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Best wireless earbuds 2022: Our favourite budget and premium earbuds for wire-free listening

Andy White
18 Jan 2022

Our pick of the best wireless earbuds available for every budget

It's amazing what the best wireless earbuds are capable of these days thanks to advancements in Bluetooth, noise-cancelling, microphone and audio driver technology.

Sound quality may still lag a little way behind premium wired headphones, but the gap is narrower than ever and wireless earbuds are significantly more portable and practical.

Most audio manufacturers include at least one set of wireless earbuds in their lineups, meaning you're spoilt for choice when it comes to picking a pair. With a huge range of brands and models to choose from, selecting the best wireless earbuds for your needs can be a tricky task.

That's where we come in. We're constantly testing and reviewing the latest headphones and this article will break down the very best wireless earbuds on the market.

For those of you that are new to the world of wireless earbuds, we’ve included a handy buying guide detailing all the things you should consider before splashing out on your first pair.

And if you decide that wireless earbuds aren't for you, you may want to check out our pick of the best headphones or our more specific pages documenting the best Bluetooth headphones, best noise-cancelling headphones, best over-ear headphones and best cheap headphones.

Best wireless earbuds: At a glance

How to choose the best wireless earbuds for you

How much should I spend?

As a general rule of thumb, the more you invest, the better the audio quality will be. You can pick up a pair of reasonable buds for under £50 but if you want the very best wireless earbuds you can expect to pay upwards of £250. Cheaper earbuds typically omit advanced features including active noise cancellation, are unlikely to support higher resolution codecs and build quality won't be as high.

Is it easy to get a good fit?

There are two distinct styles of true wireless earbuds. One-size-fits-all buds like the Apple AirPods give you no flexibility in terms of fit - their earpieces either sit snuggly in your ears or feel loose when worn. They're the best choice if you want to leave your ear canals free but they provide little, if any, sound isolation.

A significant proportion of buds now favour the use of silicone tips, which seal off your ear canals and secure the buds in your ears far better. They also have the advantage of providing improved passive noise cancellation. Manufacturers typically provide a range of different-sized tips to help ensure you get the most comfortable and stable fit possible.

How important is the Bluetooth version?

Like all wireless headphones, wireless earbuds rely on a Bluetooth connection to function. With each new Bluetooth version, connections become more stable, while wireless range and bandwith - the rate at which data is transferred over the connection - increase. Bluetooth version 5.2 was announced at CES in January 2020 but only a handful of earbuds currently support that version of the technology. Newer IS better but any buds using Bluetooth 4.2 or above will do the trick for casual listening.

Some earbuds offer Bluetooth multipoint, which allows them to connect to two or more devices simultaneously. If you're regularly switching between your phone and laptop, it's definitely worth looking out for wireless earbuds with this functionality.

Should I worry about which audio codecs are supported?

Codecs determine how Bluetooth transmits information to your device. The SBC codec is pretty much universal across all devices and works just fine, though you'll open up the possibility to listen to higher resolution audio with more advanced codecs such as AAC, which is favoured by Apple, or Qualcomm's aptX, aptX HD or aptX Adaptive codecs. Bear in mind that your output device must also support the codec: iPhone's don't support aptX so even if you own the very best wireless earbuds money can buy, you won't be able to make use of it.

Can I make and receive phone and video calls?

All of the best wireless earbuds come with built-in mics and can be used to make and take calls when connected via Bluetooth. They’re good at picking up your voice but won’t isolate it from ambient sound as well as your smartphone. The number of in-built mics and their quality varies from device to device so bear that in mind if you spend a lot of time on calls.

Can I use one earbud on its own?

Most earbuds have one master and one slave driver so, depending on the way the manufacturer has implemented it, you’ll be able to listen to your music through one of the said earbuds. Others operate independently of one another and therefore allow you to use either at any time you wish.

Any other important features to consider?

IP certification: The best wireless earbuds all come with an IP rating, which reflects their ability to resist dust and water/sweat. If you live in a wet country or plan on using your earbuds while exercising then you'll want to pick a pair that offers protection against these external agents.

