Best True Wireless Earbuds of 2020

  • Last Update: October 27, 2020
5/5
  • Scalable Samsung codec and AAC
  • Battery life
  • Qi wireless charging
5/5
  • Great ANC
  • Google Assistant integration
  • Modern design
5/5
  • Inexpensive
  • Customizable motion zones
  • Good-quality video

The best true wireless earbuds available to buy right now are packed full of the most advanced audio tech, which means they’re just as good as a pair of wired earbuds – some could possibly even rival the best over-ear headphones and that’s really saying something.

Up until now, true wireless earbuds were a risky bet. But there’s never been a better time to cut the cord. We’ve selected the best pairs of true wireless buds to help you choose the right pair for your needs and your budget. 

Best True Wireless Earbuds

More and more of us rely on our earphones as communication devices; I for one take hands-free calls nearly everyday. Anyone who spends a silly amount of time in conference calls or quelling their parents’ anxieties will be able to do so clearly with the Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus microphone system. It may not be quite as clear as the AirPods Pro but it’s about the best you can get for the price.
 
Sound quality is great: AKG tuned the drivers to reproduce slightly amplified mids for a more engaging, consumer-friendly sound. This broad, slight emphasis bodes well for popular genres of music, and anyone who enjoys a bit more oomph to an underscoring kick drum will appreciate these. Listeners can always select from any number of Samsung’s EQ presets through the Galaxy Wearable app, which you’ll want to download for updates and touch control customization.
 
These Bluetooth 5.0 earbuds support two high quality Bluetooth codecs: the Samsung scalable codec and AAC. The former works wonderfully on Samsung devices, and the latter is great for iPhone users. Codec support aside, connection stability is excellent, and the company is dogged about releasing firmware updates that cover connection improvements. In fact, one of the best reasons to get the Galaxy Buds Plus is because of how liberal Samsung is with its updates: the old Galaxy Buds were afforded direct Spotify access with an update, and we expect to see this same support throughout the Buds Plus’ lifecycle.
 
The Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus make important improvements over the original Galaxy Buds, and are the best for most of us.

PROS:

  • Scalable Samsung codec and AAC
  • Bluetooth 5.0
  • Battery life
  • Qi wireless charging

CONS:

  • Lacks aptX
  • No auto-resume playback
  • Lacks multipoint functionality

Key Features:

  • Android & iOS compatible
  • Included Components: 3 Size Eargel
  • 22 hours of serious sound
  • Easy Pair
  • Multi-device Switching

Specification:

  • Brand: SAMSUNG
  • Model: Galaxy Buds+
Sony doesn’t disappoint with the WF-1000XM3 noise cancelling earbuds. These sleek ‘buds pack a punch when it comes to combatting external noise. As you can see from the isolation and attenuation charts below, the ANC technology handles low-end frequencies extremely well. They happen to be our top pick for the best noise cancelling true wireless earbuds.
 
Again noise cancellation is superb, and if you’re in a scenario where it’s important to hear your surroundings, you can enable Ambient Sound mode. This allows external noise to permeate the earbuds while music is playing. It’s great for walking around town or listening for your next train stop.
 
Sound quality is also great, despite the lack of high-quality codec support. Yes, AAC is supported but neither aptX nor Sony’s LDAC codecs can be used with the WF-1000XM3. Sony compensates for this with its QN1e processer which affords 24-bit signal processing. This also improves efficiency, meaning you benefit from longer listening sessions.
 
Battery life is ok: we were able to pull 4.76 hours of playback before popping them back into the large charging case. Fortunately, quick charging is supported. Just 10 minutes in the case allows for 1.5 hours of playback. Once the case is fully depleted, you’ll need to set aside 3.5 hours to fully charge it via USB-C.
 
Just like the noise cancelling performance, sound quality is excellent. Bass frequencies receive some emphasis, as do the mids. By boosting both frequency ranges, auditory masking is less of an issue. If you’re on the hunt for clear audio, these are a prime pick as instrumental separation is well reproduced. Although these are undoubtedly expensive, they’re worth it for portable ANC.
 
True wireless earbuds are a dime a dozen, and the Sony WF-1000XM3 makes it easy to justify the cost. These are the best ANC true wirelesss ‘buds you can get.

