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Which Bluetooth earbuds are best?

Not long ago, all Bluetooth earbuds were somewhat bulky devices with a behind-the-neck component, making them hardly any more convenient than wired headphones. Thankfully, that’s no longer the case as there is now a plethora of sleek and great-sounding truly wireless Bluetooth earbuds that can satisfy anyone from hardcore fitness buffs to the most die-hard audiophiles. 

You should consider many things when purchasing earbuds, including the style, fit, audio quality and the various features they offer. iPhone users can’t go wrong with the Apple AirPods Pro since they excel in all of those areas. If you have an Android, though, the Sony WF-1000XM4 should be your go-to choice if you want impressive battery life and audio performance.

What to know before you buy Bluetooth earbuds

Compatibility

Nearly all Bluetooth earbuds will work with any phone you have for music listening purposes. However, they can sometimes be limited in other functionality such as voice assistant capabilities, single-ear listening and automatic ear detection when paired with certain devices. If these things are important to you, make sure to read the product details of any earbuds you are considering to ensure they offer full compatibility with your phone or whatever other device you plan on using them with.

Your intended use

Before purchasing Bluetooth earbuds, take a moment and think about your intended uses, as these will determine what features should be most important to your buying decision. If you know that you listen to headphones for more than 5 hours a day, battery life should be a top concern. Those who plan on using their headphones while exercising should look for a water-resistant model that will stay in place well during workouts. If you often listen to music in areas with a lot of background noise, earbuds with active noise cancellation will be invaluable. 

What to look for in quality Bluetooth earbuds

Noise cancellation

Most earbuds these days offer at least some form of noise cancellation. The most basic type is passive noise cancellation, which is technically just noise isolation. On earbuds with passive noise cancellation, the tips seal against your ear canal to keep your audio in and background noises out. Active noise cancellation takes things a step further by utilizing a 180-degree phase-shifted tone from the outside noise that effectively cancels it out so you can’t hear it.

Touch controls

Choose a pair of Bluetooth earbuds with touch controls for the most convenient operation. With these, you simply tap the earbuds one, two or three times to pause and play music or skip tracks. You can also adjust the volume, usually by long holding one earbud or the other.

Voice control

Some earbuds take things further than touch controls and support voice control. These allow you to instruct a voice assistant like Siri or Samsung’s Bixby to skip tracks, adjust the volume, etc.

Wing tips

Many earbuds designed for active use feature small wing tips. These hook onto your ear to help hold them in place as you exercise or go about your day. If you prefer the best hold and don’t care about discreteness, you may prefer earbuds with large over-the-ear hooks.

Water resistance

Anyone using their headphones while working out should always purchase a pair that offers at least an IPx4 water resistance rating. If you know you sweat excessively when exercising or have been known to get caught in the rain while out jogging, it may be worthwhile to consider a waterproof pair of earbuds with an IPx7 rating.

Battery life

Many people who have Bluetooth earbuds wear them often throughout the day for music listening and voice chatting purposes. This means battery life should be a top priority. Most models will offer at least 3 hours of battery life, but some offer up to 10.

Charging case

In addition to the battery life of the headphones themselves, some models come with a charging and storage case that can be used to recharge your headphones throughout the day, even if you don’t have access to a power source.

How much can you expect to spend on Bluetooth earbuds

For the most budget-friendly truly wireless Bluetooth earbuds, expect to spend $30-$60. Mid-range models cost $70-$150, and premium options can cost up to $400.

Bluetooth earbuds FAQs

Is it ok to stick my Bluetooth earbuds in my pocket?

A. It is recommended to store your earbuds in the case when not in use so they don’t build up with lint, dust and other small debris often found in pockets that could interfere with their sound quality. That said, they most likely won’t be damaged in any way if you periodically toss them in your pocket for the sake of convenience. 

What should I do if my Bluetooth earbuds stopped working with my phone?

A. The most common reason Bluetooth earbuds stop working with a phone is that they have lost their pairing. Simply following the same steps you used to pair them for the first time usually fixes the problem. If they aren’t reconnecting to your device properly, try sticking both earbuds back into their charging case for 30 seconds or so and turning the Bluetooth on your phone off and then back on again. These two steps will fix 95% of pairing problems.

What are the best Bluetooth earbuds to buy?

Top Bluetooth earbuds

Apple AirPods Pro

Apple AirPods Pro

What you need to know: iPhone owners looking for the best sound and full integration with their device will want to stick with Apple’s own AirPods Pro, which offers exceptional audio quality and a comfortable fit.

What you’ll love: They boast one of the farthest Bluetooth ranges of any earbuds. Plus, their adaptive EQ automatically tailors the sound to the shape of your ear canal for the best possible listening experience.

What you should consider: The 4.5-hour battery life is lackluster compared to many competing models.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top Bluetooth earbuds for money

Jabra Active 75t True Wireless Bluetooth Earbuds

Jabra Active 75t True Wireless Bluetooth Earbuds

What you need to know: An ideal choice for active individuals, these Jabra earbuds are fully waterproof and offer a comfortable fit thanks to their lightweight yet still durable build.

What you’ll love: They feature active noise cancellation to block out background sounds so you can focus on your workout, and they boast four microphones for crystal clear quality on voice calls.

What you should consider: The case doesn’t support wireless charging.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Sony WF-1000XM4 Noise Cancelling Wireless Earbuds

Sony WF-1000XM4 Noise Cancelling Wireless Earbuds

What you need to know: The Sony WF-1000XM4 leads the pack in sound quality but demands a hefty price.

What you’ll love: They boast an impressive 8-hour battery life, even with active noise cancellation on, and that is extended up to 24 hours with the included charging case. Their stylish looks make them good for everyday use, while the sweatproof build means they are also a suitable choice as workout earbuds.

What you should consider: Those with small ears may find them uncomfortable.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

 

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Brett Dvoretz writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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