We round up the best wireless headphones, earphones and earbuds, to suit a wide range of budgets. From our favourite Bluetooth sports buds for enjoying music while running, to premium headphones that offer fantastic audio quality, you’ll find something here.
Why should I buy wireless Bluetooth headphones?
Although wireless headphones and earphones have a reputation for offering slightly diminished sound quality compared with their wired counterparts, in 2017 you’ll find that audio quality can be pretty much as strong with Bluetooth ‘phones. After all, Bluetooth tech is improving all of the time, with the latest Bluetooth 5 standards now supported by the likes of Samsung’s Galaxy S8 smartphone.
Battery life is also improving all of the time. Energy-efficient headphones with large capacity cells mean you can use some of these sets for a full week before they need recharging.
Of course, if you’re active and want some way to listen to tunes while running or working out down the gym, wireless is the only way to go. Bluetooth sports earphones can connect to your phone or smartwatch and stream music without any clunky cables to get in the way.
Don’t want to be disturbed? We recommend picking up a pair of ‘phones with noise cancellation built in. Check out our round-up of the best noise cancelling headphones for our favourites right now, although a few of the following sets can also block out noise from your surroundings, for a bit of peace on the commute. Ahhhh.
Should I buy headphones, earphones or earbuds and what’s the difference?
Headphones fit over the ear, to fully enclose them with two padded cups. This helps to block out sound from the surrounding environment, even without the use of proper noise cancellation.
Earphones and earbuds are tiny rubber tips that fit into your lug holes instead of covering the ear. Earphones are connected together with a wire, although Bluetooth earphones will then pair wirelessly with your phone. As such, the wire is usually draped around the nape of the neck, to keep it out of the way.
Meanwhile, earbuds are tiny devices which slip into each ear individually. They connect to your mobile and each other without any use of wires, making them the most convenient solution for active users. However, as a result they often have a shorter battery life than headphones and earphones.
Check out our round-up of the best Bluetooth earbuds for our favourite wire-free solutions right now. Although Apple’s AirPods are the most popular and famous form of earbuds, you’ll find some great alternatives out there too.
What are the best wireless Bluetooth headphones I can buy now?
So what are the best wireless headphones and earphones that you can buy now, which connect to your phone or tablet via Bluetooth? Here’s our favourites right now, and check out our round-up of the best Bluetooth speakers for your phone for more ways to enjoy your music on the move.
These closed cans from Australian startup Nura are designed to tailor the listening experience to each individual user through a mix of innovative hardware engineering and cutting-edge software.
When first setting up, Nuraphones analyse your ears’ frequency range and then tailor the audio output to best match how you as an individual hear sound. Toggling this unique user profile on and off produces an unmistakable difference that once heard, will put you off going back to more conventional cans for good.
Nuraphones connect via a proprietary port to charge over USB-A but this lead can be swapped out for wired use with USB-C devices, iOS devices via Lightning or a conventional 3.5mm audio jack. aptX HD support and up to an impressive 20-hours of charge time ensure a great wireless audio experience if you don’t want to run the risk of getting in a tangle. The only sticking point for some may be the £349 asking price.
Read the full Nuraphones review here.
These Sony wireless headphones aren’t cheap at just over £300, but they offer incredible audio quality for a pair of Bluetooth ‘phones. You get full support for Hi-Res Audio, while the padded cups are incredibly comfortable for prolonged sessions.
Active noise cancellation is another strong point, with the MDR-1000X blocking out an impressive amount of surrounding sound so you aren’t distracted on the commute or wherever else you use them. And when you’re done, you can fold these headphones up so they slip into your bag.
Sony MDR-100ABN h.ear on Wireless
If the MDR-1000X set is a little above your budget, fear not. Sony also offers the MDR-100ABN h.ear on Wireless headphones, which can easily be found these days for under £200. Despite that drop in price, you still get most of the same great features, including a choice of bright colours, a sleek fold-up design and of course noise cancellation.
As well as coming with built-in Bluetooth (and a cable option bundled in the box just in case), the MDR-100ABN wireless headphones also have NFC support for quick and easy pairing. As for battery life, you can expect around 20 hours of use on a single charge, which is easily enough for at least two or three days of commuting and drowning out dullard colleagues at work.
At just £90 here in the UK, the Damson Headspace offers impressive value for money. It may not be the cheapest option here but you get a lot for your money, including active noise cancellation.