PROS:

  • Great ANC
  • Google Assistant integration
  • Modern design
  • Adaptive sound

CONS:

  • Cost
  • No water-resistance

Key Features:

  • Industry leading noise canceling with HD Noise Canceling Processor QN1e
  • 24bit Audio signal processing delivers dramatically improved sound quality
  • Easy and clear hands free calling
  • Battery life up to 24 hours with carrying case
  • Truly wireless design with uninterrupted L/R simultaneous Bluetooth transmission
  • Alexa enabled for voice access to music, information, and more. Activate with a simple touch.
  • Smart listening by adaptive sound control automatically switches to ambient sound mode based on your activity

Specification:

  • Brand: Sony
  • Model: WF-1000XM3/B

The best budget wireless earbuds

If you want completely wireless earbuds but are spooked by high prices, the Sesh Evo is an affordable option that sounds good and offers a lost-earbud exchange program.

If you have your heart set on true wireless earbuds and don’t want to pay $100 or more, we recommend the Skullcandy Sesh Evo, the successor to our previous budget pick. The Evo keeps what we liked about the original Sesh—a fun, bass-forward sound, a comfortable fit, water resistance (with an IP55 rating), and easy-to-use controls—and adds improved battery life, Tile integration, and USB-C charging. The longer battery life of five hours per charge (versus three hours for the original Sesh) is still middle of the road for true wireless earbuds, but you do get 19 hours from the included charging case, which is small enough to fit in a pocket. We love that these earbuds come with a two-year warranty and Skullcandy’s Fearless Use Promise, which means if you lose or break one earbud, you pay to replace only that part, and the company will ship you a completely new pair.

PROS:

  • Inexpensive
  • Can be used either in solo or stereo mode
  • Tile tracker built inside
  • Nice design

CONS:

  • Can be hard to pair back into stereo mode
  • You lose some features in solo mode
  • Sound can be tinny on phone calls

Key Features:

  • 24 Hours Total Battery + Rapid Charge
  • Use Either Bud Solo
  • Music, Movie and Podcast EQ Modes
  • IP55 Sweat, Water and Dust Resistant
  • Built-In Tile Technology

Specification:

  • Brand: Skullcandy
  • Model: Sesh Evo

The Jabra Elite 75t true wireless earbuds is one of the best Bluetooth earbuds because they sound great, feel comfortable, and offer the convenience of being completely cable-free. Compared with our previous top pick, the Elite 65t, the new earbuds have a smaller, lighter form, as well as better battery life (seven and a half hours per charge, up from five) and simpler controls.

Jabra did away with the smaller, separate volume controls of the 65t and now offers one large, easy-to-press multifunction button on each earbud to control adjustments such as play/pause, volume, track skip, and digital-assistant activation. The four-microphone array and improved active wind-noise reduction keep your voice sounding exceptionally clear over phone calls.

Though the Elite 75t earbuds don’t have active noise cancellation, they block out much of the sound around you and have a transparency mode so that you can choose to hear your surroundings when you need to. The IP55 rating against water and dust and sweat damage means that taking a jog or getting caught in drizzle is no big deal. The pocket-size storage case charges via USB-C and holds a little over two full charges. Plus, a two-year warranty from Jabra will protect you from any unexpected hiccups.

PROS:

  • Durable, dunkable design
  • Sleek and small
  • Loaded with features

CONS:

  • Sound lacks balance
  • Fit can be tricky

Key Features:

  • Perfect fit, compact comfort
  • 4-microphone technology
  • Alexa, Siri, Google Assistant
  • 7,5 hrs, 28 with charge case
  • Protected against Water, Sweat & dust

Specification:

  • Brand: Jabra
  • Model: Elite 75t
When an old industry leader comes in with a high-end product, we pay attention and so should you. Sennheiser’s debut into the true wireless field offers extremely good sound quality, but it comes as a fairly steep price. You get what you pay for, however, as the Momentum True Wireless sound a lot better than their peers.
Unfortunately, there isn’t much in the way of features here, and what you’re paying for is raw performance. If you want weather sealing, Qualcomm TrueWireless Radio Plus, memory foam tips, active noise canceling, or health tracking: you’ll have to look elsewhere.
 
