- True wireless earbuds are free from pesky cables, making them perfect for music on the go.
- The Cambridge Audio Melomania 1 are our top pick thanks to their superb sound and affordable price.
- For more earbud recommendations, check out our roundup of the best headphone deals.
Just like the name suggests, true wireless earbuds are headphones that fit neatly in your ear and are completely without wires. Because they're so small and wire-free, these earbuds can be easily transported and stored in small charging cases when you're not wearing them.
There's no shortage of true wireless earbuds available, making any buying decision difficult. The sheer convenience of this type of headphone makes them suitable for everyday use, on-the-go listening, workouts, and noisy environments. The best models offer the right balance of comfort, cost, and battery life.
After testing and comparing several pairs of true wireless earbuds, we've selected the best models you can buy in 2021. Our picks cover a variety of needs and budgets, offering recommendations based on overall value, sound quality, specific platforms, and more.
Here are the best true wireless earbuds:
- Best wireless earbuds overall: Cambridge Audio Melomania 1
- Best wireless earbuds for Samsung phones: Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro
- Best wireless earbuds for iPhone owners: Apple AirPods Pro
- Best wireless earbuds for sound and design: Bang & Olufsen E8 Motion
The Cambridge Audio Melomania 1 earbuds have fantastic sound, long battery life, and simple controls — all for a great price.
Pros: Long battery life, excellent sound, affordable price, simple to use
Cons: Not very sleek, fit takes work to get comfortable, Micro-USB charging port
The Cambridge Audio Melomania 1 come in black or white color options. The shape is best described as bullety, and the control system classic, as the end caps are big physical buttons that are easy to locate and press.
When it comes to style, these aren't very sleek, but they make up for subpar looks with their overall value. Each bud has a 5.8mm graphene driver inside and paired with the iPhone XS Max, the Melomania 1 headphones are little rockets. They deliver ample volume, powerful bass, and stunning clarity that reveals every detail in music.
Cambridge Audio dedicates itself to the "British sound," which has been embedded deep inside the Melomanias. Guitars and drums are front and center, while vocals fill the earbuds' wide soundstage. The listening experience is exciting, joyous, and often epic.
Battery life is also fantastic. Charged, the buds last for nine hours, and the case delivers an additional four charges for a total of 45 hours. On the downside, the case has a Micro-USB port, rather than a USB-C port.
Provided you prioritize sound and battery over aesthetics, it's impossible to dismiss the Melomania's low price and welcome simplicity. They're some of the cheapest earbuds we tested and arguably sound just as good as the most expensive set, plus they have the longest battery life.
Our recommendation: Save some cash, buy the Cambridge Audio Melomania 1, enjoy the superb performance, and forget about the looks.The best wireless earbuds for iPhone owners
The Apple AirPods Pro offer a notable upgrade in audio performance over the standard model, along with a handy noise cancellation feature.
Pros: Improved sound quality compared to regular AirPods, updated design, excellent Apple integration, noise cancellation
Cons: Expensive, don't fit great for sports
Apple's AirPods Pro improve upon the company's regular AirPods in almost every way. The flagship earbuds feature noise cancellation, updated drivers, and a revised design for better comfort.
Though the AirPods Pro still feature a stem-like build, the stems are shorter for a more streamlined look. Apple also added IPX4 sweat and water resistance, along with silicone tips (three sizes included) for a better seal and a more customizable fit.
Other upgrades include improved drivers and the addition of an adaptive EQ mode for audio performance specially tuned to the shape of your ears. This results in a clear advantage over the standard AirPods, with better bass, more natural mids, and more detailed highs.
The AirPods Pro also include an active noise cancellation feature to help minimize ambient noise. For a pair of true wireless earbuds, the noise cancellation works well, but performance isn't on par with over-ear headphones from Sony and Bose.
When it comes to processing, the AirPods Pro use the same H1 chip as the standard AirPods. They also support Siri voice control and the same simple setup process — making them especially easy to use with iPhones.
Buyers should keep in mind, however, that Apple is expected to release a new version of the AirPods Pro later this year, according to Bloomberg. The updated model will reportedly come with a new Apple wireless chip and a sleeker design.The best wireless earbuds for Samsung phones
Samsung's Galaxy Buds Pro are truly excellent wireless earbuds with effective noise cancellation, an ultra-compact case, and good battery life.