For a start, the design is reassuringly sturdy. These ‘phones may not be as sexy as some of their rivals here, yet they can be thrown into a backpack and battered around with no harm done. Regardless, you get a hard case bundled, for extra protection. The Headspace also folds up when not in use, for easy storage.
Long-haul journeys are well catered for. Plenty of padding makes for a comfortable wear, while you’ll get over 15 hours of continuous use before the built-in battery dies. You can connect to your mobile via Bluetooth or the included cable.
You get a full selection of media controls on the right cup, while the left cup houses a button for switching the noise cancellation feature on or off. Few ‘phones at this price point offer such a feature and it works admirably, muffling any surrounding clamour so you can immerse yourself in your music.
Music sounds great when blasted at volume, with solid levels of bass for those pulse-pounding dance and rock tracks. Clarity is also strong, whether you’re enjoying more tranquil music or a good audiobook.
Philips may not be the best at naming their headphones, but this wireless pair is comfortable to wear and like the Sony pair above also folds up when not in use. You get decent noise cancellation, which actively blocks out surrounding sounds thanks to the built-in mics. And of course you get all of the controls that you need built into the cups, so you don’t need to pull out your phone to skip tracks.
Bose QuietComfort 35 (QC35)
Bose is another brand that’s big on noise cancellation and the QuietComfort 35, or QC35, features active dampening so you don’t have to listen to screeching kids on your train ride. Those padded cups are super-comfortable while the lightweight frame doesn’t weigh you down at all.
Of course, the QuietComfort ‘phones aren’t cheap, but if you want serious sound quality without the fuss of wires, you can’t find much better.
Read next: Bose QuietComfort 35 Headphones Review
Sennheiser Momentum Wireless
The Momentum Wireless are a stunningly designed pair of steel and leather wireless headphones, but these Senny ‘phones aren’t just gorgeous – they pack plenty of smarts too.
Like the other pricey headphones in this round-up, you get NFC support to pair with your phone just by tapping them together. Sound quality is best-in-class, complete with noise cancellation to keep out other sounds. And if you run out of battery power, you can use these headphones with a wired connection too.
Bose SoundSport Wireless
If you’re after a pair of reliable and comfortable wireless sports headphones then the Bose SoundSport are a solid choice. They stay firmly planted in your ear holes no matter how strenuous your workout and the hydrophobic coating means they’re fully water and sweat resistant, for when you really go all out.
You get full media controls so you don’t need to reach for your device to skip tracks or pause the action. There’s even a mic for taking calls. As for sound quality, there’s not much difference between these and the wired version, with plenty of detail and strong levels.
Bose QuietControl 30 (QC 30)
Like the QuietComfort ‘phones, Bose’s QuietControl features active noise cancellation so you can enjoy a distraction-free workout. The neckband design makes it much better suited to exercise but these wireless earphones can be used casually too, with strong sound quality and impressive comfort.
At just over £200, this isn’t a cheap pair of Bluetooth earphones. But it’s one of the best you can buy in 2016.
Plantronics BackBeat Fit
At just £60, these Bluetooth wireless headphones offer strong value for money for anyone after a reliable exercise companion. They hold in place during workouts and the buds fit snugly in your ear so they don’t flop out. Comfort levels are good and these headphones can put up with plenty of punishment.
Audio quality is strong and the BackBeat doesn’t block out surrounding noise, which is good news if you’re jogging outside. You even get a pouch that converts into an armband, to hold your phone when you’re powering down the pavement. Nice.
Jabra Move Wireless
After starting out by producing hearing aids, Jabra really knows how to make earphones that fit comfortably. And now that the company has tested its mettle with several different headsets, we’re starting to see some affordable and great value Jabra headphones emerge.
The Move Wireless is not only a great fit for nearly anyone, but also offers deep lows and pleasingly crisp sound on the mids and highs for a low, low £55 price. Expect a good eight hours of battery on a single charge and an attractive cobalt blue finish to boot.
Jabra Sport Pulse
If you’re after some sporty in-ears, the Jabra Sport Pulse, which originally launched back in 2015 offer solid passive noise cancellation, a secure fit by way of various replaceable silicon surrounds and come in their own carry case.
Overall volume could be a little louder, but the real hooks are the buds’ fitness capabilities. As well as plugging into a dedicated app for EQ control, the Sport Pulse can also relay workouts and measure your heart rate using an integrated sensor. Charging is convenient enough, thanks to a built-in microUSB port (so no need for a proprietary adapter) and you can expect around three days of use on a single charge, which usually takes about an hour. Best of all, they’ve dropped to under £100 direct from Jabra.