However, Sennheiser’s app allows you to control how your music sounds, so you can create a custom EQ. You can also add in a little bit of outside noise to hear your surroundings by hitting the in-app toggle. Fairly intuitive touch controls also let you control your music, answer/end calls, and adjust the volume. If you take an earbud out, it automatically pauses your music. Listeners willing to spend a bit more may want to go for the latest Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2: this headset makes nominal improvements over the first-generation model, but retains the same sound quality-first philosophy.

PROS:

  • Great sound
  • In-app EQ

CONS:

  • Price
  • Few features

Key Features:

  • Fingertip control control your music, calls and voice assistant simply through intuitive touchpad technology built into both True Wireless earbuds
  • Stay aware transparent hearing keeps you aware of your surroundings, allowing you to easily listen and chat wirelessly Without having to remove your earbuds
  • Extended listening 4 hours of truly wireless listening becomes 12 with our compact charging case that gives you 2 full extra charges

Specification:

  • Brand: Sennheiser Consumer Audio
  • Model: Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless

If the Jabra Elite 75t pair is unavailable or you’re devoted to Apple and want the easy pairing experience you get with Apple’s H1 chip, we recommend the Beats Powerbeats Pro. Just like Apple’s own AirPods, the Powerbeats Pro earbuds pair quickly and easily with Apple devices. They also offer “Hey Siri” voice activation and the ability to wear either earpiece individually for situational awareness, but there is no transparency mode as on the Jabra pair. Unlike the AirPods, the Powerbeats Pro earbuds offer water resistance (but no official IP rating), a secure fit, and volume and track controls. They sound great, with a slightly boosted bass, and they have a longer, nine-hour music-listening battery life between charges (six hours for calls). When you put them into the charging case for just five minutes, it adds 90 minutes of use (and the case will charge the earbuds fully around one and a half times more before it needs to be recharged), but the case is not as small as the case you get with the Jabra Elite 75t or the AirPods. And the Powerbeats Pro set is more expensive than the Jabra Elite 75t.

If you’re looking for a pair of true wireless earbuds with a battery life that won’t die mid-workout and an IPX4 rating, the Beats Powerbeats Pro are a good choice.

PROS:

  • IPX4 sweat resistant
  • Battery life
  • H1 chip makes for a good connection
  • A great mic

CONS:

  • De-emphasized mids
  • Not great isolation
  • Price

Key Features:

  • Totally wireless high-performance earphones in navy
  • Up to 9 hours of listening time (more than 24 hours with charging case)
  • Adjustable, secure-fit ear hooks for lightweight comfort and stability
  • Volume & track controls on each earbud, voice capability, and auto play/pause
  • Reinforced design for sweat & water resistance during tough workouts or running
  • Features the Apple H1 headphone chip and Class 1 Bluetooth for extended range and fewer dropouts
  • Compatible with iOS and Android

Specification:

  • Brand: Beats
  • Model: Powerbeats Pro

The AirPods have always been convenient, but they haven’t been good. That changes with the AirPods Pro which now have ear tips for a better fit, active noise cancelling tech inside, and new playback controls built into the smaller stem.

Transparency, a new listening mode, uses the microphones to amplify the sounds around you so you can hear your surroundings better. It’s great when you don’t want to miss any important announcements, and you can toggle ANC back on by squeezing the stem again.

The stem is also where you’ll find the playback controls, though, unfortunately, there are no volume controls. The charging case is also slightly bigger than the original, but not by much and it’s still super easy to toss in your pocket. We recorded around five hours of constant playback in our full review, but you can get another few charges just by tossing them back in the case between uses. If the AirPods Pro are a bit too rich for your blood, there are a handful of solid AirPods Pro alternatives out there for iPhone and Android users alike.

