The best true wireless earbuds are now advanced enough to sound just as good as a pair of wired earbuds. This means there’s never been a better time to cut the cord. We’re here to help you choose the best true wireless buds for your needs – and your budget.
True wireless means there aren’t any cables between two earbuds at all. There’s no wire or neckband to contend with. Nothing to get caught on your zipper, tangled n your pocket and nothing to whack around your neck in the middle of that run, and also nothing to keep your earbuds together either. There are pros and cons to true wireless earbuds.
But, if you haven’t noticed, headphone cables are going out of fashion. True wireless audio now sounds better than ever. That’s because compression formats for Bluetooth 5 are more reliable, and anyway, many flagship smartphones are shipping without headphone jacks.
The best true wireless earbuds of 2020 come with high-spec tech, like active noise cancellation and built-in artificial intelligence for voice control – and in the case of the recently launched Google Pixel Buds, real-time language translation.
The original Apple AirPods were one of the first mainstream pairs of true wireless earbuds. However, there are far better options out there in terms of audio quality, battery life, design, and crucially, price – and that includes the new AirPods Pro, which have made it onto this list, and could soon include the rumored AirPods Pro Lite, AirPods 3, and the Powerbeats Pro 2. So, before you buy a pair of old-school ‘Pods, check out our list of the best AirPod-alternatives you can buy in 2020.
Our top true wireless earbuds
1. Sony WF-1000XM3 True Wireless Earbuds
Noise-cancelling true wireless headphones that made our dreams come true
Acoustic design: Closed | Weight: 7g | Frequency response: 20-20,000Hz | Drivers: 6mm | Driver type: Dome Type | Sensitivity: N/A | Impedance: N/A | Battery life (on-board): 6 hours | Battery life (charging case): 18 hours | Wireless range: 30ft | NFC: Yes
Great fun to listen too
Not suitable for sports
Considering it’s still rare to get noise-cancellation in wired earbuds at all, the fact that Sony has managed to pack it into a pair that are not only wireless, but true wireless is very impressive indeed.
While models like the AirPods Pro have tried to replicate this, Sony is still top of the true wireless table.
That’s because the Sony WF-1000XM3 manage to offer a level of noise-cancellation that’s exceedingly good for a pair of earbuds – they won’t offer the same isolation as a pair of over-ear headphones, but its a worthy trade off for that sleeker form.
Sony has really knocked the ball out of the park with the WF-1000XM3. Not only are these hands down the best-looking true wireless earbuds on the market, but they also combine serious noise-cancelling tech with fist-pumping musicality. If you don’t want the inconvenience of carrying full-size cans around, they’re a persuasive alternative.
Battery life is above average, and that compact charging case is pretty slick too. Constantly improving, a recent update has brought volume control to the buds themselves, as well as support for Amazon Alexa. We reckon the true wireless jungle has found a new king.
These earbuds might be getting even better in the near future, too; on March 5, the earbuds briefly appeared on the Qualcomm website, suggesting that the Sony WF-1000XM3 could be about to get aptX HD support – and therefore, support for Hi-Res Audio.
Read more: Sony WF-1000XM3 review
[Update: We’ve tested the latest Sony earbuds; the Sony WF-SP800N are a sweat-resistant pair of true wireless earbuds that have both active noise cancellation and support for Sony’s spatial audio format, 360 Reality Audio. Could one pair of earbuds please both workout enthusiasts and audiophiles? It certainly looks that way.]
2. Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2
Great-sounding and noise-cancelling
Acoustic design: Closed | Weight: 6g | Frequency response: 5 – 21,000Hz | Drivers: 7mm | Driver type: Dynamic | Sensitivity: N/A | Impedance: N/A | Battery life (on-board): 7 hours | Battery life (charging case): 28 hours | Wireless range: 30ft | NFC: Yes
Support for Hi-Res Audio
More expensive than rivals
The sound quality, battery life, and design of the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2 are truly brilliant – and they’re a really good alternative to the Sony WF-1000XM3, particularly if you prefer a more flashy design to adorn your ears.
We did find that those with smaller ears sometimes find them a little uncomfortable, however, and their high price just stops them from taking the top spot of this round up.
Otherwise? Sennheiser has pretty much knocked it out of the park with these buds, offering great noise cancellation alongside smart looks and stunning sound.