Pros: Great sound, impressive noise cancellation, good battery life, wireless charging case, compact design, water resistant, helpful app
Cons: Only supports multiple device connection with other Samsung Galaxy products, iOS app support not available yet
The Galaxy Buds Pro are Samsung's answer to Apple's AirPods Pro, and they fulfill the same needs. They're also designed with Samsung's ecosystem in mind, much like the AirPods Pro are designed to work with Apple's ecosystem.
These things are true winners in our books. They have rich, clear, and detailed sound for such little buds, thanks to their dual driver design that includes a woofer for bass and tweeter for the rest. For reference, they sound much better than Samsung's standard Galaxy Buds and Galaxy Live earbuds, and even better than Apple's AirPods.
As for noise-cancelling performance, the Galaxy Buds Pro are doing a remarkable job at cutting out the sound of my neighbor, who is currently using a large chainsaw and wood chipper to cut down several trees in his yard. They don't totally remove all ambient noise, but my home office would be less bearable without them.
All the controls can be found in the Galaxy Wearables app for Android, and it's among the best designed and most intuitive apps I've used for any headphones I've tried.
The only major caveat with the Galaxy Buds Pro is they can't connect to multiple devices at the same time unless they're other Samsung Galaxy devices. That's a shame, as the ability to switch between your phone and computer is incredibly useful. — Antonio Villas-Boas, Senior Tech ReporterThe best wireless earbuds for sound
The Bang & Olufsen Beoplay E8 Motion ooze style and quality, from the leather case to the sweet, classy sound.
Pros: Beautiful case and earbud design, wireless charging, vibrant and natural sound quality
Cons: Case gets easily marked
The Bang & Olufsen's E8 Motion are designed to support high-end sound and active lifestyles thanks to their water and sweat resistance. They're available in white and graphite color schemes, eschewing the obsession with making sporty headphones in color schemes better suited to your sneakers.
While this is pleasing, the leather case isn't really suited to being thrown in a gym bag, as even after a few uses it picks up marks and gets grubby.
The buds themselves are substantial and keep with the traditional true wireless look — a small lozenge-shape earpiece that, thanks to a special "wing" at the top, fits very securely inside your earlobe, even when at the gym.
The sound quality from the 5.7mm electro-dynamic drivers is outstanding. An intimate and immersive soundstage keeps music tight, and masses of volume means you can easily drown out life around you. There's so much life and vibrancy to the clean, natural tones, I haven't find one track that sounds less than stellar.
On the downside, I have encountered a few connection problems. The left bud would occasionally cut out and leave the right one working, then reconnect itself after a second. However, for the most part, the E8 Motion are seriously good all-rounders.
It should be noted, however, that since our last testing phase, B&O has released a new version of these earbuds called the Beoplay E8 Sport. The new model costs more but offers longer battery life and Bluetooth 5.1 support.What else we considered
During our testing, we also considered a few other earbuds. Here are the earbuds we tried, and why they didn't end up making our top picks.
Other earbuds we recommend:
Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless: The Momentum True Wireless are excellent earbuds for audiophiles who want a natural sound profile, but their performance is too clinical for casual listeners. We also experienced a few issues with pairing, battery life, and overall comfort. These are best experienced at home or in a space where you can be absorbed by their clarity.
A newer version of the Momentum True Wireless are available as well. We're currently in the process of testing the latest model for consideration on this guide.How we test earbuds
To select the best true wireless earbuds we compared several pairs over a few weeks. We tested each pair of headphones in various environments, including noisy trains and streets, at the gym, at home, and walking around town.
We listened to both music and spoken word to test the audio performance, either from locally stored sources on a few different phones, or through streaming apps like Spotify or Google Podcasts.
An iPhone XS Max was used as the primary source, but earbuds were also tested with the Huawei P30 Pro, the Oppo Reno 10x Zoom, the OnePlus 7 Pro, and Samsung Galaxy phones to make sure they work well across different devices. If there was an app available, we also installed it and tried it out.Check out our other headphone buying guides