PROS:

  • Good active noise cancelling
  • Playback controls built into the stem
  • Good connection strength
  • Decent battery life

CONS:

  • Price
  • No volume controls
  • Charges via lightning

Key Features:

  • Active noise cancellation for immersive sound
  • Transparency mode for hearing and connecting with the world around you
  • Three sizes of soft, tapered silicone tips for a customizable fit
  • Sweat and water resistant
  • Adaptive EQ automatically tunes music to the shape of your ear
  • Easy setup for all your Apple devices
  • Quick access to Siri by saying “Hey Siri”
  • The Wireless Charging Case delivers more than 24 hours of battery life

Specification:

  • Brand: Apple
  • Model: Apple AirPods Pro

Sony has been on a roll in the true wireless space lately. Whether it’s the company’s value-packed WF-XB700, which has quickly become one of our favorite options under $100, or the class-leading, noise-squashing WF-1000XM3, Sony has proven its formula is working.

The WF-SP800N join this growing collection of formidable earbuds, offering an embarrassment of features for their price point, along with impressive sound, a strong and stable connection, and a sporty, water-resistant design—something the flagship WF-1000XM3 buds don’t have.

Packing everything from noise cancellation and transparency mode to automatic audio adjustment, the SP800N are impressively well-appointed for their price point—especially since you can often find them on sale. They’re also highly adjustable thanks to Sony’s Headphones Connect app, including a five-band EQ with a separate bass control so you can easily pull back (or ramp up) their booming “Extra Bass” feature.

As for drawbacks, the SP800N’s noise cancelation is just OK, the buds are a little big, and the charging case stores only one extra charge. In addition, we found a tear in one of the silicone ear fins after just a few days (though, as we’ve yet to hear about other reviewers running into this issue, we’re hoping it was just a bad fin).

Their incredible playback time of 9 hours per charge with noise cancellation—and a whopping 13 hours without it—helps make up for their charging case’s shortcomings. Add in their wealth of other features and the SP800N are steeped with value, making them one of our favorite pairs of sports buds on the market.

PROS:

  • Smooth, detailed sound
  • Up to 13 hours playback time
  • Virtually ever feature you need

CONS:

  • Chunky design
  • Single recharge in case
  • Flimsy ear fins

Key Features:

  • Truly wireless earbuds with soft cushioned arc supporter
  • Get deep in the zone with digital noise cancellation
  • Battery life up to 9 hours/18 total hours with carrying case, or up to 13 hours/26 total hours with noise canceling disabled
  • IP55 sweat and splash-proof design for worry-free use and cleaning
  • EXTRA BASS sound with deep, punchy low end
  • Built-in microphone for clear-sounding hands-free calls and use with your voice assistant
  • Alexa Enabled for Voice Access to Music, Information, and More. Activate with a Simple Touch

Specification:

  • Brand: Sony
  • Model: WFSP800N

The 4th-gen Beats Powerbeats are basically the same headphones as the Powerbeats Pro—they simply aren’t “true wireless,” featuring a small cable that runs between the two buds and behind your neck.

However, what you’re sacrificing by way of true wireless freedom, you’re making up for in price. People love the Powerbeats Pro, but they’re just too darn expensive (at full price anyway). The Powerbeats are a great stand-in, priced well below the Powerbeats Pro’s suggested retail price.

Outside of the wire situation, Powerbeats fans will be very glad to know that the connected Powerbeats sound just as good as the “Pro” model, and offer similar levels of flexibility and style (i.e., they come in a bunch of colors). They also offer shockingly good connection quality that outdoes their siblings, as well as any other true wireless earbuds you’ll find right now.

These are an excellent addition if you’ve been after the workout-ready, sound-forward style of the original Powerbeats Pro but don’t want to shell out that much cash. Heck, if you don’t mind the addition of one little wire, there’s really no reason not to buy these instead.

PROS:

  • Incredible wireless range
  • Clear, powerful sound
  • Workout ready

CONS:

  • No transparency mode
  • Ear hooks can get uncomfortable

Key Features:

  • High-performance wireless earphones
  • Up to 15 hours of listening time
  • Adjustable, secure-fit earhooks for comfort and stability
  • Reinforced, sleek design for sweat & water resistance during tough workouts or running
  • Improved connection speed via the Apple H1 headphone chip
  • Compatible with iOS and Android devices
  • Class 1 Bluetooth for extended range and fewer dropouts

Specification:

  • Brand: Beats
  • Model: Powerbeats

If you’re looking for true wireless earbuds with great sound quality, the Bose SoundSport Free are a good choice for the money. Once you get the fit right, they offer excellent bass response, good sound isolation, and impressive clarity that accentuates every genre, from classical to rock to hip-hop.