Read more: Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2 review
3. Cambridge Audio Melomania 1
Mind-blowing sound without the wires
Acoustic design: Closed | Weight: 9.2g | Frequency response: 20-20,000Hz | Drivers: 5.8mm | Driver type: Dome Type | Sensitivity: 9.8dB | Impedance: N/A | Battery life (on-board): 9 hours | Battery life (charging case): 36 hours | Wireless range: N/A | NFC: Yes
Outstanding audio quality
Good value for money
Control buttons can be annoying to use
Cambridge Audio is known for its high-end audio equipment, but until last year, hadn’t ventured into the world of true wireless earbuds. Enter the Cambridge Audio Melomania 1s: with an outstanding 45 hours of battery life, they combine the brand’s award-winning engineering with the convenience of truly wireless listening.
For a pair of true wireless earbuds, the sound quality offered by the Cambridge Audio Melomania 1s is sensational. In fact, it rivals that of some of the best over-ear headphones.
They may not have the noise cancellation technology offered by the Sony WF-1000XM3 Wireless Earbuds, but they are $100 / £100 cheaper – and they have a superior battery life.
They certainly outperform the Apple AirPods (2019), in all respects apart from the lack of wireless charging case. This is a small price to pay for that exceptional audio quality, though, and we think they represent much better value for money, too.
Read more: Cambridge Audio Melomania 1 review
4. Lypertek Tevi
Incredible, affordable buds
Acoustic design: Closed | Weight: N/A | Frequency response: 20-20,000Hz | Drivers: 6mm | Driver type: Graphene | Sensitivity: N/A | Impedance: N/A | Battery life (on-board): 10 hours | Battery life (charging case): 70 hours | Wireless range: N/A | NFC: No
Neutral audiophile-like sound
Great battery life
Design is a bit plain
You may not have heard of up-and-coming audio brand Lypertek yet, but expect to hear a lot from it soon – its Lypertek Tevi are among the best true wireless earbuds we’ve tried, especially given their low price tag ($130 / £99 / AU$185).
With USB-C charging, a well-balanced sound, lengthy battery life, and waterproofing, they tick every box you could ask for, from what are basically a pair of budget buds.
The Lypertek Tevi, surprisingly, might just blow you away, punching well above their weight and rivaling buds from some of the biggest audio brands on the planet.
Consider us pleasantly surprised.
Read more: Lypertek Tevi true wireless earbuds review
5. Klipsch T5 True Wireless
Audiophiles will love the Klipsch T5’s sound and build quality
Acoustic design: Closed | Weight: N/A | Frequency response: 20-20,000Hz | Drivers: N/A | Driver type: N/A | Sensitivity: N/A | Impedance: N/A | Battery life (on-board): 8 hours | Battery life (charging case): 24 hours | Wireless range: N/A | NFC: No
Incredible build quality
Warm, detailed sound
Excellent battery life
Deep fit may be uncomfortable
They’re not cheap, but the T5 hold their own against the very best true wireless headphones – in fact, we’d argue that they’re among the best models on the market right now. That’s because they offer stellar sound, high build quality, long-lasting battery life, and one of the coolest cases we’ve ever seen.
Featuring the signature Klipsch sound, these buds sound warm, clear, and never harsh. Acoustic music is lush and detailed, with that clarity extending to the highs as well, allowing the headphones to sing in the higher registers without ever being sibilant.
Battery life is rated at eight hours per charge with the case providing an additional 24 hours – these are true wireless earbuds that can last you an entire flight from New York to San Francisco (or wherever you’re next trip takes you).
Read more: Klipsch T5 True Wireless review
6. Jabra Elite 75t
A worthy successor to the Elite 65t
Acoustic design: Closed | Weight: 5.5g | Frequency response: 20-20,000 Hz | Drivers: 6mm | Driver type: N/A | Sensitivity: N/A | Impedance: N/A | Battery life (on-board): 7.5 hours | Battery life (charging case): 20 hours | Wireless range: 33ft | NFC: No
7 hours on a single charge
Compact earbuds and case
App lets you customize EQ
Overwhelming, muddy bass
The Jabra Elite 75t improve upon their predecessors, the Jabra Elite 65t, in just about every way – except for tonal balance.
The headphones and charging case are much smaller, battery life makes an immense jump, catching up to the competition, and the customization features we enjoyed in the 65t remain.
While they don’t have the best sound quality and they lacks active noise cancellation, neither stops the Jabre Elite 75t from being a solid pair of true wireless earbuds to use, especially if you make frequent calls with your headphones on.