Active noise cancellation: We're seeing more and more wireless earbuds incorporating active noise cancellation technology to reduce the impact of external sound on your audio. If you want the most immersive listening experience, ANC should be high on your priority list.

Battery life: Earbuds will always have a stated battery life, as will the case used to charge them. Between 15 and 20 hours of total listening time is around average, though your mileage will vary depending on the volume at which you play your audio. Having advanced features such as ANC active will also drain your battery faster.

In-ear detection: Smarter earbuds can detect when you take them out of your ears and pause your audio automatically when you do so, resuming when they're put back in. It's a neat feature that's fast becoming a staple inclusion for pricier headphones.

Voice assistant support: If you like to make use of Alexa, Google Assistant or Siri, you should ensure that your earbuds support your voice assistant of choice. Most do nowadays but it's always worth checking!

Touch controls: Don't want to have to dig your phone out of your pocket to skip a track? Well, you're in luck, as many of the best wireless earbuds feature touch sensors that allow fingertip control of your music. Each company implements this slightly differently and you may find certain commands omitted so it's important to ensure the wireless earbuds you like offer control over the features you use most frequently.

Companion apps: Many companies have downloadable applications designed to enhance the audio experience provided by their products. Each offers a different range of customisation options though the most common are the ability to remap touch controls and select between different EQ presets.

The best wireless earbuds to buy in 2022

1. Sony WF-1000XM4: The best wireless earbuds overall

Price: £250 | Buy now from Amazon

Sony's latest true wireless earbuds are the complete package, delivering smart, effective noise cancellation, excellent audio quality and a whole host of useful features. Those familiar with their predecessors will immediately notice that the fourth-generation model has undergone a significant design makeover and the changes Sony has made are all very welcome.

The earbuds have a more appealing aesthetic and are 10% smaller than the WF-1000XM3, while the charging case is a lot more compact, too. Powered by a new Integrated Processor V1, the WF-1000XM4 now support Hi-res audio via Sony's LDAC Bluetooth codec and they sound superb no matter what you're listening to. Noise cancellation is equally impressive and can be set to adjust itself automatically based on where you are and what you're doing.

Features like Speak-to-Chat, which pauses your audio as soon as your voice is detected, help elevate the user experience above that any other earbuds on the market offer and there's even hands-free support for Alexa, Siri and Google Assistant for those that can't live without their voice assistant.

If you're on a tight budget, the Sony WF-1000XM3 are the more prudent choice at their new price of £139. But if you can afford the WF-1000XM4, you simply won't find better true wireless all-rounders.

Read our Sony WF-1000XM4 review for more details

Key specs– Built-in microphone and music control buttons: Yes; Weight: 6g per earbud, 41g charging case; Battery life: 24 hours; IP rating: IPX4

2. Apple AirPods 3: The best wireless earbuds with an open-ear fit

Price: £169 | Buy now from Amazon

A list of the best wireless earbuds wouldn't be complete without the Apple AirPods - buds that have helped transform the wireless audio market. Launched alongside the iPhone 7, the original AirPods brought Apple's line of wearable tech to prominence and heralded the steady decline of smartphones featuring a 3.5mm audio jack. This third-generation version is Apple's best yet, vastly improving sound quality while adding support for Spatial Audio and refining the buds' design.

They're contoured to snugly fit the shape of your ears and fit better than ever, while the incorporation of force sensor controls located on the stems makes it a breeze to execute commands. Battery life of the buds clocks in at up to six hours of audio playback, with the charging case taking total playtime to around 30 hours, which is ample. As we've come to expect from previous iterations, the AirPods integrate seamlessly into the Apple ecosystem, pairing instantly with iPads and iPhones and offering hands-free support for the company's Siri voice assistant.

If you want don't want their ear canals filled while listening to music, the Apple AirPods 3 are simply the best wireless earbuds around, particularly if you own an iPhone.

