Wirefree (true wireless) earbuds are one of those ideas that sounds like a dream: Pop a tiny little headphone into each ear and listen to music or take calls untethered from everything.
Until recently, the reality was quite different. Most of the first wirefree buds were gigantic, dead after a few hours, and had a bunch of other problems. Luckily, times have changed. There are a host of new models that sound fabulous and work (almost) perfectly. After testing dozens of them for the past three years, here are our favorite wirefree earbuds right now, in a wide range of styles and prices.
Updated August 2020: We’ve added new favorites, including the Samsung Galaxy Buds Live and JBL x Under Armour True Wireless Flash X.
Wait, What Are “Wirefree” Earbuds?
We’ve seen them go by many names: true wireless earbuds, truly wireless earbuds, completely wireless earbuds, fully wireless earbuds.
Here at WIRED, if a pair of earbuds is wireless, connecting to your phone/computer via Bluetooth, and has no cord that connects the left bud to the right, we call them wirefree. We think it’s less confusing. Typically, wirefree sets come with two popcorn-sized buds, each with a battery in them, and a charging cradle that carries extra battery power and keeps them safe when you’re not wearing ’em.
They’re liberating, but they do come with issues, such as limited battery life (don’t buy any with less than 5 hours), confusing controls, and reliance on a charging case. They’re also a bit easier to lose than traditional earbuds, and replacing one bud can be expensive.