Following the release of the AirPods, the true wireless earbud market exploded. Now there are countless pairs to choose from but we've reviewed and ranked the best pairs you can buy.
As well as the AirPods, there are great wireless earbuds from the likes of Sony, Bose and Samsung as well as brands you might not know so well like RHA and Cambridge Audio.
We're focusing on what are known as 'true wireless' earbuds here – ie not ones that are attached to each other with a cable that hangs on your neck like the Google Pixel Buds or Huawei FreeLace Pro - aka neckbuds.
If you're looking for general headphones then we have a dedicated chart for that which includes on- and over-ear headphones.
In terms of wireless earbuds, you're going to have to spend a fair amount to get a decent pair. This is because there's a lot of technology packed into tiny headphones. Since the category is still quite new, prices won't come down for a while – the average price for a well-known brand is around £150/$150.
If your budget is tight, take a look at our recommendations for the best cheap true wireless earbuds although we've included a couple of pairs here under £100.
Generally speaking, the earbuds from different manufacturers are very similar. The headphones connect to your phone (or other devices) and each other over Bluetooth and tend to have playback controls on at least one earbud.
Active noise cancelling (ANC) digitally cuts out the noise around you. Some of the buds here have it, but we also have a dedicated noise cancelling headphones chart which includes other styles.
Battery life varies for the earbuds but the carry case will handily charge them up, normally a few times over. Find out how we test audio.
Best true wireless earbuds 2021
1. RHA TrueConnect 2 - Best Overall
Now back with a second edition, RHA has made the TrueConnect 2 even better while somehow reducing the price.
Ok, they don't come with foam tips anymore and they look the same but that's forgivable considering that these earbuds can now last nine hours and a ridiculous total of 44 hours when you factor in the case - a 75% improvement - and already had top-notch build quality.
There's still no noise cancelling but they're cheaper and upgrades include better IP55 durability, excellent touch controls and a more refined sound quality.
Read our full RHA TrueConnect 2 review
2. Cambridge Melomania Touch - Best Battery Life
As long as noise cancelling isn't a must-have feature, the Cambridge Melomania Touch are one of the best pairs of wireless earbuds you can get.
Not only are they affordable, but they are comfortable and have the best battery life around - able to last for a total of 50 hours if you switch them into low power mode. Even on high performance, they can still go for an impressive 44.
Longevity aside, the sound quality is excellent and you get a lot of control over the sound with a graphic EQ in the app which can also do various other useful things. You can still get the Melomania 1 if you want a bargain.
Read our full Cambridge Audio Melomania Touch review
3. Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro - Best Noise Cancelling
It's taken a while but the Galaxy Buds have finally gone Pro and Samsung has really nailed it here.
They might not have the longest battery life around but this is a very well-rounded and premium package, ticking all the important boxes at a cheaper price than key rivals.
The Buds Pro are comfortable and have excellent Intelligent ANC, sound quality and come with wireless charging and IPX7 protection.
About the only downsides are that some features are limited to Samsung phones and the touch controls can be a little fiddly, but then most are.
Read our full Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro review
4. Sony WF-1000XM3 - Best Value Noise Cancelling
Improving upon the original WF-1000X earbuds, the new model has been redesigned and improved.
The charging case is a little bulky, but the total run-time of 24 hours is good, although others can go a lot longer if overall battery life is important.
Amazing noise cancelling is the main lure here as well as the ability to tweak everything, including the touch key functions, in the companion app and use Siri or Google Assistant hands-free.
Since they are older than rivals, and likely due an update soon to XM4, these are available at a much lower price providing great value.
Read our full Sony WF-1000XM3 review
5. Bose QC Earbuds - Best Noise Cancelling Control
Granted, they look a bit dated with a bulky design but a surprisingly lightweight and secure fit means that doesn't matter as much as it could. The touch control system is unusual but certainly not bad and automatic play/pause makes up for it somewhat.
If you're ok with the style, then Bose has made one of the best pairs of true wireless earbuds you can buy - if you can afford them, of course. Battery life is a little behind Sony but it's decent enough with a total of 18 hours.
Importantly, sound quality is excellent and active noise cancelling is the best in class with 11 levels of control - you can even set three favourite levels for different situations.
Read our full Bose QC Earbuds review
6. Apple AirPods Pro - Best for iPhone
AirPods have always been good, but the Pro model makes them great. Apple has done this by improving the design and therefore fit and comfort for starters.
They're also very fuss-free thanks to easy pairing, plus automatic pause and off. Then there's the way they maintain a solid connection and have decent active noise cancelling, which is still a feature quite rare on wireless earbuds.
While we welcome these improvements and new features, they're expensive and really should offer better sound quality at this price. Look to the regular AirPods if you need something cheaper.
Read our full AirPods Pro review
7. Huawei Freebuds 3i - Best Budget ANC
If you want noise cancelling on a budget then the Freebuds 3i are the wireless earbuds to get.
Not only are they among the cheapest earbuds with ANC you can buy, they offer a closed design complete with ear tips resulting in a more comfortable fit and better noise isolation compare to the open Freebuds 3.
However, there's a fairly big downside here and that's poor battery life - especially with ANC switched on so they won't be good if you want long listening sessions.
Read our full Huawei FreeBuds 3i review
8. Creative Outlier Air - Best Budget
You can easily spend more than double the price of the Outlier Air on true wireless earbuds.
But for most people, there’s little point: Creative’s headphones sound good and have great battery life.
They’re not the most compact, and the carry case is probably larger than most, but overall, the Outlier Air is an excellent buy.
Read our full Creative Outlier Air review
9. Samsung Galaxy Buds Live - Best for Comfort
The oddest looking earbuds we've ever seen but don't judge them too quickly. Much to our surprise, the Buds Live are actually super comfortable and stable with their bean-like shape.
Note that these are an alternative to the Buds+, not a replacement, and offer good quality audio along with the active noise cancelling tech Samsung has omitted until now.
The open fit means that the ANC isn't as effect as rivals and we're not keen on the touch controls either.
Read our full Samsung Galaxy Buds Live review
10. Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2 - ANC and EQ
Sporting a smaller design than the first-gen Momentum True Wireless, the second-gen wireless earbuds are minimalist, compact and comfortable to wear. The touch controls may seem complex at first, but customisation via the app for iOS and Android means you can adjust to your liking.
The fabric-covered charging case certainly looks different from the competition, but the downside is that it's also much larger. Improved battery life is the upside here.
Of course, it's audio quality that's most important, and it's an area where the True Momentum Wireless 2 buds shine - and that's further enhanced by a fully customisable EQ. There's also ANC, although it's not as good compared to rivals here.
Read our full Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2 review