Read our Apple AirPods 3 review for more details

Key specs– Built-in microphone and music control buttons: Yes; Weight: 4.2g per earbud, 40g charging case; Battery life: 30 hours; IP rating: IPX4

3. 1More PistonBuds: The best wireless earbuds under £50

Price: £40 | Buy now from Amazon

We've been extremely impressed by 1MORE's earbuds over the past year or so and the PistonBuds - its cheapest set yet - don't disappoint. Their AirPods Pro-inspired design won't win any awards for originality, but the buds are the most comfortable and best-sounding in-ear headphones under £50 we've tested. Despite a weighty low-end response underpinning the audio profile, the PistonBuds manage to maintain a respectable balance across pretty much every genre of music.

The buds are IPX4-rated so can be used while working out or in the rain, touch controls are effective (if a little limited) and battery life is far from shabby at a total of 24 hours listening at moderate volume. If you're ready to jump aboard the earbuds bandwagon but don't want to splash out on a premium pair, we highly recommend you pick up the 1MORE PistonBuds.

Key specs– Built-in microphone and music control buttons: Yes; Weight: 4.2g per earbud, 36g charging case; Battery life: 24 hours; IP rating: IPX4

4. Cambridge Audio Melomania 1 Plus: The best-sounding earbuds under £100

Price: £90 | Buy now from Amazon

best wireless earbuds - Cambridge Melomania 1 Plus

If you've got £100 to play with and prioritise sound quality over anything else, these are the true wireless earbuds to buy. They feature a High Performance mode that increases their dynamic range and widens the soundstage and the effect is rich, detailed and expansive audio unmatched by other earbuds in the 1 Plus' price range.

Should you wish to tweak the EQ you can do so within the companion app, where you'll also find six EQ presets along with the option to customise the controls. Unlike most earbuds these days, the 1 Plus opt for physical button presses rather than touch controls but these work excellently. We didn't fit the fit quite so impressive but you get a great selection of eartips to choose from, which should ensure most people are able to achieve a secure and comfortable fit.

Read our Cambridge Melomania 1 Plus review for more details

Key specs– Built-in microphone and music control buttons: Yes; Weight: 5g per earbud, 50g charging case; Battery life: 35 hours (High Performance mode); IP rating: IPX5

5. Apple AirPods Pro: The best wireless earbuds for Apple users

Price: £239 | Buy now from Amazon

The AirPods Pro are the most popular true wireless earbuds on the market and for good reason - they're Apple’s finest headphones to date and improve on the original Airpods in every way. They offer impressive active noise cancellation, which is adjusted automatically with the help of both inward and outward-facing microphones. This does mean they lack the customisation options of some other ANC earbuds but the noise cancellation is so effective that this isn’t a big deal.

Sonically, they’re a little light in the bass department – vocal-heavy tracks are where the AirPods Pro really shine – but overall, their sound quality rivals that of the best true wireless earbuds around. They come with three sets of silicone tips to ensure a secure fit regardless of ear shape and are sweat and water-resistant, making them a fine choice for gym-goers.

If you’re willing to pay the high asking price, you’ll be getting pretty much everything you could ever want in a pair of true wireless earbuds.

Read our Apple AirPods Pro review for more details

Key specs– Built-in microphone and music control buttons: Yes; Weight: 5.4g per earbud, 46g charging case; Battery life: 24 hours; IP rating: IPX4

6. Bowers & Wilkins PI7: The best premium wireless earbuds

Price: £325 | Buy now from Amazon

The B&W PI7 bring something completely new to the table in the form of a charging case capable of audio retransmission. Plug it into an audio source that lacks Bluetooth connectivity and you can broadcast audio straight to the buds. It’s an innovative feature that works wonderfully well and has meaningful practical applications.

Audio quality is exceptional, too. The buds are beautifully balanced, delivering powerful yet controlled bass, crisp vocals and sparkling trebles without any hint of harshness. Noise cancellation isn’t class-leading but does a good job at reducing ambient sound and there’s an automatic setting if you want the earbuds to actively adjust the level of ANC provided at any given moment.

The B&W PI7 may be exceedingly expensive but they’re also exceedingly good. If you have the cash and want the finest true wireless audio around, these are the buds to buy.

