start if you've never looked for them. 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 β€” in-ear, on-ear, or over-ear. Each one has a unique set of compromises and 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: 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-cancelation that uses microphones to actively block out ambient sound. Lastly, battery life is pretty self-explanatory. The longer the battery life the headphones have, the longer they last before needing to be juiced up.

Bluetooth headphones will continue to evolve as more devices come 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, 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 great sound quality, USB-C charging, ultra-long comfort, and unmatched battery life β€” all in a package that can fold down small for traveling.

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. 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 the top priority for potential headphone buyers. It doesn't matter if they're super comfortable or look pretty if they sound terrible.

Unsurprisingly, the Momentum Wireless 3 from Sennheiser takes our top spot. Sennheiser is known for its sound quality and the Momentum Wireless 3 are no exception. The sound is balanced with a small boost in the bass that gives them a very friendly sound.

The Bose NCH 700 are our second pick. They provide excellent sound in their own regard, on top of having excellent ANC performance. Usually, ANC degrades sound quality quite a bit, but Bose managed to have great sound and great ANC performance.

Both the Beats Solo Pro and Jabra Elite 75t are interesting that they give users a warmer sound signature. They both boost the bass a considerable amount but not overwhelmingly so. At least for the Elite 75t, you can adjust that with their companion smartphone app for Android and iOS.

Best wireless headphones, ranked by sound quality

  1. Sennheiser Momentum Wireless 3
  2. Bose Noise Canceling Headphones 700
  3. Beats Solo Pro
  4. Jabra Elite 75t
  5. Bose QC30

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 since many will be taking their ANC headphones 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. Jabra Elite 75t
  5. JBL UA True Wireless Flash

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 true wireless earbuds, wireless charging is more convenient than you think.

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 workday or a long flight without needing to recharge.

The Tribit XFree Tune take 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 gets you 24 hours.

Best wireless headphones, ranked by battery life

  1. Tribit XFree Tune
  2. Sony WH-1000XM3
  3. Plantronics Backbeat Pro 2
  4. Beats Solo Pro
  5. Bose Noise Canceling Headphones 700

Credits β€” 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 music with said headphones.

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