The Bose Soundsport Free do have one key design flaw, as described by one user review from Bose’s site: they stick out of your ears like bolts from Frankenstein’s neck. Unlike most earbuds that dig into the nooks of your ears, these jut way outward. They felt secure enough in our testing for running, but they look a bit goofy.

Part of this design is to make room for physical buttons on the buds themselves rather than just touch controls. It’s nice, but the force required to push the buttons down can cause the buds to shift out of place.

However, if you can ignore those flaws, the SoundSport Free are a great buy. They offer a decent five hours of battery life on a charge (with another 10 hours from the included case) and the sound quality is so good it’s worth mentioning again.

Look, most true wireless earbuds look a bit off. Plenty has been written about Apple’s AirPods and their golf-tee design. But the Soundsport Free might be the weirdest-looking of the bunch. If you can live with that, though, the Soundsport Free are definitely worth consideration.

PROS:

  • Solid sound quality
  • Physical control buttons

CONS:

  • Huge form factor

Key Features:

  • TRULY wireless Sport headphones for total freedom of movement
  • Earbuds are sweat and weather resistant
  • Up to 5 hours of play time with each charge and an additional 10 hours with the included charging case
  • Track lost earbuds with the Bose connect App's "find My buds" feature
  • Integrated dual microphone array

Specification:

  • Brand: Bose
  • Model: SoundSport Free

What You Should Know About Headphones

You’ve probably seen a bunch of different headphones in your everyday life, but what you may not realize is that headphones, while they have a number of different selling points, are primarily categorized into three types: in-ear (including all earbuds), on-ear, and over-ear.

Knowing the basic terminology of modern headphones is the best way to estimate what you need (or want) in a pair of headphones, which will guide you towards deciding how much to spend. Usually, if you have an idea of what style you’re looking for, which features you want or need, and how you’ll be using your new headphones, you can start to estimate how much you want to spend. If you don’t, our list should help you figure out what you do and do not want.

For example, Sony’s super-popular WH-1000XM3 headphones are Bluetooth (wireless) over-ears with Adaptive Noise Canceling. If you’re not sure what all that means, read on to see which pair is right for you.

  • Style: Deciding on one of the three common form factors—in-ear, on-ear, or over-ear—should be your first step. Generally, in-ear headphones are the most portable and convenient, over-ear headphones are the most comfortable, while on-ear headphones are somewhere in between. Check out our guide to the pros and cons of each form factor.
  •  
  • Bluetooth/wireless: Do you want wireless headphones? A pair of Bluetooth headphones will let you unplug from your source device, while a set of “true wireless” earbuds are even more minimalist, offering totally wire-free listening. If you’re looking for an experience that won’t tether you to your phone, tablet, or laptop, Bluetooth headphones are what you need—and fortunately, they’re ubiquitous enough these days that you can find them in every style and price range.

  • Noise-canceling: Noise-canceling headphones, i.e those with active noise cancellation (ANC) aren’t just for frequent flyers anymore. Originally developed for pilots, these headphones reduce the volume of ambient noise around you. Over the last several years they’ve become a mainstay for travelers, public transit commuters, gym-goers, and even people in extra-chatty offices. If you already know you’re looking for noise-canceling headphones, check out the best ones we’ve tested.

  • Transparency mode: This feature goes by many names, including hearthrough mode, ambient sound mode, etc. All of these phrases refer to the same technology, which uses tiny microphones on the exterior of your headphones or earbuds to filter in sound from your environment. The purpose is to keep you aware of your surroundings, letting you play tunes while you jog or hike, while still being conscious of dangers or alerts. Not all transparency mode is created equal, though, and how a headphone’s hardware and software handle things like wind gusts can make a serious difference in the feature’s utility.

  • Open-backed: Last but not least, this niche kind of over-ear headphone is a style that’s especially preferred by people mixing and mastering audio. Unlike traditional “closed-back” headphones, open-back headphones have, literally, open backs, allowing some of the sound to escape into the room around you (and vice versa). While these headphones are primarily meant for audio professionals and audiophiles, it’s worth knowing about them if only to decide if they’re something you want to consider.

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