Read our Bowers & Wilkins PI7 review for more details

Key specs – Built-in microphone and music control buttons: Yes; Weight: 8g per earbud, 50g charging case; Battery life (total): 20hrs; IP rating: IP54

7. Bose QuietComfort Earbuds: The best wireless earbuds for noise-cancelling

Price: £250 | Buy now from Amazon

Bose’s QC Earbuds offer the best active noise cancellation of any earbuds we’ve tested. ANC functions on a ten-point scale ranging from full transparency (0) to total immersion (10) and at 10, they reduce external noise by a significant amount. You can switch between three levels of your own choosing by simply double-tapping the left earbud and touch controls are well implemented on the whole, though the buds do lack volume touch controls.

Audio is equally impressive, with the QC Earbuds delivering a superbly balanced sound profile that’s immersive without ever feeling claustrophobic. The buds also benefit from Bose’s Active-EQ, which automatically adjusts the bass and treble based on your volume, ensuring music sounds great no matter how loud it is.

Read our Bose QuietComfort Earbuds review for more details

Key specs - Built-in microphone and music control buttons: Yes; Weight: 8.5g per earbud, 76g charging case; Battery life (total): 25hrs; IP rating: IPX4

8. Anker Soundcore Life P3: The best noise-cancelling earbuds under £100

Price: £70 | Buy now from Amazon

Budget earbuds tend to struggle when it comes to delivering effective active noise cancellation but the Life P3 put a decent dent in ambient sound across the frequency range. There are three ANC modes to select from in the Soundcore companion app, which also provides access to a huge range of preset EQs. You can also create and save your own EQ, making the P3 pleasingly customisable.

That customisation extends to their touch controls, which can be tailored to cover all the key actions via single and double taps on the earbud stem or by holding your finger on the touch-sensitive surface for two seconds. Said touch controls can be a little hit and miss at times and our reviewer found the buds worked themselves loose in their ears occasionally, but those are relatively minor gripes considering what a great value proposition the Life P3 are.

Read our Anker Soundcore Life P3 review for more details

Key specs– Built-in microphone and music control buttons: Yes; Weight: 5g per earbud, 50g charging case; Battery life: 30 hours; IP rating: IPX5

9. OnePlus Buds Pro: Attractive AirPods Pro alternatives

Price: £139 | Buy now from Amazon

If you own one of OnePlus' more recent smartphones and are after earbuds to pair it with, the OnePlus Buds Pro are a no-brainer. They support the high-resolution audio codec LHDC, look good, are very comfortable and offer impressive active noise cancellation for the money. Owners of a OnePlus 9 or 9 Pro will also benefit from Dolby Atmos support and a Pro Gaming Mode that reduces lag.

Their AirPods Pro-inspired design stands out from the crowd thanks to reflective stems, which double as the earbuds' control centre, and while touch controls aren't as customisable as we'd like, the Buds Pro have enough tricks up their sleeve to make up for it. There's "Zen Mode Air", which plays calming white noise when you need a break from the world around you, and "OnePlus Audio ID" which tests your hearing and creates an audio profile based on your ability to hear certain frequencies at varying volumes.

Both are neat inclusions that when combined with a comfy fit and effective ANC, make the OnePlus Buds Pro a fine choice no matter the phone you use.

Read our OnePlus Buds Pro review for more details

Key specs - Built-in microphone and music control buttons: Yes; Weight: 8.5g per earbud, 76g charging case; Battery life (total): 25hrs; IP rating: IPX4

10. Creative Outlier Air V3: The best-value wireless earbuds under £100

Price: £65 | Buy now from Creative

Thanks to some successfully implemented upgrades, the Creative Outlier Air V3 steal the best-value earbuds under £100 crown from their predecessor, the Outlier Air V2. The intuitive and responsive touch controls now boast customisation options and microphone quality has been improved, too. Battery life has also seen a boost and now clocks in at roughly 40 hours.

The Outlier Air V3 offer fantastic audio considering their affordable price and are compatible with Creative’s Super X-Fi technology, via which you can create a personalised sound profile using holographic modelling. Sadly, you can only take advantage of the tech when listening to locally stored music in the SXFI app, but it provides a wonderful listening experience for those with large music libraries saved to their devices.

