Fully wireless headphones are one of those dream-like ideas: Put a tiny little headset in each ear and listen to music or take calls without being tied down to everything.
Until recently, the reality was very different. The first wireless headphones were gigantic, died after a few hours, and had a bunch of other issues. Fortunately times have changed. There are tons of new models out there that sound fabulous and work (almost) perfectly. After testing dozens of them over the past three years, here are our favorite wireless headphones right now, in a wide range of styles and prices.
Update March 2021: We added the Grado GT220, Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro and Jabra Elite 85t, updated links and pricing.
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How we define wireless headphones
We have seen variants with several names: true wireless headphones, truly wireless headphones, fully wireless headphones, fully wireless headphones, wireless headphones. Here at WIRED, if a pair of earbuds connect to your phone / computer via bluetooth and don’t have a cord that connects the left earbud to the right, we just call them wireless. Cordless sets typically come with two popcorn-sized heads, each with a battery inside, and a charging cradle that carries an extra battery and protects them when you’re not wearing them. Others have a cable or neck strap that connects the two buttons together.
They’re liberating, but they come with issues like limited battery life (don’t buy one with less than 5 hours), confusing controls, and addiction to a charging case. They’re also a bit easier to lose than traditional headphones, and replacing a button can be expensive.