Read the full review: Jabra Elite 75t review
7. Apple AirPods Pro
The perfect earbuds… for Apple fans
Acoustic design: Closed | Weight: 5.4g | Frequency response: 20-20,000Hz | Drivers: N/A | Driver type: Dynamic | Sensitivity: N/A | Impedance: N/A | Battery life (on-board): Up to 5 hours | Battery life (charging case): 24 hours | Wireless range: N/A | NFC: Yes
Good noise cancellation
Better fit than AirPods (2019)
More expensive than better rivals
USB-C charging cable in box
Apple has launched its new true wireless earbuds, bringing active noise cancellation, a (finally) much better fit, and an improved design, in a bid to lure more iPhone users into the true wireless fold.
However, at $249 / £249 / AU$399, they’re pretty pricey too, and as such can’t be called the very best wireless headphones out there.
That said, if you’re an iPhone user looking for some well-fitting earbuds with strong sound quality, you could do a lot worse than the new AirPods – the redesign means they’re far less likely to fall out, and the additional microphones provide strong noise-cancelling (particularly when commuting), as well as a useful Transparency mode, which really does let the outside world in.
The sound quality of the AirPods Pro has certainly improved since the previous iteration – there’s a notable emphasis on vocals and bass, meaning these earbuds are better for pop fans than those that enjoy a more natural presentation that lends itself to classical music or more orchestral sounds.
Apparently, there’s a new AirPods model on the horizon to join the original buds and the newer Pros. The AirPods Pro Lite are rumored to be a new, cheaper variant of the company’s popular true wireless earbuds, and they could be released this year.
Read more: Apple AirPods Pro review
8. Beats PowerBeats Pro
Impressive-fitting workout ‘buds from Beats
Acoustic design: Closed | Weight: N/A | Frequency response: 20-20,000Hz | Drivers: N/A | Driver type: N/A | Sensitivity: N/A | Impedance: N/A | Battery life (on-board): 9 hours | Battery life (charging case): 16 hours | Wireless range: N/A | NFC: No
Easy pairing with iOS
Case is fairly bulky
Limited noise isolation
The new PowerBeats Pro true wireless Beats headphones aren’t exactly the earbuds analysts have been predicting, sure, but they are something special – they’re supremely comfortable, sound decent and seem to never, ever fall out.
They might not be the best true wireless earbuds in Apple’s audio arsenal now that the AirPods Pro are here, but they are Apple’s most premium play into the world of running headphones, and are the buds we’d recommend to most workout enthusiasts.
That’s thanks to features like the pressure-reducing micro-laser barometric venting hole, their long battery life and good sound quality. If we had to choose between wearing these and the original AirPods around the house or office, these are what we’d wear.
[Update: A new model may be on the cards – the Powerbeats Pro 2 are the rumored follow-up to these Beats true wireless earbuds.]
Read more: Beats PowerBeats Pro review
9. SoundMAGIC TWS50
Fantastic sound, fantastic price
Acoustic design: Closed | Weight: 4g | Frequency response: 20-20,000Hz | Drivers: 6mm | Driver type: Dynamic, neodymium | Sensitivity: 107 dB | Impedance: 20 ohms | Battery life (on-board): 7 hours | Battery life (charging case): 23 hours | Wireless range: 10m / 33ft | NFC: No
Light, compact, comfortable design
Open, detailed sound
Decent battery life
Slightly inhibited dynamics
With the TWS50, SoundMAGIC has hit the price/performance sweet-spot, thanks to these true wireless earbuds’ fantastic price, comfortable design, great sound, and support for Bluetooth 5.0.
They offer a wide, spacious soundstage, with a good, well balanced presentation, alongside a decent battery life and comfy fit – in short, if you’re looking for some cheap AirPod-alternatives, the SoundMAGIC TWS50 are well worth a look.
Read more: SoundMAGIC TWS50 true wireless in-ear headphones review
10. B&O Beoplay E8 2.0 Wireless Earphones
Pricey wireless earbuds that sound absolutely wonderful
Acoustic design: Closed | Weight: 13g (combined) | Frequency response: 20-20,000Hz | Drivers: 5.7mm | Driver type: Electro-dynamic | Sensitivity: N/A | Impedance: N/A | Battery life (on-board): 4 hours | Battery life (charging case): 8 hours | Wireless range: 100ft | NFC: Yes
Good audio quality
Easy to setup
Can feel a bit snug
Let’s get one thing out of the way – the B&O Beoplay E8 are some of the best-looking and most expensive wireless earphones you can buy at $350 / £300 (around AU$570).
Audio quality is undeniably excellent, and you can tweak the sound to your liking using the accompanying Beoplay app on Android and iOS.