Read our Creative Outlier Air V3 review for more details

Key specs – Built-in microphone and music control buttons: Yes; Weight: 5.2g per earbud, 69.8g charging case; Battery life (total): 40hrs; IP rating: IPX5

Buy now from Creative

11. Beats Studio Buds: The best wireless earbuds for Android users under £150

Price: £129 | Buy now from Amazon

The Beats Studio Buds have no business being as cheap as they are. The slim, lightweight design makes them a comfortable fit that won’t fall out, the audio quality is some of the best we’ve seen at this price point, and an IPX4 rating marks them safe from splashes – perfect for a trip to the gym or a walk in the rain. Even the active noise cancellation, while admittedly not quite on par with the most premium earbuds, is solid enough to drown out the din of your daily commute.

While they’re easily some of the best-value wireless earbuds that Android users can buy, those who predominantly use Apple products may want to look a little closer. The lack of Apple’s H1 chip means that features like auto-pairing across all your devices or shared listening aren’t included here, so if that’s important to you, you’re better off opting for AirPods.

Read our Beats Studio Buds review for more details

Key specs– Built-in microphone and music control buttons: Yes; Weight: 5g per earbud, 48g charging case; Battery life: 24 hours; IP rating: IPX4

12. NuraTrue: Personalised audio in a true wireless package

Price: £199 | Buy now from Robert Dyas

Like their stablemates the Nuraphone and NuraLoop, the NuraTrue's unique selling point is that they're able to analyse the way you hear and create a sound profile that takes into account your sensitivity to certain frequencies. The whole process takes less than five minutes and the results are very impressive. Audio quality is right up there with some of the best earbuds around and the NuraTrue have a few other things going for them, too.

They're strikingly designed, extremely comfortable to wear and their use of rubber wingtips ensures they remain in your ears during even the most vigorous of exercise. An IPX4 rating for water resistance further reinforces their credentials as gym or workout earbuds, while decent noise cancellation makes them an appealing choice for those that don't want their audio disrupted at home or further afield.

The NuraTrue don't dethrone Sony's WF-1000XM4 as our favourite true wireless all-rounders, nor do they dislodge the Bose QC Earbuds as the most effective noise cancellers. But both of those options are more expensive and if you've only got £200 to play with, you'll be hard pushed to find better true wireless earbuds.

Read our NuraTrue review for more details

Key specs – Built-in microphone and music control buttons: Yes; Weight: 7g per earbud, 37g charging case; Battery life (total): 34hrs; IP rating: IPX4

Buy now from Robert Dyas

13. Grado GT220: Supreme sound quality and bountiful battery life

Price: £199 | Buy now from Amazon

If audio quality is top of your priority list, you won't find better earbuds than the Grado GT220. With a wide soundstage, exquisite detail and rich, well-defined bass, they sound superb. Sound quality is helped by an excellent in-ear seal, which does a great job at reducing the impact of external noise while ensuring a stable fit.

Touch controls are among the most smartly incorporated of any earbuds we've tested and battery life clocks in at a whopping 36 hours. That battery life is in part achieved by the GT220 forgoing active noise cancellation, which, along with a slightly disappointing IPX2 water-resistance rating, are the only real drawbacks of these otherwise exceptional earbuds.

Read our Grado GT220 review for more details

Key specs– Built-in microphone and music control buttons: Yes; Weight: 5g per earbud, 42g charging case; Battery life: 36 hours; IP rating: IPX2

14. Jabra Elite Active 75t review: The best wireless earbuds for exercise

Price: £150 | Buy now from Amazon

Jabra’s Elite Active 75t are our top choice for those looking for buds to use while working out. They fit extremely securely in your ears and provide impressive passive noise cancellation, while their IP57 certification means they’re better protected from sweat, water and dust than any of the other buds on this list.

A recent firmware update saw Jabra add active noise cancellation into the mix and although it’s not as effective as the ANC offered by the QC Earbuds or Huawei FreeBuds Pro, it’s a very welcome addition. The Jabra Sound+ companion app is excellent, too, providing a wealth of customisation options including the ability to create your own EQ, choose from various presets and create “Moments”, which are listener profiles tailored for specific situations.