Jabra Elite Sport
If you’re really looking to cut wires, then a third option from Jabra would be its Elite Sport buds. Like Apple’s AirPods, these truly wireless in-ears offer complete freedom of movement for active users with zero risk of getting cables or cords snagged on anything.
Their impressively secure fit also alleviates any concerns you may initially have about these buds falling out on the ground and getting lost forever. They’re also able to offer more comprehensive fitness data to their user covering things like VO2 Max and their IP67 certification means they’re happy taking on dust, sweat and other moisture without trouble.
Integrated media controls are easy enough to use, sound quality is impressive for their size and nature, they offer pass-through audio (so you don’t need to take them out to listen to your surroundings) and you can make and take calls with them. They’re unquestionably pricey at £229, but you get up to nine hours of use by way of the included charging case, which powers the Elite Sport back up to full twice over.
Jaybird Freedom Wireless
One shortcoming with many of the in-ears in our lineup and on the market as a whole is their sheer size and bulk. Whilst going wireless unquestionably has its benefits, active users looking for a reliable pair of in-ears usually have to compromise on the size of the buds themselves, which is why Jaybird’s Freedom Wireless serve as the perfect solution.
These premium metal-bodied buds lock into your ears by way of replaceable silicone fins and have no trouble dealing with sweat or moisture, whilst the foam-tipped (also replaceable) earpieces up the comfort factor at the same time. Sound quality is excellent, although passive noise cancellation could be a touch better. You get long eight-hour battery life, can make and take calls, tweak the EQ through the company’s MySound app and even issue voice commands.
The only real hindrance with the Freedom Wireless is its proprietary charging solution, which snaps around the inline remote, it’s a little bulky and noticeable weight-wise. Still, at £159, these sporty in-ear buds offer premium fit, finish and functionality to boot.
TRNDLabs’ first pair of truly wireless in-ear buds are the perfect option if you’re on a tighter budget. Firstly, they come in an ingenious cylindrical charging case that rotates one way to grant you access to the ‘buds themselves and the other to let you charge the case or use it to charge other devices, as it also doubles as a powerbank, thanks to a whopping 2800mAh battery.
Speaking of battery, there’s a slight sacrifice over rivals like AirPods with only up to three hours of music playback (or a promised 3.5 hours of talk time) between charges, but with such a massive cell built into the case, you can quickly top them back up time and again before having to refill the whole kit and caboodle.
The ‘buds favour a simplistic design with soft-touch black plastic bodies laden with chrome accents, along with a single button on each for basic media control and call functionality. They’re arguably the most discreet offerings in this entire lineup as a result.
As for sound quality, they’re certainly not the punchiest Bluetooth earphones around and you might need to boost up the volume in a crowded environment but they’re perfectly clear and again, versus the asking price, wholly usable as your new pair of daily drivers.
At a sliver under £60, you’ll be hard-pressed to find anything else in the market that comes close in terms of sheer value for money, even if they aren’t perfect.
Bowers & Wilkins P7 Wireless
The Bowers & Wilkins P7 Wireless headphones are some of the most comfortable, great-sounding cans on the market right now. There’s plenty of bass but also clear higher ends that’ll cater for any music type.
That design is gorgeous, with comfy ear cushions and strong metallic arms at the core. A 17-hour battery life is ideal for regular users, plus the hidden cable port is design brilliance.
When it comes to high-quality sound for a low asking price, these Audio-Technica ATH-MSR7 cans seriously impress. An excellent build quality with decent stylish design are the strongest qualities, so if you want a pair of wireless headphones that’ll keep you looking good as you pound the pavement, these will do the job.
Fair enough, the ATH-MSR7 headphones aren’t the most portable around, but they deliver when it comes to quality as well as aesthetics.
These wireless in-ear buds from JLab are suitably named, although Epic perhaps isn’t the most humble of monikers. Despite that affordable £60 price, they really do cram in the tech. Also, despite their portable size, these earbuds manage a hefty 10 hours of music playback on a full charge.
You get a built-in microphone and full dust and water resistance, making them ideal for sport. Noise isolation is excellent, which in combination with good sound quality and a high level of volume, make for a solid all-round offering.
The closed acoustic design of the Koss BT540i cans is all about delivering top sound quality.
This US-based company prioritises well-balanced audio, and you’ll certainly be wondering how the price is so low when you hear how good the BT540i cans are. Sure, you might not have the most comfy cushions in this round-up of best wireless headphones, or even the best selection of built-in controls, but none of that matters once you push play and drift away.