Even without tinkering around with ToneTouch, the E8 2.0s sounds crisp and clear, with punchy bass frequencies. So, the Bang & Olufsen E8 2.0 truly wireless earphones look great and sound great, although the touch-sensitive buttons are a little too sensitive at times, and there’s no active noise cancellation.
However, it’s hard to not find these earphones appealing, and if you want your true wireless earbuds to look as good as they sound, they could be the perfect model for you.
Read more: B&O Beoplay E8 2.0 Wireless Earphones review
11. Audio-Technica ATH-CKS5TW
Big on bass, big on battery life
Acoustic design: closed | Weight: 8g | Frequency response: 5Hz – 40kHz | Drivers: 10mm | Driver type: Dynamic | Sensitivity: 110 dB | Impedance: 16 ohms | Battery life: 45 hours (with case) | wireless range: N/A | NFC: N/A
Long battery life
With a promising battery life and well-managed bass enhancement over Audio-Technica’s usual neutral sound, the Audio-Technica ATH-CKS5TW true wireless earbuds have a lot going for them.
They’ve one of the most complete and well-rounded sound profiles we’ve seen from true-wireless earbuds, and that’s despite the claimed bass enhancement. It’s a very enjoyable sound that they make.
However, they are let down a bit by their fit – mileage will vary of course depending on your preferred bud style and the size of your ears, but all will find the fiddly case fit will annoy over time. Still, the quality audio here may be a worthy trade-off.
Read more: Audio-Technica ATH-CKS5TW review
All about the AirPods
What about the Apple AirPods?
Apple AirPods (2019)
The ones to beat
Acoustic design: Open-back | Weight: 4g (38g with case) | Driver type: Dynamic **Battery life (on-board):** 5 hours | Battery life (charging case): 20 hours | Wireless range: 10m | NFC: No
Wireless charging case costs extra
Audio hasn’t improved
2019 was a big year for the Apple AirPods; in March last year, the true wireless earbuds were given an upgrade to give us the new AirPods, and most recently, Apple announced the Apple AirPods Pro.
The second generation Apple AirPods, the AirPods (2019), aren’t a huge improvement on their predecessors, but they still sport some cool features, that may make them worth buying if you’re an iPhone user in particular.
They still feature the iconic design of the original AirPods (a good or bad thing depending on your point of view), and sound quality hasn’t changed at all – it’s lively, but not on par with the best true wireless earbuds in this guide. The bulk of the upgrade comes from the new H1 headphone chip, which improves connectivity and battery life, and allows for a new ‘Hey Siri’ voice activation feature.
The AirPods (2019) also come with an optional wireless charging case means you can use a Qi-compatible charging mat to power the case, rather than sticking a cable into the Lightning charging port in the bottom of the case.
Like their predecessors, they are super easy to pair, but they are very much optimized for using with iPhones. The best true wireless earbuds give you more flexibility when it comes to your device of choice, and can offer superior sound quality – as well as sleeker designs.
There’s also no getting away from the fact that these are an expensive pair of headphones, and for that kind of money we think that you can find better products elsewhere – especially if you’re looking to pair with anything other than an iPhone.
Read more Apple AirPods (2019) review
[Update: We’re expecting a new generation of Apple’s iconic buds; the AirPods 3 are rumored to launch in 2020, alongside the AirPods Pro Lite and the over-ear AirPods Studio.]
True wireless explained
True wireless vs wireless: what’s the difference?
Which headphones style is best for you?
Wireless headphones are traditional over-ear or on-ear headphones without the wire – the two earcups are connected by a headband. To learn more, head to our round up of the best wireless headphones.
Wireless earbuds – the focus of this guide – have existed for a while now, basically since Bluetooth was invented. Though battery-powered and not physically connected to your phone, they have a cord connecting both buds – and sometimes a band around the neck too. Check out the best wireless earbuds for more.
True wireless earbuds – the focus of this guide – have no cord whatsoever. While wireless allows us to wear headphones a few feet away from our music players, true wireless cuts the cord between the earbuds, giving us true freedom.
Best true wireless earbuds at a glance
- Sony WF-1000XM3 True Wireless Earbuds
- Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2
- Cambridge Audio Melomania 1
- Lypertek Tevi
- Klipsch T5 True Wireless
- Jabra Elite 75t
- Apple AirPods Pro
- Beats Powerbeats Pro
- SoundMAGIC TWS50
- B&O Beoplay E8 2.0 Wireless Earphones
- Audio-Technica ATH-CKS5TW