Read our Jabra Elite Active 75t review for more details

Key specs – Built-in microphone and music control buttons: Yes; Weight: 6g per earbud, 35g charging case; Battery life (total): 28hrs; IP rating: IP57

15. Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2: ANC wireless earbuds for audiophiles

Price: £279 | Buy now from Amazon

The original Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless held a place on this list for some time thanks to their rich, accurate sound and spacious soundstage. Their successors take everything that was good about the originals and add active noise cancelling into the mix, making for an even better audio experience.

The ANC may not be class-leading, but the sound quality delivered by the 7mm dynamic drivers is. That sonic excellence combined with a comfortable fit and up to 28 hours battery life with the charging case makes the Sennheiser Momentum Wireless 2 a great option for audiophiles looking for earbuds. The only downside is the price - they’re the most expensive buds on our list.

Read our Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2 review for more details

Key specs – Built-in microphone and music control buttons: Yes; Weight: 6g per earbud, 58g charging case; Battery life (total): 28hrs; IP rating: IPX4

16. Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro: The best wireless earbuds for Galaxy users

Price: £219 | Buy now from Amazon

The Galaxy Buds Pro are Samsung's best true wireless earbuds yet, offering great audio quality, a comfortable fit and a whole host of useful features, including IPX7 waterproofing and active noise cancellation. ANC falls short of other options on this list - the QC Earbuds, Sony WF-1000XM3 and Huawei FreeBuds all do a better job at blocking out sound - but the Buds Pro shine when it comes to compatibility with Galaxy devices.

When paired with a Galaxy smartphone running the latest One UI 3.1 tech (currently only Samsung's S21 range) you can make use of 360 Audio, Multi-mic recording and auto-switching between your various Galaxy devices. There's one-touch access to Samsung's proprietary voice assistant Bixby and the buds also make use of the company's Bluetooth codec, Scalable, which supports hi-res streaming and minimises dropouts by adjusting the bit-rate based on your connection strength.

Read our Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro review for more details

Key specs – Built-in microphone and music control buttons: Yes; Weight: 6.3g per earbud, 45g charging case; Battery life (total): 18hrs; IP rating: IPX7

Best wireless earbuds: Honourable mentions

While the following products didn't quite make it onto our best wireless earbuds list, they're still solid choices and will have particular appeal to some customers.

Google Pixel Buds A-Series

Price: £99 | Buy now from Argos

If you want earbuds with exceptional Google Assistant integration, look no further than the Pixel Buds A-Series. Simply utter “Hey Google” to access everything from audio controls to sports results and real-time language translation courtesy of Google Translate.

Read our Google Pixel Buds A-Series review for more details

Oppo Enco X

Price: £170 | Buy now from Amazon

The Enco X are among the comfiest earbuds we've tested and have a compact form factor that makes it easy to forget you're wearing them. Their ANC is impressive, too, while IP54 water resistance makes them a solid choice for exercise.

Read our Oppo Enco X review for more details

OnePlus Buds Z2

Price: £99 | Buy now from Amazon

The Z2 offer better water resistance than their stablemates the Buds Pro and are a fair bit cheaper, too. They sacrifice a few audio features to make their lower price but are still an appealing, affordable option.

Read our OnePlus Buds Z2 review for more details

Sennheiser CX400BT

Price: £89 | Buy now from Amazon

Unsurprisingly for a pair of Sennheiser headphones, the CX400BT sound fantastic. They forgo active noise cancellation and sadly aren't splashproof but very few true wireless earbuds sound this good while costing this little.

Read our Sennheiser CX400BT review for more details

Beats Powerbeats Pro

Price: £220 | Buy now from Amazon

Probably the most stable-fitting earbuds out there thanks to their signature earhook design, the Powerbeats Pro are great if you love a bass-heavy sound signature while working out. They're particularly good if you own an iPhone as they slot perfectly into the Apple ecosystem.

Read our Powerbeats Pro review for more details

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